Leonardo da Vinci’s foot: historical evidence of concept

Introduction: Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), world-renowned Italian renaissance master, is known for his contributions to, and broad interests in science and art. The objective of this work is to demonstrate the extent of his science by applying the use of his concepts to current models of foot and ankle mechanics.

Methods: The art and science of Leonardo Da Vinci were extensively analyzed by reviewing his original drawings and hand written notebooks as well as their English translation. Current medical journals including the topics of foot, ankle, and biomechanics were reviewed for modern evidence and application of his concepts. The library of Michigan State University and the electronic library of the Royal Library at Windsor Castle were extensively utilized.

Results: From the depths of Santa Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence and Santo Spirito Hospital in Rome, through his commentary and anatomical drawings of around 30 cadaver dissections he performed, Leonardo da Vinci expressed his concept of foot and ankle anatomy and mechanics. He laid forth concepts, which vary little from current theories including those of proportion, statics and joint stability, sesamoid biomechanics, and structural support of the foot.

Discussion: Leonardo da Vinci, by combining an interest in anatomy and a gift of genius and artistic ability laid a foundation of foot and ankle anatomy and mechanics that have been applied in modern clinical sciences. Leonardo in this way made important contributions to the practice of foot and ankle orthopedics.

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