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April 8, 1974

Venous Thrombosis: An Account of the First Documented Case

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and Harvard Medical School; The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Boston (Dr. Folch-Pi).

JAMA. 1974;228(2):195-196. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230270039024

TO OUR knowledge no example of thrombophlebitis has yet been found before the 13th century AD. In 1800, John Hull1 made an exhaustive review of the medical literature for the preceding two millenia, but found no record of thrombophlebitis earlier than the one described here. Anning,2 Popkin,3 and, more recently, Dexter4 have likewise found no case before this time. Their search includes not only the writings of Hippocrates, Erasistratus, Galen, Coelius Aurelianus, Ibn-an-Nafiz, and Avicenna but also art including bas-reliefs, statuary, carvings, paintings, figurines, jewelry, pottery, engravings and coins from ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Persia, Arabic countries, and South America. Thrombophlebitis is one of the few diseases not mentioned in the Bible.5 Hippocrates described varicose veins with ulcers but did not describe associated edema. Bilateral edema attributed to liver or renal disease was described by Galen and others, but they never described unilateral edema or