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One hundred years of texts describing congenitally malformed hearts from 1814 to 1914

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2008

William N. Evans*
Children’s Heart Center, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America
Ruben J. Acherman
Children’s Heart Center, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America
Robert H. Anderson
Cardiac Unit, Institute of Child Health, University College, London, United Kingdom
Correspondence to: William N. Evans MD, FACC., Children’s Heart Center, 3006 S. Maryland Pkwy, Ste. 690, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA. Tel: (702) 732-1290; Fax: (702) 732-1385; E-mail:


Before paediatric cardiology emerged as a specialty in the mid 20th century, a body of literature had developed over centuries devoted to description of congenitally malformed hearts. In this review, we have selected highlights from such texts written during the period of 100 years from 1814 to 1914, demonstrating their potential relevance to controversies occurring during the twentieth century in the categorisation of such hearts. We begin in 1814, with the first wide-ranging book devoted to congenital cardiac malformations. We end with a publication from 1914, because it included an illustration of the first electrocardiogram in a text devoted to paediatric disease. As we will show, these works from the 19th and early 20th centuries reflect topics still relevant today, namely the aetiology of cardiac malformations, clinicopathologic correlations, attempts at classification, and lack of effective treatments. Attention to their content could have served to ameliorate controversies, some of them ongoing.

Review Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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