Gabriele Falloppio

Gabriele Falloppio (1523 – 1562) was an Italian physician and anatomist.

A distinguished anatomist, physician, and teacher at the time of Vesalius (1514-1564) and Eustachi (1510-1574). Falloppio identified and named numerous parts of the human body

Eponymous anatomical terms include the Fallopian canal, Fallopian hiatus, Fallopian (ileocecal) valve, Fallopian muscle (pyramidalis) , and the Fallopian tube (salpinx/salpinges).

Expert in botanical studies and materia medica contributing greatly to the Hortus Botanicus, University of Padua. His name was given to the botanical genus: Fallopia [genus of 12–15 species of flowering plants of the Polygonaceae (buckwheat) family]

Father of the modern condom to protect against STD’s (specifically syphilis)

  • Born 1523 Modena, Italy.
  • After the passing of his father from syphilis Falloppio entered the church.
  • Studied medicine initially in Modena, later in Ferrera.
  • 1548 – Chair of Anatomy in Pisa on the recommendation of his patient – Cosimo I de Medici, Grand-Duke of Tuscany
  • 1549 – Dissected the bodies of lions in the Medici zoo, Florence. Opposed Aristotle’s theory that a lion’s bones have no bone marrow
  • 1551 – Professor of anatomy, surgery, and botany at the University of Padua.
  • 1556 – Member of the Medical College of Venice.
  • 1561 – Published all findings in Observationes Anatomicae
  • Died 9 October 1562 in Padua, Italy, aged just 39.
Medical Eponyms
Fallopian tube (1562)

Falloppio first used the term ‘uteri tuba‘. He contested Vesalius’ term for the salpinx as ‘vas semen a teste in uterum deferencs‘ (based on Galen theory of sexual isomorphism). Falloppio corrected this misconception: females have no epidydimis and the ‘uteri tuba‘ is a separate little organ that connects the uterine cornu to the ovary.

Fallopio coined the term ‘tuba‘ because of the similarity to trumpet. Tuba is singular; in Latin/Italian pluralising a word ending in ‘A‘, the last letter becomes an ‘E‘. Thus one Fallopian ‘tuba and two Fallopian ‘tube‘. Entering the English vernacular physicians read the word ‘tube‘ and pluralised it to ‘tubes‘…[QI – A Medley Of Maladies]

Meatus vero iste seminarius gracilis & angustus admodum oritur nerveus ac candidus a cornu ipsius uteri, cumque parum recesserit ab eo latior sensim redditur, & capreoli modo crispat se, donec veniat prope finem, tunc dimissis capreolaribus rugis, atque valde latus reditus finit in extremum quodam, quod memberanosum carneumque ob colorem rubrum videtur, extremumque lacerum valde & atrium est, veluti sunt pannrum attritorum fimbriae, & foramen amplum habet, quod semper calusum iacet concidentibus fimbriis illis extremis, quae tamen si diligenter aperiantur, ac dilatentur tubae cuiusdam aenaea extremum orificium exprimunt. 

Quare cum humus classici organi demptis capreolis, vel etiam iisdem additis meatus seminaries a principio usque ad extremum speciem gerat, ideo a me uteri tuba vocatus est. Ita se haec habent in omnibus, non solum humanis, sed etiam ovinis, ac vacinis cadaveribus, reliquisque brutorum omnium, qua ego secui

Observationes anatomicae 1562: 197-198

This slender and narrow seminal tube (‘ductus seminarius’) is of a firm consistency and of a light colour. It originates near the uterine cornu, widens considerably all along its length, and ends up as a bent branch. At its terminal point, it is fibroid-fleshy and red. It is unraveling like the seam of a worn piece of garment. It displays a wide opening that is closed off as the ‘fimbriae’, fringes converge. When these fringes are carefully separated, this part does indeed resemble the mouthpiece of a (Theban) trumpet.

Since the parts of the female’s seminal tube do resemble the shape of this classical music instrument, I have named it ‘tuba uteri’. This small organ is not only found in females. I have also observed it with sheep and cows and with all animal species I have dissected

Observationes anatomicae 1562: 197-198

Key Medical Attributions:


Falloppio introduced multiple terms to the medical lexicon. He described in detail for the first time the entire anatomy of the female reproductive system and added placenta, uterine tubes and vagina to the medical lexicon.

He described primary and secondary ossification; mainly in the skull, sternum, and innominate bone and wrote extensively about the scalp, face, the eye muscles and their function including the levator palpebrae muscle and the oblique muscles. He added the terms: cavum tympani; the semicircular canals; the three ossicles (two had been discovered, he named the third ‘stapes‘); labyrinth; cochlea; oval and round window of the ear.


Studied the clinical presentation, treatment and prevention of ‘Morbus Gallicus‘ or the French disease. He clarified the distinction between luetic (syphilitic) and non-luetic condylomata (wartlike growths) and highlighted the risks of mercury therapy


Linen cap drenched in a salty and herbal solution. Made to measure and pulled over the penis to protect the wearer against syphilis. He provided the device to more than a 1,000 soldiers and he claimed not a single user contracted the disease. [De morbo Gallico liber absolutissimus]


Falloppio taught his students the safe use of the trocar to drain ascites. He advocated the ‘fossa iliaca’ as preferred site of entry rather than the peri-umbilical region as was commonly practiced at that time.

There are myriad potential 16th century descriptions of Peyronie’s disease. These are well reviewed by Musitelli, et al who conclude that Falloppio provided an early description of Peyronie’s as nodules of palpable scar tissue on the penis, which he termed ‘little acorns’

Nerui sunt insignes ac ualde manifesti, ita ut nisi lusciosos latere possint, iique sunt, in quibus, ac simul in ipsorum inuolucris fiunt ganglia non dolorosa, uel glandulae uocatae, quae postea sunt in causa, ut dum pudendum erigitur ueluti arietinum cornu intortum turgeat, et non distendatur, quod genus morbi mea sententia immedicabile est

Falloppio 1561: 190

These nerves and their sheath are just those parts into which painless ganglions form, that are also called “little acorns.” These ganglions are the cause why, when erection of the penis occurs, it doesn’t swell straight, but like a ram-horn. In my opinion it is impossible to cure this kind of disease by medicines

Falloppio 1561: 190

  • Sometimes known by his Latin name Gabrielis Falloppii, Faloppia or Fallopius
  • Challenged the establishment: Corrected Vesalius’ errors with his un-illustrated commentary on De humani corporis fabrica. Corrected Galen when he incorrectly wrote – the mandible consists of two bones; the sternum consists of seven segments; the humerus is the largest bone in the body after the femur; that male and female sex organs were analogous.
  • Challenges were not always correct: Fallopio incorrectly contradicted some of the old anatomical beliefs, including his denial of the presence of the venous valves, described earlier by Vesalius
  • All the writings of Falloppii, bar ‘Observation Anatomicae- 1561’ were collated by notable physicians of the time and published posthumously
  • The eponymous term Fallopian tubes entered the vernacular and thus the capital letter F has been discarded in French and English respectively ‘trompes de fallope‘ and ‘fallopian tubes‘.
Major Publications

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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