- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Gustav Killian

Born  1860
Died  1921

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German laryngologist, born June 2, 1860, Mainz; died February 24, 1921, Berlin.

Biography of Gustav Killian

Gustav Killian studied in Strassburg, Freiburg im Breisgau, Berlin, and Heidelberg. He obtained his medical doctorate in Freiburg im Breisgau in1884. He specialised in laryngo-rhinology and worked in Berlin under Hartmann and Krause. In 1887 he was entrusted with the leadership of the policlinic for diseases of the throat and nose in Frei8burg im Breisgau. He was habilitated in 1888, became titular professor in 1894, and in 1899 became director of the throat and nose clinic in Freiburg.

Killian was "etatmässiger Professor" from 1900 and in 1907 he was appointed ordinary, honorary professor. In 1911, as "persönlicher Ordinarius", he took over the directorship of the university clinic for diseases of the throat and nose, also becoming Ordinarius at the Kaiser-Wilhelms-Akademie, and in 1920 "etatmässiger Ordinarius".

Killian is considered the founder of bronchoscopy. In 1895 he was the first to make an exploration of the bronchi with a bronchoscope, and two years later used the instrument and a forceps to successfully remove a foreign body from the windpipe. In 1908 he devised a light-reflecting laryngoscope.

For his development of bronchoscopy, Killian was proposed as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, but died before he was nominated.

His son, Hans Killian (1892-1982) became a physician and authored several books. In 1923 he founded the journal Narkose und Anästhesie, and in 1959 Lokalanästhesie und Lokalanästhetika.

We thank Peter Morh, UK, for information submitted.


  • Über Bursa und Tonsilla pharyngea.
    Habilitation thesis. Morphologisches Jahrbuch, 1888.
  • Die Untersuchung der hinteren Larynxwand. Jena, G. Fischer, 1890.
  • Zur Anatomie der Nase menschlicher Embryonen.
    Archiv für Laryngologie und Rhinologie, 1894, 2.
    Archiv für Laryngologie und Rhinologie, 1895, 3: 30-35.
    Archiv für Laryngologie und Rhinologie, 1896, 4: 1-45.
  • Ueber directe Bronchoscopie.
    Münchener medizinische Mochenschrift, 1898, 45: 844-847.
    Introduction of direct bronchoscopy.
  • Kurze Anleitung zur Rehnik der direkten Untesuchungsmethoden der Luft- und Speiseröhre. Freiburg im Breisgau, ca. 1899.
    Printed as a manuscript for the 70. annual assembly of the British Medical Association.
  • Ueber Magenspiegelung.
    Deutsches Archiv für klinische Medicin, Leipzig, 1900-19001, 58: 500-507.
    Describes the first clinical use of the oesophagoscope by Adolf Kussmaul(1822-1902) in 1867-1868. The latter made only brief mention of it himself in his paper on the stomach pump.
  • Die nebenhöhlen der Nase. Jena, 1903; translated into English and French.
  • Die Killian'sche Radicaloperation chronischer Stirnhöhleneiterungen.
    Archiv für Laryngologie und Rhinologie, Berlin, 1903, 13: 28-88.
  • Die submucöse Fensterresektion der Nasenscheidenwand.
    Archiv für Laryngologie und Rhinologie, Berlin,, 1904, 16: 362-387.
  • Die Schwebelaryngoscopie.
    Archiv für Laryngologie und Rhinologie, Berlin, 1912, 26: 277-317.
    Introduction of suspension laryngoscopy. English translation in 1914.
  • Die Schwebelaryngoskopie und ihre praktische Verwertung.
    Berlin and Vienna, Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1920.

  • Gehörorgan, obere Luft- und Speisewege.
    Edited by Gustav Killian and Otto Voss (born 1869). Handbuch der ärztlichen Erfahrung im Weltkrige. Volume 6. Leipzig, Johann Ambrosis Barth, 1921.
    [Ears and upper respiratory and digestive tracts.] List of written works in Monatsschrift für Ohrenheilkunde und Laryngo-Rhinologie, 1921, 55: 190. Biographical:
  • Festschrift Gustav Killian am 2. Juni 1920 zu seinem 60. Geburtstage / von seinen Schüler und Freunden gewidmet.
    Edited by Carl von Eicken (1873-1960).
    Berlin : Hirschwald, 1920. VI + 762 pages.
    Archiv für Laryngologie und Rhinologie, volume 33, 1920.
  • Isidor Fischer (1869-1943), publisher:
    Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Ärzte der letzten fünfzig Jahre.
    Berlin – Wien, Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1932.
  • Jeremy M. Norman, editor:
    Morton’s Medical Bibliography. An annotated Check-list of Texts Illustrating the History of Medicine (Garrison and Morton).
    Fifth edition. Scolar Press, 1991.

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