Immunogenic thyrotoxicosis is commonly referred to as Graves’ disease after the Irish physician Robert Graves. That however is a case of mistaken eponymous attribution to the wrong Celt, and the disorder should really be called Parry’s disease after the Welsh physician, Caleb Parry, who was the first to describe the clinical features.
Theodore Kocher is known as the “father of thyroid surgery”. He was also the first surgeon to receive the Nobel Prize, which many have assumed was awarded for his having introduced the modern era of safe and effective thyroid surgery. This however was almost certainly not the case.
Thyroid and parathyroid ultrasound are now part of routine clinical practice, with endocrine surgeons and endocrinologists around the world being encouraged to incorporate clinician-performed ultrasound (CPU) as an extension of clinical examination.
The German anatomist and surgeon, Lorenz Heister was born in Frankfurt in 1683 and appointed to the Chair in Surgery and Anatomy in Altdor. In his textbook “Chirurgie” we find some of the earliest descriptions of various medical and surgical approaches for the management of goitre.
It is interesting to review historical attitudes towards the presumed function of endocrine organs prior to any real understanding of endocrine physiology or pathology. Much was supposition, based on either anatomical relationships or chemical analysis. The following is an extract from an early (1880) edition of Gray’s Anatomy in which the writer speculates on the possible function of the thyroid gland.