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November 24, 2017
18th Century Matthew Baillie

Matthew Baillie (1761-1823)

The morbid anatomy of some of the most important parts of the human body. London, J. Johnson & G. Nicol, 1793.

A series of engravings, accompanied with explanations which are intended to illustrate the morbid anatomy of some of the most important parts of the human body. London,W.Blumer, & Co., 1799-1803.

Matthew Baillie
Portrait of Matthew Baillie
Portrait of Matthew Baillie


Cesalpino Andrea
Cesalpino Andrea


Matthew Baillie, nephew of John and William Hunter, was a British physician who studied at the University of Glasgow. Following an internship under the mentorship of William Hunter, Baillie was appointed physician to St. George's Hospital and became a prominent physician and lecturer. Baillie was the last and most famous owner of the gold-headed cane, the coveted symbol of excellence among London physicians.

Baillie's most important work, "The morbid anatomy of some of the most important parts of the human body." is described as the first systematic study of pathology in English language and was published in 1793.  The first American edition was released in 1795. Baillie discussed in his work the diseases of the pericardium and the heart. He described inflammatory lesions of the pericardium and reported cases of pericarditis with pericardial adhesions and pericardial effusion. He also mentioned the association between pericarditis and myocarditis. In the section on the diseases of the heart, Baillie reported inflammatory lesions involving the structure of the heart, "bony transformation" affecting the aortic and mitral valves, aneurysmal dilatation of the left ventricle, and aneurysmal dilatation of the aorta. Although valvular lesions consistent with aortic and mitral stenosis were reported, the potential cause of these lesions was not discussed by Baillie.

Cesalpino Andrea Cesalpino Andrea

In the second edition which was published in 1797, Baillie described "rheumatic carditis" and mentioned the relationship between rheumatism and certain cardiac diseases, particularly those affecting the pericardium and valvular structures.

Baillie also published a second book entitled, "A series of engravings, accompanied with explanations which are intended to illustrate the morbid anatomy of some of the most important parts of the human body." The second edition of this work appeared in 1812. This first systematic atlas of pathology is divided into 10 sections. The engravings were prepared by William Clift who also worked for John Hunter, and depicts numerous specimens from Hunter's collection. Plates 1 and 2 that are displayed here illustrate diseases affecting the pericardium and cardiac structures.

The first plate with three figures describes a typical case of pericarditis with pericardial thickening.

Cesalpino Andrea
Cesalpino Andrea
Cesalpino Andrea
Cesalpino Andrea


The second plate, composed of five figures, focuses on valvular lesions including the ossification of aortic and mitral valves. There is also a case of bicuspid aortic valve with calcification from Hunter's collection. These engravings on cardiac pathology are considered among the best in the history of medicine until that time.

Cesalpino Andrea
Cesalpino Andrea
Cesalpino Andrea


Baillie's other original contributions were the first description of transposition of the great vessels in a two-year-old child and situs inversus in a 40-year-old man.  The latter work was entitled, "Of a remarkable transposition of the viscera" , and was published in the Philosophic Transactions of the Royal Society of Medicine.

REFERENCES

Baillie M. Of a remarkable transposition of the viscera. Phil Tr Roy Soc  (London) 1788; 78: 350


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Leopold Auenbrugger John Hunter


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