Jan Mikulicz-Radecki

Jan Mikulicz-Radecki (German: Johann Freiherr von Mikulicz-Radecki) was a Polish surgeon. He was born on 16 May 1850 in Czerniowce in the Austrian Empire (present-day Chernivtsi in Ukraine) and died on 4 June 1905 in Breslau, German Empire. He was professor in Kraków, Wrocław, and Królewiec (Königsberg). He was the inventor of new operating techniques and tools, and is one of the pioneers of antiseptics and aseptic techniques. In Poland he is regarded as one of the founders of the Kraków school of surgery.

Jan Mikulicz-Radecki
Jan Mikulicz-Radecki, 1878
Born16 May 1850
Died4 June 1905 (1905-06-05) (aged 55)
Alma materUniversity of Vienna
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorTheodor Billroth
InfluencedFerdinand Sauerbruch
Walther Kausch
Ludwik Rydygier

His parental ancestors of the Mikulicz family were of Polish szlachta origin and had been granted the Gozdawa coat of arms by King John III Sobieski after the 1683 Battle of Vienna. His mother Freiin von Damnitz was of Austrian descent. Mikulicz-Radecki spoke his native Polish, and also German, Russian and English fluently. When asked his nationality he used to answer "surgeon".[1] After finishing studies at the University of Vienna under Theodor Billroth, he was a director of surgery at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, the University of Königsberg (Królewiec, Kaliningrad) and from 1890 at the University of Wrocław.[2]

Mikulicz-Radecki's innovations in operative technique for a wide variety of diseases helped develop modern surgery. He contributed prodigiously to cancer surgery, especially on organs of the digestive system. He was first to suture a perforated gastric ulcer (1885), surgically restore part of the oesophagus (1886), remove a malignant part of the colon (1903), and describe what is now known as Mikulicz’ disease.

In 1881 he developed improved models of the esophagoscope and gastroscope. As an ardent advocate of antiseptics, he did much to popularize Joseph Lister's antiseptic methods. He created a surgical mask and was the first to use medical gloves during surgery.

Mikulicz-Radecki was a talented amateur pianist and a friend of Johannes Brahms.[3]

He received an honorary doctorate (LL.D) from the University of Glasgow in June 1901.[4]

Associated eponyms

  • Heineke–Mikulicz pyloroplasty: reconstruction of the pyloric channel with a longitudinal incision of the pylorus, and suturing the incision transversely. Named along with German surgeon Walter Hermann von Heineke (1834–1901). (Dorlands Medical Dictionary)
  • Heineke–Mikulicz strictureplasty: one of two procedures commonly employed to relieve fibrotic strictures of the small bowel, the other being Finney strictureplasty.
  • Mikulicz's cells: Vesicular cells found in the diseased tissue in cases of rhinoscleroma and containing Klebsiella rhinoscleromatis. (Who Named It?)
  • Mikulicz's disease: Benign lymphocytic infiltration and enlargement of the lacrimal and salivary glands. It has often been referred to as benign lymphoepithelial lesion, but is now regarded as a manifestation of IgG4-related disease.
  • Mikulicz's drain: Process of pushing successive layers of gauze into a wound or cavity. (Who Named It?)
  • Mikulicz's enterotome (historical term): A special scissors developed by Guillaume Dupuytren. An enterotome is used in abdominal surgery.
  • Mikulicz's mask (historical term): Gauze-covered frame worn over nose and mouth during an operation.
  • Mikulicz's pad (historical term): A gauze-pad used in abdominal surgery
  • Mikulicz's syndrome: Symptoms characteristic of Mikulicz's disease when occurring as a complication of another disease, such as leukemia or sarcoidosis. (Who Named It?)
  • Mikulicz–Vladimiroff operation; also Mikulicz–Vladimiroff amputation (historical term): resection of the foot in diseases of the talus and calcaneus. (Who Named It?)


  1. Wojciech Kustzrycki: International symposium for cardiothoracic surgery 4–6 November 2004 in Wroclaw, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Chirurgie - Mitteilungen 2/2005: 154-8 (PDF) (German)
  2. Iłowiecki, Maciej (1981). Dzieje nauki polskiej. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Interpress. p. 196. ISBN 83-223-1876-6.
  3. Hans Barkan, editor, Johannes Brahms and Theodor Billroth: Letters from a Musical Friendship (1957, Oklahoma University Press, LCCN 57-11190)
  4. "Glasgow University jubilee". The Times (36481). London. 14 June 1901. p. 10.

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