Babinski, histologist and anatomo-pathologist

Vol. 49 No. 2, 2008

ROMANIAN JOURNAL of MORPHOLOGY and EMBRYOLOGY

J. Poirier

Joseph Babinski (1857-1932), a French neurologist of Polish origin, médecin des hôpitaux de Paris, is well known for the discovery of the Sign (the toes phenomenon) which bears his name. Beyond the Sign, his semiological work in the field of neurology is also important (particularly cutaneous and osteo-tendinous reflexes, cerebellar and vestibular semiology, hysteria and pithiatism) as well as his role in the birth of the French neurosurgery. On the contrary, the implication of Babinski in pathological anatomy and histology is usually unrecognized. However, in the beginning of his career, Babinski worked as an Interne in the clinical departments of Victor Cornil (1837-1908), professor of pathological anatomy and president of the Société d'Anatomie de Paris, Alfred Vulpian (1826-1887), past professor of pathological anatomy and then professor of experimental physiology, and in the laboratory of Louis Ranvier (1835-1922), professor of general anatomy at the Collège de France. Babinski beacame préparateur at the chair of pathological anatomy, member then treasurer of the Société Anatomique, member of the Société de Biologie. He reported on several clinico-pathological observations of general pathology (liver cirrhosis, cancer of the kidney, cancer of a buttock, squamous epithelioma, tuberculosis, multiple cysts of the liver and the kidneys, bowel occlusion), of neuropathology (embolic brain softenings, hydatic cysts of the brain, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord combined sclerosis, tabetic arthropathies, adiposo-genital syndrome due to a pituitary tumor) and of human neuro-muscular histology (neuro-muscular spindles, muscular histology after nerve sectioning, diphtheria paralysis, peripheral neuritis).

Corresponding author: Jacques Poirier, MD, PhD, e-mail: poirierpaulin@aol.com

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