The Dawn of Paediatric Surgery: Johannes Fatio (1649–1691) — His Life, His Work and His Horrible End

  • P. P. Rickham
Part of the Progress in Pediatric Surgery book series (PEDIATRIC, volume 20)


Isolated operative procedures on children have been performed since antiquity, but there is no general agreement as to who was the first surgeon to operate systematically on congenital deformities of neonates and infants. Felix Würtz, who lived in Basel from 1518 until 1576 or 1578 and practised surgery in his home town, is thought by many to be the father of paediatric surgery [1]. Würtz wrote a book on wound surgery in four parts [2]. It was allright as far as it went, but it cannot be compared with the masterpiece written by his contemporary, Ambroise Pare, in Paris. Added to Würtz’s surgical textbook was The Children’s Book, which forms the basis for the claim that he was the first paediatric surgeon. Würtz was a friend and pupil of the great Paracelsus, or, to give him his füll name, Theophratus Bombast Paracelsus von Hohenheim, who dominated the European medicine of his time [3]. His medicine was, however, deeply rooted in the scholastics of the Middle Ages. He rejected anatomical dissections and the use of Operations [4], and this view is faithfully reflected in The Children’s Book. Würtz did not describe one Single Operation, and the only descriptions of surgical therapy are concerned with the splinting and bandaging of deformed limbs; in other words, he did not practice paediatric surgery at all.


Paediatric Surgery Paediatric Surgeon Town Hall Home Town Imperforated Hymen 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Ruhrah J (1925) Pediatrics of the past. Hoebar, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Würtz F (1563) Practica der Wundartzney. BaselGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Karcher J (1944) Paracelsus. Nova Acta Paracelsica 1: 82Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Nigst H (1949) Die chirurgischen Vorlesungen von Paracelsus in Basel 1527/1528. Helvetica Chirurgica Acta 16: 157Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Huber-Burckhardt A (1913) Die Basler Familie Fatio. Sonntagsblatt der Basler Nachrichten 28 /29: 121Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Burckhardt A (1917) Geschichte der medizinischen Fakultät zu Basel 1460 - 1900. Reinhardt, BaselGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gerster J (1917) Johannes Fatio. Inaugural Dissertation. Schwabe, BaselGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bonjour E (1971) Die Universität Basel. Helbing and Lichtenhahn, BaselGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Ochs P (1822) Geschichte der Stadt und Landschaft Basel, Vol 7. Schweighäuser, BaselGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Rickham PP (1963) Nicolaas Tulp and Spina Bifida. Clin Pediat 2: 40PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Fatio J (1752) Helvetisch-Vernünftige Wehe-Mutter. Johann Rudolph Imhof, BaselGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Koenig E (1690) In: Miscellanea Curiosa Academiae Imperialis Leopoldinae. Wolfgang Manrith Endteri, NurembergGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. P. Rickham
    • 1
  1. 1.Chirurgische AbteilungUniversitäts-KinderklinikZürichSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations