Robert C. Muehrcke

Robert C. Muehrcke (1921 – 2003)

Robert Carl Muehrcke (1921-2003) was an American physician, and pioneer in the field of nephrology.

Muehrcke was one of the pioneers of kidney biopsy technique, and using biopsy as a diagnostic tool in renal disease. His name is eponymous with Muehrcke lines (1956), after observing white nail bands in patients with chronic hypoalbuminaemia (usually < 2 g/dL) and metabolic stress.

As Sgt Muehrcke, a WW II veteran of Guadalcanal, Bougainville and Okinawa, he edited “Orchids in the Mud” a series of personal accounts by veterans of the One Hundred Thirty-Second Infantry Regiment 1941-1945.

  • Born on August 4, 1921 in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1941 – Joined the 132nd Infantry Regiment as the USA entered World War II, and served in Guadalcanal
  • 1945 – Joined the 96th Infantry Division in Okinawa
  • 1952 – M.D. from University of Illinois College of Medicine
  • Associate attending physician at Research and Educational Hospital, Cook County Hospital, and the Department of Medicine of West Suburban Hospital, Oak Park in Chicago; and teacher at University of Illinois College of Medicine.
  • 1992 – Retired
  • Died on November 9, 2003

Medical Eponyms
Muehrcke lines (1956)

Muehrcke lines (or Muehrcke’s nails) are a disorder of the nail bed which can be a reflection of systemic disease. A distinct pattern of paired, white, transverse lines that usually spare the thumbnail and are most commonly in seen in association with hypoalbuminaemia (usually < 2 g/dL), metabolic stress or chemotherapy. Muehrcke’s nail sign secondary to low albumin may be reversible with a rise in serum albumin levels.

Abnormal changes in the finger-nails often provide evidence of systemic diseases. This paper calls attention to a hitherto undescribed change which has been relatea to severe hypoalbuminaemia. This is the appearance of paired narrow white bands in the finger-nails of patients with serum albumin levels persistently below 2.2 g. per 100 ml. These two transverse bands run parallel to the lunule. They are not palpable, do not indent the nails, and are separated from each other and from the lunule by areas of normal pink nail. The distal white band may be slightly wider than the proximal band.

Muehrcke 1956
Muehrcke's lines Consultant 360 Steven Q. Wang, MD
Muehrcke’s lines. Steven Q. Wang, MD (Consultant 360)

Major Publications



Eponymous terms


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 |

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.