Thursday, December 16, 2010

Carl von Rokitansky

Carl von Rokitansky
Baron Carl von Rokitansy (1804 - 1878) Outstanding Bohemian pathologist, one of the most important figures in establishing pathology as a branch of medical science. Rokitansy is said to have personally conducted more than 30,000 autopsies in his lifetime. A large number of medical conditions are named after him - Rokitansy-Cushing ulcer (a gastric ulcer caused by elevated intracranial pressure), von Rokitansky syndrome (Budd-Chiari syndrome, occlusion of the hepatic veins, resulting in the calssical triad of abdominal pain, ascites and hepatomegaly), Rokitansky nodule (a teratoma), Rokitansky-Aschoff sinuses (diverticula in the wall of the gall bladder, may be associated with cholecystitis) and Rokitansky's triad (pulmonary stenosis). The very rare Superior mesenteric artery syndrome, characterized by the compression of the third part of teh duodenum between the abdominal aorta and the superior mesenteric artery, was first described by Rokitansky. Rokitansky was also a philosopher (an ardent follower of Schopenhauer) and a liberal politician. The famous pathologist Rudolf Virchow is said to have referred to him as the "Linne of pathological anatomy."

Ingaz Semmelweis

Ingaz Semmelweis
Ingaz Philipp Semmelweis (1818 - 1865) Hungarian physician, described as the "savior of mothers" for his pioneering role in discovering that washing hands (with chlorinated lime) could drastically cut the incidence of puerperal or childbed fever. He is considered one of the most important people responsible for adoption of  antiseptic measures in hospitals, though his theory and suggestions were mostly discarded by contemporaries of his time. Semmelweis died in a mental asylum, probably from septicemia from the infected wounds he had when he was severely beaten up by guards of the institution. Semmelweis reflex, which is a metaphor for the almost reflex like rejection of new ideas because it is against the popularly held belief, is named after him, as he himself suffered extensive rejection and ridicule for his beliefs about puerperal fever.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

William Broadbent

William Broadbent
Sir William Henry Broadbent (1835 - 1907) English physician, well known for his contributions to cardiology and neurology. He was the first to describe a form of stroke, now known as Broadbent apoplexy, which is caused by cerebral hemorrhage into the ventricular system. Broadbent law which states the occurrence of unequal distribution of paralysis in ordinary forms of hemiplegia is named after him. Broadbent sign (recession of the left 11th & 12th intercostal spaces in adherent pericardium) and Broadbent inverted sign (pulsations on the posterior lateral chest wall in synchronization with ventricular systole, in cases of gross left atrial dilation) are both named after him. Two of his sons were also eminent physicians. William Broadbent was involved in a notorious criminal case in the 1890s when he was blackmailed by the serial-killer Dr Thomas Neill Cream (also called the Lambeth poisoner) in a letter that threatened to implicate Broadbent for murders. Towards the end of his life, he was made a baronet for his services rendered to the king.

William Smellie

William SMellie
William Smellie (1697 - 1763) Scottish obstetrician, regarded as the father of British midwifery. He wrote a number of famous textbooks on obstetrics which were widely read. In many of his writings, he was helped by his friend and fellow physician-writer, the author Tobias Smollett. Smellie had a successful practice, and he designed new varieties of obstetric forceps, devised a maneuver to deliver the head first in case of breech presentation, and described in detail the mechanism of labor. Smellie was also a painter and musician, pursuits which he enjoyed in leisure after his retirement to the village of Lanark. Smellie and famous contemporary obstetrician William Hunter have recently been accused of conspiring in murdering young pregnant women to obtain bodies for further study of anatomical changes during pregnancy.

John Hughes Bennett

John Bennett
John Hughes Bennett (1812 - 1875) English physician, physiologist and pathologist. He was the first to describe leukemia (then known as leukocythemia) as a blood disorder. He was also the first to describe pulmonary aspergillosis and also to advocate the use of cod liver oil as a therapeutic agent. He was one of the foremost medical educators of his day, and is considered the father of physiological education for his efforts to bring practical experimental lessons to the medical classroom. He was also one of the first to use the microscope for teaching. He was an opponent of blood letting practices, and advocated for the admission of women to medical schools.

Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle

Friedrich Henle
Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle (1809 - 1885) German physician, pathologist and anatomist, one of the great early figures in the development of modern medical science. He was an early proponent of the germ theory of diseases and Robert Koch was one of his students. He is most famously remembered as the discoverer of the loop of Henle in the kidney. His mammoth Handbook of Systematic Anatomy is considered a classic reference text to this day. His name is associated with many anatomical structures such as the Henle's layer (outer layer of cells of root sheath of hair follicle), Henle's ampulla (ampulla of the uterine tube), crypts of Henle (microscopic pockets in the conjuctiva), Henle's spine (suprameatal spine of the mastoid), Henle's fissure (fibrous tissue between cardiac muscle fibers) and Henle's ligament (tendon of the transversus abdominis). Henle was a man of varied interests who was at home in both the sciences and the arts, and he was also an accomplished musician.

Arthur Hill Hassall

Arthur Hill Hassall
Arthur Hill Hassall (1817 - 1894) British physician, best known for his work on food adulteration and other aspects of public health and sanitation. He also studied botany, and his book on freshwater algae and microscopic observations on water bought into public prominence the need for water reform. He suffered from tuberculosis and throughout his life increasingly sought warmer climates as an aid to cure. He established the National Cottage Hospital sanatorium for treatment of consumptive diseases of the chest. Hassall's corpuscles (spherical eosinophilic bodies in the medulla of the thymus) and Hassall-Henle bodies (small excrescences in the periphery of the Descemet's membrane of the cornea) are both named after him. His work on food adulteration with the help of Thomas Wakely (founder of influential medical journal The Lancet) was instrumental in bringing about much needed reform in food safety.

Astley Paston Cooper

Sir Astley Cooper
Sir Astley Paston Cooper (1768 - 1841) English surgeon and anatomist, renowned for his contributions to anatomy and new surgical techniques and treatments. Many anatomical structures are named after him, such as the suspensory ligaments of the breast (Cooper's ligaments), superior pubic ligament (Cooper's pubic ligament), Cooper's fascia of the spermatic cord and Cooper's stripes (a fibrous structure in the ulnar ligament). Cooper was also renowned for his surgical skills and innovations. He made advances in surgery of the hernia, and of vessels, his most famous contribution being the use of ligation to treat aneurysms. Many diseases were also named after him, such as Cooper's testis (neuralgia of the testicles), Cooper's neuralgia of the breast, Cooper's retroperitoneal hernia, and Cooper's disease (benign cysts of the breast). For his removal of the infected sebaceous cyst from the head of King George IV, he was made a baronet. He had one of the most extensive surgical practices in the first half of the 19th century. His lectures were widely attended by students, and the poet John Keats was one of his students during his medical schooling.

Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer

Edawrd Sharpey-Schafer
Edward Albert Sharpey-Schafer (1850 - 1935) English physiologist, who coined the term "insulin" after theorizing that diabetes mellitus was caused by the deficiency in production of a single substance by the pancreas. He also coined the term "endocrine" for substances that are directly released into the bloodstream, after having discovered adrenaline with George Oliver (English physician and famed inventor of many medical instruments, such as the hemoglobinometer and arteriometer). The Schafer method of artificial respiration (the prone-pressure method) was named after him. He added Sharpey to his name as a tribute (and also to perpetuate) to his teacher, the Scottish anatomist William Sharpey (after whom Sharpey's fibres, which join the periosteum to the bone lamellae, are named).

William Brooke O'Shaughnessy

William O'Shaughnessy
William Brooke O'Shaughnessy (1808 - 1889) Irish physician. He is most famous for his introduction of cannabis and its healing properties to western medicine. He carried out experiments on the therapeutic uses of cannabis during his tenure as physician at the East India Company in Calcutta, India. He was also an expert on telegraphy, and is considered the father of Indian telegraph as he was responsible for laying of much of India's early telegraph lines under Lord Dalhousie's administration. O'Shaughnessy was knighted by Queen Victoria for his telegraph services in India. He also devised the first intravenous fluid and electrolyte replacement therapy for cholera patients. Much of his life after 1860, when he returned to Europe on sick leave, till his death in 1889 is obscure and remains an unsolved mystery.