Uroscopy in Byzantium (330-1453 AD)

J Urol. 2008 Apr;179(4):1271-6. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2007.11.046. Epub 2008 Feb 20.


Purpose: The macroscopic examination of urine constituted a lasting diagnostic method from the time of Hippocrates and Galen until the Renaissance. The Byzantines, as the carriers of ancient Greek medical knowledge, adopted uroscopy.

Materials and methods: We reviewed the medical and historical bibliography as well as the original texts of Byzantine doctors.

Results: The outcome was impressive since, at that time, uroscopy was considered a main tool of clinical diagnosis. The Byzantines influenced the Arabs and Western Europe, their scriptures were considered points of reference, and they were regarded as experts on the subject of uroscopy.

Conclusions: Byzantine doctors added new elements to the concept of uroscopy, which was based on ancient Greek knowledge. Throughout the centuries uroscopy was established as an irreplaceable diagnostic method which affected medical thinking as well as the perception of examination and cure since it practically isolated doctor and patient, especially in Western Europe.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Byzantium
  • History, 15th Century
  • History, Ancient
  • History, Medieval
  • Humans
  • Urinalysis / history*