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Artur Schüller

Born 1874
Died 1957

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Austrian neurologist and radiologist, born December 28, 1874, Brünn, Czsechoslovakia; died 1957.

Biography of Artur Schüller

Artur Schüller was born in Brünn, Czechoslovakia, when Gregor (Johann) Mendel (1822-1884) was still experimenting with plants in the garden of the Augustinian monastery Königskloster in the town. His father was a specialist in otolaryngology, and a friend of Adam Politzer (1835-1920). He was outstanding at school, especially in the humanities and music, and he entered medicine in Vienna aged 17. He graduated M.D. in 1899 with the highest honours, being awarded a prize by Franz Joseph at a special audience, which had only been given twice during the emperor’s 60 year reign. He subsequently worked at the Allgemeines Krankenhaus and the psychiatric clinic. He was habilitated for neurology and psychiatry at Vienna in 1907, becoming titular ausserordentlicher professor in 1914.

Guido Holzknecht (1872-1931) invited him to join his X-ray department and rapidly he fulfilled the promise of his undergraduate days by his careful analysis of X-ray examinations of the skull, which set out fundamental principles still forming the basis of this examination. In 1910 Schüller performed experiments on dogs that suggested the practicality of cordotomy for pain relief. He also suggested the transphenoidal nasal approach for pituitary operations. In 1909, aged 35, he was appointed university professor in Vienna, where his colleagues were his former teachers Theodor Billroth (1829-1894), Carl Wilhelm Hermann Nothnagel (1841-1905), Hans Finsterer (1877-1955), Adam Politzer, Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902) and Julius Wagner Jauregg (1857-1940).

When World War I came Schüller did much medical work for the army, and wrote a paper describing a patient with Hand-Schüller disease in 1915. Following the war, Vienna changed from a city of prosperity to one of poverty and in the hyperinflation that followed he found great difficulty in making ends meet. In order to eke out a living, he undertook postgraduate classes in private on X-ray diagnosis of disorders of the skull, ear, nose, and throat and made a collection of almost every disorder known of the skull, which unfortunately was lost when he left Vienna. He wrote over 300 papers, monographs and books, and in one described the disorder osteoporosis circumscripta cranii, which is an early stage of Paget's disease of the skull and may be detected before any symptomatology.

With the rise of Hitler, Schüller left Vienna hurriedly in 1938, leaving most of his possessions behind. His two sons were prevented at the last moment from leaving. After a short time in England he went to Australia where, at the age of 65, he commenced to build up a career. He worked in the X-ray department of St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, where Dr. John O’Sullivan, who had been a pupil of his in Vienna, was an associate. He was much sought after as an X-ray consultant and received X-rays from all over the country for his opinion. During the latter years he was troubled by depression and developed Parkinson’s disease. His two sons died in a concentration camp.

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