Oeuvres Chirurgicales, 1649, Alton, Pierre Ravaud

Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente (a.k.a. Girolamo Fabrici d'Aquapendente, Girolamo Fabrizio (20 May 1533? – 21 May 1619)


Oeuvres Chirurgicales, 1649, Alton, Pierre Ravaud


Oeuvres Chirurgicales, 1649, Alton, Pierre Ravaud


Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente (a.k.a. Girolamo Fabrici d'Aquapendente, Girolamo Fabrizio (20 May 1533? – 21 May 1619)

Not much is known about the exact date of the birth of Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente (1533 (1537?)-1619). It is believed his father was Fabricio, a financially strapped nobleman. The young Fabricius studied Greek, Latin, philosophy, and medicine at the University of Padua, the later subject under Gabriele Falloppio, whom he would later succeed as the professor of Anatomy. On the faculty, he taught anatomy in a temporary dissection theater at the University of Padua. At the time, the currently still visible theater was not yet available. It was built in 1594 at Fabricius' expense. Dissections were held only in the winter months to slow down the decay of the dissected bodies. The amphitheater could accommodate 250 standing students in the six-level rings above the dissection table. Some famous students Fabricius taught included William Harvey, Adrian van den Spiegel, and Fabricuis's later successor, Julius Casserius Placentinus. 

Fabricius is considered the father of embryology. He published works on the development of the fetus (De Formato Foetu, c.1600) and of the brain (Tabulae Pictae, c.1600). Nevertheless, he is best remembered for the description of the venous valves, the importance of which he could not anticipate. That discovery laid the groundwork for Harvey's discovery of blood circulation (1628). Fabricius' work included the study of the stomach, intestines, eyes, ears, esophagus, larynx, and trachea, including the surgical technique for tracheotomy. He died at 82, almost to the day, on May 21, 1619, in Padua. In his hometown of Aquapendente, a statue is dedicated to him. 

Oeuvres Chirurgicales

The volume in our possession is 1649 French (second) edition of his compiled Surgical Works. The original Latin (Opera Chirurgica) was compiled upon his death in 1619. During the next five decades, eight more Latin editions, seven French and one Italian, were published. Between. The famous German surgeon Johannes Scultetus translated Fabricius into German in 1673. Together 17 editions in four languages were published of this work in the 17th century alone, indicating its importance. 

Oeuvres Chirurgicales is a collection of surgical techniques, tools, instruments, and treatments known in the early 17th century. The work is divided into two volumes: the first deals with general symptoms and pathology, the second describes surgical techniques and instruments. The first volume is subdivided into five chapters: 1. Tumors (cancer); 2. Susceptibility (diseases) of various body parts; 3. Ulcers and fistulas; 4. Fractures (traumas); and 5. Joint luxation. The 936-page work has 11 engraved illustrations and a 22-page index. The illustrations are neither particularly well done, nor original. Ambroise Paré, a French surgeon-compiled work published 70 years prior, is better illustrated. Nevertheless, Fabricius' surgical work is an essential milestone in the evolution of 17th-century surgery.

Research and editorial by Akaysia Jensen, a summer student. Edited by Andrew I Spielman.

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