Friday, April 1, 2016

Theodoric Borgognoni (1205-1298)

One of the most important medieval surgeons, also known as Teodorico dei Borgognoni, Teodorico of Lucca, and Teodorico of Cervia, Theodoric Borgognoni was born in Lucca (Tuscany) in 1205. He was the last of the five children of the Luccan surgeon Ugo Borgognoni (d. c. 1259).

Theodoric was a medieval Italian surgeon who anticipated Henri de Mondeville, Paracelsus and Lord Joseph Lister in suggesting that cleanliness was of major importance in wound healing.

Theodoric moved to Bologna in 1214 when his father was hired as town physician, possibly at the instigation of count Rodolfo Borgognoni.

Theodoric learned the art of surgery from his father, an art he exercised with notable success both inside and outside the monastery. Though he joined the Dominican Order and later became a bishop, Theodoric continued to practice surgery and composed a textbook on the subject.

He compiled a Surgery in 1267 in which he proposed that the common practice of promoting suppuration in a wound by probing, packing and dressing was worse than useless. Indeed, he recommends that ‘all wound except bruises ought to be dried out’.

Theodoric Borgognoni was also an advocate of anesthesia and there is evidence that attempts were made to induce a state of unconsciousness to allow surgery to be carried out. Opiates and other plant extracts, including hemlock were soaked into a sponge which was then held under a patient’s nose.
Theodoric Borgognoni (1205-1298)
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