The arterial circle described by Willis, and the contribution of his successors

Eliasz Engelhardt, Gilberto Levy


The description of the base of the human brain and its
arteries that form a circle or polygon, as described and
depicted by Thomas Willis and collaborators (1664), and
that received his name – ‘circle of Willis’, has a long
history, where many renowned preceding authors are
included – the pre-Willisian anatomists, among which the
names of Giulio Casserio (1627), Johann Vesling (1647)
e Johann Jakob Wepfer (1658) deserve to be
highlighted. However, despite a complete description
and correct depiction of the arterial components of the
circle, their naming lagged behind. After Willis, a large number of renowned authors – the post-Willisian anatomists, studied this formation further. This period begun with a poor contribution of Isbrand van Diemerbroeck (1672). Next appeared authors who provided names that became ephemeral, followed by
those who presented designations that would remain permanently. Among the latter must be cited initially Joseph Lieutaud (1742) and Albrecht von Haller (1756), followed by Xavier Bichat with his posthumous work (1803), and finally the definitive names being established by Jean Cruveilhier (1834), this period closing with Henry Gray’s book (1858), who consolidated the knowledge on the subject.



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