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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

Johann Gottfried Zinn

Johann Gottfried Zinn
(1727–1759)

Anatomist and botanist, Johann Gottfried Zinn was born on December 6, 1727 in the city of Ansbach, Germany. He started his medical studies in his native city, becoming later a student of Dr.  Albrecht von Hallers at the University of Göttingen, and received his MD in 1749.

He left for Berlin to continue his studies but came back shortly thereafter. He became a professor of anatomy at the University of Göttingen and in 1753 he also became the director of the botanical garden in the same city.

He is known for his anatomical treatise on the anatomy of the human eye: “Descriptio anatomica oculi humani iconibus illustrata”. Because of this, his name has become an eponym in the “Zonule of Zinn”, a ring of strands that forms a fibrous band connecting the ciliary body with the capsule of the lens of the eye. Zonule of Zinn is sometimes referred to as the suspensory ligaments of the lens, or the “ligament of Zinn”. His name is also attached to the anular ring tendon found in the posterior aspect of the eye, the "anular tendon of Zinn". This ring serves as attachment for all the extraocular muscles of the eye and the optic nerve passes through the center of the ring.

Carol Linné (Carolus Linneaus) named a genus of flowers in the family Asteraceae known vernacularly today as “Zinnia” in his honor. Hover your cursor over his portrait to see the flower.

The chapter on orbital anatomy of his anatomy book, taken from the second edition in 1780, has been translated and the first of three parts is published in an issue of “Strabismus”

His book "Catalogus Plantarum Horti Academici Et Agri" can be seen online here.

His life was short, dying at the early age of 32, but his name lives on in the name of a beautiful flower.

Sources:
1. “Johann Gottfried Zinn" Simonz, HJ Strabismus – 2004, Vol. 12, No. 2, p. 125 
2. "Anatomical Description of the Human Eye" Zinn, JG Strabismus, 13:45–52, 2005 
Images: Public Domain by Wikipedia Commons. 1. Own work I_am Jin, and H. Wilhem Dietz


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Eponym

UPDATED: From the Greek [ep(i)] meaning "outer, above, or upon", and the Greek suffix [o-nym] meaning "name". The word [eponym] refers to a person's name becoming attached to an anatomical location or surgical procedure. For centuries it has been the custom to honor or remember someone by attaching their name to a structure, location, procedure, or maneuver.

This has changed as anatomists tend now to give locations and structures descriptive terms. An example of this would be the "Ampulla of Vater" named after the German anatomist Abraham Vater (1684-1751) described today in anatomical texts as the "hepatopancreatic ampulla". The controversy on using eponyms or not goes on...

There are many eponymical terms in the medical arena; following are some of them, click on the links for additional information:

Hesselbach’s triangle: Named after Franz Kaspar Hesselbach (1759-1816) (see yellow insert in superior image)
Spigelian line (linea semilunaris): Site for an Spigelian hernia, named after Adrian Van Der Spigelius (1578-1625) (see blue arrow in inferior image)
Fallopian tube: Named after Gabrielle Fallopius (1523-1563)
Cooper's pectineal ligament. Named after Sir Astley Paston Cooper (1768-1841)
Hartmann's procedure: A two-stage colon resection and anastomosis. Named after Prof. Henri Hartmann (1860-1952), a French surgeon.
Heimlich's maneuver:  Named after Dr. Henry J. Heimlich (1920 - )
Ligament of Treitz: Named after Václav Treitz (1819 - 1872), a Czech pathologist.

If you want to see a listing of the eponyms in this website, click here.

Here is an article on "The lost influence of Andreas Vesalius on eponymic anatomy".

Here is an interesting article on eponyms by Ilana Yurkiewicz published on 11/15/2012 in Scientific American: "Modern medical terms are still named after Nazi doctors. Can we change it?". It is interesting and thougthful reading.

PERSONAL NOTE: Many anatomists today are actively trying to eliminate eponyms from anatomical, medical, and surgical books. For me, this eliminates the interest of learning about the people who either first described these structures or procedures, which is one of the objectives of this website. I wonder (and this is a tongue-in-cheek comment) if the reason for this desire to eliminate eponyms is because there are so many attached to anatomical structures that there is no place for their own names! When history has forgotten about the original eponyms maybe we will see new ones with the names of modern anatomists! I do not worry, my name is attached to the "Ligaments of Miranda". Dr. Miranda

Superior image property of: CAA.Inc.. Artist: M. Zuptich.
Inferior image property of:CAA.Inc.. Artist:D.M. Klein