LAENNEC, René Théophile Hyacinthe (1781-1826). De l'auscultation médeiate ou traité du diagnostic des maladies des poumons et du coeur, fond principalement sur ce nouveau moyen d'exploration. Paris: J.-A. Brosson and J.-S. Chaud, 1819.
2 volumes, 8o (213 x 134 mm). Half-titles, fol. a*2 in volume I uncancelled, 4 folding engraved plates. (Occasional mostly light spotting.) Original mauve printed wrappers with publisher's advertisement (identical on both volumes), original printed paper title labels on spines, uncut (lacking lower wrapper of vol. I and front wrapper of vol. II, spines partly perished, some text leaves loose); cloth slipcase.
FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE, with the second leaf of the dedication (a*2) uncancelled. A LANDMARK WORK IN THE DIAGNOSIS OF DISEASES OF THE LUNGS AND HEART, ANNOUNCING THE INVENTION OF THE STETHOSCOPE. As head physican at the Necker Hospital in Paris, Laënnec's investigations of emphysema, tuberculosis, and other chest diseases inspired him to improvise a technological innovation that would revolutionize physical diagnosis. Although auscultation had been known since the days of Hippocrates, and diagnostic percussion of the chest had most recently been advocated by Auenbruegger, these methods were often inconvenient and were subject to frequent misinterpretation. Experimentation with a rolled paper cylinder led Laënnec to invent a more reliable diagnostic instrument, a foot-long tube of cedar wood, which amplified the sounds of his patients' hearts and lungs. Even more impressive than his invention of this brilliantly simple instrument, however, were the uses Laénnec made of it: through methodical observation he taught himself the significance of the various sounds produced by the movements of the heart and lungs and drew up a clear and detailed classification system correlating the sounds, for which he developed a precise terminology, to different disorders and diseases. He set forth his discoveries in "this epochal work, which... offers a masterful correlation of stethoscopic signs of chest disease with corresponding autopsy findings that serves still as the foundation for bedside diagnosis of chest disorders" (Grolier Medicine). Laénnec "virtually created the physical diagnosis of pulmonary diseases, giving clear, concise definitions of phthisis, pneumothorax, emphysema, etc. From his teaching came such terms as bronchial breathing; vesicular and cavernous respiration; mucus, bubbling, and sonorous rales; metallic tinkle; and egophony" (Heirs of Hippocrates). The most important diagnostic advance "between Auenbrugger and the discovery of X-rays" (PMM). The illustrations include the first illustration of Laënnec's early wooden tubular stethoscope, an example of which is offered for sale, along with his treatise, in the publisher's catalogue printed on the original wrappers of this first edition. Dibner Heralds 129; En français dans le texte 226; Garrison-Morton 2673, 3219, 3614; Grolier Medicine 57 (this copy exhibited); Heirs of Hippocrates 1364; Norman 1253; Osler 1318; PMM 280; Waller 5491; Wellcome III, p. 429. (2)