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Med Secoli. 2009;21(1):387-401.

Parathyroid history and the Uppsala anatomist Ivar Sandström.

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Department of Surgery, University Hospital, Medical Historical Museum in Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden.


The parathyroid gland was first recognized in 1850 by Richard Owen during a dissection of an Indian rhinoceros at the London Zoo. The credit for the discovery of the parathyroid has, however, been given to the Uppsala anatomist Ivar Sandström, who was the first to demonstrate the gland in man. His dissection studies were undertaken between 1877 and 1880, when he still was a medical student in Uppsala. Sandström's detailed anatomical and histological studies of the parathyroid gland were published in a Swedish journal, "Upsala Läkareförenings förhandlingar", in 1880. Ivar Sandström, the man behind the discovery of the parathyroid gland, often called the last anatomical discovery, was a disharmonious person with psychiatric problems and he committed suicide in 1889 at the age of 37 years.

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