Francesco Cornaglia partner of the Turin Medical School

A homage to Francesco Cornaglia thirty years after the foundation of the “Cornaglia Centre”

The “Cornaglia Centre” was founded in 1982 by Professors Pier Federico Angelino, Carla Saracco Ruella, Franco Peyretti and other friends: at that time, the atmosphere of the famous Turin Medical School with personalities such as Achille Mario Dogliotti, Luigi Biancalana and Enrico Ciocatto could still be felt. These doctors had opened up new horizons to cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, to anaesthesiology and intensive care. Prof. Angelino himself had set up in Cuneo the first Coronary Care Unit in Piedmont. He had established the Italian Society of Medical Data Processing. Furthermore, he was the author of one of the first “cable” electrocardiograms: an ECG tracing was executed at Molinette hospital while at the same time, thanks to a modem converter, some German colleagues in a hospital in Mannheim were able to print and read it in real time. In the same years Franco Peyretti managed to set up the first “chain for cryo-plasmatic blood fractionation” in his “blood bank”, with the aim of obtaining albumin and gamma globulin to transfuse. In Neurosurgery doctors were using cryotherapy, the so-called “frozen scalpel”, to operate on people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Cryosurgery soon spread in many surgical specialties, including the local treatment of tumours. This technique, born in Turin, developed all over the world, thus giving rise to many national and international Scientific Societies, which were all linked to the “Cornaglia Centre” and engaged in congresses in Europe, America and Asia. Practically speaking, a newly born cryotherapy school was finding new fields of use: in urology with Prof. Gianni Sesia and his colleagues, in plastic surgery with Professors Vittorio Bergonzelli, Aldo Fontana and Egle Muti. Turin also excelled in the treatment of severe burns. For the first time in Italy, patients in the burns unit of CTO, run by Prof. Teich Alasia, were treated with balneotherapy: after this treatment they were sent to sterile air-conditioned rooms, in order to prevent the danger of infection. The over ninety-year-old professor is still at work, in the same study, on fighting these lesions. In the same years at the university (clinical surgery) an arterial infusion pump was built, the so called Arterioclysis, forerunner of the (venous) infusion pumps which today are used everywhere; at the same time the first optical fibre gastroscopes began to be used in clinical medicine. “Francesco” was the man behind these technologies: he managed to reach every kind of instruments and devices all over the world and then brought them to the Masters in Turin. Everybody felt it necessary to offer his own skills, cultural resources and experience in order to solve problems and carry out plans, notwithstanding the difficulties and the lack of money. It is in such a context that the founders of the “Cornaglia Centre” decided to create a scientific cultural centre for interdisciplinary relations: a place to fill with cultural resources and the availability of many people, a suitable place for meetings and discussions, even through medical associations, and where exchange information and experience with the rest of the world. All this was done naturally, without outcry, because Piedmontese Medicine was important, well-known and esteemed; it produced synergies in every field, so that everybody working for it was delighted to belong to it and, still today, can say and remember with great pleasure: “I was there too…”.

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