Auenbrugger, Leopold Elder von

SUBJECT AREA: Medical technology
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b. 19 November 1722 Graz, Austria
d. 18 May 1809 Vienna, Austria
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Austrian physician and the first to describe percussion as an aid to diagnosis of diseases of the chest.
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The son of an innkeeper, Auenbrugger had originally learned to use percussion to ascertain the level of wine in casks. When later he became Physician to the Military Hospital of Vienna, he developed the technique, stating in the monograph that he published on the subject, "I here present the reader with a new sign which I have discovered for detecting disease of the chest. It consists in percussion of the human thorax whereby…an opinion is formed of the internal state of that cavity". The monograph attracted little attention until some twenty years later. Jean Corvisart, personal physician to Napoleon, translated it into French in 1808, giving full credit to its original author. Auenbrugger also had some musical expertise, and with Salieri composed an opera for Maria Theresa.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Ennobled 1784.
Bibliography
1761, Inventum novumex percussione thoracis humani ut signo abstrusos interni pectoris morbos detegendi, Vienna.
Further Reading
J.Forbes (trans.), 1936, "On percussion of the chest"; a translation of Auenbrugger's original treatise, Bulletin of the History of Medicine.
Z.Cope, 1957, Sidelights on the History of Medicine, London.
MG

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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