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

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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Respiratory Diaphragm

The respiratory diaphragm is a musculotendinous dome-shaped shelf that divides the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity. It is one of the four named diaphragms in human anatomy. This is why it is proper to call it the "respiratory diaphragm" instead of just "diaphragm".

The name comes from the Greek, where the prefix [dia-] means "complete" or "through" and [phragm] means "a partition". In Latin, Celsus called it the "septum transversum", meaning "the transverse partition". The root term for [diaphragm] is [-phren-], as in phrenic nerves and cardiacophrenic vessels.

The respiratory diaphragm has a club-shaped central tendon (as in a card suit) which has a large hiatus for the inferior vena cava. The muscular portion is formed by skeletal (voluntary) muscle and descends skirt-like to attach to the internal aspect of the sternum and ribs anterolaterally, and a complex system of lumbocostal tendinous arches posteriorly.

Respiratory diaphragm (www.bartleby.com)
Images and links courtesy of Bartleby.com
It receives its blood supply through branches of the intercostal arteries, the musculophrenic artery, and the pericardiacophrenic arteries. It is innervated by the phrenic nerves, which descend through the mediastinum in relation to the pericardium.

The respiratory diaphragm has not one, but seven openings (hiatuses) to allow for passageway of many structures:

• Esphageal hiatus
• Aortic hiatus
• Inferior vena cava hiatus
• Hiatuses (2) for the superior epigastric vessels, which are the inferior continuation of the internal thoracic (mammary) vessels. Also known as the hiatuses of Morgagni.
• Hiatuses (2) for the splanchnic nerves

The most common site for an internal abdominothoracic herniation is the esophageal hiatus, but there are other respiratory diaphragm hernias, including the retrosternal hernia of Morgagni (through the superior epigastric hiatus), and the hernia of Bochdalek (a congenital hernia through an incomplete central tendon of the respiratory diaphragm).