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Knud Helge Faber

Born  1862
Died  1956

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Danish internist, born August 29, 1862, Odense; died 1956, Copenhagen.

Biography of Knud Helge Faber

Knud Helge Faber is particulalrly known for his study of digestive diseases and of tuberculosis. He is also asociated with a retention test meal: intake of easily recognisable foodstuffs with subsequent aspiration. This had previously been recommended by Louis Bourget (1856-1913), Kemp, Wilhelm Olivier von Leube (1842-1922), and Franz Riegel (1843-1904), and was used for investigating the emptying speed of the ventricle. Now replaced by X-ray investigations.

Faber studied in Copenhagen, and was active at the internal clinics under Carl Edvard With (1826-1898) and Christian Gram (1853-1938), at the pathological institute under Karl Georg Lange (1834-1900) and at the bacteriological institute under Carl Julius Salomonsen (1847-1924). He received his doctorate in 1890, and from 1893 to 1932 was professor of clinical medicine and head physician at the Frederiks Hospital, which in 1910 was replaced by the Rigshospitalet. Faber was rector of the University of Copenhagen 1916-1817. He also headed the large commission of 1908 which was to reform the entire Danish health service.

His scientific investigations concerns the bacteriology of tetanus, in which he was the first to demonstrate that the pathological effect of the tetanus bacillus was based on the formation of a specific tetany toxin. Faber also investigated the role of giant cells as phagocytes, the pathogenesis of pernicious anemia, glycemia, glycosury and tuberculosis. His particular interest, however, was the diseases of the digestive tract - achyly, gastritis, ulcus, gastroptosis, farmatrophy - to which he contributed important new knowledge.

The term Faber's test has been associated with Knud Helge Faber. However, Faber's test is a misnomer for Faber's rest, which is not an eponym but an acronym:

F lexion
A bduction
E xternal
R otation

We thank Dr. Patrick J. Thompson for correcting the error.


  • Tetanus som Infektionssygdom. Copenhagen, 1890.
  • Vejledning til klinisk Undersøgelse af Urinen. Copenhagen, 1902.
  • Beiträge zur Pathologie der Verdauungsorgane. Berlin, 1905.
  • Akute und chronische Gastritis.
    In Friedrich Kraus (1858-) and Theodor Brugsch (1878-1963), publishers: Spezielle Pathologie und Therapie innerer Krankheiten, volume 5, 1. Berlin and Vienna, 1921.
  • Nosography in Modern Internal Medicine.
    New York, 1923. 2nd edition, New York, P. B. Hoeber, 1930.
  • Die Krankheiten des Magens und Darms. Berlin, 1924.
  • Funktionelle Sygdomme i Fordøjelsesorganerne. Copenhagen, 1924.
  • Tuberkulosen i Danmark. Copenhagen, 1926.
  • Lectures on Internal Medicine. New York, 1927. With Theodor Brugsch, Faber was the publisher of the 19 volume handbook Spezielle Pathologie und Therapie innerer Krankheiten, Berlin and Vienna, 1919-1929; and Ergebnisse der gesamten Medizin, Berlin and Vienna, 1920. The 16 volume work Kliniske Undersøgelser fra Rigshospitalets Afdeling B appeared from 1907. With Karl Petren (1868-), Sweden, and Peter F. Holst (1861-), Norway, he published the 4 volume work Lærebog i intern medicin (Textbook of Internal Medicine). Biography in L. B. Grote: Die Medizin der Gegenwart in Selbstdarstellungen, volume 8, page 25. Leipzig, 1929.

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