Renaissance the Trend in Medicine Term Paper

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It is of extreme importance in medicine to know accurately the anatomical changes that take place in a certain disease for diagnosis and treatment. The man who created this science was Morgagni who taught us to think anatomically in our approach of a disease. Morgagni studied at Bologna under Valsalva and Albertini, who are notable persons themselves in the history of medicine. Morgagni did this in the form of letters to an unknown friend who inquired about Morgagni's thoughts and observations in the diseases he had seen. These included affections of the pericardium, diseases of the valves, ulceration, rupture, dilation and hypertrophy of the aorta which were detailedly described clinically and anatomically. Of all his entires, the section on aneurysm of the aorta is one of the best he had written. A good example of his letter was about angina pectoris.

The aorta was considerably dilated at its curvature; and, in places, through its whole tract, the inner surface was unequal and ossified... The delay of blood in the aorta, in the heart, in the pulmonary vessels, and in the vena cave, would occasion the symptoms of which the woman complained during life; namely, the violent uneasiness, the difficulty of breathing, and the numbness of the arm.."

Morgagni, through this entry, showed also the importance of getting a good history from the patient. His anatomical approach in describing some diseases made it possible for his successors and those who read his wroks to fully understand the value of knowing the anatomy of the diseased organ.

This was followed by Thomas Sydenham, who emphasized the need to write a thorough and accurate history of the illness of the patient. He left these words to reiterate the importance of deriving the correct history in the study of medicine.

In writing therefore, such a natural history of diseases, every merely philosophical hypothesis should be set aside, and the manifest and natural phenomena, however minute, should be noted with the utmost exactness...By these steps and helps it was that the father of physic, the great Hippocrates, came to excel, his theory being no more than an exact description or view of nature. He found that nature alone often terminates diseases, and works a cure with a few simple medicines, and often enough with no medicines at all."

Boerhaave is perhaps the best clinical teacher. He was known to be flocked by students from all over Europe. He taught botany and chemistry and became a chair in the department of Physics after teaching these subjects.

Before the eighteenth century ended, practical medicine had made great leaps. Smallpox was prevalent and considered as one of the deadly diseases that persons who had it seldom reach adulthood it was Edward Jenner who invented the vaccine for smallpox. This made great leaps in the field of medicine that as 1800 began, modern medicine was already taking place.

Modern medicine was marked by a more systematic study of the disease, and specialty clinics were organized. Bichat showed that scientific study of medicine is important. He pointed out the pathological changes in disease were not so much in organs as in tissues, and he laid the foundation of modern histology. He wrote "Anatomic Generale" which was published in 1802 and paved the way for a thorough study of disease processes.

Rene Theophile Laennec, a renowned pupil of Corvisart, laid the foundation of modern clinical medicine through the use of one of the basic but important method in physical diagnosis. If Auenbrugger started percussion, Laennec discovered the art of auscultation, making clinical assessment more accurate than from doing by merely using the sense of touch in documenting observations. With the advent of the use of stethoscope, physical diagnosis was made more accurate and progressive, enabling a more thorough examination of visceral organs such as the lungs, heart and the cavities of the human body. His description of tuberculosis is the most helpful in clinical medicine. This method enabled correlation of the signs and symptoms of diseases with their anatomical changes.

This clinico-pathologic method widened enormously the diagnostic powers of the physician. Bright was able to do this when he studied the relation of disease of the kidney to dropsy and albuminous urine to which he discovered the association of various forms of disease of the kidney with anasarca and albuminous urine. Louis and company were able to distinctly differentiate typhus and typhoid fever. Virchow made researches on cellular pathology. Morgagni's method of "anatomical thinking," Skoda in Vienna, Schonlein in Berlin, Graves and Stokes in Dublin, Marshall Hall, C.J.B. Williams and many others contributed in making a new clinical medicine.

The use of the microscope in clinical work made it possible to obtain an actual process of the disease. Valuable studies were made on the action of drugs and cardiac pathology by Traube, Cohnheim and others.

It was Louis Pasteur who was able to study the process of fermentation and diseases through the use of microscope. This device that was invented by Anton van Leeuwenhoek made it possible for Pasteur to correlate fermentation with disease process, making him understand that pus in an infected wound came from organisms in the air, and not through spontaneous generation. This study gave him successes in the field of medicine which started when he was asked to study the disease of silk worm that devastated the industry during that time. John Lister made use of Pasteur's work to explain the occurrence of sepsis in patients when their open wound becomes infected, thus, causing blood poisoning.

Many more followed with their discovery of etiologic agents using the microscope: Koch with tuberculosis bacilli, Laveran with malaria, Evans with trypanosomes and many others.

Nineteenth century medicine revealed the discovery made by Claude Bernard of the secretions made by the body's internal organs through his study of the glycogenic functions of the liver. Addison, on the other hand, was able to recognize a constellation of symptoms with the disease of the suprarenal glands.

Advances in chemistry made it possible to discover electricity. This advancement in science paves the way for revolutionizing the field of medicine. This enabled scientists to observe minute chemical changes happening in our body. The theme of modern medicine in the twentieth century is preventive medicine. All the discoveries made the previous century made physicians, and scientists realize that diseases have causes and are preventable. Pathogens were being discovered and their path physiology becameme easier to decipher. Sanitation was given importance, and educating the people to make them more aware of the cleanliness needed for disease prevention was being advocated.

Science enabled medicine to make its advances, starting from the pre-medieval time up to the present. Various discoveries made in the field of science made it possible for our scientists, physicians and truth-seekers to understand the anatomy of the body, its function and mechanism, and how various diseases can inflict harm down to the molecular level of our existence. Science and medicine are partners, and this goes down in history and may be one of the truths that cannot be refuted by any scientific mind.


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Mayeaux, E.J. Jr. 1989. A History of Western Medicine and Surgery. Online. Available from Internet,, Accessed May 12, 2007

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Osler, William. 2006. The Evolution of Modern Medicine: A Series of Lectures Delivered at Yale University on the Silliman Foundation in April, 1917. Online. Available from Internet, http:://, Accessed May 12, 2007.

E.J. Mayeaux. 1989. A History of Western Medicine and Surgery. Online article. Available from Internet, Accessed May 12, 2007

William Osler. 2006. The Evolution of Modern Medicine: A Series of Lectures Delivered at Yale University on the Silliman Foundation in April, 1917. Online. Available from Internet, http:://, Accessed May 12, 2007.

Medieval Medicine. Online. Available from Internet, Accessed May 12, 3007

History of Anatomy. Online. Available from Internet, Accessed May 12, 3007

Osler, William. 2006. The Evolution of Modern Medicine: A Series of Lectures Delivered at Yale University on the Silliman Foundation in April, 1917. Online. Available from Internet, http:://, Accessed May 12, 2007

Evolution of Medicine.Online. Available from Internet http::// theEvolutionofmodernmedicine/legalese.html, Accessed May 12, 2007.[continue]

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