Demetrius Cantemir: The First Account of a Transabdominal Approach to Repair a Groin Hernia

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The first description of the transabdominal approach for hernia repair was written by Demetrius Cantemir, Prince of Moldavia and encyclopedic scholar, in his 1716 Latin manuscript “Incrementa et decrementa Aulae Othomaniae” (“The history of the Growth and Decay of the Ottoman Empire”). This manuscript was one of the most important in Eastern Europe at the time. It was first translated in English in 1734 by N. Tyndal, and all subsequent translations into various other languages were based on this english version. The original manuscript now belongs to the Houghton Library of Harvard University, where it was recently discovered in 1984 by V. Candea. Our article presents for the first time the complete account of the surgical procedure performed by Albanian physicians in the prince's palace in Constantinopel. The patient was the Prince's secretary. There is a detailed description of the operation, postoperative therapy and the medical course to recovery. The text presented is translated in English from Annotations of Volume Two, chapter four. We consider it worthwhile to present to the medical community this valuable but less known contribution to the history of medicine.

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