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Dominique Anel

Born 1679
Died 1730

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French surgeon and ophthalmologist, 1679-1730.

Biography of Dominique Anel

Dominique Anel
Very little is known about the life of this famous early 18th century French physician who was born in Toulouse in 1678 or 1679. Already as garçon chirurgien at the Hospital St. Jaques in Toulouse, he published in Mercure in 1700 a case of weakening of bone in a 22 year old man, as well as letters on other topics. He left Toulouse for Montpellier, where he studied surgery for s short time, then went to Toulon to become surgeon on a French warship with which he made several voyages.

His naval career did not last long, however, as he soon went to Paris where he stayed for three and a half year, concerning himself with anatomy and studying under Jean Louis Petit (1674-1750) and George Mareschal (1658-1736). Before leaving Paris he was given a post as chirurgien major with the French army in Alsace. In the same capacity he in 1707 joined the Curassier-regiment of Graf von Gronsfeld, who was in imperial service. In this period he published a paper describing a probe he had invented "L'art de succer les playes..." for pumping liquids, that is: blood and pus from cavities and interstitial tissue. This procedure was described by Dionisio Andrea Sancassani (1659-1738) in his Dilucidiazioni*, but was critisised and not recommended.

At about this time Anel was called to Vienna to give advise in a severe case, and stayed in that town for two years, before going to Italy to serve with the Austrian army during two campaigns - spending his free time visiting Italian cities and studying surgery in their hospitals. It must also have been in this period that he became doctor of medicine in Mantua. In 1710 Anel lived for seven months in Rome, where he visited hospitals, besides practicing and teaching surgery.

It was here that he on January 30, 1710, operated a clergyman for aneurysm, an operation that he had already performed a few times. Late that year he went to Genoa, where he in 1712 performed the first operation for lacrimal fistula, using a fine-pointed syringe. He became famous for his successful treatment of abbot Fieschi, nephew of the archbishop of Genoa, for his double lacrimal fistula.

In 1713 he was called to Torino to the dowager duchess of Savoya, the mother of Victor Amadeus II, who had become king of Sardinia after the peace in Utrecht. He suffered from the same condition, and was freed of his sufferings. In consequence of this Anel was appointed her private physician and was granted a pension of 100 Louisd'or. He described his operational technique in his book Observation singulière sur la fistule lacrimale (1713).

His method won acclaim by many of the greatest of his contemporaries. From 1716 Anel had a successful practice in Paris, particularly in ophthalmology, where his reputation was unsurpassed. This, however, is not apparent from his publications. What is known about him is mostly taken from letters regarding the dispute on his operations, but after 1722 nothing more is known of his whereabouts, even his time and place of death remains unknown.

We thank Patrick Jucker-Kupper, Switzerland, for information submitted.

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