The remarkable Dr. Abildgaard and countershock. The bicentennial of his electrical experiments on animals

Ann Intern Med. 1975 Dec;83(6):878-82. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-83-6-878.


In 1775 Peter Christian Abildgaard, a Danish veterinarian and physician, conducted experiments on electrical countershock on animals. He succeeded in first rendering fowl lifeless by an electric shock and then reviving them by a countershock applied to the chest. Ventricular fibrillation and defibrillation were not known and could not be documented at that early date, but his report suggests he accomplished these changes long before other physiologists described them. Dr. Abildgaard's long and varied career included many significant contributions to veterinary and human medicine, biology, zoology, botany, physics, chemistry, and mineralogy. He also took an interest and was active in politics, economics, and community affairs. This short biography is intended as a fitting, though belated, tribute to his pioneer work on effects of electric shock.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Denmark
  • Electric Countershock / history*
  • France
  • History, 19th Century

Personal name as subject

  • P C Abildgaard