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Medical Terminology Daily (MTD) is a blog sponsored by Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc. as a service to the medical community, medical students, and the medical industry. We will post a workweek daily medical or surgical term, its meaning and usage, as well as biographical notes on anatomists, surgeons, and researchers through the ages. Be warned that some of the images used depict human anatomical specimens.

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A Moment in History

Giovanni Batista Morgagni
Original image courtesy of National Institutes of Health

Giovanni Battista Morgagni

(1682 - 1771)

Italian anatomist, physician, and pathologist, Morgagni was born in the city of Forli. He started his medical studies at the University of Bologna, graduating in 1701 with a degree in Medicine and Philosophy. In 1712 he became a professor of anatomy at the University of Padua, Italy, 175 years after Andreas Vesalius. Morgagni was offered and accepted the Chair of Anatomy in 1715 at the University of Padua. Although Morgagni held a position at the anatomy department of the University of Padua, his name is associated mostly with his pathological studies.

Morgagni was interested in the works of Theophile Boneti (1620 - 1689), who started analyzing the correlation between post-mortem anatomical findings and diseases. He tried to establish a relation between the disease and the cause of death. In 1761 Morgagni published his most influential work "De Sedibus et Causis Morburum Per Anatomen Indagatis"  (On the Sites and Causes of Diseases, Investigated by Dissection). His work was essential for pathological anatomy to be recognized as a science in itself.

Morgagni was elected to become a member of several Academies of Science and Surgery: The Royal Society of London, The Academy of Science in Paris, The Berlin Academy of Science, and the Imperial Academy of Saint Petersburg in Russia. He is remembered today by several eponyms in anatomy and pathology:

• Morgagni's caruncle or lobe, referring to the miidle lobe of the prostate
• Morgagni's columns: the anal (or anorectal) colums
• Morgagni's concha, referring to the superior nasal concha
• Morgagni's foramina: two hiatuses in the respiratory diaphragm allowing for passage of the superior epigastric vessels
 Morgagni's hernia: an hiatal hernia through Morgagni's foramen, in the respiratory diaphragm
• Morgagni's ventricle: an internal pouch or dilation between the true and false vocal cords in the larynx
• Morgagni's nodules: the nodules at the point of coaptation of the leaflets (cusps) of the pulmonary valve. Erroneously called the "nodules of Arantius", which are only found in the aortic valve

Sources:
1. "A Note From History:The First Printed Case Reports of Cancer" Hadju, S.I. Cancer 2010;116:2493–8
2. "Giovanni Battista Morgagni" Klotz, O. Can Med Assoc J 1932 27:3 298-303
3. "Morgagni (1682 -1771)" JAMA 1964 187:12 948-950

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Abdominal Regions

UPDATED: In surface anatomy the abdomen can be divided into nine regions by named lines (or planes): transpyloric, transtubercular, and midclavicular. These regions have specific visceral content.

• Hypochondriac regions (right and left): [Hypo]="below"; [chondr]="cartilage"; [iac]=”pertaining to”. In this context, the term means “below or deep to the cartilage (of the ribs)". The right hypochondriac region contains the liver, gallbladder, portal vein, and the right colic flexure. The left hypochondriac region contains the stomach, spleen, tail of the pancreas, and left colic flexure. For a detail on how the name of this region relates to a mental disorder, click here.

• Epigastric region: [Epi]="above"; [gastr]="stomach”; [ic]=”pertaining to". The term means “above the stomach”. This region contains mostly stomach and abdominal esophagus

• Lumbar regions (right and left): Right and left lumbar regions. The term [lumbar] refers to the area of the loins. The right lumbar region contains the ascending colon and part of the right kidney. The left lumbar region contains the descending colon and part of the left kidney

• Umbilical region: Centered around the umbilicus, this region contains mostly small intestine, abdominal aorta, and greater omentum


Abdominal regions - Modified from the original Davis, 1910 

• Inguinal regions (right and left): From the Latin [inguen]=”groin". Gaius Plinius Secundus aka “Pliny” (23-79 AD) first used this term naming after a plant (inguinalis) which he used to treat hernias of the groin. The right inguinal region contains the cecum and small intestine. The left inguinal region contains the sigmoid colon. In older days, as shown in the sketch, these regions were called the "iliac regions".

• Hypogastric region: [Hypo]="below"; [gastr]="stomach”; “ic”=”pertaining to. The term means “below the stomach”. The hypogastric region contains mostly small intestine and greater omentum. This region used to be called the "pubic region"

A clinical importance of these abdominal regions is that a ventral hernia is usually named by the anatomical region where it protrudes. Based on the image, you will see then why a hernia can be umbilical, inguinal, lumbar, epigastric, or hypogastric.

Sources:
1. "Applied Anatomy" Davis, GG 1910 JBL Co. Philadelphia
2. "The Origin of Medical Terms" Skinner, HA 1970 Hafner Publishing Co.