Hepatology History

Evidence from autopsies on Egyptian mummies suggest that liver damage from parasitic infection Bilharziasis was widespread in the ancient society.

It is possible that the Greeks may have been aware of the liver's ability to exponentially duplicate as illustrated by the story of Prometheus. However, knowledge about liver disease in antiquity is questionable. Most of the important advances in the field have been made in the last 50 years.

  • In 400 BC Hippocrates mentioned liver abscess in apporium .
  • Roman anatomist Galen thought the liver was the principle organ of the body. He also identified its relationship with the gallbladder and spleen.
  • Around 100CE Areteus of cappadoca wrote on jaundice
  • In medieval period Avicenna noted the importance of urine in diagnosing liver conditions.
  • 1770 French anatomist Antoine Portal noted bleeding due to oesophageal varices,
  • 1844 Gabriel Valentin showed pancreatic juices break down food in digestion.
  • 1846 Justus Von Leibig discovered pancreatic juice tyrosine
  • In 1958, Moore developed a standard technique for canine orthotopic liver transplantation.
  • The first human liver transplant was performed in 1963 by Dr. Thomas E. Starzl on a 3-year-old male afflicted with biliary atresia after perfecting the technique on canine livers.,
  • Baruch S. Blumberg discovered Hepatitis B virus in 1966 and developed first vaccine against it 1969. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1976.

Further Reading


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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011

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