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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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Anatomy / Dissection

UPDATED: From the Greek, the prefix [ana-] meaning "trough" or "up", the root term [-tom-], arising from [τομή] (tom??) meaning "to cut", and the suffix [-y], meaning "process". The word [anatomy] means then, "a process of cutting up", a very good description of what anatomists do. What is interesting is that the word anatomy describes an action, and as such can be used as a verb. It is correct to say "to anatomize" when referring to the act of dissecting a body or body part.

The word "anatomy" has the same meaning as "dissection", a word with Latin roots. The prefix [dis-] means "apart", while the root term [-section] means "to cut". [-section] arises from the Latin [sectis] or [secare]. both meaning "to cut". 

Today the term [anatomy] is used to describe one of the basic medical sciences; in the Middle Ages the terms to "dissect" or to "anatomize" were interchangeable.

Anatomy is "the study of the human body, its parts and components, and the spatial relationship between this components". For many, anatomy is at the basis of the Science of Surgery

There are many subspecialties in anatomy, including:

Gross anatomy: That anatomy that can be seen with the naked eye
Surface anatomy: The correlation between superficial landmarks and internal structures and organs
Clinical anatomy: The study of anatomy and its relation to physiology, pathology, and surgical treatment

Personal note: The improper pronunciation of the term [dissection] is one of my pet peeves!