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Richard Lower: Anatomist and Physiologist

John H. Felts, MD
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Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Winston-Salem, NC 27157 (Felts)

Acknowledgment: The author thanks Korey Casper for designing the figure.

Requests for Single Reprints: John H. Felts, MD, Department of Medicine/Nephrology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1030.

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Ann Intern Med. 2000;132(5):420-423. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-132-5-200003070-00023
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The cardiovascular research of William Harvey (1578-1657), based on what he “could discover [of] the function and offices of the heart's movement in animals through the use of my own eyes,” and summarized in De Motu Cordis (1628), marked the birth of modern circulatory physiology and made him one of the truly great physicians in medical history (13). Harvey's school of Oxford physiology, dismissed by the English Civil War (1642-1657), was revived in the last years of the Commonwealth under the leadership of Robert Boyle (1627-1691) and Thomas Willis (1621-1675) and attracted many hard-working and productive students whose works are still insufficiently appreciated (35). One of the most versatile and resourceful of them was Richard Lower (1632-1691) (Table36).

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Grahic Jump Location
The evolution of Lower's instruments into a modern syringe and needle. A.abcdeB.abcdefgC.ab)cd

Lower's original instrument designs. A1. Lower's lancet for venesection. A2 and A3. Lower's apparatus for transfusion: tapered silver tube ( ) for placement in blood vessel, groove in pipe ( ) for placement of connector from infusion, flange ( ) to fix tube by suture, connector or emissary tube ( ), and wooden rod ( ) to close emissary tube while preparing infusion. Changes made to Lower's instruments. B1. The lancet ( ) is rolled to become a tube ( ) with a pointed end. B2. The groove ( ) and the flanges ( ) are truncated, rolled, and fused to form the hub of the needle. The silver pipe ( ) is altered to become the needle. B3. The connector ( ) and the wooden rod ( ) become the barrel and plunger of the syringe. The modern syringe with needle. The lancet and silver pipe have become the needle ( ). The transformed flange has become the needle hub ( . The connector, tipped and scored, has become the barrel of the syringe ( ). The wooden rod has become the plunger ( ).

Grahic Jump Location




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