History of Urology Forum
Presentation Authors: Philip Van Kerrebroeck*, Maastricht, Netherlands
Introduction: The Italian composer Gioachino Antonio Rossini (born 29 February 1792, died 13 November 1868) made his debut at age 18. However at age 32, with 39 operas to his name, and the kind of adulation a pop star might expect today, he gave up composing all but small-scale pieces, and led a nomadic existence between France and Italy. The main reason for his early retirement was his disastrous medical situation, including chronic urological problems.
We will present the physical and medical condition of Gioachino Rossini, reconstructing the history of his illnesses, medical diagnoses, and treatments with a specific focus on his urological situation.
Methods: Published reliable biographies, peer reviewed studies, personal letters from Rossini and original documents, including private notes by his second wife, were studied.
Results: From age 15 Rossini started to complain of gonorrheal urethral discharge as a result of his early adventures in brothels. He developed urethral strictures and travelled in 1843, at the advice of his mistress and later second wife Olympe Pelissier, to Paris for a consultation with the well-known urologist Jean Civiale. He was advised to perform daily urethral dilatations with a Benique sound for 15 to 20 minutes, and to irrigate his urethra with a mixture based on sweet almonds. He continued this treatment his whole life, and his custom made sound was prominently present on his desk. Rossini suffered also from hemorrhoids, emphysema-bronchitis and related heart ailments. Furthermore he was troubled since his youth by bouts of melancholic depression, that caused chronic sleeplessness and suicidal tendency. He presented obvious symptoms of metabolic syndrome with morbid obesity, and in 1856 had a stroke with partial paralysis. In 1868 a rectal carcinoma was diagnosed, and on the 3rd of November a transanal resection was performed under chloroform anesthesia by the famous French surgeon Auguste Nelaton. A reintervention was necessary on the 5th after which Rossini developed erysipelas. He finally died on November 13, and was initially buried at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. In 1887 his remains were transferred to Firenze.
Conclusions: Although Gioachino Rossini reached the age of 76, he stopped composing major works at age 32. His physical and mental condition seems to have played a major role in this decision. He was infected with gonorrhea at early age, and suffered from chronic urethral consequences for which he performed all his adult life intermittent catheterization. He finally died after surgery for rectal cancer performed by the French surgeon Auguste Nelaton.
Source of Funding: None