Wednesday, August 31, 2016

1837: Stokes defines chronic bronchitis

William Stokes (1804-1878)
In 1837 Dr. William Stokes became the first to use the term "chronic bronchitis" in his book "The Diagnosis and Treatment of Diseases of the Chest." (8, page 45)

He defined bronchitis as "inflammation of the mucous membrane," and that this condition may give rise to "dilations of the air cells and tubes, and to pulmonary emphysema."  (8, page 45)

He also said bronchitis is evident in nearly all diseases of the lungs.  In noting this, he was drawing a similarity with bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma.

Like Laennec, Stokes was among the first to explain the relationship between chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and believed bronchitis lead to emphysema. He was also the first to describe different types of sputum, such as mucoid and mucopurulent.  (1, page 86).

He also mentioned increased secretions and chronic cough as part of the condition.


  1. Qutayba Hamid, Joanne Shannon, James Martin, "Physiologic Basis of Respiratory Disease," 2005, Montreal, page 85-99
  2. Stokes, William, "The Diagnosis and Treatment of Diseases of the Chest," 1837, Dublin



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