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ITALIAN JOURNAL OF VASCULAR AND ENDOVASCULAR SURGERY

A Journal on Vascular and Endovascular Surgery


Official Journal of the Italian Society of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery
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HISTORY OF VASCULAR SURGERY: PERSONALITIES, TECHNIQUES, TURNING POINTS  


Giornale Italiano di Chirurgia Vascolare 2000 March;7(1):65-80

language: English, Italian

Scipione Riva Rocci and the sphygmomanometer

Argenteri A.

From the Faculty of Vascular Surgery Pavia University, Pavia, Italy


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Whenever we doctors undertake the perfectly ordinary task of using a sphygmomanometer to measure a patient’s blood pressure, we owe that possibility to the inventiveness of an internist in his early thirties: Scipione Riva Rocci (1863-1937). A graduate of Turin University and a pupil of Carlo Forlani, who invented the induced pneumothorax, Riva Rocci was inspired by the mechanical bent of his Master to create a device in 1896 whose principles and criteria still underlie the sphygmomanometer we all use to this day. Riva Rocci had a peripatetic academic life following his Master to Pavia University and later in 1900 inheriting his post as Chief Internist at Varese Hospital, during which period he also taught Paediatrics at Pavia University. Forced into early retirement by the lethergic encephalitis he contracted in the course of his duties, Riva Rocci spent his last years on the Ligurian coast and is buried there in the small cemetery of San Michele di Pagana. Riva Rocci was the first to admit that he owed his inspiration to the earlier experiments of Ludwig (1816-73), Marey (1830-1904) and von Basch (1837-1905). The use of Riva Rocci’s measuring device was perfected when it was combined with the use of the stethoscope as described by Korotov in 1905 and but for a few minor updates, remains unchanged today.

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