Emil Theodor Kocher—Valve surgery for epilepsy


Address correspondence to Werner Surbeck, Clinic for Neurosurgery, Kantonsspital St. Gallen, Rorschacher Strasse 95, 9007 St. Gallen, Switzerland. E-mail: werner.surbeck@kssg.ch


Emil Theodor Kocher (1841–1917) was a pioneering and versatile Swiss surgeon who played a decisive role in the surgical evolution on the threshold to the 20th century. Apart from conducting intense research and fostering the development of the surgical treatment of thyroid gland diseases (honored with a Nobel Prize in 1909), he remained a generalist and was active in orthopedic, genitourinary, and neurologic surgery. Even today, many surgical techniques and instruments are still named after him, thus providing evidence of his great impact. His neurosurgical ambitions included, in particular, cerebral and spinal trauma, the pathophysiology of elevated intracranial pressure, as well as etiological considerations and the operative treatment of epilepsy. This article aims to shed light on Kocher’s work on epilepsy, published exclusively in German, and illustrates the development of his idea on valve surgery for recurrent general convulsions.