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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William Harvey

This article is part of the series "A Moment in History" where we honor those who have contributed to the growth of medical knowledge in the areas of anatomy, medicine, surgery, and medical research.To search all the articles in this series, click here.

William Harvey (1578 - 1609) English physician, physiologist, and anatomist. He was born in Folklestone, where his  father was the mayor.

Harvey studied at the King’s College in Canterbury, after which he entered Cambridge. He later traveled through France and Italy and continued his studies in Padua, where he graduated with an MD in 1602. He later returned to Cambridge to complete his Doctoral studies.

He became the Physician-In-Charge at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.  It was at this time that he started a long process of scientific observation and logical reasoning that led him to postulate the circulation of the blood in his 1628 publication  "Excercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus"  (Anatomical Exercises on the Movement of the Heart and the Blood in Animals).

Harvey’s publication caused incredible controversy, as his proposed theory went against Galen’s theories and the idea that blood passed through "invisible pores" from the right to the left atrium of the heart. His main problem was that he could not prove the presence of capillaries, which were not observed until Antoine van Leeuwenhoek invented the microscope in the late 1600's.

William Harvey
In his book Harvey states ''It is absolutely necessary to conclude that the blood in the animal body is impelled as in a circle and is in a state of ceaseless motion: that this is the act or function which the heart performs by means of the pulse, and that it is the sole and only end of the motion and contraction of the heart”. Even today there are many that use the term “circulatory system” without realizing that the meaning “as in a circle” coined by William Harvey is present in it.

Although the first to consider the term “circulation” was Michael Servetus (1511 – 1553), his ideas were not completely evolved. Had he completed his research and studies Servetus could have precluded Harvey, but he was considered a heretic and burnt at the stake. Thankfully, Harvey was not!  

1. "William Harvey"Billimoria, A.  J Assoc Phys 60 (2012) 57
2.  “William Harvey” Foucar, HO. Can Med Assoc J 1951; 64(5): 452–453.
3. “William Harvey” McKecnie, EDJ, Robertson, C.  Resuscitation 55 (2002) 133-136
4. “William Harvey, an Aristotelian anatomist” Fara, P. Endeavour 21:2 (2007) 43–44
5. “The life and work of William Harvey” Keele, KD Endeavour 2:3 (1978) 104–107
Original image courtesy of: nlm.nih.gov