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Medical history of the pericardium

The hairy hearts of hoary heroes
  • David H. Spodick
    Correspondence
    Address for reprints: David H. Spodick, MD, Cardiology Division, Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, 170 Morton St., Boston, Mass. 02130.
    Affiliations
    From the Cardiology Division, Lemuel Shattuck Hospital and the Department of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass. USA
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      Abstract

      The pericardium has interested outstanding physicians from the biblical past to the current era. Early observers held romantic notions about pericardial pathology, describing fibrinous pericarditis as “hair” and associating it with heroic death. Between the Renaissance and the eighteenth century, accurate observation provided the basis for recognizing the clinical signs of pericardial disease and also the pathology of cardiac tamponade and constrictive pericarditis. Modern understanding of these was established in the nineteenth century.
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