Lecture 4 Renaissance Medicine
Introduction to the Renaissance Medicine. • Medical research and major breakthroughs. Hospitals and healthcare. • Famous scientists of the time. Andreas Vesalius. Ambroise Pare. William Harvey. Lecture Plan
invention of printing press dissection of human body experimental investigation Renaissance Medicine
Renaissance Medicine Leonardo da Vinci made detailed drawings from human bodies that he dissected.
Renaissance Medicine • As the understanding of the body increased, so did the development of new medicines. Building on knowledge of herbs and minerals taken from Arabic writings, Renaissance pharmacists experimented with new plants brought from distant lands by explorers like Christopher Columbus.
Renaissance Medicine • Hospitals and healthcare The majority of people were too poor to be treated by trained doctors. Major cities had hospitals. For example, the Santa Maria Nuova in Florence, treated wealthy patients.
Renaissance Medicine • Surgical instruments remained basic. A surgeon would perform operations with the most basic set of instruments: a drill, a saw, forceps and pliers for removing teeth.
Renaissance Medicine • Surgeons belonged to the working class and did the jobs that were considered beneath physicians, such as bloodletting and pulling teeth. Most surgeries were performed by the barber/surgeon. The most common operations were for hernias, gallstones and cesarean section.
Renaissance Medicine • Andreas Vesalius wrote what is considered to be one of the most important books in the history of medicine, The Fabric of the Human Body (1543). It was a complete map of the human body, complete with life like illustrations. It showed many of Galen’s ideas to be wrong, and soon Vesalius’ view of anatomy (the study of the structure of the body) became accepted by doctors and surgeons.
Renaissance Medicine • Vesalius was so successful that he became Professor of Surgery (responsible for teaching anatomy) at Padua University when he was just 23. At this time, the Catholic Church said that the works of Galen were inspired by God. So, in the universities of Europe, anatomy was taught by professors who simply read aloud from Galen’s books.
Renaissance Medicine • In contrast, Vesalius gave lectures in which he carried out dissections in front of his students, explaining his own theories and not relying on those of Galen. Hundreds came to watch each lecture. He also encouraged his students to examine the human body for themselves.
Renaissance Medicine • In 1543, his masterpiece, The Fabric of the Human Body, was published. It was a very detailed study of anatomy, illustrated throughout by some of the most accomplished artists of the Renaissance. It was based on knowledge gained from human dissections. It provided a complete map of the human body. It showed for the first time how nerves are connected to muscles, how bones are nourished, and the complex structure of the brain.
Renaissance Medicine • Vesalius corrected some of Galen’s errors, such as the idea that humans had the same number of bones in the spine as monkeys, and that the human jaw is made up of two bones when in fact there is only one.
Renaissance Medicine • Ambroise Pare is a key individual in the history of medicine who has been called the founder of modern surgery as he significantly changed the way people thought about surgery.
Renaissance Medicine • Three main problems faced surgeons at this time. They were pain, infection and bleeding. These 3 factors caused many patients to die. The musket (a form of gun) was becoming the most widely used weapon, but the method of treating the wounds – cauterisation – caused a lot of pain. Pare wanted to find a way to overcome this problem.
Renaissance Medicine • The ways of treating gunshot wounds before Pare. 1) If the wound was not too serious, it was filled with boiling oil to stop the bleeding. 2) If the patient needed an amputation, the area would be burnt with a red hot iron, called a cautery iron, to stop the bleeding.
Renaissance Medicine • Pare developed two new methods for treating gunshot wounds. 1) (For less serious wounds) Pare made an accidental discovery when he ran out of oil that he had been using to pour into gunshot wounds. He used a digestive (ointment) instead, made from egg yolks, rose oil, and turpentine. He discovered that this reduced pain greatly. Cauterisation was not necessary and the ointment soothed the area around the wound. It also fought infection, making the wound heal quicker.
Renaissance Medicine 2) (For amputations) Pare made sure the patient was strong by feeding him meat and eggs. He tied the area above the part to be amputated, using a ligature. This held the skin covering the muscles and bones and cut off the blood supply to the area that would be amputated. Once the limb was amputated Pare would use a Crows Beak (an instrument that resembles a pair of pliers) to pull out arteries and veins before tying them off and sewing them up as quickly as possible using silk thread. This meant less bleeding and therefore less chance of death from loss of blood.
Renaissance Medicine • Pare’s method, although groundbreaking, still left some problems to be solved in the future. * Even though Pare’s use of a digestive (ointment) when treating wounds reduced the risk of infection, many patients still died from infection as effective antiseptics had not yet been invented. * Pare’s method of using silk thread to tie off arteries could actually cause infection. Instruments used during operations were not often clean – there was no knowledge of germs – therefore bacteria on those instruments (and the silk thread) was often transferred to the wound and sealed inside.
Renaissance Medicine • William Harvey was very interested in anatomy, particularly the work of Vesalius. After leaving university he worked as a doctor at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, and then as a lecturer in anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons. He was also physician to both James I and Charles I.
Renaissance Medicine • Like Pare and Vesalius, Harvey believed in the importance of careful observation, dissection and experiments in order to improve his knowledge of how the body worked. In 1615 Harvey began to work on the idea that blood circulated around the body. Around this time, water pumps were invented. This gave Harvey the idea that perhaps the heart worked in the same way as a water pump, and pumped blood around the body.
Renaissance Medicine • Harvey’s study of beating hearts showed him that the heart was pushing out large volumes of blood. He proved that each push happened at the same time as the pulse which could be felt at the neck and at the wrist. He realised that so much blood was being pumped out by the heart, that it could not be used up and replaced by new blood as Galen had said. This suggested that there was a fixed amount of blood in the body, and that it was circulating.
Renaissance Medicine William Harvey observed how blood flowed around the body. Drawings like this demonstrate that veins have valves and return blood to the heart.
Renaissance Medicine • Harvey’s theory met with opposition because it suggested that if there was a fixed amount of blood in the body, then there was no need for the practice of bloodletting. Bloodletting was a very common and well respected medical practice, which had been used ever since ancient times.
Renaissance Medicine • Medical practices in the Renaissance were not changed by Harvey’s work. Blood letting still continued to be a popular practice, and it was only in the 1900’s that doctors realised the importance of checking a patient’s blood flow by checking their pulse.
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