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J Pediatr Surg. 2008 Apr;43(4):729-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2007.12.065.

Giovanni Battista Morgagni and his contribution to pediatric surgery.

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  • 1Pediatric Surgery Unit, University of Rome La Sapienza, 00161 Rome, Italy.


Pediatric surgery is a less than a century old surgical specialty. However, early knowledge of human malformations and pediatric surgical conditions dates back to centuries before. One of the main contributors to progress in these fields was Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682-1771), who also had a substantial weight in the development of future pediatric surgery. With his masterpiece De Sedibus et Causis Morborum per Anatomen Indagatis (On the Seats and Causes of Diseases Investigated by Anatomy) (1761), he set the basis for modern pathology. In this textbook, Morgagni was the first to describe anatomical elements like the trigonum sternocostale dextrum (the Morgagni's foramen), the appendix testis (the Morgagni's hydatid), and the vertical folds of distal rectum (the Morgagni's columns). He was also the first to describe pediatric pathological conditions like epispadia, meconium peritonitis, Crohn's disease, and coarctation of the aorta. Finally, he substantially contributed to the understanding of the pathophysiology of conditions like the vesico-ureteral reflux, the anterior wall defects (gastroschisis/omphalocele), and the spina bifida. For this, it was said of him: "If all the anatomical findings made by Morgagni should bear his name, probably one third of human body would be called Morgagni's."

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