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DELPECH, Jaques Mathieu (1777-1832)

Chirurgie clinique de Montpellier, ou Observations et réflexions tirées des travaux de chirurgie clinique de cette école. Tome Premier – Second.
Paris et Montpellier, Gabon et Companie, 1823-1828.

First edition of a classic work in the history of orthopedics and plastic surgery. Delpech apprenticed at the age of 12 to a surgeon and when only 15 he was enlisted as a surgical dresser in the Army. After further training and graduation in Montpellier he in 1812, aged 35, won a competitive appointment as professor of surgery and chief surgeon at the Hôpital Saint Eloi in Montpellier. Delpech founded a large orthopedic institute at Montpellier and is considered one of the founding fathers of modern orthopedics, both in France and in the world in general. Long before Semmelweis, he stressed the risk of transfer of infection by contaminated hands and dress. In his Chirurgie clinique de Montpellier Delpech described the beneficial effect of section of the Achilles tendon for clubfoot. He first performed the operation on May 9, 1816, and although not to be the first to do so, he was the first to demonstrate the value of tenotomy in the correction of contracture deformities of the extremites. Delpech’s work also represents the first significant French contribution to plastic surgery. In 1823 Delpech performed the first successful rhinoplasty by the Indian fore-head-flap method in France. He was also the first to restore the lower lip by means of a skin graft from the neck. He describes and illustrates seven cases of rhinoplasty, all performed by the Indian method except for the last, a failure done with a forearm flap following von Graefe’s procedure. The book includes numerous fine descriptions of other plastic operations with excellent illustrations. In October 29, 1832, driving back to his institute in an open carriage Delpech and his coachman were shot and killed by a man, a former patient who thought that an operation for variocele had rendered him unfit for marriage. The horses galloped off with the carriage and delivered the bodies to the institute, which was closed shortly afterwards.

Collation: Pp. (6), viii, 496; pp (6), xxxvij, (1), (5)-631, (1). With 37 engraved and lithographed plates, (one folding), numbered I-XXXV, XXVIII bis & ter.

Binding: Two volumes, contemporary half calf, gilt and blind decorated spines, marbled boards.

Provenance: John Berg (1851-1939); Carl Johan Ekströmer (1793-1860). Stamp: Kirurgiska Klinikens Bibliotek Serafimerlasarettet.

References: Garrison-Morton 4312 & 5741.1; Rutkow, Surgery, An Illustrated History, p. 413; Le Vay, History of Orthopaedics, 239-44; Gnudi & Webster, 322-23; Keith, Menders of the Maimed (1919) pp 192-4; Peltier, Orthopedics. A History and Iconography (1993), pp 26-32, 200-3. Waller 2346.

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