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Cardiovasc Pathol. 2011 Jul-Aug;20(4):238-41. doi: 10.1016/j.carpath.2010.05.002. Epub 2010 Jul 8.

What a pity the master cannot admire his pupil's work: the autopsy of the anatomist Antonio Cocchi (1695-1758) performed by his pupil Saverio Manetti.

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Division of Pathological Anatomy, Department of Critical Care Medicine and Surgery, University of Florence, Viale G.B. Morgagni 85, Florence, Italy.


Antonio Cocchi (1695-1758) was a physician, sanitary administrator, and Professor of Anatomy at the University of Florence. Wide-ranging in his interests, he was also a philologist, botanist, and a cultured traveler through 18th-century Europe. After Cocchi died, his pupil Saverio Manetti (1723-1785) reported, in a private letter on the state of health of his renowned master, the circumstances of his death and the autopsy findings. In an endeavour to determine the cause of death, Manetti accurately described the symptoms and clinical signs preceding the exitus of Antonio Cocchi and related them to the autopsy results. Interestingly, his lifestyle habits, past medical history, and family diseases were all considered when making the diagnosis. This handling of the matter clearly proceeds from Cocchi's teachings. As an anatomist, Cocchi believed autopsy to be a fundamental tool in achieving new insights into medicine while, as a professor, he emphasized the didactic relevance of autopsy in medical education. Manetti's letter appears as a surprisingly modern example of clinicopathological practice. Based on this informative document, we present an interpretation of the possible cause of the death of Antonio Cocchi, namely, congestive heart failure.

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