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Niels Thorkild Rovsing

Born  1862
Died  1927

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Danish surgeon, born April 26, 1862, Flensborg; died January 14, 1927, Copenhagen.

Biography of Niels Thorkild Rovsing

Niels Thorkild Rovsing was the most renowned Danish surgeon at the beginning of the twentieth century. He graduated in medicine from the University of Copenhagen in 1885 and obtained his medical doctorate in 1899. Following his internship/hospital service he was surgeon at the Louise-Børnehospital 1892-902, and from 1896 to 1900 surgeon-in-chief at the Red Cross Hospital. From 1899 he was professor of operative surgery at the University of Copenhagen.

Initially his appointment did not provide him with hospital beds and he therefore commenced a private surgical nursing home to overcome this problem. In 1904 he was put in charge of the Frederiks Hospital as senior surgeon and, largely due to his advocation for better surgical accommodation, the Rigshospitalet was commenced in 1905 and opened in 1910.

Primarily famous as an abdominal surgeon, he wrote extensively on diseases of the bladder and gall bladder and became internationally recognised. His work on abdominal surgery (1910-1918) was translated into German and English. He was described as an inspiring teacher. In 1908, together with Eilert A. Tscherning (1851-1919), he founded the Danish Surgical Society (Dansk Kirurgisk Selskap). A heart disease forced him to retire in 1925 and he died two years later.


  • Om Blærebetændelserners Ætiologi, Pathogenese og Behandling.
    København, 1889. Translated into German. His doctoral dissertation
  • Om Blærebetændelse. Forsvar og Antikritik. København, 1890.
  • Urinorganers Chirurgi. 3 volumes. Copenhagen, 1895-1903.
  • Kliniske og experimentelle Studier over urinorganernes infectiøse Sygdomme.
    Copenhagen, 1897; translated into German and French.
  • Galdestensygdommen og dens Behandling. Copenhagen.
    German translation:
    Die sogenannte Enteroptosis und ihre chirurgusche Behandlung.
    (Volkmanns) Sammlung klinisher Vorträge, Leipzig, new series, 1906, No. 431.
  • Indirektes Hervorrufen des typischen Schmerzes an McBurney's Punkt. Ein Beitrag zur diagnostik der Appendicitis und Typhlitis.
    Zentralblatt für Chirurgie, Leipzig, 1907, 34: 1257-1259.
  • Zur Frage der Bedeutung des "Rovsing'schen Symptoms".
    Zentralblatt für Chirurgie, Leipzig, 1908, 35: 374.
  • Zu dem Rovsing'schen Symptom. Erwiderung an dr A. Hofmann.
    Zentralblatt für Chirurgie, Leipzig, 1908, 35: 537-538.
  • Die Krankheiten der Harnorgane.
    In: Ludwig Wullstein (1864-1930) and Max Wilms (1867-1918): Lehrbuch der Chirurgie, volume 2. Jena, 1909.
  • Underlivskirurgi.
    2 volumes; Copenhagen 1910-1918; translated into German and English. 2nd edition, 1923.
    German translation by Georg Saxinger: Unterleibschirurgie: Klinische Vorlesungen für Studierende und Ärzte. Leipzig: Vogel 1912. viii + 467 pages.
  • Gastro-coloptosens patologiske Betydning, dens Sygdomsbillede og Behandling.
    Copenhagen, 1913; Translated into German.
  • Lærebog i kirurgi. With Jacques Ludwig Borelius (Swedish surgeon, 1859-921) and Johan Nicolaysen (Norwegian surgeon, 1860-1944). Copenhagen, 1920.
  • Galdestenssygdommens aarsagsforhold og disses betydning for valget av behandlingen. 1922.
  • Pathogénie des calculs biliaires at indications opératoires. Paris, 1925.
  • Enteroptose.
    In: Nelson Loose-leaf living surgery, prepared under the direction of an advisory board comprising the leading surgeons in the profession; editor-in-chief, Allen O. Whipple, associate editor, B. St. John Fordyce. New York, Edinburgh [etc.] T. Nelson & Sons. 1927. In 1925 Rovsing published a book about his father, the military writer N. M. L. Rovsing.

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