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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

Antoine Louis
(1723–1792)

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.

Sources:
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
3
. "The origin of Medical Terms" Skinner, HA; 1970


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Kyphosis / Lordosis

UPDATED: In both these words the suffix [-osis] means "condition". The root term [-kyph-] is Greek and means "bent or bowed" without an indication of the direction of bending, thus the term was originally used for any abnormal spinal curvature. It was Hippocrates who first used this term to denote "hunchback". Since then the term [kyphosis] denotes a curvature of the spine towards posterior, or better described, a spinal curvature in the median plane with a posterior convexity.

Hippocrated also used the Greek term [lordosis] to denote a curvature opposite to kyphosis. Lordosis is then a spinal curvature in the median plane with an posterior concavity.

In the human spine, as viewed from the lateral aspect (see image), there are four normal curvatures. The cervical and lumbar curvatures are lordotic, while the thoracic and sacrococcygeal curvatures are kyphotic. Based on this description kyphosis and lordosis are normal conditions of the human spine.

A pathological, excessive, or exacerbated curvature should be denoted with the terms [hyperkyphosis] and [hyperlordosis] respectively; the prefix [hyper-] meaning "excessive". Through use, the terms [kyphosis] and [lordosis] are also used to denote pathological conditions. Hyperkyphosis has mostly a thoracic presentation, while hyperlordosis has mostly a lumbar presentation.

In vernacular  terms, an individual with hyperkyphosis is known as a "hunchback", while an individual with hyperlordosis is known as a "swayback".

Image property of: CAA.Inc.Artist: D.M. Klein