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October 1963

Pulmonary Embolism: Historical Aspects

Author Affiliations

Markle Scholar in Medical Science.; From the Department of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine.

Arch Surg. 1963;87(4):709-714. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1963.01310160171033

Even as Harvey's inspired concept of a "circulation" of the blood was based on a new interpretation of existing information (the anatomic presence of valves in the veins10), so the concept of "embolism" had to await a new interpretation of the implications of the circulation by Rudolf Virchow. The data upon which each concept was based were available to other brilliant scientists at the same (or earlier) times, and yet the implications had not been appreciated. In each instance the new concept arose from a combination of thorough familiarity with previous work, acute observation, a convincing experimental system, and a dedicated willingness to attack publicly the accepted precepts of the day. Any account of the development of recognition of pulmonary embolism and attempts to treat it is illuminated by wide contrasts, ranging from the spectacle of pulmonary embolectomy to the subtle influence of the vasomotor system on the dual

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