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Adam Christian Thebesius

Born  1686
Died  1732

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German physician and anatomist, born January 12, 1686, Sandenwalde, Kreis Guhrau, Herzogtum Brieg, Schlesien; died November 10, 1732.

Biography of Adam Christian Thebesius

Adam Christian Thebesius was born to a family known for many Protestant priests and physicians. He went to school in Liegnitz and Breslau. Since there was no Protestant university in Silesia he attended colleges in Leipzig and Jena. Finally, he enrolled in the University of Leiden, Netherlands, where he received his doctorate in 1708 with the thesis De circulo sangunis in corde, on the circulation of the blood in the heart.

Shortly after gaining his doctorate degree Thebesius' father died and he returned home. In 1709 he started his practice in Hirschberg, close to Liegnitz, at the age of 22 and got married in 1711. Two years later he was accepted by the Leopoldina Royal Academy of Natural Scientists (Kaiserliche Akademie der Naturforscher) under the name of “Eyryphon.” He published numerous papers on his anatomical investigations in the transactions of this society.

From 1715 Thebesius practiced both as municipal physician (Stadtphysikus) in Hirschberg as well as consultant for the nearby spa of Warmbrunn. He also got involved with clerical and school responsibilities and wrote some poetry. Besides his medical work he also built an observatory for astrophysical studies.

Thebesius discovered openings of the endocardium by injecting fluids into the coronary sinus and observed the effluence in the atria and ventricles. Together with prior experiments by Raymond Vieussens (1635-1713) the vasa cordis minima were described and the morphological concept of the coronary circulation was established. Although Vieussens first reported the existence of openings through which the cardiac veins drain into the chambers of the heart, today they are known as Thebesian vessels. The endocardial fold at the opening of the coronary sinus bears Thebesius' name.

The function of the Thebesian vessels is still a matter of dispute. There is no question of the morphology and function of the coronary sinus and its congenital anomalies.

    "Thank God for the ingenious device of coronary ventricular channels,
    which relieve the myocardium from the coronary blood and thus prevent
    accumulations of interstitial fluid".
    De circulo sanguine, 1798
We thank Martin Lehn, Germany, for information submitted.


  • Disputatio medica inauguralis: De circulo sanguinis in corde.
    Doctoral dissertation, Lugduni Batacorum (Leiden), A. Elzevier, 1708, 1716, 1740; Leipzig, 1739.
  • Ophthalmographica.
  • De successione morborum.
  • Nova theoria aestus maris. Memorial article by Caspar Theodor Lindner in:
  • Acta physico-medica Academiae Caesarea naturae curiosorum exhibentia ephemerides, sive observationes, historias et experimenta, Nürnberg, 1740: 161-168.
  • Raymond Vieussens:
    Nouvelle decourvertes sur le coeur. Toulouse, 1706. Biographical etc:
  • August Hirsch (1817-1894), publisher:
    Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Ärzte aller Zeiten und Völker.
    2nd edition. Berlin, Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1929.
    First published in 6 volumes 1884-1888. 3rd edition, München 1962.
  • Harry Wain (1907-1970):
    The Story Behind the Word. Some Interesting Origins of Medical Terms.
    Springfield, Illinois, Charles C. Thomas, 1958.
  • Andreas Mettenleiter:
    Adam Christian Thebesius (1686-1732) und die Entstehung der Vasa Cordis Minima.
    Stuttgart, Franz Steiner Verlag, 2001. 580 pages.
    Sudhoffs Archiv; Zeitschrift Für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Beiheft 47, 2001.
    [Adam Christian Thebesius (1686-1732) and the discovery of the Vasa Cordis Minima.]

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