Gerhard Hildebrandt, Werner Surbeck und Martin N. Stienen

Acta Neurochirurgica, Online First™, 10 April 2012



Emil Theodor Kocher (1841–1917) was elected as head of the university clinic for surgery in Berne, Switzerland at the age of 31 years. During the 45 years of his professorship he became one of the outstanding surgeons of Europe by using surgical techniques based predominately on physiological and biological ideas. The aim of this article was to highlight his neurosurgical achievements published in the German language.


The illustrations of Kocher’s works in the field of neurosurgery are exclusively based on his publications and works published by his co-workers.


Kocher received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1909 because he devoted himself to intense research and development in the pathophysiology and surgical treatment of diseases of the thyroid gland. His particular neurosurgical interests were in cerebral and spinal trauma, operative treatment of epilepsy and the pathophysiology of elevated intracranial pressure.


Studies of Kocher’s contributions, published exclusively in the German language, lead to the conclusion that Kocher must be designated as the first Swiss neurosurgeon.

Emil Theodor Kocher: the first Swiss neurosurgeon