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
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.
Key Medical Attributions:
Syphilis: 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
Condom: 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]
Surgery: 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.
Anatomy: Falloppio introduced the terms ‘cavum tympani‘; semicircular canals; the three ossicles (two had been discovered, he named the third ‘stapes‘); labyrinth; cochlea; oval and round window in the ear. Described primary and secondary ossification; mainly in the skull, sternum, and innominate bone. Wrote extensively about the scalp, face, the eye muscles and their function including the levator palpebrae muscle and the oblique muscles. Described in detail for the first time the entire anatomy of the female reproductive system. Added to the medical lexicon: placenta, vagina, cricoid, and tympanum to name but a few. [Observationes Anatomicae]
Peyronie’s disease: myriad potential 16th century descriptions of Peyronie’s disease brilliantly reviewed by Musitelli, et al. They conclude that Gabriele Falloppio (1523 – 1562) provided an early description of Peyronie’s as nodules of palpable scar tissue on the penis, which he termed ‘little acorns’
Falloppio’s Peyronie description 1561
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 estFalloppio 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]
- Fallopia – genus of 12–15 species of flowering plants of the Polygonaceae (buckwheat) family
- Fallopian tube (1562) first recorded as ‘uteri tuba‘. He contested Vesalius’ term for the salpinx as ‘vas semen a teste in uterum deferencs‘ (based on Galen theory of sexual isomorphism). Fallopio corrected this misconception: females have no epidydimis and the ‘uteri tuba‘ is a separate little organ that connects the uterine cornu to the ovary.
- Note: Fallopio coined the term ‘tuba‘ because of the similarity to trumpet. ‘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.‘ [Since the parts of the female’s seminal tube do resemble the shape of this classical music instrument, I have named it ‘tuba uteri‘.]
- Note: 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]
Original text translation Observationes anatomicae 1562 p197-198
- 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‘.
- Falloppii G. Observationes anatomicae. Ad Petrum Mannam medicum Cremonensem. 1561
- Falloppii G. Libelli duo. alter de ulceribus alter de tumoribus praeter naturam. 1563
- Falloppii G. De medicatis aquis, atque de fossilibus tractatus pulcherrimus, ac maxime utilis. 1564
- Falloppii G. In Hippocratis librum de vulneribus capitis, Gabrielis Falloppii medici clarissimi expositio. 1566
- Falloppii G. De humani corporis anatome, compendium. 1571
- Falloppii G. De morbo Gallico liber absolutissimus. 1574
- Bayle AL, Thillaye A. Biographie médicale par ordre chronologique. Paris: Delahays. 1855 p175-177]
- Mortazavi MM, Adeeb N, Latif B, Watanabe K, Deep A, Griessenauer CJ, Tubbs RS, Fukushima T. Gabriele Fallopio (1523-1562) and his contributions to the development of medicine and anatomy. Childs Nerv Syst. 2013 Jun;29(6):877-80. [PMID 22965774]
- Thiery M. Gabriele Fallopio (1523–1562) and the Fallopian tube. Gynecol Surg. 2009;6:93-95. [Tranlsation/Reprint from Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde. 2006;58:492–3]
- Youssef H. The history of the condom. J R Soc Med. 1993 Apr;86(4):226-8. [PMC1293956]
- Speert H. Gabriele Falloppio and the fallopian tubes. Obstet Gynecol. 1955 Oct;6(4):467-70. [PMID 13254064]
- Stephen Fry. QI – A Medley Of Maladies. Series M, Episode 1. October 2015
the person behind the name