Claus Jansen
Milestones of Politzer Society

Contributions to memories of  Professor Dr. med. Claus Wilhelm Jansen made by

Professor Gregorio Babighian
Professor Jacob Sade
Professor Mirko Tos
Professor Malte Erik Wigand


What sad news! 

Modern Otology will miss one of its prominent founders and innovators.We all will miss his creative intelligence and ability to teach surgery, his humor, his warm friendly attitude. I'll miss a great, clever, unforgettable friend. I met him first in Padua in the early sixties, when he visited the University ENT Clinic on invitation of my teacher, Professor Michele Arslan, and gave some surgical demonstration of his tympanoplasty technique. Since then I felt very enthusiastic about what was deemed to be a difficult yet a more "physiologic" and elegant treatment of middle ear inflammation. Years later he promoted my membership in the Politzer Soc, and, altogether with Malte Wigand, my election to the board of Directors and the position of Secretary. I feel grateful forever to Claus for his friendly attitude, his worthy teaching and thoughtful advice.He stands among the giant personalities of Otology in the 20th century. I would like to express, also on behalf of Barbara, my deepest sympathy to Hilda and family.

Gregorio Babighian



Clause Jansen-passed away on the 23rd of May 2001

 Clause Jansen was one of the surgeons who influenced considerably and in a very special way otological surgery in the second part of the 20th century. We usually expect surgical progress to emanate from a University or a big center with tradition yet Gummersbach in the German province had no university but Clause Jansen overcame this difficulty in a remarkable way and made it into an Otological center. For this and for his life long contribution he was awarded a professorship by his pears in his country an exceptional gesture in Western Europe.

Clause Jansen developed and perfected the Intact Canal Wall Mastoidectomy or Posterior Tympanotomy as he preferred to call it for the treatment of Cholesteatoma - he believed in it and created a school which helped him to pass the word all over. This technique aimed to remove the Cholesteatoma and reconstruct the ossicular chain in many cases without leaving the patient with an open mastoid ball. Clause was an ardent teacher and he had many pupils-indeed this is one of the marks a notable teacher is remembered for.

Clause was mostly active in the sixties, seventies and eighties of the 20th centuries, when he conducted very special temporal dissection courses in Gummersbach. Indeed Gumersbach became an otological Mecca. Today many Temporal Bone courses are available but this was not the case 25 years ago and the courses directed by Clause Jansen were academically and clinically unique in many aspects, but they were also socially very pleasant  – when he and Hilda his wife were very gracious hosts. The courses became very popular and Otologist from all over the globe flocked in to learn the new surgical concept and approach. Clause was a fantastic organizer and conducted these courses in a beautiful hotel in Gummersbach- the spacious basement paraded twenty or so microscopes and all the other instruments needed, and a big blackboard! But Clause had also vision and “largess” and he recruited for the courses a faculty of younger ardent otologists who came to participate and help year after year. The faculty consisted of about half a dozen otologist who under the special circumstances created by Clause constituted a mini faculty which tried to elucidate (late into the night) the practical and theoretical questions related to chronic ear disease. On the permanent faculty one can recall most vividly Jako Geza, Gordon Smyth, David Austin and Stuart Strong, which were later joined by Peter Alberti, Herman Diamant, Ron Hinchcliff, Rory Willis, Miklos Bauer and others. The special atmosphere in Gummersbach courses was due to the fact that these were not just surgical courses; they encompassed academically every possible facet concerning cholesteatoma and other inflammatory process of the middle ear. While all of us were already senior Otologist it may not be an exaggeration to say that the final polish and maturity stemmed from the mutual interchange of ideas –year after year-which took place in Gummersbach.

During the course live surgery was demonstrated and Clause Janise was a master of ear surgery. After that the usual dissection excersises took place with about every two students having their private instructor. The rest of the day was orchestrated by Clause Jansen as a debating club were every possible point related to Cholesteatoma bone destruction, recurrent cholesteatoma, Middle Ear Mucosa etc. were discussed in depth. Which surgical procedure should we do? And when? And why?  What will be the outcome? I think that it was from here that we first started to realize that only long-term meticulous follow up would demonstrate what the real outcome would be. Today this sounds obvious but only twenty-five years ago a surgeon was very satisfied with an initial good result.

The evenings were especially fecund as then over a glass of scotch or Irish coffee the discussions continued late into the night. It was these discussions which gave birth to the Politzer society when we decided that we should get together every so often “once a year” for a small academic conference or seminar to trash out all the endless problems and questions which we encountered. The Politzer society came into fruition latter in a meeting in Dallas when David Austin promulgated its By Laws. But I doubt whether the Politzer Society would have matured and “grown wings”if not for Clause Jansen’s initiative to put on the famous “ Davos meeting “ where otologist from all over came to discuss the very questions which were left open during the long nights in Gummersbach.

Clause Janzen was a great surgeon who influenced modern Otology considerably. He had many pupils many of them became his close friends and a very good friend he certainly was.

Jacob Sade’



Claus Jansen

In the history of the Politzer Society and middle ear surgery Claus Jansen will always have an important place. Claus was the founder of the Politzer Society, made the first meeting in his own place in Gummersbach and organized many Politzer Society meetings. He was the heart and the soul of the Society through all his long life. 

The name of Claus Jansen is deeply connected to intact canal wall tympanoplasty or combined approach tympanoplasty (CAT). He was the very first to perform the posterior atticoantrotomy and popularized his concepts of preserving the intact canal wall. As the fine surgeon he was, his teaching was very convincing and he has today many pupils all over the word. 

I was privileged to be his pupil and friend since our very first meting in the 60'ties and remember with pleasure our obligatory discussions on advantages and disadvantages of the CAT in our Society meetings.

 Claus has died, but not his ideas. We all will miss him.

 Mirko Tos



Professor Claus Wilhelm Jansen (1921 - 2001)

Five days before his 80th birthday Professor Wilhelm Jansen has depassed in the morning hours of May 23, 2001.  With respect to his good health during recent years his death came unexpected, and has shocked his family, the German ENT community, and many friends in the Politzer Society.

In his country Claus Jansen held an extraordinary position. What is common in the United States is exceptional in Germany: Medical innovations and scientific developments in the field of oto-rhino-laryngology originating from practicing doctors or private surgical groups.  Here, university departments or larger hospital divisions are the traditional bases of clinical research. In so far Claus Jansen's ENT clinic in the city of Gummersbach, established by him in 1952, was unique.

Born in the city of Cologne, Nay 28, 1921, he grew up literally in the shadows of the famous dome towers, becoming a decorated athlete in ice-hockey and tennis. His medical studies were interrupted by the military service in Russia during World War II. Practical work in different hospitals followed with specialization in oto-rhino-laryngology, terminated 1952 in Cologne. Parallel to his settlement in a private practice he studied microsurgery of the ear observing Professor Horst L. Wullstein, who at that time worked in a near-by community hospital at Siegen. Tympanoplasty against chronic otitis media and stapedioplasty for otosclerotic deafness became his fields of interest, in which he soon realized own new concepts. After few years he became a renowned specialist, and could base his experiences on a vast material. His stupendous professional activities were essentially supported by a happy familiar privacy, including his wonderful jolly wife Hilde, and three charming daughters, who filled his home with joy and music, and later, presented seven grandchildren to Claus.

Between 1969 and 1976 Dr. Jansen organized eight practical courses in otologic microsurgery at his service in Gummersbach, featuring dissection lectures and live colour-TV demonstrations from his operating theatre. He was assisted by an outstanding international faculty, consisting among others or David Austin (USA), Geza Jako (USA), Jean Marquet (Belgium), Jacob Sade (Israel), Gordon D.L. Smyth (Northern Ireland), and Stewart M. Strong (USA). These experts earned Jansen's special combined approach to the middle ear, his posterior tympanotomy", and contributed their own techniques. On he basis of this competent and very friendly cooperation a working group of interested oto-surgeons was established which became the nucleus of the "Politzer Society", registered in the United States, and introduced to the public at the First International Symposium or Middle Ear Surgery in Davos, Switzerland, in 1976. Claus Jansen as the President of the Politzer Society during a couple of years, and organized a number of Politzer Society Meetings, for instance in Chicago (1980), Budapest in affiliation to the World Congress of ORL (1981), Montreux (1983) and Vienna (1985). Claus W. Jansen has published a great number of articles in reputable journals, has presented excellent films and videos at international congresses, and has orally contributed to many symposia. He became corresponding or honorary member of the Argentine, Australian, Austrian, Irish and Swiss ORL societies, of the Fondation Portmann in Bordeaux, and the Instituto Garcia-Ibanez in Barcelona, also

a Visiting Guest Professor at Boston University. Between 1983 and 1993 he was lecturer at the University; of Mains, Germany, and was appointed as medical professor by the minister of culture and education in the federal country Northrhine-Westfalia. He received the Heermann Price from the German Society of Oto-Rhino-laryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, a film price from the American Medical Association, and the Semmelweis Medal from the Hungarian ORL Society.

The particular scientific merits of Professor Dr. Claus W. Jansen can be summarized by four statements.

1) He was the initiator of the "Intact canal wall Tympanoplasty" published in 1958, which avoided the classical "open technique" with its persistent radical cavity. Jansen's combined endaural - retroauricular approach thus opened chances for the re-ventilation of the retrotympanic spaces, and allowed a reconstruction of the ossicular chain in its physiologic dimensions, while up to this innovation the type III – V tympanoplasties of Wullstein had reduced the tympanic cavity to a shallow cleft.

2) Another valuable contribution of C. W. Jansen was the introduction of cartilage autografts as the material of choice for the reconstruction of both the posterior canal wall, especially the lateral attic wall, and of parts or the ossicular chain. In 1961 he presented a related report to the World Congress of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology. He also published experiences with homo-and heterologous, even xeno-grafts.

3) Basing on his profound knowledge of chronic otitis media Jansen always stressed the causative role of tubal dysfunction. In consequence, he added a personal technique or extended bone resection at the tubal orifice to his posterior tympanotomy. He also included endoscopy of the middle ear 'via the Eustachian tube in his diagnostic arsenal. 

4) During recent years Dr. Jansen was fascinated by mini-endoscopy of the inner ear. He devised special fiber-optics for the exploration of the vestibule with the hope to identify morphologic changes of the inner ear structures, and of their vascular supply in cases of progressive sensori-neural deafness. It is a tragic fate that he died in Gummersbach the very morning when his newest video film on endoscopy of the vestibule was presented to the Annual Conference of the German ENT Society in Hamburg.

The Politzer Society and many friends mourn the death of this out standing personality, who gave much profile to middle ear surgery, and who was a vigorous, good-humored speaker at many occasions.

Many of us will miss this good companion.  Vale bene in excelsis!


Malte Erik Wigand

Milestones of Politzer Society