August Karl Gustav Bier (1861–1949)
In the late nineteenth century, August Karl Gustav Bier was a surgeon in Germany who studied spinal cord anesthesia, later called spinal block. Bier found that, depending upon the amount of anesthesia introduced into the spinal cord, a large area of the human body could be numbed to various degrees. Bier established a procedure to numb individuals from the lower legs to the upper abdomen, with the individual’s numbness ranging from them feeling pressure on their body to them feeling nothing at all. Bier’s spinal block was one of the first instances of regional anesthesia, or numbing a large area of the body, as opposed to only local anesthesia, or numbing a small area of the body. Bier’s development of spinal anesthesia led to improved pain management during major surgeries, including cesarean sections and amputations.