Laënnec, René Théophile Hyacinthe

Laënnec, René Théophile Hyacinthe

(rənā` tāôfēl` yäsaNt` läānĕk`), 1781–1826, French physician. While connected with the Necker Hospital in Paris he invented the stethoscope, which he described, together with the symptoms he had noted through its use, in his classic book De l'auscultation médiate (2 vol. 1819; tr. 1821). His method of auscultation for detecting diseases of the chest, together with the procedure of percussion developed by Leopold Auenbrugger, form the basis of the modern diagnostic technique.


See study by R. Kervran (1960).

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Laënnec, René Théophile Hyacinthe


Born Feb. 17, 1781, in Quimper, department of Finistère; died Aug. 13, 1826, in Kerlouanec, department of Finistère. French physician and anatomist. Member of the French Medical Academy (1823).

Laënnec began to study medicine at the age of 14 and became a physician at 18. From 1801 he worked in a clinic under the guidance of M. Bichat and J. Corvisart. Laënnec was one of the founders of the clinical-anatomical method in medicine. Using the stethoscope, which he had invented in 1816, he developed (1819) and introduced into practice the auscultation method by means of which he accurately described many important symptoms of diseases. He was the first to give a pathoanatomical description of tuberculosis (Laënnec was the first to introduce the term), and he established its specificity, associating the development of the disease with the formation of tubercles. He was the first to demonstrate the possibility of curing tuberculosis, and he emphasized the necessity for rest, proper nutrition, and clean air for patients in achieving a cure.


Traité de l’auscultation médiate et des maladies des poumons et du coeur. Paris, 1879.
Traité inédit sur l’anatomie pathologique. Paris, 1884.


Suvorova, R. V. “Vydaiushchiisia vrach Frantsii (K 175-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia R. Laenneka).” Problemy tuberkuleza, 1956, no. 4.
Mikhailov, F. A. “R. T. G.Laennek (1781–1826).” Klinicheskaia meditsina, 1967, vol. 45, no. 12.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.