Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Natural History of Disease

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 05 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:1313
  1. Leonard Sinclair, emeritus consultant paediatrician, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London
  1. Drls{at}

John Ryle came from the school of master clinicians who walked the wards and tended the needs of patients (at Guy’s Hospital, London). He was a physician who listened but was also noted for his clinical research on gastric function. “Ryle’s tube” was for many years the eponymous name for that tube used for emptying the stomach and for gastric lavage.

His mentor was Arthur Hurst, the doyen of gastroenterologists in the 1920s, and he dedicated this book to him. It was written at a time when Ryle had accumulated much clinical experience and was under …

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