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Does history repeat itself in medicine?
  1. L A S ABDUL-AZIZ
  1. laith.abdul-aziz{at}virgin.net

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    Editor,—I read with interest Dr Cook's “personal view”, on whether history repeats itself in medicine, and I think his article demonstrates his topic vividly. Another illustration is the attribution of the discovery of the pulmonary circulation uniquely to William Harvey (1578–1657).

    The Syrian physician Ibn al-Nafis (1213–88) prepared a commentary in which he explicitly stated that the blood in the right ventricle of the heart must reach the left ventricle by way of the lungs and not through a passage connecting the ventricles, as Galen had maintained. This formulation of the pulmonary circulation was made three centuries before Michael Servetus (d 1553) and Realdo Colombo (d 1559), the first Europeans to describe the pulmonary circulation.2

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    The author responds:

    I thank Dr Abdul-Aziz for his interest in my article. Harvey is, and will forever almost certainly be, accredited with the accepted (and correct) description of the complete, that is, the systemicand pulmonary circulation of the blood throughout the body in Homo sapiens and other mammalian species; his classical descriptions are contained in his greatest work Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus published in London in 1628.1-1 1-2

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