What was the impact of Andreas Vesalius upon the world of medicine?

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Why was this question important at the time?
Considering that Andreas Vesalius was the first surgeon to actually cut open human cadavers and went against religious views
Why is it still an important issue?
Andreas Vesalius was one of the first surgeons in the world and is the ffirst person to actually observe human cadavers and make notes and record findings of the bodies. His book Fabric Of The Human Body is one of the most famous medical books as it has incredibly precise drawings and sketchings

Who was he?

Andreas Vesalius was a Belgian physician born in Brussels in 1514. His real name is André Wesele Crabbe. He was born into a medical family so his career was mostly because of his child education. He was forced to read many books about Chinese and Islamic medicine ever since he was small. He is mostly known as the first person to ever dissect human bodies. His work corrected many religious beliefs and the finding of a previous physician Galen, who dissected apes because religion forbade him to dissect real human cadavers. Towards the end of his days he gave lectures in universities until he traveled to the holy land in 1564, but unfortunately never made it as his ship crashed on Zacintos. All his lifetime research was created into a book which is called The Fabric of the Human Body which is considered to have the most beautiful drawings and sketches of the human such as the incredible precision of the human muscles. A portrait of him can be reffered to figure 1.
Figure 1

What did he discover?

His discoveries consisted of the skeletal system, muscular system, vascular and circulatory system, nervous system, abdominal organs, the heart, and the brain. Vesalius discovered that the skull’s mandible consists of only one bone which contradicts Galen’s predictions that the mandible was two separate bones in the head. The sternum which is made up of three parts is also one of Vesalius’s discoveries which proved that Galen had the wrong idea of a seven part sternum which he found in his ape dissections. Vesalius also went against religious views and claimed that men and women have the same amount of ribs, whereas in the Bible it is written that during the night when Adam was asleep, God took out one of Adam’s ribs and created Eve out of it. This claim did create a lot of chaos but as Vesalius had public dissections the church had to simply accept that it was true. One of his diagrams of the human skeletal system figure 2. can be found in his book Fabric of the Human Body.
Figure 2.

Vesalius’s exceptionally detailed muscle drawings in Fabric of the Human Body changed the medical history for all times. Medical students can still refer back to his drawings in their universities as it is the best sketched view of muscles. Incredibly detailed drawings of muscles fill his book, we can clearly see even the skin that was taken of the body to reveal it's anatomy. We can also tell that learning about the anatomy was something recent as Vesalius's drawings still stand in classical poses such as figure 3.
Figure 3

The canal through which the fetus passes between the umbilical vein was also one of Vesalius’s greatest discoveries, but he stated that he was very disappointed of not having a very large number of pregnant female cadavers to be able to dissect them with more precision. Vesalius was also the person who discovered the different parts of the heart such as the inferior and superior vena cava, left atrium, and pulmonary vein, which is still taught in the same manner in schools and universities today.

The area that created most problems with the church for Vesalius was the nervous system where the church believed that the heart controls the whole body, emotion, feelings, and even contains the soul. Vesalius proved that all nerves come not from the heart but from the brain. The brain is the transmitter of sensation, motion and makes us function. He also knew that the idea of the heart containing the soul was ridiculous, as it was simply an organ in the body like all the rest, but on this aspect he could not make his discovery as it would have caused him too many problems. He was also the first person to ever dissect brain.

Galen believed that the vena cava was in the liver and that the whole blood supply came directly from there too, but Vesalius proved him wrong. Vesalius’s only mistake was on the kidneys when he still followed Galen’s idea of the liver containing all the blood supply so he said that the kidneys filtered out blood and not only urine. He later went back to his works and corrected himself.

What Impact Did He Create On Medicine?

Vesalius created a huge impact on the whole medical history. He confronted the church, proved the world famous Galen wrong and still managed to write a book on his findings without getting prosecuted. He taught a huge amount of students and even allowed the village people view his dissections by making them public and simultaneously with ape dissections to show the difference. He also a part of idea of experimenting, as he was constantly telling his students to check their work every time and even his as his could contain a slight mistake as well. There are a large amount of paintings of Andreas Vesalius during his public dissections (such as figure 4 and a close up on figure 5, which can be found on the first page inside of his book) as they were an inspiration to everyone.
Figure 4
Figure 5


Andreas Vesalius went on a voyage to the Holy Land at the age of fifty as he had a slight complication with one of his dissections. One of the women that he was dissecting happed to not be as dead as he predicted and he was trying to escape the prosecution that followed with it by disappearing to the holy land. However, as mentioned before his ship crashed on Zacintos.

Karma or WHAT?


The Epitome of Andreas Vesalius
by C. W. Asling, Logan Clendening, L. R. Lind. 135 pgs

The Illustrations from the Works of Andreas Vesalius of Brussels
by Andreas Vesalius, Charles D. O'Malley, J. B. Dec. M. Saunder. 252 pgs

The Scientific Revolution, 1500-1800: The Formation of the Modern Scientific Attitude (Discussion of Andreas Vesalius begings on p. 43
by A.R. Hall. 394 pgs.

Andreas Vesalius's Books

Fabric of The Human Body (Fabrica der Corporis Humane)


In this case, Andreas Vesalius's book was not his bibliography, but just a collection of his works so it would seem that his book would surely be the most reliable, unless he may have stolen ideas from some of his students and wrote them down as his own. We then have to consider that his bibliographies that were written in the modern times would eb more accurate by not according him the whole amount of fame, he may have given to himself.