Giulio Cesare Aranzi, 1530–1589
Nodules of Aranzio. Aortic valve tubercles with Arantio nodes.
Giulio Cesare Aranzio, from Bologna (illustration from Brambilla , 1781).
Aranzio was admitted to the University of Padua where he made his first discovery in 1548.
Aranzio became Professor of Anatomy and Surgery at the University of Bologna in 1556.
Since Aranzio’s family was poor, he was aided in his medical education by his maternal uncle, Bartolomeo Maggi (1477-1552), lecturer in surgery at the University of Bologna and principal court physician of Julius III.
He studied at the University of Padua, where in 1548, at nineteen, he made his first anatomical discovery: the elevator muscle of the upper eyelid. Aranzio became Professor of Anatomy and Surgery at the University of Bologna in 1556.
After receiving his degree at Bologna on 20 May 1556, shortly thereafter, at the age of twenty-seven, Aranzio became lecturer in medicine and surgery at the same university.
The excellent scientific and practical preparation Aranzio had received from his uncle immediately brought him fame. He discovered the pedes hippocamp, the cerebellum cistern; and the fourth ventricle, the arterial duct between the aorta and the pulmonary duct, which discovery was erroneously attributed to Leonardo Botallo.
In 1564 Aranzio published De humano foetu opusculum, and fifteen years later his Observationes anatomicae appeared. In these he presented the new direction of anatomy, based not merely on simple description of the organs of the body but also on experimental investigations of their functions.
Aranzio was the first lecturer at the University of Bologna to hold a separate professorship of anatomy; prior to him, instruction was given by lecturers in surgery. In 1570, surgery and anatomy were separated into separate professorships at his instigation and he held the newly created chair in anatomy for thirty-three years until his death at Bologna in 1589.
Aranzio’s De tumoribus secundum locus affectum (1571) is devoted to surgical subjects and gives a very good idea of the quality of his surgical lectures. He performed rhinoplastic surgery several years before Gaspare Tagliacozzi, but he wrote nothing on these operations.
One of his pupils, Oczok Wojciech, who graduated from Bologna in 1569, did publish Przymiot (Cracow, 1581), a treatise on syphilis, however. In this treatise, in discussing the loss of the nose as the result of an attack of syphilis, he mentions rhinoplastic surgery and then states that in Bologna he frequently saw Aranzio perform such surgery successfully by using the “skin of the arm.” It was Tagliacozzi, though, who gave the first scientific description of facial plastic surgery, illustrating the account with splendid charts.
Aranzi combined anatomy with a description of pathological processes, based largely on his own research, Galen, and the work of his contemporary Italians. He had an extensive knowledge in surgery and anatomy based in part on the ancient Greek and his contemporaries in the 16th century but essentially on his personal experience and practice.