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Theodoric Borgognoni of Lucca


Dominican bishop and pioneer in the practice of surgery; b. Lucca or Parma, 1205 or 1208; d. Bologna, 1298. He was the son of Hugh of Lucca, from whom he learned surgery and medicine, which he continued to practice all his life. Theodoric entered the Order of Preachers at Bologna in 1226, became a papal penitentiary, was consecrated bishop of Bitonto in 1262, and became bishop of Cervia in 1266. His most famous work is a treatise on surgery, Chirurgia (1266), which was translated into several vernaculars and went through five printed editions before being translated into English in 1955. Theodoric also wrote a veterinary treatise on horses, Practica equorum, of which early Spanish and French translations exist, and a work on falconry. Two lost treatises deal with the sublimation of arsenic and with mineral salts. The treatise on surgery was far in advance of its time and is a model of surgical practice. Theodoric strongly advocated aseptic surgery at a time when others taught that the formation of pus was necessary for healing. He strove for asepsis, careful hemostasis, elimination of dead tissue and foreign matter, the accurate reapproximation of the wound walls, and protection of the area. His methods were successfully applied by his pupil, Henry of Mondeville, the father of French surgery, but then fell into disuse for centuries. Theodoric also described the preparation and use of sponges to induce sleep before surgery, a prelude to anesthesia. He advised the use of mercurial ointments in the treatment of skin diseases, the sparing application of cautery, and progressive methods for treating fractures and dislocations.

Bibliography: The Surgery of Theodoric, tr. e. campbell and j. colton, 2 v. (New York 195560). El libro de los caballos: tratado de albeitería del siglo XIII, ed. g. sachs (Madrid 1936). j. quÉtif and j. Échard, Scriptores ordinis praedicatorum (New York 1959) 1:355. g. sarton, Introduction to the History of Science (Baltimore 192748) 2.2:654656.

[w. a. wallace]

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