Felix Fleischner

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 05 Jan 2021

Felix Fleischner (1893-1969) was a renowned chest radiologist who had two distinguished careers, first in Vienna, before the Second World War, and secondly in Boston, Massachusetts, after fleeing Europe in 1938. The Fleischner Society was named in dedication to him.

Felix George Fleischner was born on 29 July 1893 in Vienna, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He qualified in medicine from the University of Vienna in 1919 4 and completed internships at the Karolinen Kinderspital and the First University Medical Clinic thereafter. He served as a resident and later assistant in Radiology at the Wilhelminen Hospital (now known as Klinik Ottakring) in Vienna from 1921 to 1929. From 1929 to 1930 he trained under Austrian radiologist and inventor Guido Holzknecht and served as as a Professor and Chief of Radiology at the Second Medical Clinic of the University of Vienna from 1930 to 1932. In 1932 he became Chief of Roentgenology at the Vienna Children's Hospital 2

In 1938 Fleischner and his family had to flee Europe because of his Jewish ethnicity and the seizure of power of the Nazis in Austria.

Fleischner is now primarily remembered for his chest radiograph eponyms, although these are less well known to the contemporary radiologist due to the predominance of thoracic CT for evaluating chest disease.

The Fleischner sign describes the unilateral enlargement of the pulmonary artery due to pulmonary embolism (PE), first described in an article he published in 1959. Fleischner lines describe a typical appearance for linear atelectasis on chest radiographs.

In 1938 Fleischner and his family moved to Boston where he worked at the Massachusetts General Hospital for two years and another two years in private practice. In 1942 he became the first substantive radiologist and director of the department at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, MA. He was appointed a Clinical Professor in Radiology at Harvard University in 1950, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1960. Fleischner published 251 scientific papers in his lifetime; he published 164 of them after moving to the United States 2.

Fleischner died from a myocardial infarction whilst swimming on 17 August 1969 in Boston, Massachusetts. Following his premature death, a nascent chest radiology society was named after him in his honor.

  • International Symposia were held in his honor in view of his major contributions to these areas of chest radiology

    • "Pulmonary Embolism" in 1964

    • "The Frontiers of Chest Radiology" in 1967

  • Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Radiologists, UK 1968 4

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