Carl Jakob Adolf Christian Gerhardt (1833 - 1902)

Carl Jakob Adolf Christian Gerhardt (1833-1902) was a German physician.

Renowned for his work in the formation of paediatrics. Other notable contributions include his research into diabetic ketone detection, work on percussion and auscultation, and his early description of erythromelalgia, a rare vascular peripheral pain disorder previously eponymously named Gerhardt’s disease.

He also named ‘febrile albuminuria’ in 1868, and ‘baker lung’ which described the collection of starch granules in the lung and sputum of bakers.

As a key figure in the formation of paediatrics, Gerhardt co-wrote ‘Hanbuch der kinderkrankheiten’, considered a prominent textbook on paediatrics with nine editions in total between 1887-1893.

  • Born on May 5, 1833, Speyer, Germany
  • 1856 – Graduated with doctorate in medicine from University of Würzburg
  • 1861 – Appointed professor of medicine at the University of Jena
  • 1872 – Appointed professor of medicine at the University of Würzburg
  • 1885 – Appointed head physician at the Charité Hospital in Berlin
  • Died on July 22, 1902, Werbach, Germany

Medical Eponyms
Gerhardt Law (1863)

A law stating paralysis of the recurrent laryngeal nerve results in the vocal cords assuming a position between abduction and adduction.

Gerhardt reaction (1865)

The use of iron chloride to detect acetoacetic in the urine of diabetic patients. Now obsolete due to its poor sensitivity and specificity.

Gerhardt sign (1882)

The pulsating spleen was first described by Nicholaes Tulpii in 1641 as ‘lien verberans’ , without a defined cause. Carl Gerhardt presented three cases of patients with aortic insufficiency and concomitant fever. Gerhardt regarded the pulsatile spleen as a characteristic sign caused by the abnormal blood-pressure conditions of aortic insufficiency with the relaxation of the blood vessels produced by the fever.

Entsteht bei Kranken mit Insufficienz der Aortenklappen ein tastbarer Milztumor, so kann man pulsatorische Bewegungen daran wahrnehmen.

If a palpable splenomegaly develops in patients with insufficiency of the aortic valves, it is possible to perceive pulsatile movements

Major Publications


BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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