Renaissance Medicine

Renaissance Medicine

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Renaissance (1500 1750)
The rediscovery of Greek ideas and methods of investigation led to the
abandonment of the accepting attitude of the Middle Ages, and a new,
questioning approach to understanding the world. The scientific method of
experimenting and testing became popular (Harvey), the religious ideas of the
Catholic Church were challenged, and voyages of discovery (Columbus) made.
The Renaissance was an exciting time of new ideas, and inventions such as the
printing press helped to spread them.
This new approach also led to developments in medicine: advances were made in
anatomy, physiology and surgery, but there was almost no progress in cause
and cure or public health. Although the microscope was invented, it was not
powerful enough to see bacteria, so there was no progress in understanding the
cause of disease, and this meant that there was little improvement in medical
Anatomy New ideas of questioning and investigation led Vesalius to
see for himself if Galen's ideas were correct. His
dissections led to `The Fabric of the Human Body' 1534 -
detailed drawings corrected some of Galen's mistakes.
Printing meant these ideas were spread more quickly than
before. Anatomy school at Padua continued Vesalius' work,
and later Harvey studied there.
Physiology Knowledge of one-way valves learned at Padua and the
development of the water pump helped Harvey work out
circulation of blood - 1628. Careful use of scientific
method - experiment and exact measurement - was as
important as the discovery itself. Great advance in
understanding how body works.

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Renaissance (1500 1750)
Cause Ideas about the cause of disease did not change
from the Middle Ages. Disease sent by god, due to
the planets or bad air, or due to imbalance of the
Development of scientific methods was good, but
doctors did not have the tools to make advances in
cause - powerful microscopes needed to see
bacteria (not available until 1830), and better
knowledge of chemistry (oxygen not discovered
until 1777) needed to understand processes inside
the body.…read more


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