The Development of Physical Diagnosis: Historical Perspectives


The history of physical diagnosis started with Hippocrates and his school. History taking, inspection, palpation, and sometimes immediate auscultation and examination of the urine are fundamental diagnostic tools. The Hippocratic Corpus and Galen’s authoritative theoretical writings dominate medical thinking for over 1000 years. Clinical examination advances through Vesalius and Morgagni’s discoveries of human dissection (1543) and pathologic anatomy (1761) respectively. The Vienna school through Auenbrugger introduces percussion in 1760. The Paris school formally establishes physical diagnosis with the invention of the stethoscope by Laennec in 1816.

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