Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Category: Anatomy

  • Charles-Pierre Denonvilliers, anatomist and reconstructive surgeon

    Denonvilliers’ fascia consists of several layers of tissue that separate the prostate and seminal vesicles from the rectum. These layers are believed to prevent the spread of cancer from the rectum to the prostate. Their embryological origin and composition have long been of interest and some controversy to surgeons operating on the pelvis, as well…

  • Marie François Xavier Bichat (1771–1802)

    In the universal Pantheon of the medical greats, Xavier Bichat is remembered as “the father of modern histology.” Yet he never used a microscope. He studied the human organs with his naked eye and evaluated them for their physical features (such as elasticity, transparency, and hardness). He postulated that each organ was not a homogenous…

  • Forensic medicine and Sir Bernard Spilsbury

    JMS PearceHull, England A forensic autopsy performed to establish the cause of death is an ancient practice.1 In Europe it was preceded by conventional pathology, as started by Herophilus of Chalcedon (335–280 BC). Medicolegal autopsies to solve legal problems were first performed in Bologna in 1302. During the Middle Ages, physicians’ opinions were sought to…

  • Anna Morandi, famous anatomist of Bologna

    Anna Morandi Manzolini (1714–1774) was an Italian anatomist and sculptor who created some of the most beautiful and accurate anatomical models of her time. She came from a Bologna family of artists and scientists, her father being a painter and her mother a midwife. While a student at the University of Bologna, she became interested…

  • Conflict about the clitoris: Colombo versus Fallopio

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”– Oscar Wilde The clitoris, a female genital structure anatomically homologous to the penis, was known to the ancients. In 540 BC, the Greek Hipponax made one of the earliest references to it. It was not mentioned by Hippocrates,1 but Arabic, Persian, and Roman writers…

  • The two Sylvius anatomists

    Buried deep in the cobwebs of medical history lies the persisting misconception that a single person called Sylvius made important advances in the discipline of anatomy. But in fact, there were two persons remembered by that name. There was Jacobus, whose name is most commonly linked to the Aqueduct of Sylvius, and there was Franciscus,…

  • Diocles of Carystus

    Diocles of Carystus (probably 375–300 BC), also known as Diocles Medicus, came from the island of Euboea but is remembered as a resident of Athens. He wrote on animal anatomy, dietetics, physiology, embryology, and medical botany, but only fragments of his writings survive. His work on anatomy may have been the first of its kind…

  • Anatomy of the Araimandi

    Shreya SrivastavaAlbany, New York, United States Bharatanatyam is one of the oldest dance forms theorized in text. Originating in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Bharatanatyam dates to an estimated time of 500 BC when it was first described in the Natyashastra, an ancient book based in Hindu philosophy that specifies the physical, social,…

  • Handmaidens of anatomy

    Elisabeth BranderSt. Louis, Missouri, United States Some of the most well-known images in the history of anatomy are the woodcut écorché figures that appear in Andreas Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica, published in 1543. Rather than lying inert on a dissection table, they stride boldly through a pastoral landscape as if still alive, showing their…

  • Between Vesalius and the CAT scan

    Howard FischerUppsala, Sweden Scribe: noun. A person who copies documents, especially a person who made handwritten copies before the invention of printing.— Dictionary.com The first reliable anatomic drawings based on human dissections may have been those of Leonardo Da Vinci (1452–1519). Later, Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564), born in Brussels as Andries van Wesel and having taken a…