Guillaume Dupuytren – geniusz czy łajdak?

Agnieszka Sobierajska-Rek, Marek Dobosz

Ann. Acad. Med. Gedan. 2010 (vol. 40), No 1:
Publication date: 2010-02-01
Language: pl


In this article the figure of a brilliant surgeon Guillaume Dupuytren (1777-1835) is presented, taking into consideration his influence on surgery development. Guillaume Dupuytren was a man of genius, perfect specialist, charismatic lecturer. On the other hand, he was eccentric, despotic, difficult in cooperation, persecuted by obsession of power and applause “brigand of Hotel Dieu”. His contribution to progress of operative treatment is invaluable: to start with hygienic rules and nutrition introduced to surgical ward through methods of classification and treatment of burns to end with many pioneer solutions in general and orthopedic surgery.

Guillaume Dupuytren was an outstanding and colorful personality who rose from poverty and obscurity to wealth and international fame as a leading surgeon of Paris.

Guillaume Dupuytren was born in 1777 in Pierre-Buffiere, a small village in France. Dupuytren’s education in Paris was filled with lots of sacrifices, because of his poverty at this time. He started his adventure in science world when he was 17 and became supervising prosector in medical school. When he started working in Hotel Dieu hospital, his career gathered speed, so to say, and he became a chef of surgery 12 years later. From that point he reigned supreme at Hotel Dieu for almost 30 years. He induced primary rules to his ward: hygienic and dietetic. For saving Louis’s XVIII nephew’s life the king gave him the baron title.

Dupuytren evolved in many different branches of medicine, from the treatment of cholera and vaginitis, ingrown toe nail to the management of war wounds. In Paris not only his surgical achievements were known, but also his maelstroms in personal life: he called off his wedding the night before it should have taken place. His disputes with other famous surgeons became a legend, eg.: battle of slanders with Lisfranc.

Dupuytren’s personalisty was so interesting that it became an inspiration for Balzac to describe it in his novel ‘The Atheist’s Mass’. The famous Parisian surgeon was depicted as a character called Desplein. In spite of being cold and ruthless to his co-workers and rivals, he was known for his charity to the poor. He run free clinic for all the destitude.

The twilight of titan’s work came when in 1833, while lecturing, he had a stroke. After the stroke he was forced to take a leave of absence (in 25 years he missed hardly a day). Dupuytren died on 8th February, 1835.