François Pourfour du Petit

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François Pourfour du Petit
François Pourfour du Petit.jpg
BornJune 24, 1664
DiedJune 18, 1741

François Pourfour du Petit (June 24, 1664 – June 18, 1741) was a French anatomist, ophthalmologist and surgeon who was a native of Paris.

He studied medicine at the University of Montpellier, and afterwards studied surgery at the Hôpital de la Charité in Paris. During this period of time he also attended lectures by Guichard Joseph Duverney (1648–1730) in anatomy and Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656–1708) in botany. Between 1693 and 1713 he was a military physician in the armies of Louis XIV, and after the Peace of Utrecht (1713), he returned to Paris as an eye specialist. From 1722 to 1741 he was a member of the Académie Royale des Sciences.

Petit is remembered for his anatomical studies of the eye, as well as physiological research of the sympathetic nervous system. As a military physician, Petit noticed that there was a striking correlation between soldiers' head wounds and contralateral motor effects, which he documented in a 1710 treatise called Lettres d’un medecin des hopitaux du roi a un autre medecin de ses amis.[1] He performed pioneer investigations on the internal structure of the spinal cord, and gave an early, detailed description of the decussation of the pyramids.[2] He also provided the first clinical description of symptoms of what would later be known as Horner's syndrome.,[3][4]

Associated eponyms[edit]


  1. ^ [1] The early 18th century contributions of Pourfour du Petit
  2. ^ [2] Medscape News Today
  3. ^ Campbell, P; Neil, T; Wake, PN. "Horner's syndrome caused by an intercostal chest drain". Thorax. 44: 305–6. doi:10.1136/thx.44.4.305. PMC 461803. PMID 2763232.
  4. ^ [3] Medscape, Horner Syndrome