The term cirrhosis was first applied to a pathologic condition of the liver, in 1819, by Laennec, who was led to select this name on account of the color of the liver—reddish-yellow or tawny. This term is an unfortunate one, inasmuch as the color of the liver in this disease varies with the relative amounts of fatty matter and biliary pigment in the tissue, and furthermore, it gives no indication of either the etiology or the pathology of the disease. Before Laennec, Fernel had written concerning the action of wine in causing scirrhus —induration—of the liver; Vesale had also discussed atrophy of the liver observed in alcoholics; Morgagni had spoken of ascites due to compression or occlusion of the intra-hepatic branches of the portal vein, and Baillie, in 1803, had recognized the relationship between dropsy and atrophy of the liver. However, credit should be given to the great teacher, Laennec,
VAUGHAN VC. THE ETIOLOGY AND CLASSIFICATION OF CIRRHOSES OF THE LIVER.. JAMA. 1901;XXXVII(14):877–883. doi:10.1001/jama.1901.62470400001001
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