- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Giovanni Domenico Santorini

Born  1681
Died  1737

Related eponyms

Italian anatomist, born June 6, 1681, Venice; died May 7, 1737, Venice.

Biography of Giovanni Domenico Santorini

Giovanni Domenico Santorini was the son of an apothecary. He studied medicine at Bologna, Padua, and Pisa, receiving the doctorate in 1701. One of his teachers was Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694). In 1703 began anatomical dissections, and was a demonstrator in anatomy at Venice from 1706 to 1728, besides Giuseppe Grandi. In 1728 he became protomedicus and physician to the Spedaletto in that city.

Santorini was generally acknowledged as the outstanding anatomist of his time, carefully dissecting and delineating many difficult and complex gross features of the human body, such as facial muscles involved in emotional expression, accessory pancreatic ducts, and duodenal paillae. His name is associated with no less than 12 eponyms, of which only one, papillae of Santorini/Vater's tubercle is conjoint.

Santorini’s contributions began with Opuscula medica di structura (1705). His most important work was Observationes anatomicae (1724), a valuable exposition of details of human anatomy that contains “De musculis facies,” “De aure exteriore,” “De Cerebro,” “De naso,” De larynge,” “De iis,” “De abdominae,” “De virorum naturalibus,” and “De mulierum partis procreationes datis.” Santorini was a popular teacher and a pioneer in teaching obstetrics.

Unfortunately, his career was cut short by his untimely death, and his chief work, Septemdecim tabula etc, was not published until thirty-eight years after his death. Some consider this work one of the best of the eighteenth century.


  • Opuscula medica di structura et motu fibrae, de nutrione animali, de haemorrhoidibus, de catameniis. Venice, 1705; Rotterdam, 1718.
    Reprinted in Georgius Baglivi: Opera. Leiden, 1719.
  • Observationes anatomicae. Venetiis, apus J. B. Recurti, 1724; Leiden, 1939.
    At a time when the European universities were making great strides in anatomical discovery and publications, Santorini was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the greatest anatomists. This work records a number of new anatomical discoveries and corrects many errors of earlier anatomists. Santorini's skill and expertise were so outstanding that his name lives on in a number of anatomical structures, several of which are described in this book. The text is accompanied by three folding copperplates which beautifully illustrate the musculature of the face, the pelvic musculature and genitalia of a sixteen-year old girl with a tubal pregnancy, the external muscles of the ear, and detailed anatomy of the male genitalia and larynx.
    Santorini's cartilage, Santorini's vein, Santorini's duct, Santorini's caruncula.
  • Istoria d’un feto estratto delle parti deretane. Venice, 1727.
  • Istruzioni intorno alla febbri.
    Venice, 1734, 1751; Greek translation, 1745. Opera. Parma, 1773.
    A medical textbook for seamen.
  • Opuscula quatuor: De structura et motu fibrae. De nutrione animali, de haemorrhoidibus.
    In: Georgius Baglivi: Opera omnia medico-practica et anatomica. Leiden, 1745.
  • De catameniis.
    In: Georgius Baglivi: Opera omnia medico-practica et anatomica. Leiden, 1745.
  • Opera. Parma, 1773.
  • Septemdecim tabula quas nunc primum edit atque explicat iisque alias addit de structura mammarum et de tunica testis vaginali Michael Girardi.
    Edited by Michael Girardi (1731-1797). Parma, Giambattista Bodoni, typographia Regia, 1775.
    This work, edited by Michael Girardi (1731-1797) and issued thirty-nine years after Santorini's death, contains illustrations of many parts of the human body including the organs of smell and hearing, the pharynx, breasts, heart, stomach, liver, intestines, pancreas, and bladder. Of the twenty-one plates in the book, seventeen were by Santorini. This elegantly printed volume is the only significant medical book printed by the celebrated Giambattista Bodoni for the Duke of Parma.
  • Willy Schmitt:
    Die anatomischen entdeckungen des Giovanni Domenico Santorini. Erstmalig aus seinem Werken übersetzt und kritisiert. Dissertation, Tübingen, 1921.
  • F. Saggini:
    Cenni sulla vita e sulle opere di Giandomenico Santorini. Padua, 1858.
  • H. Dietrich:
    Giovanni Domenico Santorini (1681-1737) and Charles Pierre Denonvilliers (1808- 1872) - First Description of Urosurgically Relevant Structures in the Small Pelvis.
    European Urology, Basel, 1997, 32: 124-127.

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