Denmark was first visited during the Society’s return journey from Sweden in 1934. In Copenhagen Professor Avel Lendorf was seen doing a perineal prostatectomy and Professor Christiansen “with perfect technique attempted to extirpate a hopeless glioma”. In 1966, and again in 1992 Copenhagen’s Rigshospitalet was the venue. Built in 1910, it remains the country’s chief centre for medical teaching and research.
However, Denmark’s largest hospital is the Bispebjerg with 1400 beds and six surgical departments, and was visited in both 1934 and 1966. In 1992 papers were read and heard at Hvidovre Hospital, and its theatres visited. Here Professor Henrik Kehlet undertakes his accelerated care (thoracic epidural with ropivacaine; early feeding and prokinetics; minimally invasive surgery) which gets elderly patients home within a few days of major abdominal operations.
The medical history museum was of particular interest: the University of Copenhagen was founded in 1479 but was closed in 1530 because of unrest during the Reformation, reopening seven years later. Lectures were given on the teaching of Avicenna, Hippocrates and Galen, as well as Aristotle and Euclid, and when in 1584 one Professor Christiansen tried to teach by dissection, nobody would sit at table with him. Caspar Bartholin (the elder) wrote a textbook of anatomy in 1611 that ran to thirty editions, in six languages.
His son Thomas Bartholin was the first to describe the lymphatics and the thoracic duct in man. He also introduced Harvey’s theory of the circulation of the blood to Denmark. Stensen is known for his eponymous parotid salivary duct, and he also recognised lymphoid patches before Peyer, ovarian follicles before de Graaf, and the cardiac tetralogy 17 years before Fallot. Johan Tode introduced to Copenhagen the concept of a Medical Society (founded in 1772) from Edinburgh, and clearly distinguished gonorrhoea from syphilis.