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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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Esophageal hiatus

UPDATED: The esophageal hiatus is one of the seven hiatuses found in the respiratory diaphragm allowing passage of structures between the thorax and abdomen. As it name implies, the esophageal hiatus is the passageway for the esophagus. It also allows passage of the anterior and posterior vagus nerves, (CN X).

The hiatus is bound by two muscular crura, both of which arise from the right tendinous aortic crus. Since the intraabdominal pressure is higher than the intrathoracic pressure, there is a series of structures at the phrenoesophagogastric junction to close the esophageal hiatus.

The infradiaphragmatic parietal peritoneum reflects off the diaphragm towards the stomach to form its serosa layer (visceral peritoneum). At the same time the infradiaphragmatic fascia, also known as the  endoabdominopelvic fascia, splits into two components or limbs. These are the superior and inferior phrenoesophageal ligaments or phrenoesophageal membranes. (the root [-phren-] means "diaphragm"). These phrenoesophageal ligaments create a disc-like plug between the abdomen and the thorax. This "plug" is reinforced by a circular infradiaphragmatic fat pad. The phrenoesophageal ligaments are reinforced on their thoracic aspect by the endothoracic fascia.

Esophageal hiatus

Images property of: CAA.Inc. Artist: Dr. E. Miranda

The lower esophagus has a dilation (evident in the image) called the "esophageal ampulla", in relation to this dilation the circular muscle layer of the esophagus slightly thickens creating the so-called "lower esophageal sphincter". This area is not a true anatomical sphincter, but rather is a functional sphincter. 

The esophagogastric mucosal junction shows a marked transition in the shape of a wavy line. This is called the Z-line or the ora serrata. Extensions of the gastric mucosa and submucosa inferior to the ora serrata create a valve-like flap called the "gastroesophageal flap valve". When viewing this mucosal flap through and endoscope, it looks corrugated and flower-like, hence it is also called the "rosette". 

The congenital or pathological dilation of the esophageal hiatus can predispose to esophageal hiatus hernia.