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Blood, Clotting and the Four Humours

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Chapter Summary

In view of the huge amounts of blood taken by bloodletting from Antiquity to the nineteenth century, one wonders how the physician handled the resulting product. In the Hippocratic Collection observations on clotted blood are rare. Did the ancient Greeks derive their ideas on the bodily humours by inspecting the coagulation process? Or were these interpretations developed during medieval times? How were these views modified during the Enlightenment? Can modern investigations throw light on the various historical reports? This chapter, takes a broad approach to several recorded observations from Antiquity to the present day. It examines accounts of the appearance of phlebotomised blood after coagulation. In view of the amounts that have been removed since Antiquity, medical practitioners through many centuries must have watched the irreversible change in its appearance and substance. How has their interpretation changed over time? Author also discusses Rudolf Virchow's Die Cellularpathologie (1858).

Keywords:Blood; bloodletting; Clotting; coagulation; Die Cellularpathologie; Hippocratic Collection; medical practitioners; phlebotomised blood; Rudolf Virchow



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