November 1925


Author Affiliations

From the Laboratory of Surgical Research, Medical School of Harvard University.

Arch Surg. 1925;11(5):765-777. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1925.01120170120008

Cases of total or partial absence of the pericardium in human beings with complete closure of the thoracic wall have been recorded in the literature as far back as 1559. In this year, Realdus Columbus1 described the case of a young student at Rome who died in a state of syncope. Absence of the pericardium was noted at necropsy. The genuineness of this case, however, was subsequently doubted by some writers, who believed that the appearance of an adherent pericardium had been mistaken for an absence of this membrane altogether. During the next two hundred years, a few cases were reported, but the descriptions were very imperfect. Doubt of the existence of the defect persisted, and it was not until 1788, when Baillie2 gave a detailed description of a case, that the existence of the condition was established beyond all doubt. Since this report, surprisingly few cases have

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