Huschke's anterior external auditory canal foramen: art before medicine?

Otol Neurotol. 2015 Mar;36(3):555-60. doi: 10.1097/MAO.0000000000000418.


During the Renaissance, several anatomic details were described with a degree of exactness, which would stand the test of time. One example is the foramen in the anteroinferior wall of the external auditory canal, eponymously named after the German anatomist, Emil Huschke, who described it in 1844. However, the first clearly medical observation of this foramen was published by the French physician Jean Riolan the Younger in 1648. After a short excursion into some paleopathologic findings of this foramen in skulls of the Early Bronze Age and of pre-Columbian Peruvian populations, this article follows the traces of the early medical descriptions and depictions of the foramen up until the 19th century. They are connected with the names of Duverney (1683), Cassebohm (1734), Lincke (1837), Huschke (1844); Humphry (1858), von Troeltsch (1860), and especially Buerkner (1878). Surprisingly, the earliest exact depiction of the foramen in the auditory canal of a skull was found in the oil painting Saint Jerome in his study by the Flemish artist Marinus Claeszon van Reymerswaele. He depicted the foramen in the period between 1521 and 1541, a hundred years before Riolan the Younger.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Ear Canal / anatomy & histology*
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine in the Arts*
  • Paintings / history*
  • Skull / anatomy & histology*