Valsalva, Antonio Maria

Italian anatomist and pathologist, physician and surgeon (1666-1723), perhaps best known for the Valsalva maneuver.

Valsalva described and depicted even the smallest muscles and nerves of the ear, subdividing the ear into its internal, middle, and external parts, and he showed an original method of inflating the middle ear (Valsalva maneuver). Valsalva coined the term Eustachian tube, one of the earliest eponyms known. Valsalva noted that motor paralysis is on the opposite side to the cerebral lesion both in stroke and in cases of cranial injury.

As a surgeon Valsalva anticipated the importance of nephrectomy, and did work in ophthalmology, rhinology, and tumor surgery. He invented surgical instruments that were of great use.

Valsalva also has a place in the history of psychiatry for having been among the first to call for, and in part to implement, humanitarian treatment of the insane. He considered madness to be analogous to organic disease.

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