Einar Meulengracht

Jens Einar Meulengracht (1887 – 1976) was a Danish physician.

Meulengracht was physician in chief at the Bispebjerg Hospital as well as a professor at the University of Copenhagen.

In 1934 Meulengracht showed that intrinsic factor is produced in the parietal cells of the gastric mucosa, clarifying the cause of Pernicious Anaemia. He also developed the Meulengracht Icterus Index which was used to quantify the amount of bilirubin in blood.

  • Born on April 7, 1887 in Copenhagen
  • 1905 Student at Sorø Academy, Denmark
  • 1912 Graduated as Doctor of Medicine from the University of Copenhagen
  • 1912-1913 Physician at the war hospital in Valjevo, Serbia during the Balkan War
  • 1915-1923 Held various positions at Bispebjerg Hospital. Became a specialist in gastrointestinal, intestinal and blood disorders in 1918
  • 1918 – Published thesis on haemolytic icterus
  • 1924 – Chief physician, Bispebjerg Hospital.
  • 1928 – Published “Treatment of pernicious anaemia with liver and liver extract”- a slightly modified version of Minot’s and Murphy’s Liver regiment treatment for pernicious anaemia.

Patients should ingest 200 grams of raw or lightly roasted calf liver daily, wrapped like small buns in paper; they were rinsed with water and slipped lightly and softly through their throats

  • 1931 – Meulengracht proposes “The Meulengracht diet” for the treatment of bleeding ulcers.
  • 1934 – Honorary member of the Royal Society of Medicine, London
  • 1935 – Professor of medicine, University of Copenhagen
  • 1935 – Foreign member of the Finnish Medical Society
  • 1939 – Co-founder and co-editor of Nordic Medicine Journal
  • 1945 – Described Holst-Meulengracht syndrome (better known as Polymyalgia Rheumatica)
  • 1948 – Co-editor of the Acta Haemalogica Journal
  • Died on December 26, 1976

Many sought him out and were happy with his care. He had an eminent memory and was able to remember all his patients and their illnesses.

Medical Eponyms
Gilbert syndrome (1900, 1939)

[Meulengracht syndrome; Gilbert-Meulengrach syndrome, Icterus intermittens juvenilis]

Other Eponyms

Meulengracht ikterus index (1919) Meulengracht proposed a method for quantitating the degree of jaundice. It involved diluting 1 ml. of plasma with  saline until the color intensity visually matched a 1:10,000 solution of potassium dichromate; the dilution factor was reported as units.

Meulengracht diet (1934) – Meulengracht attracted international attention proposing the treatment of patients with haematemesis by giving food, rather than fasting and bed rest. He advised that exhausted patients might die after haemorrhage in spite of scrupulous dieting and because a diet sufficient in calories and vitamins is necessary to promote the healing of an ulcer. In all, 286 patients were treated with a puree diet including bread, butter, milk, sliced meats and cheese, fish and mashed vegetables plus alkali and hyoscyamus. Only three deaths occurred under this regime, 1.5 per cent. as compared with a mortality rate of 4-25 per cent. in published series treated by starvation.

Holst-Meulengracht disease (1945) More commonly known as polymyalgia rheumatica. Early original descriptions by Holst and Johanssen (Peri-extraarticular rheumatism) and Meulengracht (Periarthrosis humeroscapularis) in 1945. [aka: humeroscapular periarthrosis, pseudo rhizomelic arthritis, pseudo-polyarthrite rhizomélique]

Meulengracht var levende og underholdende, overbevisende og charmerende, i form elegantier, og han udviste stor medmenneskelighed i sin omgang med patienterne.

Meulengracht was alive and entertaining, compelling and charming, in form elegies, and he displayed great compassion in his dealings with patients

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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