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UAB Libraries - Digital Exhibits

A Vicious Priority Dispute: The Czermak-Turck Feud

The specialty of laryngology began in 1858 in Vienna, Austria, with a vicious priority dispute. The so-called "Türckish War" was a dispute between Ludwig Türck (a Viennese internist) and Johann N. Czermak (a Prague-born physician-physiologist). While in Vienna in 1857, Czermak asked to borrow some small handmirrors used by Türck in research of the larynx. As Türck only did this research in summer when there was more natural light, Czermak observed his own larynx in the winter, using an artificial light. He then had the gall to publicly demonstrate the technique, setting off the dispute with Türck. Both published works on the subject the same year (1860), and gathered other medical allies to their respective corners. Friedrich Semeleder left Türck's clinic with Czermak, who began using the small mirror to observe the back of the nasal cavity. Czermak turned the research over to Semeleder, resulting in his foundational work on rhinoscopy.

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