The Iron Man of the Renaissance: the contribution of Girolamo Fabrizi d’Acquapendente

  • F. Vandenbulcke
  • K. Ashmore
  • S. Cialdella
  • A. Giuffrida
  • E. Kon
  • M. Marcacci
  • B. Di MatteoEmail author
Orthopaedic Heritage



To highlight the most relevant contributions of the Italian Renaissance surgeon Girolamo Fabrizi d’Acquapendente in the field of orthopaedics and traumatology.


An extensive research on the life and achievements of Girolamo Fabrizi was conducted on University Libraries as well as on electronic databases like PubMed.


Girolamo Fabrizi d’Acquapendente is known for his embryology and physiology studies, particularly on sensory organs and blood circulation. He founded the world’s first permanent anatomical theater established at the University of Padua and inaugurated in 1595. His most notable publications include surgical and definitely orthopedics works such as “De fracturis” (On fractures) and “De luxationibus” (On joint displacement). He outlined some principles of treatment that are still valid nowadays such as anatomical reduction and stabilization of the fracture, that were applied using the equipment available at that time. He described and illustrated maneuvers and instruments, such as pulleys, winches, splint, and bandages. He further depicted the famous “Oplomochlion” (“the armored man”), which is actually a collection of all of the braces used at the time to correct congenital and post-traumatic deformities.


Bracing and prosthetic replacements have accompanied medical history throughout the centuries, from Ancient Egypt to the present, but it was the ingenuity of Renaissance surgeons that pushed biomedical technology to new heights: Girolamo Fabrizi d’Acquapendente was one of the most illustrious contributors to these great achievements.


Renaissance Anatomical theater Oplomochlion Iron man Girolamo Fabrizi d’Acquapendente 



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Copyright information

© SICOT aisbl 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical SciencesHumanitas UniversityMilanItaly
  2. 2.Humanitas Clinical and Research CenterMilanItaly
  3. 3.II Orthopaedic Clinic, Rizzoli Orthopaedic InstituteBolognaItaly

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