Dr August Karl Gustav Bier (1861–1949)

In 1897 the German surgeon, Dr August Bier administered the first spinal anaesthetic. 

August Bier subjected himself to a clinical experiment in which he observed the anaesthetic effect of a spinal, He had the local injected into himself so he could experience its anaesthetic effect.

August Bier is known as the father the spinal anaesthesia and intravenous regional neural blockade. He was however a surgeon although described as unorthodox. It took him only two years to become a senior lecturer in surgery his mentor being the surgeon Friedrich von Esmarch. (of Esmarch bandage fame)

Bier had a tremendous impact on surgery and anaesthesia. He was the co-author of a surgical textbook,

Chirurgische Operationslehre (Operative Surgery).303

He was also responsible for the invention the M1916 army helmet used by the Germans during the First World War, this familiar shaped helmet was the design the Germans kept and gave them the nickname "square heads"


In 1908, he pioneered the use of intravenous procaine analgesia. The term “Biers Block” is commonly used by some anaesthetists when they perform a regional block on a limb. The substance used nowadays would be prilocaine, however, this particular block is not very widespread in today’s hospitals.


Bier was renowned for his humorous comments such as "A professor is a gentleman with a different point of view.”





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The History of Surgery and Anaesthesia was created as a free resource to educate Students or indeed anyone wishing to understand the beginings of surgery and Anaesthesia.

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