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 

Martin Naboth, title page of De Sterelitate Mulierum 

Martin Naboth
(1675 – 1721)

Not much is known about this German physician and anatomist. He was born in 1675 in Calau, a town in Southern Brandenburg, Germany. He studied medicine at the University in Leipzig, receiving his doctorate in Philosophy in 1701 and his MD in 1703. Although his interests were based in chemistry, Naboth became an avid anatomist, with interest in the anatomy of the female reproductive system.

His main publication in 1707 was “De Sterilitate Mulierum” (On Sterility in Women). In this book he refers to small pearl-like transparent structures found in the uterine cervix. Believing that he had discovered the way women store eggs, he called these “ovarium novum” (new ovaries). His discovery was accepted by many and these structures came to be known as “Ovula Nabothii “. Only later were to understand these structures as cysts created by clogging of the opening of the glands found around the uterine cervix. These mucus-producing glands are known as the [cervical glands] and also as Nabothian glands. These cysts, which are common and do not represent a sign of cervical cancer, are known today as Nabothian cysts.

Naboth had only rediscovered these cysts first described in 1681 by Guillaume des Noues (1650 – 1735), although the eponym records Naboth’s name.

Naboth died in Leipzig in 1721 leaving a large anatomical collection. We have not been able to find an image of Naboth, so we are depicting the title page of his 1707 “De Sterilitate Mulierum”. If you click on the image you can see a larger depiction.

1. “Histoire de la M?decine, depuis son origine jusqu'au dix-neuvi?me si?cle” A. J. L. Jourdan ; E. F. M. Bosquillon  1815
2. “The Origin of Medical Terms” Skinner HA 1970 Hafner Publishing Co.

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UPDATED: The term [artery] evolved from two Greek words. The first one is [αέρα], meaning "air", and the second one is [terein], a verb meaning "to keep" or "to maintain"1. [Artery] therefore means "to maintain or to keep air", which is furthest from what we know today! The reason is that initial observations on these structures happened in bodies after combat, or gladiators who had exsanguinated because of their wounds. The arteries were empty (full of air) or contained a mix of blood and air. Arteries were considered a type of windipe. In fact, the original anatomical term for trachea was that of [tracheartery], which means "the rough artery". We have learned since then the true function of the arteries, so the name was shortened to "trachea".

The modern definition of an artery is "a structure that takes blood away from the heart". The amount of oxygen within the vessel has no bearing on the definition; there are arteries that carry oxygenated blood and arteries that carry deoxygenated blood.

 The structure of an arterial wall. Courtesy Blausen.com

Histologically, an artery is composed of three layers. The external layer is called the "adventitia" or "tunica externa". It is composed mostly of connective tissue. The middle layer is called the "tunica media" and is composed by a varying number of elastic fibers and smooth muscle fibers arranged as shown in the image. The inner layer is called the "tunica intima". The inner portion of the tunica intima is called the endothelium.

Arteries that are closer to the heart have more elastic fibers in their tunica media. As we move further away from the heart arteries become smaller and increase the number of smooth muscle fibers. This is what histologists describe "elastic arteries" and "muscular arteries". The smallest muscular arteries are called "arterioles". Large arteries have their own blood supply, called the "vasa vasorum".

"The ancient Hellenic and Hippocratic origins of head and brain terminology" Panourias IG, Stranjalis G, Stavrinou L, Sakas DE. Clin Anat 2012 Jul;25(5):548-581
2. Image: "Blausen Gallery 2014" 
- Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - Original image