WLM ID: aiuh | Catalog Record
Scipione Riva-Rocci (1863-1937) was an Italian internist and pediatrician. Before he introduced his mercury-sphygmomanometer in 1896, obtaining a patient’s blood-pressure was, at best, very difficult. The word sphygmomanometer is Greek and means 'pulse pressure meter.' Riva-Rocci's method involved several steps to obtain the systolic blood-pressure. A rubber cuff covered with a thin cloth was wrapped around the patient’s arm. The physician would feel for the patient’s pulse in the wrist (called the "radial pulse"), and then inflate the cuff with a rubber bulb. The cuff was inflated until the radial pulse could not be felt. Pressure in the cuff was measured by the height of the mercury in the sphygmomanometer’s vertical glass tube. Then the physician would slowly release the pressure in the cuff while watching the level of the mercury to note at which line the radial pulse could again be felt – This was the systolic pressure. Although the process to obtain a patient’s blood-pressure has changed, mercury-based instruments for measuring blood-pressure have changed very little from Riva-Rocci’s original design.
Dr. Harvey Cushing (1869-1939), an American neurosurgeon, was an early advocate of patient monitoring during anesthesia and surgery, and an early adopter of the Riva-Rocci Sphygmomanometer. Although many other tools have been developed to allow anesthesiologists to monitor the status of a patient’s heart and circulatory, or blood transportation, system, blood-pressure remains an essential component of evaluating a patient’s condition throughout the surgical process.
Donated in honor of WLM Assistant Librarian Teresa Jimenez, MSLIS, by WLM Honorary Curator George Bause MD.