Skip to comments.How Leonardo gave top surgeon change of heart
Posted on 09/29/2005 6:49:35 PM PDT by wagglebee
HIS drawings, diagrams and maps have excited and inspired us for half a millennium. Now once more Leonardo da Vinci has proved that he was far ahead of his time and ours.
A leading heart and lung specialist has been inspired by anatomical discoveries made by Leonardo 500 years ago to change the way he conducts certain operations. Francis Wells, consultant cardiac surgeon at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, said yesterday that he had had a eureka moment as he pored over drawings and notes by the artist in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle.
Mr Wells was studying Leonardos intricate observations of all the individual components of the heart the way the valves open and close, the expansion and contraction of the muscles and the flow of blood in and out. The revelatory moment came as he looked at the artists exploration of how the blood flow affects the closure mechanism of the mitral valve, which controls the direction of blood. Leonardo showed an extraordinary understanding of the mechanism of the valve closure and the integrity of the valve structure. Until now, repairs involved narrowing the diameter of the valve, which in turn restricted the flow of blood.
With Leonardos understanding of the importance of the opening and closing phases of the valve, Mr Wells has worked out how to restore the valves normal and full variability in opening and closing properly.
That has been a big step forward, he said. We hadnt thought carefully enough about the importance of the opening phase of the valve on normal heart function to allow extremes of exercise. Leonardo worked it out in the 1500s. This has brought about a significant change in the surgical approach to this valve which I hope will influence other surgeons in the world.
He added: What Leonardo was saying about the shape of the valve is important. It means we can repair this valve in a better way. The knowledge that he demonstrated 500 years ago has been lying fallow ever since. Mr Wells has returned the mitral valve towards its normal functional state not simply a corrected state in operations on 80 patients so far.
Its a complete rethink of the way we do the mitral valve operation, he said.
Each patient has reported a dramatic improvement and an increase in their exercise tolerance, he said. The mitral repair does enhance peoples quality of life to that degree. It allows a dramatic improvement in clinical status, he said.
Operations on the mitral valve are particularly complex. The valve, one of four within the heart, is like a door that opens and closes. In closing, the valve stops blood going the wrong way. In opening, it allows the heart to fill with blood.
The valve has two openings, flaps of tissue that arise from a circular orifice in the heart. The flaps fold in and out like butterfly wings.
If it stops functioning properly, the limited amount of blood flowing through the heart is also limited in reaching the rest of the body. The flaps then become like swing doors that open both ways and the valve starts to leak, leaving the heart unable to push itself to the normal extremes.
The patient quickly becomes breathless and drained of energy with the slightest exertion. Until now, surgeons have narrowed the diameter of the valve by removing a square portion of one of the flaps. Now, by closing the gaps on each side of the prolapsing flap and cutting out the excess tissue in a V-shape, he can make the valve competent again.
He said: Before, people have tended to do what they were taught. They didnt look at the normal function of the valve. Now patients have ended up with a valve that works like the one God gave them.
Mr Wells and Leonardo feature in The Secret Of Drawing, which begins on BBC Two on October 8.
- Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect and engineer
- Anticipated the parachute, helicopter, armoured car, paddle boats, contact lenses, submarine
- The Church forbade post-mortem dissection but he dissected more than 30 bodies
- Pioneered the High Renaissance style of balance, serenity, and technical accomplishment nearly a generation before Michelangelo and Raphael
Leonardo's drawing, with the mitral valve at the front of the heart,
provided a 'eureka moment' for Francis Wells
Not really sure if this qualifies for GGG or not.
My money is still on Newton as the greatest recorded brain.
France's King Frances(?) built a university for Leonardo Da Vinci. He then dispatched his cousin, Rene d'Anjou, with a fleet to Padua to fight a war to rescue Leonardo and bring him to the university.
Among others who accompanied Rene were Christopher Columbus and his brother.
Whole lotta' stuff changed in this world after that event!
"It's really fascinating that Leonardo was so far beyond his time."
The eye of a genius.
I would go with Leonardo, John Stuart Mill (who I disagree with on most things), Newton, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
Personally, I think one of the Founding Fathers with the biggest brain was John Adams.
I almost sounds as if Leonardo operated on living animals and people to get the info he got. How could he understand valve motion and blood flow otherwise? A dead heart doesn't seem like it would give up a lot of details.
I think John Adams certainly had an intellect that was probably close to being on par with Jefferson and Franklin; however, his ideas did not have the impact of theirs. His son was also a fascinating man whose intellect was seriously underestimated.
I vote for James Madison, the Father of our Constitution. Now that's one outstanding piece of work!
Member of the Tesla cult?
Now I'm really offended, at all of you. Where is the diversity?? Why do you only acknowledge the dead white men as geniuses? What about the one-legged bisexual African midget feminist geniuses???
Jefferson I suppose remains as the greatest political genius, at least as far as our country is concerned. Fortunately his ideas and methodology worked and we are here to brag about him.
da Vinci concentrated on more Earthly things, and remains as the greatest 'artist' of that century.
There are arrays of men and women on orders of magnitudes of smart people through out history with amazing historical perspective but there are very few actual 'geniuses.'
There are some that think Michael Moore is a genius.
There are some that think John Kerry is brave.
But there are certain things in history that are absolute and cannot be rewritten.
Einstein regarded James Clerk Maxwell as perhaps the greatest mind.
ò E.dA = q/e0
ò B.dA = 0
ò E.ds = -d/dt(ò B.dA)
ò B.ds = m 0ò j.dA,
Einstein had Newton's work to go on. Newton INVENTED calculus, did he not? I could hardly understand it when I was taught it, but to invent it?!?! I think it would be a toss up between Newton and da Vinci. The problem is that they both contributed in such different areas that they complimented each other.
He was still two centuries behind Newton, but Maxwell is as smart as they get.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.