Antonio Scarpa


This article is part of the series "A Moment in History" where we honor those who have contributed to the growth of medical knowledge in the areas of anatomy, medicine, surgery, and medical research.To search all the articles in this series, click here.
Antonio Scarpa (1752-1832). An Italian physician and anatomist, Antonio Scarpa is probably most remembered by the many human anatomy eponymic structures named after him, like "Scarpa's Fascia". Arising from humble origins, a very young Scarpa started medical studies at the University of Padua and obtained his doctorate at 18 years of age.

In 1772 he published a detailed anatomical study of the middle and internal ear, and later continued with animal comparative studies, surgical studies, and discoveries such as the innervation of the heart, and introduced the concept of arteriosclerosis. He left behind a solid group of books and publications

Known for his aggressive personality, Scarpa is said to have had more enemies than friends. After his death, his head was preserved and is still on display today at the History Museum of the University of Pavia, in Italy. Click here for a YouTube video depicting Scarpa's life and his head on display (Italian)

Antonio Scarpa was one of the first to describe the cochlea, one of the components of the inner ear

Original image courtesy of Images from the History of Medicine at nih.gov

Antonio Scarpa