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Who First Described Cheyne-stokes Respiration ?
A pattern of breathing with a gradual increase in the depth of respiration to a maximum, followed by a progressive decrease in the depth of respiration resulting in apnea; characteristically seen in coma associated with severe neurological insult.
By: Ailesbury Media
J. Cheyne was the son of a Scottish surgeon who grew up in Leith in the outskirts of Edinburgh. He showed an early liking for medicine and it is said that he helped his father when he was only still thirteen years old to dress and bleed patients, as was the practice at the time. He entered Edinburgh University at the early age of 15, from where he graduated three years later to serve in Ireland as a surgeon with the British Army during the rising of the United Irishmen in 1798. He was with the English forces at the battle of Vinegar Hill when General Lake slaughtered 20,000 Irish peasant rebels armed only with pikes and farm implements.
After the insurrection was put down Cheyne returned to the Medical Faculty of Edinburgh University where he studied pathology and dissection with his classmate Charles Bell (Bells Palsy). He also began work on his first book "Essays on the diseases of Children" which he published in 1801. A few years later he published an important laryngology treatise called "Pathology of the membrane of the larynx and bronchia" Cheyne is widely considered to be the first doctor in the English speaking world to describe the condition of hydrocephalus in children. In 1809 he returned to Ireland and was appointed Professor of Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. In the latter aspect of 1812 just as the victorious armies of Napoleon were entering the burning city of Moscow, he was elected Physician-General for Ireland. The father of William Stokes (Cheyne-Stokes breathing) (Stokes –Adams attacks) succeeded him as Professor of Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons.
It was later in that year that Napoleon mentioned, "Even when I am gone, I shall remain in people's minds the star of their rights, my name will be the war cry of their efforts, the motto of their hopes". Let us also try and remember this less famous soldier from the period who perhaps was the real founder of Irish Medicine.
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Dr. Patrick Treacy is Medical Director of Ailesbury Clinics Ltd. He is Chairman of the Irish Association of Cosmetic Doctors. He is a Medical Advisor to the website Consulting Rooms. He wrote a Medical History series in 1999 for the Irish Medical TImes