Carl Koller, Cocaine, and Local Anesthesia Some Less Known and Forgotten Facts

Michael Goerig, Douglas Bacon, Andre van Zundert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Web of Science)


Modern-day local anesthesia began in 1884 with a discovery by a young unknown ophthalmologist from Vienna named Carl Koller, who placed a cocaine solution on the cornea, thus producing insensibility. The news of his discovery spread throughout the world in less than a month. "Not surprisingly," a controversial priority discussion emerged. There is little information about this "dark side" of Koller's discovery and only sparse data about the personalities involved in this controversy. In addition, Carl Koller's decision to leave Vienna is also surrounded in secrecy. The story surrounding the revelation of the local anesthetic effect of cocaine and the personalities involved is fascinating and relatively unknown.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-324
JournalRegional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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