- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Bernhard Rudolf Konrad von Langenbeck

Born  1810-11-09
Died  1887-09-29

Related eponyms

    German anatomist and surgeon, born November 9, 1810, Padingbüttel, Land Wurstel, Hannover; died September 29, 1887, Wiesbaden.

    Biography of Bernhard Rudolf Konrad von Langenbeck

    Bernhard Rudolf Konrad von Langenbeck was the nephew of the anatomist and surgeon Konrad Johann Martin Langenbeck (1776-1851) who was his father’s stepbrother. His uncle was also one of his teachers. Langenbeck studied in Göttingen where he received his doctorate in 1835 with the dissertation De retinae structura peniore. The following year he wrote the epoch-making work De retina observationes anatomica-pathologicae. This earned him the Blumebcach travel scholarship and in 1836-1838 he went on an educational journey to France, England, Holland, and Belgium. Particularly the English surgeons William Lawrence (1783-1867) and Sir Astley Cooper influenced him

    Following his return he habilitated for Privatdozent in physiology and pathological anatomy in Göttingen on May 1, 1838. 

    Langenbeck became extraordinary professor in Göttingen, and in 1842 was called to the chair of surgery in Kiel, where he was also director of the Friedrich-Hospital.

    During the war of the duchys against Denmark in 1848 Langenbeck served as physician to the general staff  - General-Stabsarzt - and was in charge of the surgical treatment of the soldiers in the field hospitals.  The same year he was called to Berlin to succeed Johann Friedrich Dieffenbach  (born 1792, who had died in 1847, as professor and Director of the Clinical Institute for Surgery and Ophthalmology at the Charité. 

    On the occasion of the 1864 campaign against Denmark, he was appointed Physician General (Generalarzt) and consulting surgeon, and that same year was raised to the nobility. During the campaign he distinguished himself in conservative surgery and gunshot wounds, particularly gunshot fractures. Langenbeck also distinguished himself in the subsequent campaigns, in the Autro-Prussian war of 1866, and the Franco-Prussian war in 1870.

    He was in Orléans at the end of 1870 after the city had been taken by the Prussians and in his capacity as surgeon or as consultant tended to the wounded men with whom every public building was packed. He also utilized the opportunities for instruction that thus arose, and the Militär-ärztliche Gesellschaft, which met twice a week for some months, and in the discussions of which every surgeon in the city, irrespective of nationality, was invited to take part, was mainly formed by his energy and enthusiasm.

    He was appointed Geheimer Medicinal-Rath, Geheimer Ober-Medicinal-Rath, and upon retiring from his professorship in 1882 was made wirklicher Geheimer Rath.

    His experinces from the field hospitals were laid down in numerous papers. He concerned himself particilarly with the resection of joints as weel as gunshot wounds and their treatment, always struggling to save what could be saved. Langenbeck also developed several surgical instruments.

    In civil surgery he made important contributions in the development of plastic surgery, like uranoplastic, cheiloplastic and rhinoplastc as well as methods for the remowal of the upper jaw. he also recommended enforced stretching of the knee joint in contractures - without severing the tendons. He is also remembered for his operation of cleft palate, 1861.

    For years Langenbeck was the undisputed leader of German surgery. Like his uncle, he was a man of many-sided medical education before he specialized in surgery, concerning himself with normal and pathological anatomy, and making extended travels to England and France for advanced education.

    His name first became generally known in 1848, when, as General-Stabsarzt of the young Schleswig-Holstein Army he opened a path for the conservative direction in war surgery by resuming the practice of the resection of the joint that until then had been only rarely used in gunshot wounds. This technique proved itself excellent in the subsequent wars.

    Langenbeck was active well into high age, alsways striving to learn from his own experiences and that of others. He was an excellent teacher and was said to a an amiable man of fine character.

    Von Langenbeck is perhaps best known today as the "father of the surgical residency". Under his tutellage at the Charite in Berlin, he conceived and developed a system whereby new medical graduates would live at the hospital as they gradually assumed a greater role in the day-to-day care and supervision of surgical patients. Among his most well-known "house staff" were such illustrious surgeons as Christian Albert Theodor Billroth (1829-1894) and Emil Theodor Kocher (1841-1917)
    The great achievement of his house-staff model was acknowledged by no less than Sir William Osler (1849-1919) and William Stewart Halsted (1852-1922) who quickly co-opted his concept into the teaching system of the Departments of Medicine and Surgery, respectively, at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital in the late 19th century.

    Langenbeck authored works on the veins and the exstirpation of the larynx, and distinguished himself with developing methods used in ophthalmology.

    Langenbeck introduced the forced extension of contracture of the knee without preceding tenotomy, but his priority to this method was disputed by his cousin Max Langenbeck.

    In 1864 he was knighted for his services during thr Danish war.

    Langenbech was a highly recognised and very popular teacher, drawing large flocks of students to the University of Berlin during his tenure.

    "It is less important to invent new operations and new techniques of operating than to find ways and means to avoid surgery. Yet, it has become increasingly difficult to keep abreast af and to assimilate the investigative reports which accumualte day after day. Albrech von Gräfe, my unforgettable friend, was ill at ease because he felt unable to control even the area of his own discipline; one suffocates, he once told me, through exposure to the massive body of rapidly growing information."
    Address at the First Congress of Surgery, April 20, 1872.
    Translated by Max Samter.


    •  De retinae structura penitiore. Doctoral dissertation; Göttingen, 1835.

    •  De retina observationes anatomical-pathologicae. Göttingen, 1836.

    •  Übersicht der Grundformen, unter welchen die organische Materie in den
        verschiedenen     krankhaften Produkten erscheinen.
        Probevorlesung, Göttingen, May 1, 1838.

    •  Über die Entstehung des Venenkrebses und die Möglichkeit Carcinome
        von Menschen auf Thiere zu übertragen
       Jahrbücher der in- und ausländischen gesammten Medicin, Leipzig, 1840: 25.

      Über habituelle Fingerkrämpfe und die Anwendung der Muskel- und
        Sehnendurchschneidung gegen dieselben
        Medicinisches |Correspondenz-Blatt bayerischer Aerzte, Erlangen, 1840.

    •  Über das Stottern und die Anwendung der Myotomie gegen Sprachfehler
        krampfhafter Art.
    Hannoversche Annalen für die gesammte Heilkunde,
        Hannover, 1841.

    •  Über die unmittelbare Heilung der Wunden durch Abschluss derselben
        von der atmosphärischen Luft.

        Hannoversche Annalen für die gesammte Heilkunde, Hannover, 1842,
        Neue Folge 1: 527-548.

    •  Confervenbildung in dem Nasenausfluss eines Rotzkranken Pferdes.
        Notizen aus dem Gebiete der Natur- und Heilkunde, Weimar, 1841.

    •  Instrumente zur Gaumennaht. Deutsche Klinik, 1849, 1: 36.

    •  Fragmente zur Aufstellung von Grundregeln fü die operative Plastik.
        Deutsche Klinik, Berlin, 1849, 1: 2, 25 and 57; and 1850: page 2.

    •  Commentatio de contractura et ancylosi genu nova methodo violantae
        extensionis ope sanandis. Inaugural dissertation, Berlin, 1850.

    •  Zwei Fälle von Staphylorrhaphie. Deutsche Klinik, 1853. 5:31.

    •  Zwei Falle zur Gaumenaht. Deutsche Klinik, 1853, 5, 3: 524.

    •  Die subcutane Osteotomie. Deutsche Klinik, 1854, 6: 327-330.

    •  Chiloplastik durch Ablösung und Verziehung des Lippensaumes.
        Deutsche Klinik, 7.1855

    •  Das permanente warme Wasserbad zur Behandlung grösserer Wunden,
        insbesondere der Amputationsstümpfe
    . Deutsche Klinik, 7.1855.

    •  Über die Exstirpation des interstitiellen Uterusfibroide.
        Deutsche Klinik, 1859, 11.

    •  Beiträge zur osteoplastik. Vorläufighe Mittheilung.
        Deutsche Klinik, 1859, 11, 48: 475.

    •  Die Geschwülste der Fossa spheno-maxillaris und die Exstirpation deselben
        mittels Resection des Jochbogens.
        Allgemeine medicinische Central-Zeitung, 1860, 19.

    •  Angeborene Kleinheit des Unterkiefers mit Kiefersperre verbunden, geheilt
        durch Resection der Procc. coronoidei. Archiv für klinische Chirurgie, 1860, 1.

    •  Die osteoplastische Resection des Oberkiefers. Deutsche Klinik, 1861, 13.

    •  Zur Geschichte der Uranoplastik. Deutsche Klinik, Berlin, 1861, 13: 436-437.
        [The history of hard palate repair]

    •  Professor Langenbeck on Uranoplasties.
        The Medical Times and Gazette, London, 1861, 2: 69.

    •  Operation der angebornen totalen Spaltung des harten Gaumens nach einer
        neuen Methode. Deutsche Klinik, 1861. 13: 231.
        (New operation for complete cleft of the hard palate).

    •  Die Uranoplastik Mittelst Ablösung des mucös-periostalen Gaumenüberzuges.
        Archiv für klinische Chirurgie, 1861, 2: 205-287.

    •  Die Uranoplastik mittelst Ablösung des mucös-periostalen Gaumenüberzuges.
        (Repair of the hard palate by freeing the mucoperiosteum).
        Archiv für klinische Chirurgie, 1861, 2: 205-287.        
        French translation: De l'uranoplastie par décollement et transplantation
        de la muqueuse et du périoste du palais.
        Archives générales de médecine, Paris, 5th series, 1860, 20,
        March: 271-296 + May:  567-584 + June 709, 721-
        An exemplary account of the history of the operation and of the pathology
        of cleft palate with; in particular, the description of an operation
        designed to provide a bony framework for the new palate.

    •  Angeborene Spaltung des Gaumens bei vollständigem Mangel der processus
        palatini. Heilung durch Uranoplastik. Deutsche Klinik, 1862, 14: 143.

    •  Neue Methode der Rhinoplastik. Berlin klinische Wochenschrift, 1864, 1.

    •  Beiträge zur chirurgischen Pathologie der Venen.
        Archiv für klinische Chirurgie, 1860, 1.

    •  Die Uranoplastik mittelst Ablössung des mucös-periostalen Gaumenüberzuges.
        Archiv für klinische Chirurgie, 1862, 2.

    •  Geheilter Fall Von Gaumenspalte. Deutsche Klinik, 1862, 14: 1-6.
        [Successful repair of hard palate cleft]

    •  Langenbeck  demonstrated a successful case of palate repair to the
        Berliner medicinische Gesellschaft on February 11, 1863.
        Allgemeine medicinische Central-Zeitung, Berlin , 1863, Nr. 19: 159.
    •   Weitere Erfahrungen im Gebiete der Uranoplastik mittelst Ablösung des
        mucös-periostalen Gaumenüberzuges
        Berlin, Verlag von August Hirschwald, 1863.
        Archiv für klinische Chirurgie, Berlin, 1864, 5: 1-170.

    •  Über Resection im Fussgelenk wegen Schussfracturen.
        Berliner klinische Wochenschrift, 1865.

    •  Ueber die Schussfracturen der Gelenke und ihre Behandlung.
        Rede gehalten zur Feier des vierundsiebenzigsten Stiftungsfestes des
        medicinisch-chirurgischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Instituts am 2. August 1868.
        Berlin, Verlag von August Hirschwald, 1868.
    •  Über Schussverletzungen des Hüftgelenks.
        [von Langenbeck’s] Archiv für klinische Chirurgie, Berlin, 1874, 16.

    •  Über die Endresultate der Gelenkresectionen im Kriege.
        [von Langenbeck’s] Archiv für klinische Chirurgie, Berlin. 1874, 16.

    •  Operation for cleft palate.
        Verhandlungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Chirurgie, 1877, 6.

    •  Über Exstirpation des Pharynx.
        [von Langenbeck’s] Archiv für klinische Chirurgie, Berlin, 1879, 24.

    •  Ueber Nervennaht mit Vorstellung eines Falles von secundärer Naht
        des N. radialis.
        Berliner klinische Wochenschrift, Berlin : August Hirschwald,
        1880, 17: 101-116.

    •  Über Gummigeschwülste (Granulome, Syphilome).
        [von Langenbeck’s] Archiv für klinische Chirurgie, Berlin, 1881, 26.

    •  Über Zungenamputation mittelst des Thermocauters.
        [von Langenbeck’s] Archiv für klinische Chirurgie, Berlin, 1882, 27.

    R. M. Goldwvn:
    •   Bernhard van Langenbeck. His life and legacy.
        Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 1969, 44: 248-254.

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