Johann Conrad Brunner Publishes Work Linking the Pancreas and Diabetes Symptoms, but Without Establishing Link to the Disease

Brunner is remembered for his experiments and studies of the pancreas and the internal secretions associated with the organ.

In 1683 he removed the pancreas from a dog and noticed that the animal experienced extreme thirst and polyuria. He was however, unable to provide the link between the role of the pancreas and diabetes. He published the findings concerning his pancreatic research in a treatise titled Experimenta Nova circa Pancreas. Accedit diatribe de lympha & genuino pancreatis usu.

In 1683, [Brunner] published his seven pancreatectomies performed since 1673 in his book ‘Experimenta nova circa pancreas’,8 in which he meticulously described his technique. From the two parts of dog pancreas, he removed the bigger one (pars caudalis) surgically, while leaving the smaller part (pars duodenalis) because of unfavourable surgical field. He, however, ligated its excretory duct and, inaddition, interrupted the duct surgically. Brunner’s highly praised manual dexterity, long before any knowledge concerning antisepsis and anaesthesia was available, was so exceptional that, even today, people have difficulty in believing that he was able to achieve such remarkable scientific results.