- 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



    Die chirurgische Behandlung der Gallensteinkrankheit. Berlin, 1896.

    Anleitung zur Erlernung der Diagnostik der einzelnen Formen der Gallensteinkrankheit.
    Berlin: Fischer, 1899.
    English translation, 1901: Introduction to the Differential Diagnosis of the Separate Forms of Gallstone Disease.

    Gallstone Disease. Translated by W. W. Seymour, Philadelphia, 1901.

    Introduction to the Differential Diagnosis of the Separate Forms of Gallstone Disease.
    Based on his experience with 433 laparotomies for gallstones.

    Bericht über 137 Gallensteinlaparotomien. Munich, 1904.

    Die in meiner Klinik geübte Technik der Gallensteinoperationen. Berlin, 1905.

    Die interne und chirurgische Behandlung der Gallensteinkrankheit. Berlin, 1906.

    Drei Jahre Gallensteinchirurgie. With Liebold and Neuling. Berlin, 1908.

    Chirurgie der Gallenwege. Neue Deutsche Chirurgie, volume 8. Stuttgart, 1913.

    Die Praxis der Gallenwege-Chirurgie in Wort und Bild.  Ein Atlas und Lehrbuch in 2 Bänden für Interne und Chirurgen. Two volumes, Munich: J. F. Lehmann’s Verlag,  1913.
    The Practise of Biliary Surgery, in word and pictores.

    Die Ernährungstherapie vor und nach Operationen. In Ernst Victor von Leyden (1832-1910): Handbuch der Ernährungstherapie, Leipzig 1897-1899.

    Die Chirurgie der Leber, Gallenwege, Milz und Pankreas.
    In: von Bergmann, Bruns, von Mikulicz: Handbuch der praktischen Chirurgie.

    Ernst von Bergmann (1836-1907), Paul von Bruns (1846-1916), Jan Mikulicz-Radecki (1850-1905):
    Handbuch der praktischen Chirurgie. Stuttgart, 1899.


    Julius Leopold Pagel (1851-1912), publisher:
     Biographisches Lexikon hervorragender Ärzte des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts.
    Urban & Schwarzenberg, Berlin and Vienna, 1901.

    Isidor Fischer (1869-1943), publisher:
    Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Ärzte der letzten fünfzig Jahre.
    Berlin – Wien, Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1932.

    Barry G. Firkin and Judith A. Whitworth:
    Dictionary of Medical Eponyms.
    The Parthenon Publishing Group. 1989. New edition in 2002.

    Leon Morgenstern:
    Hans Kehr: not first, but foremost. Surgical Endoscopy, New York, 1993, 7: 152-154.

    V. Klimpel:
    [Does Kehr's sign derive from Hans Kehr? A critical commentary on its documentation?].
    Der Chirurg, Berlin, January 2004, 75 (1): 80-83.
    In the abstract of this article, the author says: After a thorough investigation into the body of research conducted by Hans Kehr, one must come to the conclusion that there is insufficient evidence that the term refers to his own work. The question of why the violent pain in the left shoulder during rupture of the spleen is named after the German gall bladder surgeon will remain a mystery of medical history.

    Bernd Schneider:
    Der Chirurg Hans Kehr – Lebendiges wissenschaftliches Erbe.
    Ärzteblatt Thüringen, 2009, 20 (4): 275-279.

    Bernd Schneider:
    Hans Kehr in seiner Zeit. Kultur und Geschichte, 2009, 20 (4): 275-279.

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