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Laennecs’ mediate auscultation: Child’s play

Before  Laennec,  respiratory  diseases  that  we  recog- nize today were often confused, because the heart and lung are locked inside the rib cage. Impressed by the au- topsies performed by Xavier Bichat (1771-1802), Laen- nec maintained the importance of the anatomoclinical method. But he indicated in his early 1820s lectures at the Collège de France that the discovery of auscultation was fortuitous and empirical Dr. Jacalyn Duffin, physician and historian of medicine, has written a perfectly well- researched biography of Laennec. She demonstrates, in- ter alia, that medical discoveries hardly obey an implaca- ble logic, they arise outside of pre-established projects.  1  In this paper, we retrace the chronology and antecedents at the origin of the important medical invention that is the stethoscope. Sources  To  reconstruct  the  genesis  of  Mediate  Auscultation we examined Laennec’s 4 principle sources in the un- published manuscripts.  2  While the largest part is meticu- lously stored at the Faculty of Medicine in Nantes, many other places hold Laennec manuscripts.  1  These lessons and manuscripts were bequeathed by R.T.H. Laennec to his cousin, Mériadec Laennec (1797-1873), then a later descendant, Robert Laennec (1869-1946), donated them to the faculty of medicine in Nantes. For clinicians and historians of ideas, these papers are an extraordinary re- source for the historical-epistemological exegesis of this

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