On the Early Diffusion of the Stethoscope in Italy (C. 1820-1830)


  • Luca Borghi FAST - Institute of Philosophy of Scientific and Technological Action, Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome


Laennec, Stethoscope, Italy, Diagnostic tools


News of the invention of the stethoscope by Laennec in 1816 and of positive reception of this instrument by French medical community reached Italy very soon, even before the publication of the first edition of the Traité de l’Auscultation médiate (1819). But initial curiosity and enthusiasm aroused by the new medical tool in many Italian universities, rapidly faded away, probably due to the lack of expert guides and of the patience needed by the initial training in mediated auscultation. In the mid-1820s, while old physicians and professors put aside the wooden chest-explorer as useless, a new generation of young physicians - some of them still in their medical studies - gave a new start to the Italian interest for Laennec’s tube and, also by means of technical ameliorations of the instrument, contributed to definitively set the stethoscope as an essential aid for diagnosis of chest diseases in our....