The Neuroanatomical Plates of Guido da Vigevano

Antonio Di Ieva, M.D.; Manfred Tschabitscher, M.D.; Francesco Prada, M.D.; Paolo Gaetani, M.D.; Enrico Aimar, M.D.; Patrizia Pisano, M.D.; Daniel Levi, M.D.; Nicola Nicassio, M.D.; Salvatore Serra, M.D.; Flavio Tancioni, M.D.; Massimo Arosio, M.D.; Riccardo Rodriguez Y Baena, M.D.


Neurosurg Focus. 2007;23(1):E15 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Guido da Vigevano was an Italian physician and engineer who lived in the 13th and 14th centuries. He was the first scientist who used pictures to illustrate his anatomical descriptions, developing for the first time a close relationship between anatomical studies and artistic drawings. This was further developed in the Renaissance.

In his textbook Anathomia are displayed six plates showing for the first time neuroanatomical structures and techniques: dissection of the head by means of trephination, and depictions of the meninges, cerebrum, and spinal cord. On the surface of the brain painting it is possible to recognize a vague patterning of cortical convolutions. Ventricles are also described and shown. This book constituted the first attempt in the history of neuroscience to illustrate an anatomical description with schematic pictures to achieve a better understanding of such complex structures.


"Anatomy to the surgeon is like the Sun for our planet."
--R. F. Spetzler

The word "anatomy" derives from the Greek word "ana temnein," which means "to cut up." Anatomy is an ancient discipline that has always involved controversy.


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