- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Johannes Otto Kehr

Born 1862-04-27
Died 1916-05-20

Related eponyms


German surgeon, born April 27, 1862, Waltershausen, Thüringen; died May 20, 1916, Berlin. Kehr only used the short version of his forst name: Hans.

Biography of Johannes Otto Kehr

Johannes Otto Kehr was the fifth of ten children born to Christophe Karl and Rosina Pauline Kehr. His father was a distinct paedagogue whose precepts Kahr followed throughout life.

Kehr studied in Jena, Halle an der Saale, Freiburg im Breisgau, and Berlin, obtaining his doctorate at Jena in 1884. One of his teachers was Ernst von Bergmann (1836-1907). After  passing the state examination in Jena in 1885, he was assistant at the private surgical clinic of the Geheimer Medizinalrat Ernst Meusel (1843-1914) in Gotha for two years.

In 1888 Kehr received further education in Vienna under Christian Albert Theodor Billroth (1829-1894) and then in Berlin. That same year he settled in surgical practice in Halberstadt, where he established a private surgical clinic. It was here that he performed his first cholecystectomy in 1890, on an indigent patient. His intense interest in biliary surgery led to a burgeoning practice in Halberstadt, wgich in relatively short time achieved world wide fame.

One of Kehr’s attributes was a penchant for meticulous recod keeping, lecturing, en espacially writing. By 1907, 10 % of his patients were referrals from all parts of the world. Due to his pioneering work he was appointed professor on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the German Society for Surgery in 1897.

In 1903 he was invited to the United States for lectures and demonstrations in biliary surgery, which greatly impressed his American surgical colleagues. In 1904 he was summoned to Paris to consult on the case of the prime minister of France, Pierre Marie Waldech-Rousseau.

In 1910 Kehr was appointed Privy Councellor andmoved to Berlin in order to concentrate his efforts entirely on bile duct surgery, as well as his literary activity and his interest in music and the arts. He conducted his first gallstone laparatomy in 1890 and during the next 25 years did more than 2.600 operations of the biliary ducts.

Kehr died of septicaemia following injury to his finger during surgery. He selected a verse of Wagner for his tombstone.

The best battle against infectious cholelithiasis is the surgeon’s knife.

Hans Kehr


What is an eponym?

An eponym is a word derived from the name of a person, whether real or fictional. A medical eponym is thus any word related to medicine, whose name is derived from a person.

What is Whonamedit?

Whonamedit.com is a biographical dictionary of medical eponyms. It is our ambition to present a complete survey of all medical phenomena named for a person, with a biography of that person.


Whonamedit? does not give medical advice.
This survey of medical eponyms and the persons behind them is meant as a general interest site only. No information found here must under any circumstances be used for medical purposes, diagnostically, therapeutically or otherwise. If you, or anybody close to you, is affected, or believe to be affected, by any condition mentioned here: see a doctor.