Harald Hirschsprung

Harald Hirschsprung (1830 – 1916)

Harald Hirschsprung (1830 – 1916) was a Danish pediatrician.

First to describe hypertrophic pyloric stenosis, which he found on autopsy of two infants

One of the first to describe pneumatic reduction of intussusception in 1867

Published on many areas of pediatrics, including pyloric stenosis, intussusception, acute rickets, rheumatic nodules, and constipation in the new-born infant from hypertrophy of the colon

Hirschsprung was known to strongly encourage free health care for poor children and treated patients independently of their diagnosis and social background.


  • Born 14 December 1830 in Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 1855 – Graduated after studying medicine in Copenhagen
  • 1861 – Doctoral thesis: oesophageal atresia.
  • 1870 – Head physician to the Queen Louise Children’s Hospital in Copenhagen – first pediatrician in Denmark
  • 1877 – Professor of diseases of children
  • Died 11 April 1916

Key Medical Attributions

First to provide definitive descriptions;

  • Intussusception: Discouraged by the high mortality of intussusception, Hirschsprung instituted a plan of controlled hydrostatic pressure reduction. By 1905 he was able to present a 35 percent mortality based on 107 personal cases in a disease that was usually fatal in over 80 per cent of cases.
  • Pyloric stenosis: In 1888 Hirschsprung provided the most definitive description in the autopsy findings in two infants [1888; 28: 61-68]

Medical Eponyms

  • Hirschsprung disease (1886) – congenital disorder characterized by the presence of aganglionic colon. Also known as congenital idiopathic dilatation of the colon.

Major Publications

  • Hirschsprung H. Stuhlträgheit Neugeborener in Folge von Dilatation und Hypertrophie des Colons. [Constipation of newborns as a result of dilatation and hypertrophy of the colon] Jahrbuch für Kinderheilkunde und physische Erziehung 1888; 27: 1-7. [PMID 17208575] [Hirschsprung disease]
  • Hirschsprung H. Constipation in the newborn as a result of dilation and hypertrophy of the colon. [Corman ML. Classic Articles in Colonic and Rectal Surgery. Dis Colon Rectum 1981; 24: 408.] [PMID 7021111]
  • Hirschsprung H. Fälle von Angeborenen Pylorusstenose, Beobachtet bei Säuglingen. Jahrbuch für Kinderheilkunde und physische Erziehung 1888; 28: 61-68 [Pyloric Stenosis]


  • Roed-Petersen K, Erichsen G. The Danish pediatrician Harald Hirschsprung. Surg Gynecol Obstet. 1988 Feb;166(2):181-5. [PMID 3276016]
  • Lister J. Hirschsprung: the man and the disease. J R Coll Surg Edinb. 1977 Nov;22(6):378-84. [PMID 342686]
  • Jay V. Legacy of Harald Hirschsprung. Pediatr Dev Pathol. 2001 Mar-Apr;4(2):203-4. [PMID 11178638]
  • Sergi C. Hirschsprung’s disease: Historical notes and pathological diagnosis on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Dr. Harald Hirschsprung’s death. World J Clin Pediatr. 2015 Nov 8; 4(4): 120–125. [PMC4637802]
  • Katz ME, Kolm P. Intussusception reduction 1991: An international survey of pediatric radiologists. Pediatr Radiol. 1992;22(5):318-22. [PMID 1408434]

eponymictionary CTA 2


the person behind the name

Dr Chloe Roy MBChB, BMed Sci (hons). Surgeon in the making | LinkedIn |

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