Carl Weigert s pioneer definition of heart infarction as myocardial, coagulative necrosis due to obstruction of atherosclerotic coronary arteries in 1880, overshadowed by subsequent, secondary publications in the field

Vol. 64 No. 1, 2023


Andrzej Wincewicz, Piotr Woltanowski

In 1880, a German Jewish Professor of Pathology, Carl Weigert (1845-1904) first defined heart infarction as myocardial, coagulative necrosis (Coagulationsnekrose) due to obliteration of atherosclerotic coronary arteries thanks, at least, partially to his great diligence in vascular staining methods. Histochemical techniques made his name eponymic as Weigert s Hematoxylin or Weigert s and Van Gieson s elastic stains are still used in routine practice to visualize, e.g., the framework of vessels. However, his discovery has been overshadowed by far more frequently cited in recent decades, subsequent but secondary, 214-page-long book dated on 1896 and titled L infarctus du myocarde et ses consequences - ruptures, plaques fibreuses, anevrismes du coeur, in which Rene Marie repeated Carl Weigert s words that dead cardiomyocytes lost their cellular nuclei. Weigert introduced the term die Infarcte des Herzmuskels, in 1880, in his paper titled Uber die pathologischen Gerinnungsvorgange, in Virchows Archiv. According to Weigert, occlusions were caused by white thrombi (weissen Thromben) on the ground of atheromatous changes of the coronary arteries. In following manner, he gave macroscopic description of heart infarction: If a blood supply is very roughly (German: brusk), completely cut off in individual parts of the heart muscle, yellowish dry masses are formed that resemble coagulated fibrin. If examined microscopically, one usually does not find any fibrinous material exudate, but often a delusively normal tissue (sometimes you can even see cross striation of the muscle fibers): but all muscle fibers (…) are anucleate. Paradoxically, coronary thrombosis was also a cause of Carl Weigert s death.

Corresponding author: Andrzej Wincewicz, Associate Professor, MD, PhD; e-mail:,

DOI: 10.47162/RJME.64.1.12 Download PDF
Download cover
Download contents

Journal archive