August and everything after

August Karl Gustav Bier (November 1861 – March 1949) was a German surgeon who pioneered the “Bier Block”.

August Bier found here

In 1898 he invented spinal anaesthesia, which involved a small dose of cocaine being injected into the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the spinal cord. That was a great improvement on existing methods of general anaesthesia, but how effective was it?

image found here

To find out, Bier decided to be anaesthetised himself. But things didn’t go as planned for Bier – or for his hapless assistant, Augustus Hildebrandt.

Hildebrandt was supposed to administer the cocaine but, thanks to a mix-up with the equipment, Bier was left with a hole in his neck from which cerebrospinal fluid began to flow.

Rather than abandon the effort, however, the two men switched places. Once Hildebrandt had been anaesthetized, Bier stabbed, hammered and burned his assistant, pulled out his pubic hairs and – presumably eager to leave no stone unturned in testing the new method’s efficiency – squashed his testicles.

image found here

Once the cocaine had worn off, the pair went out for a boozy dinner, despite their injuries. Both suffered terribly in subsequent days but, while Bier took it easy as he recovered, Hildebrandt had to stand in for his boss at work.

Bier went down in medical history while Hildebrandt is mainly remembered as the man whose testicles he tugged.

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46 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m reading this out loud to my son and we’re both laughing. You have to make this up–this stuff is unbelievably funny.

    • Truth is funnier than fiction

  2. Call me old fashioned, but I think Bier should have bought him dinner before squashing his testicles.

  3. It’s always the bollocks that get it. Want to demonstrate pain? Get someone in the bollocks!

    Before I start the SOB (Save our Bollocks), it’s time for women to make a contribution to science: donate some of your squashy bits for field trials!

    • Ever heard of mammograms?

  4. Gives new meaning to “getting hammered”.

  5. There was a BBC documentary on a while ago about self-experimenting doctors. A US doctor injected himself with the blood and excrement of patients suffering from pellagra to prove their condition was not contagious or caused by poor hygiene. He was sure it was diet-related and was eventually proven right when pellagra was shown to be caused by a yeast/niacin deficiency.

    Moral: eat your cornflakes!

    http://www.jci.org/articles/view/21205

  6. *hides under desk* … they had an interesting relation …

  7. Gory.

    But much better gore than teenagers being chased by and killed off one by one in flicks. :)

    • Tell me about it. I just watched Scream 4

  8. Revenge (for a hole in the neck) is best served (while your assistant is out) cold…

    • I like my revenge cold too

  9. good god. he didn’t have to squash the balls after all the other things he did to his assistant.
    both are weird anyway.

    • All in the name of science

  10. I read that first line as “beer bock” and got excited.

    • It doesn’t take much to excite you does it bearman?

  11. Ouch! Thanks but no, I’ll stick with whiskey.

    • Whiskey might work if you’re getting a loose tooth extracted, but not for a gall bladder operation

  12. OUCH!!! What a heck of a way to start my Sunday…..

    • It must be Monday by now….

  13. Even so there are far worse ways of going down in posterity than being someone who had their nuts tweaked!

    • Yes, you could be remembered for driving cross country in a pair of astronaut diapers. now that would be embarrassing.

  14. Who says scientists are wimps?

    • Hey not me! I’ve been on holiday with you remember?!?!

  15. Is it just me, or is old-school medicine cocaine-based? What is up with that???

    • Doctors know how to have fun with drugs?

  16. Yeah, I’ve worked for people like that.

    • I thought you were self employed ;-)

  17. I suppose Hildebrandt’s mistake was not in vain – I’m assuming it was the inspiration for Spinal Tap?

    • Haha. all the way up to 11

  18. The lengths some men go to just to cop a feel!

    • Or to offer one up

  19. I’m sitting here at 6:51 a.m. in my morning deli having my coffee, both laughing out loud and cringing. My legs are crossed! That was a hell of a start to my workweek. Thank you, my dear.

    • No spitting on the keyboard I hope

  20. They’re lucky they didn’t die from sepsis.

    • they’re lucky the experiment worked at all

  21. Definitely not worth a free dinner.

    • Oh come on, he chucked in some free booze too…

  22. As I learned from another article about Bier, he invented the form for the modern German Stahlhelm (M1916). And of course, he was at the University of Greifswald. This institute has (had) a kind of reputation for interesting figures.

    • One of my favourite artists, Caspar David Friedrich, attended that university

  23. Sounds as if Bier was a psychopath – but then who knows what’s done to us under anaesthetic

  24. Counting Crows!


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