Surgery at the Worth Library

Surgery at the Worth Library

This exhibition was curated by Miss Caroline Benson in October 2010.


Item no. 1: 

Hieronymus Fabricius. 

Hieronymi Fabricii … Opera chirurgica

Padua, Francisci Bolzettae, 1647. 2o.

Fabricius (1533-1619) was professor of anatomy and surgery at Padua for more than forty years.  He is notable for his works on embryology (not all accurate), and his descriptions of venous valves, as well as his influence on his students, who included William Harvey (discovery of circulation of the blood). As well as writing on surgical practice, Fabricius also invented and developed surgical instruments and orthopedic appliances.


Item no. 2: 

Richard Wiseman. 

Several chirurgical treatises.

London, R. Norton and J. Macock,1686. 2o.

Wiseman (1622-1676) was influential as the first to describe tuberculosis of the joints and for hisdescription of gunshot injuries.  He was a surgeon in the Royal Navy, and later surgeon to Charles II.  He is best known for this particular text, of which several editions were released.  The book consists of treatises on tumours, ulcers, diseases of the anus, the king’s evil (tuberculosis of the neck), wounds, gunshot wounds, fractures and luxations, and lues venerea.  There are more than 600 case studies which include the patient’s age, gender and class, symptoms, treatment and end result.  The work is graphic and honest: Wiseman does not hold back from admitting when his medical care is unsuccessful:  “She was let bloud, cupp’d and blistered, and all things were done to draw back the Matter, but she died.”


Item no. 3:  

Guy de Chauliac. 

Ars chirurgica Guidonis Cauliaci … Bruni preterea, Theodorici, Rolandi, Lanfranci, et Bertapaliae, chirurgiae, maxima nunc diligentia recognitae. His accesserunt Rogerii ac Gulielmi Saliceti chirurgiae: … Cum decreta … Senatus Veneti per decennium …

Venice, apud Iuntas, 1546. 2o.

Chauliac (c.1298-1368) was a distinguished French surgeon, who used surgery for hernias and cancer, and treated fractures with splints, slings and bandages.  He provided comprehensive descriptions of the dental practices of his time, including the use of inhalations to reduce pain during treatment.  Chauliac considered that all surgeons must have a sound knowledge of anatomy.  In addition, in this text Chauliac states that a surgeon must have four qualities: he must be learned, expert, ingenious and adaptable.


Item no. 4: 

Job van Meekren

Observationes medico-chirurgicae, ex Belgico in Latinum translatae ab Abrahamo Blasio…,

Amsterdam, ex officina Henrici & viduae Theodori Boom, 1682. 8o.

Meekren is noteworthy for being the first to document bone-graft surgery, where a cranial defect was repaired using part of a dog’s skull.  As the Church ordered the removal of the canine bone, the effects of the surgery were not to be revealed, although it was recorded that the wound healed perfectly.  Meekren also provided the first description of Ehlos-Danlos syndrome (hyper-elasticity of the skin), also illustrated in this volume.


Item no. 5: 

Pierre Dionis

Cours d’operations de chirurgie, demonstre’es au Jardin Royal…,

Paris, chez Laurent D’Houry, 1714. 8o.

Dionis (1643-1718) taught surgery at the Jardin du Roi, which was famous for medical and surgical education.  Louis XIV did much to promote the practice of surgery in France. At his behest, Dionis gave public anatomical and surgical demonstrations in the Jardin du Roi to hundreds of spectators for many years from 1673.  This is his most famous book, which was published in many editions and widely translated.


Item no. 6: 

Andreas Vesalius. 

Andreae Vesalii … Opera omnia anatomica & chirurgica cura Hermanni Boerhaave …, & Bernardi Siegfried Albini …,

Leiden, Joannem du Vivie, et Joan. & Herm. Verbeek. Bibliop., 1725. 2o.

This work is an edited version of Vesalius’ writings on anatomy and surgery, originally printed in one volume in 1543. Vesalius was a sixteenth-century anatomist and physician, famous for his developments in the study of anatomy and how it was taught.  These included revealing errors in Galen’s assertions on the anatomy of humans (based on the anatomy of Barbary apes), public dissections and naturalistic diagrams to accompany his writings.  This text was edited by Boerhaave and Albini, who were themselves well known for their studies on anatomy.

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