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SANDSTRÖM, Ivar (1852–1889)

Om en ny körtel hos menniskan och åtskilliga däggdjur. Offprint: Uppsala Läkareförenings Förhandlingar, Band XV:7-8 (1879-1880).
Uppsala, Ed. Berling, 1880.

The rare offprint of the first edition of this celebrated paper announcing the discovery of a new gland in man and several mammals, Sandström’s Glandulae parathyreodiæ. Inscribed by the author to Sten Stenberg. Ivar Sandström studied medicine at Uppsala and received in 1878 an appointment as ’prosector’ in anatomy during 1879-80. In the autumn of 1881 he was appointed the position of teacher in histology. With short interruptions for his own studies he held this position until 1886. In 1887 he finished his studies for the medical degree and obtained his diploma as a physician. However, even before this time a mental disorder hereditary on his mother’s side, had necessitated a sojourn in a hospital for mental diseases. Although this stay was of short duration, his disorder was sufficient to diminish his scientific activity in succeeding years and finally brought his academic career to an end, causing his premature death in 1889. Because of this circumstance his publication in 1880, ’On a new gland in man and several mammals,’ was, with the exception of some minor communications, his only contribution to medical literature, a contribution which, however, will secure him a prominent position in the history of medicine. The discovery of the new gland was made in 1877 while Sandström was still a medical student. It was originally made in a dog by macroscopical dissection. A superficial microscopic exemination showed that is was a new organ of quite different structure from the underlying thyroid gland. Unfortunately time and material did not permit the immediate completion of the investigation, so that this could not be made until the winter of 1879-80. The existence of the gland in different species – other than dog (cat, ox, horse, rabbit and man) was established. In all these species the gland was constantly present. The main interest of the discoverer was focussed upon the conditions in man; he examined 50 individuals and found in most of them two glands on each side, but otherwise varying conditions. Eugène Gley later (1892) rediscovered the parathyroids, and even if he seems to have been the first to understand their real significance showing the necessity of the parathyroids for the maintenance of life – it was Sandström who first proved their existence and his achievement will henceforth probably remain the last great anatomical discovery, if that means to demonstrate the presence of a previously unknown and vital organ.

Collation: Pp 31, (1) with 3 folding lithographed plates numbered IV-VI (two folding and one double-page) with altogether 19 figures.

Binding: Original blank wrappers with cracked spine and front wrapper loose.

Provenance: Inscription on front wrapper from the author ("författaren") to Sten Stenberg (1824–1884), professor of chemistry and pharmacy at Karolinska Institutet.

References: Garrison-Morton 1127; ’An English translation of Sandström’s Glandulae Parathyreoideae.’ by Carl M. Seipel. With biographical notes by J. August Hammar. Edited by Charlotte H. Peters and J. F. Fulton. In: Bulletin of the Institute of the History of Medicine, volume VI (1938), pp 179-222 with portrait. Waller 8460 (the English translation).

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