Nouvelle Pratique de Chirurgie Medicale et Raisonne, Lyon, 1691. French translation, second edition.

Michael Ettüller, (1644-1683).


Nouvelle Pratique de Chirurgie Medicale et Raisonne,  Lyon, 1691. French translation, second edition.



Michael Ettüller, (1644-1683).

Michael Ettmüller (May 26, 1644 - March 9, 1683), was a German physician. Born and raised in Leipzig, he studied at the University of Leipzig, Wittenberg, and after traveling in Italy, England, and France, returned to Leipzig, where in 1668 obtained his medical doctorate. In 1676 he became a member of the faculty of medicine, was awarded the chair of botany, with a professorship in anatomy and surgery.

Ettmüller did not publish much during his short life (39 years). A popular professor at the time, students flocked to Ettmüller’s lectures. Many of the written works under his name were student compilations of his lecture notes. One of his few personally published works, “A chemia experimentalis atque rationalis curiosa”, became a popular textbook for chemistry and pharmacy. His premature death on March 9th, 1683, was due to chronic lung disease following exposure to chemicals during self-experimentation. Ettmüller believed in chemiatry (chemical therapy), a novel idea in medicine promoted first by Franciscus Sylvius (de la Boe, 1614-1672). 

Ettmüller’s work includes medical and chemical subjects. Dissertatio de chirurgia infusoria, his 1668 doctorate, details his experiments with injecting medications into the venous system of animals. He was one of the first German physicians to experiment with venous infusions of various remedies on animals.  His collected works (1708) were published by his son, Michael Ernst Ettmüller (1673-1732), who organized them posthumously. Michael Junior, like his famous father, was successively professor of medicine (1702), anatomy and surgery (1706), physiology (1719), and pathology (1724) at the University of Leipzig.

Nouvelle Pratique de Chirurgie Médicale et Raisonne is a compilation of surgical pathology and techniques. This second edition is a French translation of the original German text. He has chapters focused on tumors, abscesses, cancer, varicosities, fistulas, ulcers, fractures, luxations, gangrene, and lesions of syphilis, among others.  Perhaps the most important medical innovation reported in this book is his studies on intravenous injections. To understand its importance, one needs to consider that blood circulation was discovered in 1628 by William Harvey, the modern syringe was described in 1650 by Blaise Pascal, and the steel needle was not yet invented for another 176 years (1844, Francis Rand). Ettmüller realized that injecting drugs into the veins is a better way to introduce therapeutic substances for quick action. He was not the first. Christopher Wren 1657 experimented with intravenous infusions using a surrogate needle, a feather calamus (stem) cut at an angle. Ettmüller’s 1668 dissertation, De chirurgia infusorum, is a crucial development in the history of intravenous drug administration, transfusion, and venous catheterization. His dissertation thesis is reproduced in Nouvelle Chirurgie… in its entirety. Ettmuller details the advantages infusion provides over enteral administration of drugs; faster action, especially in case of pain reduction, or the parenteral route may be the only route of administration when the GI tract is obstructed.

These early experiments would later be used to provide routes of administration for vaccines, premedication in general anesthesia, transfusion, minimally invasive heart surgery, or administration of fluids and nutrients in modern medicine.


Ettmüller, Michael. 1668. Dissertationem Medicam de Chirurgia Infusorum.

Deutsche Biographie:

Albrecht (Alberto) von Haller, Bibliotheca Medicinae Practice, Vol III (1648-1685), p 173-183.

Based on research done by Akaysia Jensen, a summer student, 2023. Edited by Andrew I. Spielman.

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Nouvelle Pratique de Chirurgie Medicale et Raison Lyon, 1691. French translation, second edition. >>>