Microscopy and the Discovery of Endometriosis and Adenomyosis
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Study of histologic sections of uterine tissue was essential to discover the new disease uterine endometriosis (adenomyosis) and to differentiate it from a degenerating uterine leiomyoma (fibroid) and from uterine cancer. Unfortunately, the Imperial reform of 1786 had demoted the mission and status of pathological anatomy by transferring microscopy to the department of physiology and thus deprived all subsequent pathological anatomic prosectors – including Rokitansky – use of the microscope.2 Then two publications appeared in the 1830s that demonstrated the importance of microscopy in pathological anatomy. Between 1835 and 1840 Johannes Müller of Berlin published his highly acclaimed Handbook of Human Physiology. Between 1837 and 1844, Joseph Berres of Vienna published the first atlas of the histology of the human body entitled Anatomy of the Microscopic Formations of the Human Body.3 Both works appeared at a crucial point in Rokitansky’s career and they undoubtedly aroused his interest in microscopy.