Warthin Tumor of the Parotid Gland: The History of an Eponym

Head Neck Pathol. 2023 Sep;17(3):775-781. doi: 10.1007/s12105-023-01559-5. Epub 2023 May 25.


The eponymous history of Warthin tumor (WT) is a fascinating issue in the field of salivary gland pathology. The late decades of the nineteenth century and the turn of the century saw notable German and French contributions on WT. Especially, the seminal 1910 paper of Albrecht and Arzt of Vienna is the foundation for the current knowledge of WT. It is generally believed that prior to this pioneering study, Hildebrand of Göttingen accurately described the lesion of WT in 1895. However, the historical origins of WT appear to be unsettled, and only a few German pathologists and surgeons are aware that dating back to 1885, the first recognizable reference to WT was that by the renowned German-Swiss pathologist Zahn, whose name is eponymously associated with "Zahn infarct" and "lines of Zahn". Two noted French surgeons with a major interest in pathology, Albarrán in 1885 and Lecéne in 1908, did not contribute to the topic. Since the 1950s, a mostly American group of pathologists and surgeons gradually adopted the term WT to replace the very accurate histologic descriptor "papillary cystadenoma lymphomatosum" coined by Warthin himself in 1929. It is our opinion that from a historical viewpoint, there is no particular reason why this tumor should have been named WT.

Keywords: Albrecht and Arzt; Aldred S Warthin; Eponymous history; Friedrich W Zahn; Otto Hildebrand; Warthin tumor.

MeSH terms

  • Adenolymphoma* / pathology
  • Eponyms
  • Humans
  • Parotid Gland / pathology
  • Parotid Neoplasms* / pathology