Biography of Bernhard Bardenheuer
Bernhard Bardenheuer, the son of an innkeeper, studied medicine at Würzburg and Berlin, obtaining his doctorate at Berlin in 1864. During this period he was particularly influenced by Bernhard von Langenbeck (1810-1887), in whose clinic he often did practical work.
In 1865, after finishing state examination and his doctoral thesis, he began his work as assistant physician under Karl Busch (1836-1881) at the surgical clinic of the Rhenisch Friedrich-Wilhelm University in Bonn. With this period under Busch, another pupil of Langenbeck, Bardenheuer rounded off his surgical training. From here he changed to the University of Heidelberg, broadening his surgical spectrum working with the ophthalmologist Otto Becker (1828-1893), professor of ophthalmology at Heidelberg from October 1, 1868. At the same time Bardenheuer was also a voluntary physician in the clinic of Gustav Simon (1824-1876). Simon had moved from his chair in Rostock to the chair of surgery at Heidelberg in 1867.
Bardenheuer’s main scientific teachers were Langenbeck and Simon. Together they performed surgical and gynaecological operations. On August 2, 1869, at the old operating theatre of Heidelberg’s surgical clinic, Bardenheuer assisted, along with Heinrich Braun (1847-1911), with the world’s first nephrectomy indicated and planned on the basis of scientific criteria. Bardenheuer was regarded as a bold, daring surgeon,
A surgeon abroad
During the years 1869 and 1870 Bardenheuer went abroad for further studies at the surgical world centres of those days: London, Paris, and Vienna. He was especially impressed by Bartholomaeus Spencer-Wells (1835-1897) who introduced ovariotomy to surgery, an operation which Bardenheuer later performed successfully at Cologne for the first time. During his stay in Vienna, Bardenheuer was leading surgeon at the surgical station of the Garrison Military Hospital.
War and peace
Returning to Heidelberg, Bardenheuer was in charge of the sick bay at the garrison there during the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/1871. This put him in contact with Otto Fischer (1810-1885), the surgeon in charge and head of Cologne’s Citizens’ Hospital. Bardenheuer settled permanently in Cologne in 1872. On October 9, 1874, he succeeded Otto Fischer, whose ailing health forced him to retire. Here Bardenheuer gained an outstanding reputation as a skilful surgeon even far beyond the borders of the Rheinprovinz. This is verified by his extensive consultations and his series of lectures which brought him as far as Belgium and the Netherlands.
Bardenheuer received the title of professor in 1884, this being the first time that a scientist who had not been a member of a university’s academic staff received this honour by the Prussian state. In 1885 he was appointed privy medical councillor and in 1905 he became privy medical officer of health. As a member of the Zentralkommitee für das ärztliche Fortbildungswesen (central committee for further medical training in Prussia), also known as the Kaiserin-Friedrich Foundation, Bardenheuer vehemently supported the first Akademie für praktische Medizin (the Academy of Practical Medicine) in Cologne, a precursor to of the medical faculty. When the academy was founded in 1904, Bardenheuer became its executive professor, holding that position until 1907.
At the time when Bardenheuer was employed at the Cologne Citizens’ Hospital, it was one of the biggest surgical hospitals in Europe. In 1905 he could accommodate 324 surgical patients, 54 more than the Berlin Charité.
In Köln in 1875 he introduced Listerian antisepsis, against resistance from the director who considered the extra cost of 4000 Taler, about two years wages for a civil servant.
On January 13, 1887, Bardenheuer performed the first complete cystectomy. The patient was Theodor Baum (1830-1887), a carpenter’s assistant, 57 years old and living in a working class area in the south of Cologne. The operation took 75 minutes. As the patient was suffering from an advanced bladder tumour involving both ureters, Bardenheuer abstained from uretero-anteroanastomosis. The patient died 14 days after surgery because of uraemia and hydronephrosis. But the surgeon had proved the technical feasibility of this operation. The first successful cystectomy on a patient suffering from pappilomatosis of the bladder was performed on August 3, 1889 by the gynaecologist Karl Pawlik (1849-1914) of Prague
A large part of his publications deal with urosurgical themes, a field in which he was a pioneer. He developed a so-called "door-angel-incision" in order to examine inner organs without opening the peritoneum. In 1898 Bardenheuer performed a method of Indian rhinoplasty. The flap was based over the right supraorbital vessels, extended superiorly beyond the hairline on the forehead, and dipped down into the other side of the forehead forming an arc that included almost all of the forehead.
Bardenheuer published annual Reports from the Cologne Citizens’ Hospital, at the publishing house of Albert Ahn, Cologne-Leipzig. He was a co-editor of the well known monograph "Deutsche Chirurgie".