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 post anatomical, medical or surgical terms, their 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

Antoine Louis

French surgeon, anatomist, and physiologist. Following his medical studies and a long career as a physiologist, Antoine Louis was named Permanent Secretary of the Royal French Academy of Surgery. His other titles were those of Professor of the Royal Academy, Consultant Surgeon of the Armies of the King, member of the Royal Society of Sciences of Montpellier, Inspector of the Royal Military Hospitals, and Doctor in Law of the University of Paris. As a member of these academies Louis was instrumental in the design and construction of the guillotine. Initially called the "Louisette", this device was later named after another French physician in the same committee, Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin.

Antoine Louis' name is better know to history as the eponymic origin of the "sternal angle" also know as the "Angle of Louis" and synonymously (probably by misspelling or translation) the "angle of Lewis", and "angle of Ludwig". This anatomical landmark is extremely important as it serves as a superficial landmark for important anatomical occurrences (click here).

As a point of controversy, there are some that contest the history of this eponym adjudicating it to Pierre Charles Alexander Louis (1787-1872), another French physician dedicated to the study of tuberculosis.

1. Srickland, N; Strickland A Angle of Louis, More Than Meets the Eye. MedTalks:
2. Ramana, R. K., Sanagala, T. and Lichtenberg, R. (2006), A New Angle on the Angle of Louis. Congestive Heart Failure, 12: 197–199
. "The origin of Medical Terms" Skinner, HA; 1970

 "Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc., and the contributors of "Medical Terminology Daily" wish to thank all individuals who donate their bodies and tissues for the advancement of education and research”.

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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!