Jacques-René Tenon

Jacques-René Tenon (French pronunciation: ​[ʒakʁne tənɔ̃], 21 February 1724 – 16 January 1816) was a French surgeon born near the town of Joigny.

Jacques-René Tenon
Born21 February 1724
Died16 January 1816 (1816-01-17) (aged 91)
Known forcapsule of Tenon, Hôpital Tenon.
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorJacques-Bénigne Winslow



He studied medicine in Paris, where one of his instructors was Jacques-Bénigne Winslow (1669–1760). For several years, he was associated with the Salpêtrière, and in 1757, attained the chair of pathology of the College of Surgery. In 1759, he became a member of the French Academy of Sciences.

In 1788, Tenon published the Mémoire sur les hôpitaux de Paris (Memoirs on the Hospitals of Paris),[1] a treatise that was a concise and detailed account of French hospitals. It was concerned with aspects such as hygiene, patient care, and environmental conditions of hospitals. Among the research conducted was a visit by Tenon and Charles-Augustin de Coulomb to inspect the revolutionary design of the Royal Naval Hospital, Stonehouse.[2] The publication was a catalyst in regards to efforts made for replacement of the Hôtel-Dieu of Paris, being decided by a committee from the Academy of Sciences, whose members were Tenon, along with famous scientists, including Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier (1743–1794), Coulomb (1736–1806), and Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749–1827).

In the 18th century, the Hôtel-Dieu was notoriously overcrowded, unsanitary, and susceptible to fire. Architect Bernard Poyet (1742–1829) proposed a new Hôtel-Dieu on Île des Cygnes on the Seine River at a price of 12 million livres, while members of the academy planned for four new hospitals at distances far from the Seine (Saint-Louis in the north, Holy-Anne in the south, the Roquette in the east, and in the west the abbey of Holy-Périne of Chaillot). Although plans for building the four new hospitals to replace the Hôtel-Dieu initially looked promising, the project was met with resistance and eventually shelved in the early 1790s.


Today, the Hôpital Tenon in Paris is named after him, as is the capsule of Tenon, a membrane that envelops the posterior five-sixths of the eyeball.[3] He provided a description of the "capsule of Tenon" in 1805.[4]


  • Transfer of the Hotel Dieu; Google Books
  • Simonsz, H J (2003), "First description of eye muscle 'poulies' by Tenon in 1805.", Strabismus (published Mar 2003), 11 (1), pp. 59–62, doi:10.1076/stra., PMID 12789584
  • Roth, A; Mühlendyck, H; De Gottrau, Ph (2002), "[The function of Tenon's capsule revisited]", Journal français d'ophtalmologie (published Nov 2002), 25 (9), pp. 968–76, PMID 12515947
  • Dechaume, M; Huard, P; Imbault-Huart, M J (1978), "[Jacques-René Tenon, odontologist and stomatologist]", Actualités odonto-stomatologiques (published Jun 1978) (122), pp. 221–33, PMID 362836
  • Greenbaum, LS (1975), ""Measure of civilization": the hospital thought of Jacques Tension on the eve of the French Revolution", Bull Hist Med, 49 (1), pp. 43–56, PMID 1093584


  1. ^ Tenon, Jacques (1786). Mémoire sur les hôpitaux de Paris (in French) (1 ed.). Paris: Pierres. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  2. ^ Surgeon Vice Admiral A Revell in http://www.histansoc.org.uk/uploads/9/5/5/2/9552670/volume_19.pdf
  3. ^ Practical anatomy by John Clement Heisler
  4. ^ Tenon JR, Naus J, Blanken R (March 2003), "Anatomical observations on some parts of the eye and eyelids. 1805", Strabismus, 11 (1): 63–8, doi:10.1076/stra., PMID 12789585.