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April 15, 1998

The 16th-Century Observations of Pieter Pauw: Balancing Humors and Councils

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;279(15):1173-1174. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-279-15-jbk0415

To the Editor.—Dr Kivelä and colleagues1 report a previously overlooked account, by the 16th-century Dutch anatomist Pieter Pauw, of diabetes insipidus in a patient whose autopsy showed the presence of a cystic mass at the optic chiasm. Their excellent analysis, placing the case in historical and neuropathological context, is a valuable contribution to the history of medicine. It also illustrates the usefulness of a carefully performed and accurately recorded autopsy, even in a climate of primitive scientific notions and invalid theories.

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