COPD has probably always existed but has been called by different names in the past. Bonet described a condition of “voluminous lungs” in 1679. In 1769, Giovanni Morgagni described 19 cases where the lungs were “turgid” particularly from air. The first description and illustration of the enlarged airspaces in emphysema was provided by Ruysh in 1721. Matthew Baillie illustrated an emphysematous lung in 1789 and described the destructive character of the condition. Badham used the word "catarrh" to describe the cough and mucus hypersecretion of chronic bronchitis in 1814. He recognised that chronic bronchitis was a disabling disorder.
René Laennec, the physician who invented the stethoscope, used the term "emphysema" in his book A Treatise on the Diseases of the Chest and of Mediate Auscultation (1837) to describe lungs that did not collapse when he opened the chest during an autopsy. He noted that they did not collapse as usual because they were full of air and the airways were filled with mucus.
In 1842, John Hutchinson invented the spirometer, which allowed the measurement of vital capacity of the lungs. However, his spirometer could only measure volume, not airflow. Tiffeneau in 1947 and Gaensler in 1950 and 1951 described the principles of measuring airflow.
The terms chronic bronchitis and emphysema were formally defined at the CIBA guest symposium of physicians in 1959. The term COPD was first used by William Briscoe in 1965 and has gradually overtaken other terms to become established today as the preferred name for this disease.
Read more about this topic: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
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