René Laennec

René-Théophile-Hyacinthe Laennec (1781-1826)

René-Théophile-Hyacinthe Laennec (1781-1826) was a French physician.

Laennec gave cirrhosis its name from the Greek word kirrhos, meaning tawny yellow. He was the first to lecture on and coin the term mélanose (from the Greek for black) in 1804. Now better known as melanoma

Laennec invented the stethoscope in 1816


Biography

  • Born 17 February 1781 Quimper, France
  • 1801 – Studied medicine at École pratique
  • 1802 – Published the first of 12 papers as a medical student. Subjects included peritonitis, amenorrhea, the prostate gland, liver diseases, and tubercular lesions
  • 1804 – Thesis on the relationship of the ancient Greek Hippocratic doctrine to practical medicine
  • 1804 – Elected to the Societe de I’Ecole de Medicine
  • 1822 – Chair and professor of medicine at the College de France; Head of the Medical Clinic at Hôpital de la Charité.
  • 1823 – Elected to the Academy of Medicine
  • 1824 – Légion d’Honneur
  • Died 13 August 1826 Ploaré, France

Key Medical Attributions

Cirrhosis:
  • Laennec gave cirrhosis its name from the Greek word kirrhos, meaning tawny yellow. British pathologists John Browne (1642-1700) and Matthew Baillie (1761-1823) had previously provided more detailed descriptions, but not provided a memorable name.
  • This term first appeared in a footnote in 1819 in the first volume of his classic text ‘De l’auscultation médiate 1819;I;368-369 – the term has survived despite the term being dropped from the footnote in it’s English translation in 1827.
Melanoma:
  • Laennec was the first to lecture on and coin the term mélanose (from the Greek for black) in 1804 and published findings in 1806 [1806;II;24-26]. He differentiated melanoma from black tuberculose lesions or carbon deposits in the lung and recognized that melanotic lesions in the lungs were the result of metastatic melanoma.
  • Dupuytren took exception to Laennec’s work as it gave insufficient credit to himself leading to a bitter series of articles over the original ‘discovery‘ of melanoma Dupuytron [1804;II;13-24]

Medical Eponyms

  • Laënnec’s cirrhosis (1819) – cirrhosis without jaundice due to malnutrition and alcoholism
  • Laënnec-Hamman symptom. (1831)
  • Laënnec’s pearlsarchaic – sputum produced by asthmatics

Major Publications


References


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Emergency physician MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM with a passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and informatics. Asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | vocortex |

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