Antonio Egas Moniz

Antonio Egas Moniz (1874-1955) 1 was a pioneering Portuguese neurologist that is notable in radiology history for his development of cerebral angiography in 1927.

He is also known as the developer of prefrontal leucotomy (now better known as a lobotomy) ​for which he received a Nobel Prize in 1949 (shared with Swiss physiologist Walter Rudolf Hess (1881-1973) 1 for his work on the neurophysiology of the diencephalon and its role in the autonomic control of the organs).

He was born on 19th November 1874 in Avanca on the Northern coast of Portugal, on his family's ancestral estates. He was christened Antonio Caetano de Abreu Freire. When he was older his godfather, gave him the name Egas Moniz, after a renowned Portuguese patrician, who had once tutored the King of Portugal 3.

He studied medicine at the University of Coimbra, the oldest university in Portugal. He later went to France for postgraduate training in neurology and psychiatry. He returned home in 1911 to head the new department of neurology at the University of Lisbon. He stayed there until until his retirement in 1944.  

In 1926 he started his experiments on cerebral angiography and presented the results at a conference in Paris in 1927. He was the first person to visualise the vessels of the brain using radiologic contrast media and this led to the development of cerebral angiography.

He published two books on cerebral angiography in 1938 and 1940.

Moniz was a brilliant polymath with interests ranging from mathematics, history, music, painting and writing, to politics.

He was a writer, speaker, and had a distinguished political career beyond medicine, serving as an MP from 1900 and as Portugal's ambassador to Spain. He retired from politics at age 51 (in 1925) in order to more fully pursue research in neurology 3. Other than cerebral angiography, his main research interests were in Parkinson disease, battle trauma neurology, and clinical neurology.

He died on December 13th 1955, at the age of 81, from a catastrophic abdominal haemorrhage.

  • pioneering work on cerebral angiography
  • Egas Moniz Museum and art collection
  • numerous books including autobiographical writings
  • political contributions
History of radiology
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Article information

rID: 25336
Tag: history
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Egas Moniz
  • Antonio Caetano de Abreu Freire Egas Moniz

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