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History

19th-century methods of diagnosis and treatment

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The search to combat disease gained enormous momentum in the 19th century. Instruments such as the stethoscope and machines such as the electrocardiogram were invented, and research into inoculation began to bear fruit.

Diagnosis

Methods of diagnosis changed massively during the course of the 19th century.

  1. René Laennec (France: 1816) invented the stethoscope and started the practice of 'auscultation' (listening to the patient's chest).
  2. Pierre Louis (France: 1834) argued that symptoms were irrelevant, and that what was happening inside the body was much more important when it came to diagnosing illness. As a result, doctors made diagnoses on the basis of a full clinical examination of the 'signs' made by the disease on the body.
  3. Carl Ruge (Germany: 1878) developed the technique of biopsy (removing cells to determine if they were cancerous).
  4. Doctors used machines to measure the functions of the body precisely:
    • Carl Ludwig (Germany: 1847) invented the kymograph (which measured the pulse).
    • Wilhelm Roentgen (Germany: 1895) discovered x-rays.
    • Willem Einthoven (Holland: 1900) invented the electrocardiograph (which measures heart activity).

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