Renaissance - 17th Century
History of Otolaryngology Medicine & Surgery
The Renaissance began its work of education in the field of art. Some artists chose to dissect the human body themselves so they could learn directly about the body.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was one of these great artists. He made discoveries in anatomy and was the first to draw accurately the heart, the ventricles of the brain, the maxillary and frontal sinuses, and many of the blood vessels and muscles.
Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) insisted on the importance of personally dissecting the human body, which had normally been left to barbers and servants. He pointed out that many of the errors of Galen were because of his having dissected animals only. Vesalius was the first to give an accurate description of the malleus and incus. He also described the maxillary, frontal, and sphenoidal sinuses.
Bartolomeus Eustachius (1520-1574) wrote a book, which is probably the earliest book to deal just with the ear. Eustachius was one of the first to describe accurately the Eustachian tube and its relationship to the body.
Gabriel Fallopius (1523-1562) used such terms as cochlea, labyrinth, velum palati, and tympanum. Even with his knowledge of the human body, Fallopius believed pus discharge from the ear was "excrement of the brain." Fallopius is also an important figure in rhinology, for he invented the wire snare for the removal of nasal polyps.
Volcher Coiter (1534-1600) is considered one of the great anatomical pioneers because of his accurate description of such structures as the tympanum, ossicles, Eustachian tube, cochlea, and auditory nerve.
Prior to Antonio Musa Brasavola (1490-1554) there were those who wrote and even illustrated tracheotomies but had never performed the operation. Brasavola in 1546 was probably the first person to actually perform laryngotomy. The second was Sanctorius (1561-1636), who made use of a trocar (a sharp pointed surgical instrument contained in a metal cannula), leaving the cannula in the wound for three days. Next came Nicolas Habicot (1550-1624) who in 1620 had four successful cases.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), a famous thinker and philosopher, restored the Platonic method of reasoning. He encouraged men to “think for themselves, base their knowledge on observation and experiment, and hold to facts”. This kind of thinking was necessary to continue with scientific discovery.
William Harvey (1578-1657) discovered the circulation of the blood, which changed the scientific outlook of physiology. Through animal experiments, he was able to show that the heart acted as a pump in propelling the blood through the arteries and that the blood returned to the heart by way of the veins. Harvey never saw capillaries but he assumed they were there.