Jacques Lisfranc 1790–1847
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Jacques Lisfranc was born in Saint-Paul-Jarrest (Loire), France, April 2nd, 1790, the son of a physician. Early in his youth he demonstrated a particular interest and aptitude for the field of medicine as he observed and commented upon his father's ministrations to his patients. He accomplished his preliminary studies at the Lyceum in Lyons and then went to Paris to continue his medical training at the Hôtel-Dieu. It was there that he came under the tutelage of Dupuytren. It was soon said that Lisfranc was at least as worthy as his superior. Later the two men developed a certain animosity toward each other which became manifest rather severely in the medical political arenas of the time.
Lisfranc received his doctorate of medicine in 1812 at a time that France was involved in the Napoleonic wars. He was commissioned as a surgeon and distinguished himself in campaigns in Saxony and in France.
Following the war he established his practice in Paris. Fortuitously, one day Lisfranc rescued a magistrate who fell from his horse. By this serendipitous meeting Lisfranc was invited to join the faculty of medicine at the Hospital of Pity. He rose rapidly to chief of surgery and developed the reputation of being extremely competent, truly a master surgeon. For over 20 years he was affiliated with that institution and wrote numerous articles on such diverse subjects as shoulder disarticulation, the application of the stethoscope in the diagnosis of fractures, and on diseases of the uterus. In addition, he wrote two books which were well received—one onSurgery at the Hospital of Pity and the other onOperative Medicine.
ThisClassics presentation has been selected because it has been generally attributed that Lisfranc was the first person to remove a cancerous tumor from the rectum. The technique involves essentially a transanal approach. As was the custom of the day, the report appears as narrated presumably by one of his assistants.
Among the many distinctions Lisfranc achieved, he was founding member and ultimately President of the French Academy of Medicine and Chevalier of the Legion of Honor.
Lisfranc developed an enormous clinical practice, and in spite of many physical infirmities he persisted in his surgery until the day of his death, May 12, 1847, at the age of 57.