World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 40, Issue 9, pp 2144–2148 | Cite as

Andreas Vesalius’ 500th Anniversary: First Description of the Mammary Suspensory Ligaments

  • Romy J. Brinkman
  • J. Joris HageEmail author
Surgical History


Sir Astley Paston Cooper has, to date, been acknowledged to be the first to describe the suspensory ligaments of the breast, or Cooper’s ligaments, in 1840. We found these ligaments to be recorded in the first edition of ‘De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem’ by Andreas Vesalius, published in 1543. To commemorate Vesalius’ 500th birthday, we quote and discuss this earlier record. Vesalius’ record of the nature and function of the fleshy membrane between mammary gland and pectoral muscle, the hard fat intervening the mammary glands, and the fibers running from the fleshy membrane to the skin are a clear representation of posterior layer of the superficial fascial system, the fibro-adipose stroma surrounding and linking the mammary glandular elements, and the suspensory ligaments as we know them. Vesalius recorded the anatomy and function of the latter structures nearly 300 years before Sir Astley Paston Cooper did.


Mammary Gland Superficial Layer Pectoral Muscle Overlie Skin Pectoralis Major Muscle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest to be disclosed by either of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plastic and Reconstructive SurgeryNetherlands Cancer Institute-Antoni van Leeuwenhoek HospitalAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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