During the course of a study of the effect of sodium desoxycholate on the growth of bacteria it was found that sodium desoxycholate dissolves pneumococci much more rapidly and completely than does bile. Although this observation was made entirely independently, it was subsequently found from the literature that sodium desoxycholate has been used for this purpose for some time by a number of people, especially in England.
As early as 1917, Mair1 described a method for the preparation of desoxycholic acid and stated that its solvent action on pneumococci is very much more powerful than that of bile and the common bile salts. Some years later Mair2 published a detailed discussion of the solubility of pneumococci in bile and bile salts. Swarn and Cooper,3 in a publication on the use of sodium desoxycholate in the treatment of pneumococcic empyema, state that they have used sodium desoxycholate in