Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities


Erasistratus (304–250 BC) founded a school of anatomy in Alexandria, where he described the valves of the heart; concluded that the heart functioned as a pump; and distinguished between arteries and veins. He believed that the arteries were full of air and that they carried the “animal spirit”; appears to have almost discovered the circulation of the blood; and carried out many studies on the central and peripheral nervous system. His treatments consisted chiefly of bathing, exercise, and simple vegetable diet, and he did not recommend bleeding and purging. He invented a surgical catheter.

For a comprehensive article on Erasistratus, please see “The Neurology of Erasistratus” by JMS Pearce.

Erasistratus diagnoses the prince’s love sickness by noting how his pulse quickened when the woman he loved entered the room. (Jacques-Louis David, École Nationale Supέrieure des Beaux Arts)

Highlighted Vignette Volume 13, Issue 1 – Winter 2

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