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Neurological stamp:Adam Politzer (1835–1920)
  1. ENT Department, University Hospital, Av. de la Gare 6 CH-1003 Lausanne, Switzerland
  2. email: amudry{at}

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    Recently, I found an interesting manuscript in your journal about Adam Politzer under the section on neurological stamps. I was mildly disappointed by the presence of some inaccuracies concerning the biography of Adam Politzer, and write to you to correct these imprecisions.

    Adam Politzer published in 1878 the first volume of his textbook of otology under the original German title Lehrbuch der Ohrenheilkunde für praktische Ärzte und Studierende. The second volume was published in 1882 to complete his work.1Since the second edition, this textbook of otology was printed in one volume.

    The finding that ossicles vibrate to sound stimuli was not made by Politzer but by Hermann von Helmholtz with his resonance theory published in 1863 completed by the mechanism of ossicles and tympanic membrane in 1868.2 Politzer was one of his students in 1861 in Heidelberg.

    Adam Politzer invented, notably, a revolutionary method to make the eustachian tube permeable in 1863,3 a method which made him famous and carries his name. He also developed an acoumeter in 18774 to measure hearing, replacing the watch, which was used until this date.

    In 1864 Politzer founded with Anton von Tröltsch and Hermann Schwartze the first German and international journal of otology under the original title Archiv für Ohrenheilkunde.5 In 1879 The American Journal of Otology 6 was founded and edited by Clarence J Blake and was printed for only 4 years at this time.

    In addition to more than 100 publications in medical journals, and besides his textbook of otology, Adam Politzer published three other books, all translated into English. As well as one book about anatomical and histological dissection of the human ear7and one about the history of otology.8 Politzer published an atlas of the tympanic membrane in 1865,9 completed and reprinted in 1896.10

    Politzer was certainly the greatest otologist of the 19th century and probably one of the greatest of all time. His influence during 50 years of otology has never been equalled.


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