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Ludwik Rydygier among his assistants - painting by Leon WyczółkowskiLudwik Rydygier was born on 21 August 1850 in Dusocin near Grudziądz, Poland. He studied in Pelplin, Chojnice, Chełmno and Greifswald. He obtained his Medical Doctor Diploma in 1873 in Greifswald, where he found employment in a surgical clinic. There, at the age of 24, he received his doctoral degree – his dissertation on surgical antisepsis concerned the effects of carbolic acid (phenol) on tissues and microorganisms. He first moved to Gdańsk, where he held the post of an assistant lecturer, then to Chełmno, where he practiced medicine in an outpatient clinic, and finally in 1877 to Greifswald, where he worked as an assistant at the University Surgical Clinic. His habilitation thesis investigated the surgical treatment of pseudarthrosis, a problem which was relatively unexplored at that time.

Ludwik Rydygier's photoUpon completing his habilitation in 1878, Ludwik Rydygier moved to Jena to take the post of the first assistant in the clinic of Professor F. Riedel. A year later, he bought a house in Chełmno and adapted it into a private surgical clinic, whose standard of equipment and medical procedures could effectively compete with the then modern clinic of the Jagiellonian University. It was in that period that Ludwik Rydygier accomplished his major scientific achievements. In November 1880, as the first person in Poland and the second in the world (the first was Jules Pean), Rydygier carried out pylorectomy due to stomach cancer, restoring the continuity of the patient’s alimentary tract. In November 1881, he was the first person in the world to carry out pylorectomy due to gastric ulcer. The lumen of the stomach, cut and narrowed by puckering sutures, was anastomosed with the lumen of duodenum. The method of pylorectomy followed by the restoration of the continuity of the alimentary tract by end-to-end anastomosis between duodenal and stomach stump was first described by Ludwik Rydygier. In 1884, he introduced a new method of surgical treatment of chronic peptic ulcer disease by means of gastroenterostomy. He was also the author of an original method of removing prostate adenoma (1900) and many other surgical techniques.

Ludwik Rydygier's photoIn 1887, Rydygier moved to Cracow, where he held the post of the head of a surgical clinic and later the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the Jagiellonian University. On 2 July 1887, he was awarded the title of full professor at the Jagiellonian University. Having established his surgical clinic, which he named “Biała Chirurgia” [White Surgery], in Cracow, he moved to Lviv in 1897 to work at the University of Lviv, where he was appointed a full professor of surgery. There again he set up a surgical clinic similar to the one in Cracow – today it is one of the five surgical clinics of the Lviv State Medical University. Rydygier managed the clinic for 23 years and, during that period, he was the Rector of the University of Lviv and the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine for two terms. It that time, he was raised to the nobility.

In his work, Rydygier always tried to make use of the latest scientific achievements. As early as in 1899, he used an x-ray apparatus to diagnose urolithiasis (4 years after the discovery of x-rays). In 1890, he imported portions of tuberculin to Cracow for treatment purposes. In 1911, he conducted first experiments with radium.

Ludwik Rydygier statue in ChełmnoDuring World War I, Ludwik Rydygier left Lviv and moved to Vienna, and then ran a military hospital in Brno, while the clinic in Lviv was turned into a Red Cross Surgical Hospital. Prof. Rydygier returned to Lviv in 1916 and reopened the clinic. That year in June, he was nominated the head of the medical service of the Pomeranian Army in the rank of brigadier general.

Prof. Rydygier published a textbook on the surgical treatment of osteoarticular tuberculosis, as well as a few short texts describing stomach specimens. The process of wound healing was also one of his professional interests. His research activity resulted in about 200 scientific papers, over 150 of which were published.

In June 1920, Prof. Rydygier retired and died suddenly in Lviv.