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Biographical entry Ollier, Louis Xavier Édouard Léopold (1830 - 1900)

Hon FRCS July 25th 1900; MD Montpellier 1856.

Vans Ardèche, France
25 November 1900
Lyons, France
General surgeon


Born at Vans in Ardèche, and studied natural science at the University of Montpellier, being appointed in 1849 Assistant in Botany in the Faculty of Medicine. In 1851 he was Interne of the Hôtel-Dieu at Lyons, took his doctor's degree at Montpellier in 1856, and in 1860, when just thirty years of age, became Surgeon to the Hotel-Dieu of Lyons. Here he established a world-wide reputation, his name being best known to his professional brethren by his work on the regeneration of bone from the periosteum after resection.

When France was invaded by the German Armies in 1870, Ollier gave himself wholly to the care of wounded soldiers, and was the head of the Lyons Ambulance. In this capacity he performed numerous resections, and it should be noted that while cases of amputation were generally fatal, his resection operations were almost uniformly successful; and this was before antisepsis had been introduced into war surgery. It is worthy of remark that he was most careful not to lose sight of patients on whom he had operated, holding that the verification and criticism of old results led to the true consecration of operative methods which are intended to be used for purposes of conservative surgery.

He was a member of the leading medical societies of Europe, and was elected Hon FRCS at the Royal College of Surgeons on July 25th, 1900. He was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1867, promoted to Officer for his services in the Franco-German War, and invested with the insignia of Commander by President Carnot on June 24th, 1894. The same evening Ollier was called in to the wounded President to undertake what little surgery could do for his relief.

Professor Léopold Ollier died suddenly at Lyons on Nov 25, 1900. He left four children, one of his daughters being the wife of the distinguished explorer, Gabriel Bonvalot.

A striking portrait of Ollier is in the Hon Fellows' Album. It is typical of the old dignified generation of French scientific men, and is accompanied by an interesting autograph letter addressed to Sir William MacCormac, who had asked him for his portrait about a month before 0llier's death. A monument was erected in Lyons to the memory of Ollier not long after his death.

The bibliography of Leopold Ollier is very long (see Index Catalogue of Surgeon General's Library, ser 1907, 158). He has left a full account of his works in two pamphlets (both in the Library): "Notice sur les Titres et Travaux de Physiologie Expérimentale de M Ollier", and "Notice sur les Travaux Chirurgicaux de M Ollier", 4tos, dated respectively 1894 and 1895, Paris. The account of the surgical works is illustrated, and inscribed in manuscript to Sir William MacCormac, Bart, President.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Arch prov de Chir, 1901, x, 1, etc. Rev de Chir, 1900, xx, pt ii, 726].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England