Monday, 23 May 2016

The first real advances in forensic pathology

The 16th and 17th centuries covered a period of major forensic advances. In addition to the publication of the first pathology reports, this was a time when forensic science was beginning to be taken seriously.

In Europe, during the 16th century, doctors began to collate details showing cause and manner of deaths. In particular, university and army doctors made copious notes which were of use to others when looking at death by unnatural causes.

A French army surgeon, Ambrose Pare, paid particular attention to the way internal organs were affected when the victim was subjected to a violent death.

However, it was two Italian surgeons, Fortunato Fidelis and Paolo Zacchia, who studied the structural changes in the body. They can fairly claim to be the fathers of modern forensic science.

When Anton Van Leeuwenhoek constructed the first high-powered microscope it became possible to study forensic specimens previously hidden from doctors and those studying causes of death.

It just goes to show that forensic medicine has a longer history than might be supposed.

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