Max Wilms

Karl Maximilian Wilhelm ‘Max’ Wilms (1867 – 1918) was a German surgeon and pathologist.

Eponymously affiliated with Wilms Tumour (nephroblastoma).

In 1899 he produced the monograph Die Mischgeschwülste der Niere which provided a classification for tumours and laid the foundation for modern concepts concerning this group of disorders. He presented a unifying theory that diverse renal tumors originated from embryonic tissue.


  • Born 5 November 1867 Hünshoven, Germany
  • 1890 – After studying law for a semester he switched to medicine. He completed his doctorate in 1890 at the University of Bonn (Thesis: oesophageal resection)
  • 1891 – Assistant to pathologist Eugen Bostroem (1850–1928) in Giessen
  • 1891 – Assistant to pathologist Otto Michael Ludwig Leichtenstern (1845–1900) – Institute for Pathology of Cologne
  • 1907 – Professor of surgery at Basel
  • 1910 – Chair of surgery at the University of Heidelberg.
  • 1918 – In May Wilms performed a cricolaryngotomy on a French P.O.W. with a swollen larynx secondary to diphtheria. The French officer survived, but Wilms became infected with the disease, and died a few days later.
  • Died 14 May 1918 Heidelberg, Germany

Medical Eponyms

  • Wilms tumour – as a result of his extensive work involving renal tumors the eponymous name for ‘nephroblastoma’ is Wilms tumour
  • Wilms operation I – Perineal prostatectomy through a lateral incision (shorter operation, less bleeding)

Key Medical Attributions:

  • 1899 – Wilms examined children’s kidney tumors, added seven cases to a thorough review of the literature, and produced what was the definitive work on the subject – Die Mischgeschwülste der Niere.
  • Introduced the partial rib resection used in the treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Introduced perineal prostatectomy via lateral incision
  • Extensive work in the field of radiology, using radiation therapy for treatment of tumors and tuberculosis.


Major Publications

  • Wilms M. Uber Resection des Oesophagus, Inaugural-Dissertation, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhems-Universitatz u Bonn, Universitats-Buchdruckerei von Carl Georgi, Bonn, 1890.
  • Wilms M. Diagnostischer und therapeutischer Werth der Lumbalpunction. Druckbestimmung mit Quecksilbermanometer. Münchener medizinische Wochenschrift 1897;3:53-57
  • Wilms M. Die Mischgeschwülste. I. Die Mischgeschwülste der Niere. Leipzig: Von Arthur Georgi; 1899. [Wilms tumour]
  • Wilms M. Zur Frage der Gefassverletzungen der Radix Mesenterii. Münchener medizinische wochenschrift 1901;32:1277-1279
  • Wilms M. Tragfahige Amputationsstumpfe mit Sehnendeckung. Vcrhandlungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft fur Chirurgie. Dreiunddreissigster Congress abgehalten zu Berlin April 6-9, 1904:136-137
  • Wilms M. Der Ileus. Pathologie und Klinik des Darmverschlusses, Stuttgart, 1906
  • Wilms M. Die Erfolge der nach meiner Methode ausgefuhrten perinealen Prostatektomien mit seitlichem Schnitt. Münchener medizinische Wochenschrift 1912;47:2548-2550
  • Wilms M. Heilen die Rontgenstrahlen die Prostatahypertrophie? Münchener medizinische Wochenschrift 1916;30:1073


eponymictionary CTA 2


the person behind the name

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

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