- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Karl Adolph von Basedow

Born  1799-03-28
Died  1854-04-11

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German physician, born March 28, 1799, Dessau; died April 11, 1854, Resseburg an der Saale.

Biography of Karl Adolph von Basedow

Karl Adolph von Basedow was born in Dessau, where his father held a prominent position. After graduating from the University of Halle he went to Merseburg where he commenced general practice in 1822. He married early and in his later years became chief medical officer of the town, holding this position for the remains of his life. He died in Merseburg in 1854 following an infection of spotted fever attracted while dissecting a corpse.

Besides surgical successes and some publications his name is well known through the rather common Basedow's disease. It was in 1840 he described the occurrence of exophthalmos through hypertrophy of the cellular tissue of the eyes. He later arrived at the definition of the Merseburger triad, describing the visual symptoms of excessive function of the thyroid gland: Besides exophthalmos (protrusion of the eyeballs), there is goitre and palpitation (increased heart action).

In the English-speaking world the syndrome is known as Grave's disease, because Graves (an Irishman) described the condition i 1835. Basedow also described weight loss and nervousness, and enlargement of the thyroid gland, and suggested the use of mineral waters that contained iodide and bromide in the treatment of this condition. The term Basedow’s disease was suggested by Georg Hirsch (170-18859 in his Klinische Fragmente (Königsberg, 1858).


  • Commentationes in novam amputationis cruris panniculatae encheiresin. Dissertation.

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