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Thomas Bartholin
(1616 - 1680)

picture of Thomas Bartholin


Danish professor Thomas Bartholin was an anatomist, physician, naturalist, physiologist and mathematician. In 1652 he gave the first full description of the human lymphatic system. Bartholin also described the use of so-called refrigeration anaesthesia. The use of freezing mixtures of snow and ice was earlier described by the Italian Marco Aurelio Severino (1580-1656) in De Novis Usa Medico (1646).

In the early 19th century, Napoleonic surgeon Dominique-Jean Larrey observed how battlefield amputations on frozen limbs caused no pain. Four decades later, iced salt solutions were also used in the early days of cryosurgery to shrink accessible tumours and relieve pain.


Utopian Surgery
Thomas Bartholin
Refs and Further Reading
Anaesthesia and Anaesthetics