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Étienne Jacques Marie Raymond Cestan

Born 1872
Died 1934

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French neurologist, born April 6, 1872, Gaillac, département de Tarn; died 1934.

Biography of Étienne Jacques Marie Raymond Cestan

Étienne Jacques Marie Raymond Céstan was born in Gaillac, the son of a doctor who had been a student with Trousseau. Cestan studied at the medical faculty in Paris from 1892, and became interne des hôpitaux and student of Édouard Brissaud (1852-1909) at the Salpêtrière. He received his doctorate in 1899.

An incident that must have influenced his particular field of interest, was when he one day spied a gong which he struck and the sound reverberated through the distant wards of the hospital, and one old pensioner, who ha been one of Jean-Martin Charcot’s (1825-1893) original performers on his Tuesday rounds, went into hysterical trance.

Directed by Joseph Babinski (1857-1932), he was interested in organic lesions such as congenital spastic paralysis, which he studied with Désiré-Magloire Bourneville (1840-1909) at the Bicêtre, and hemiplegia. He received his doctorate in Paris in 1899 with the thesis Le syndrome de Little, and that year Raymond chose him as his chef de clinique - at the Salpêtrière, and in 1902 put him in charge of the histopathology laboratory. He was the first person to describe a neurofibrosarcoma as well as the syndrome that bears his name.

Cestan was appointed agrégé in1904, but his brother asked him to return to Toulouse. In 1913 he was appointed to the chair of psychiatry and in that capacity studied the formation of the cerebrospinal fluid and the effects of intra-ventricular injection. Unfortunately Cestan suffered a sudden onset of nominal aphasia and had a distressing illness for almost one year before he died peacefully in his sleep.

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