Ottomar Rosenbach

Ottomar Rosenbach (1851 - 1907)

Ottomar Ernst Felix Rosenbach (1851 – 1907) was a German physician.

He published numerous works across a wide scope of medicine, including clinical signs, disease processes, novel laboratory methods in diagnosis, psychotherapy, heart disease pathophysiology, philosophy, and sociomedicine.

Controversially, Rosenbach opposed the bacteriology ideas, arguing that there was lacking evidence that microorganisms were part of the aetiology of certain diseases.

Dr Ottomar Rosenbach’s name is eponymous with Rosenbach sign of aortic regurgitation (1878), Rosenbach sign of autoimmune hyperthyroidism, Rosenbach-Semon Law (1880), and Rosenbach test (1880).

  • Born 4 January 1851 in  Krappitz, Silesia (now Poland)
  • 1874 – Awarded M.D. degree following education at the universities of Berlin and Wrocław (German: Breslau)
  • 1874-87 – Assistant at the medical hospital and dispensary of the University of Jena, Germany
  • 1878 – Appointed privatdozent at the University of Wrocław, Poland
  • 1878 – Assistant at Allerheiligen Hospital, Wrocław
  • 1887-93 – Chief physician at Allerheiligen Hospital (All Saint’s Hospital), Wrocław
  • 1888-96 – Assistant professor at University of Wrocław
  • 1896 – Travelled back to Berlin to pursue research
  • Died 20 March 1907, Berlin, Germany

Medical Eponyms
Rosenbach sign (1878)

Pulsatile liver with aortic regurgitation.

ln jüngster Zeit habe ich wiederum einen Fall von insufficienz der Aortenklappen allerhöchsten Grades beobachtet, in welchem exquisite systolische Leberpulsation bestand, ohne dass Zeichen einer Insufficienz der Tricuspidalis vorhanden.

Rosenbach 1878

Recently I have again observed a case of incompetence of the aortic valves of the highest degree, in which exquisite systolic liver pulsation existed, without signs of tricuspid insufficiency.

Rosenbach 1878

Rosenbach phenomenon (1876)

Absence of the abdominal reflexes on the side of a hemiparesis and also in the presence of acute abdominal disease.

Wendet man das beschriebene Verfahren bei Hemiplegieen aus cerebraler Ursache an, so erfolgt auf der gelähmten Seite kein solcher Bauchreflex, wie ich das Phänomen nennen möchte, während auf der gesunden Seite derselbe unverändert und prompt eintritt.

Rosenbach 1786: 846

If the method described is applied to hemiplegia of cerebral origin, there is no such abdominal reflex on the paralyzed side as I would call the phenomenon, while on the healthy side it remains unchanged and prompt

Rosenbach 1786: 846

Rosenbach-Semon Law (1880)

Lesions of the anterior horn cells on anterior spinal nerve trunks result in a paralysis of extensor before flexor muscles, and that the extensors are also the last to recover after paralysis.

  • Rosenbach O. Zur Lehre von der doppelseitigen totalen Lähmung des nerv. laryngeu (inferior recurrens). Breslauer ärztliche Zeitschrift, 1880; 2: 14-16.
  • Semon F. Clinical remarks on the proclivity of the abductor fibres of the the recurrent laryngeal nerve to become affected sooner than the adductor fibres, or even exclusively, in cases of undoubted central or peripheral injury or disease of the roots or trunks of the pneumogastri, spinal accessory, or recurrent nerves. Archives of Laryngology, 1881; 2: 197-222.

Rosenbach test (1880)

Qualitative medical test to detect the presence of bile in urine. The urine is passed through the same filter paper several times, dried and a drop of nitric acid is added. In the presence of bile a yellow spot with rings of red, violet, blue and green will appear. Also known as the Gmelin test (Leopold Gmelin 1788-1853)

Key Medical Attributions
Heberden nodes by Rosenbach 1890
Heberden nodes
Rosenbach 1890

Major Publications


Doctor in Australia. Keen interest in internal medicine, medical education, and medical history.

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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