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

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

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UPDATED: This word has a Greek origin from the term [ανεύρυσμα], composed of [ana] meaning "complete or throughout", and [eurus] meaning "wide", a "complete widening or dilation". It is used to refer to the dilation of an artery. Aneurysms can be formed in any artery, although they have some preferred sites. The most common aneurysms are found in the aorta, arterial circle of Willis, the root of the cerebral arteries, and internal carotid arteries.

Biomechanical studies suggest that once an aneurysm forms it will generally progress in its dilation until aneurysmal rupture. Because of turbulent flow within the aneurysm large clots are usually formed, which in turn can cause emboli.

The image shows an excised infrarenal abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). The two common iliac arteries can be seen. If you click on the image you will be able to see the same aneurysm opened through its posterior wall and the clot that was contained inside. 

Since the definition of [aneurysm] is "a dilation of an artery", it is wrong to refer to the dilation of a vein as a "venous aneurysm. The proper term to refer to the dilation of a vein is [varix].

Image property of: CAA.Inc. Photographer: David M. Klein

 Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm