Peripheral Nerves and Cranial Surgery in Antonio Scarpa (1752-1832)


  • Niccolò Nicoli Aldini University of Verona, Rovereto educational center, I


History of surgery, Peripheral nerve surgery , Trephining, Medical education


A. Scarpa was chairman of Anatomy and Surgery in the University of Pavia for thirty years. An important part of his investigations was directed towards the anatomy of the peripheral nervous system, publishing several masterly works. On the contrary, little is known about his thoughts and activity on peripheral nerves and cranial surgery. With respect to these topics, useful notices can be found respectively in an essay entitled “Ragguaglio sulla neuralgia cubito-digitale che afflisse il cav. Viviani” published in 1832, and in the student’s notes from the Courses of Surgical Operations, in which he lectured about the skull trephining. It is interesting to remark a statement in which Scarpa emphasized the different outcome of “rationality” and “utility” in a surgical procedure. Indeed, the originality of these contributions is not related to innovative surgical techniques, but to the severe criticism and discussion of the guidelines that must direct the surgeon, based on strict pathological and clinical arguments.