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December 1969

Carl Olof Nylén and the Birth of the Otomicroscope and Microsurgery

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology, University of Toronto, and the Defense Research Establishment, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Arch Otolaryngol. 1969;90(6):813-817. doi:10.1001/archotol.1969.00770030815025

THE otomicroscope has become an indispensable tool for most of the operations performed upon the temporal bone today in every part of the world. Like so many of the major innovations that have profoundly influenced medical and surgical techniques, microsurgery went through a period of controversy, verging on active opposition, before it came into full bloom, making possible the development and perfection of new techniques that have entirely revolutionized the specialty of otology.

In 1921 Maier and Lion made their classical observations of endolymph movements in the living pigeon, using a low-power microscope. This prompted Carl-Olof Nylén, then a young assistant in the clinic headed by Gunnar Holmgren, to design a microscope with higher magnification which could be used for distinguishing details invisible to the naked eye during ear operations. Such an instrument was particularly needed for the experimental and clinical study of labyrinthine fistulas which formed the basis of

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