The Hippocratic Doctrine of “the Acute Brain Suffering” as the Brain Stroke
Publication date: Available online 9 November 2018
Source: Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases
Author(s): Gregory Tsoucalas, Theodore G Papaioannou, Marianna Karamanou
Background: The ancient Greek term "apoplexy" as is repeatedly mentioned by the Hippocratic School of Medicine, included a cluster of diseases, mainly those concerning the central nervous system. The term was wrongfully infiltrated in Western European medicine as synonymous to what is called today a "stroke" of the brain. Objective: While in "Corpus Hippocraticum" the definition of the stroke was rather ambiguous; our study aims to unveil those fragments referring to it, in order to compose the Hippocratic theory of what it stood for "Acute Brain Suffering" (Greek: Οξείες Οδύνες του Εγκεφάλου) during the Classical era of ancient Greece. Method: A bibliographic research of the "Hippocratic Collection" was conducted during our study in order to connect all fragments from the original ancient Greek text, and reconstruct the "Hippocratic Stroke Theory". Three editions have been used as reference. French edition by Littré, and two Greek ones by Kaktos and Pournaropoulos. Results: The "Acute Brain Suffering" seems to be the entity we call "Stroke" in modern clinical practice. Edema (collection of fluids-humours theory) was considered to be the most significant element which though could have been addressed by a cranial decompression for the symptoms to improve. The symptoms in question were, acute brain pain, diplopia, vertigo, ataxia, saliva, and urine loss as well as feces incontinence. Conclusion: Both therapeutic approach and symptomatology exhibited significant similarities with the modern concept of the stroke. The Hippocratic School was a scientifically advanced sect of medicophilosophers who promoted global medicine.