A Kamaledeen, S Vivekanantham
Journal Issue: 
Volume 45: Issue 1: 2015



As the first documented laboratory test in history, urinalysis, (or ‘uroscopy’ as it was historically referred to), was revered as the ultimate skill for physicians. The matula, in which the physician would pensively inspect his urine, would become an emblem of physician status and omniscience, a glass bladder that held the power to foretell a patient’s future. It would also reveal much about how early physicians refined the scientific method, evolving their practice from that of speculation and magic and adopting more rigour in their analysis. However, the practice of uroscopy fell from grace as rogue physicians and charlatans began exploiting its reputation for dishonest gain and deception of patients. For this reason, the practice of uroscopy is intriguing – its rise and fall reflect the haphazard chase for a ‘silver bullet’ diagnostic tool which we would do well to remember today.

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