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The Contribution of Carlo Giacomini (18401898): The Limbus Giacomini and Beyond

Perrini, Paolo PhD, MD; Montemurro, Nicola MD; Iannelli, Aldo MD

doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31827fcda3
Legacy-Institutions and People

Carlo Giacomini (1840-1898) was a prominent Italian anatomist, neuroscientist, and professor at the University of Turin. Early in his career, he conducted clinical investigations with the physiologist Angelo Mosso (1846-1910) that culminated in the first recording of brain pulsations in a human subject. Anatomic features named after him include the limbus Giacomini, Giacomini vertebrae, and the vein of Giacomini. Pushing anatomy research to reconsider anthropological studies of the late 19th century, Giacomini strongly refuted the theory connecting criminality to atavistic morphological characteristics. A tireless scientist, he was the first to describe the os odontoideum in 1886 and to suggest that the presence of an incompetent odontoid process may alter the motion of craniovertebral junction, anticipating the concept of spinal instability. In this essay, we highlight the life and scientific contributions of Carlo Giacomini, with emphasis on his contributions to neuroscience.

Department of Neurosurgery, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Pisana (AOUP), Pisa, Italy

Correspondence: Paolo Perrini, PhD, MD, Neurosurgical Department, Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria Pisana (AOUP), Via Paradisa 2, 56100 Pisa, Italy. E-Mail:

Received June 15, 2012

Accepted November 12, 2012

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons