RENE THEODORE HYACINTHE LAENNEC (1781-1826), inventor of the stethoscope, was born at Quimper in Britanny, February 17, 1781. Early trained to medicine under his uncle at Nantes, he completed his medical studies at Paris, where he received the degree of doctor in 1804. He specially distinguished himself by his researches in pathological anatomy, and was regarded as one of the first practitioners of the capital when in 1816 he was appointed physician at the Necker hospital. There he continued those researches which resulted in the discovery of the stethoscope in the manner already fully described under AUSCULTATION (vol. iii. p. 100). Laennec himself fell a victim to phthisis, the disease which, of all others, he had specially studied. For a few years he was able to occupy a medical chair in the College de France ; but he died on August 13, 1826.
Laennec's chief work is the Traité de l'Auscultation médiate, 1819, in which he announced his discovery. It has been translated into various languages. He was the author also of Propositions sur la doctrine médicale d'Hippocrate, 1804 ; of Mémoires sur les vers vesiculates, 1804 ; and of articles in the Diet. des Sciences Médicales, and other publications.