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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

Thomas Willis, MD
Thomas Willis
(1621-1675)

An English physician and anatomist, Willis was born on his parents' farm in Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, where his father held the stewardship of the Manor. He was a kinsman of the Willys baronets of Fen Ditton, Cambridgeshire. He graduated M.A. from Christ Church, Oxford in 1642. In the Civil War years he was a royalist, and was dispossessed of the family farm at North Hinksey by Parliamentary forces. In the 1640's Willis was one of the royal physicians to Charles I of England. He obtained his medical degree in 1646.

Thomas Willis might well be one of the greatest physicians of the 17th century.He is one of the founders of the Royal Society of London. He is remembered by his many publications, especially "Cerebri Anatome: Cui accessit Nervorum Descriptio et Usu", where he describes the arterial anastomoses at the base of the brain. This work is also the first detailed description of the vasculature of the brain. Willis described nine cranial nerves.

He is considered as the father of Neurology as a discipline. He used the term "neurology" for the first time in 1664. He described several neurological conditions

The Arterial Circle of Willis is a famous eponymous structure found at the base of the brain. It represents an anastomotic roundabout that connects the right and left sides as well as the carotid and vertebral arterial territories that supply the brain. Named after Thomas Willis, this structure was known well before him, but it was Willis who described its function.  If you click on the image or here, you will be redirected to a detailed description of this structure.

Sources:

1. "The legendary contributions of Thomas Willis (1621-1675): the arterial circle and beyond" Rengachary SS et al J Neurosurg. 2008 Oct;109(4):765-75
2. "Thomas Willis, a pioneer in translational research in anatomy (on the 350th anniversary of Cerebri anatome)" Arraez-AybarJournal of Anatomy, 03/2015, Volume 226, Issue 3
3. " The naming of the cranial nerves: A historical review" Davis, M Clinical Anatomy, 01/2014, Volume 27, Issue 1
4. "Observations on the history of the circle of Willis". Meyer A, Hieros, R.Med Hist 6:119–130, 1962


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Lapar-

The root term [-lapar-] term is Greex, and although today we use it to mean "abdomen", it actually means "flank" or "loins".

In its pure etymological meaning the root term [lapar], as in "laparotomy" or "laparoscopy" should be used to denote a surgical action in only two of the abdominal regions, the right and left lumbar regions (or flank regions) denoted in the accompanying image.

The first use of the term [-lapar-] referring to the whole of the abdominal region was in January, 1878 by Thomas Bryant, FRCS in his book "A Manual for the Practice of Surgery" using the term [laparotomy] to describe an "incision in the abdomen". Other terms used to denote the abdominal region are "ventral", and of course, "abdominal".

Laparotomy: the suffix [-otomy] means to "open" or "to cut", the term means then " to cut of to open the abdomen"
Laparoscope: an instrument used to view into the abdomen
Laparoscopy: the act of using a laparoscope
Laparostomy: an unusual procedure where the abdomen is not closed, but left partially open (but protected) so that the surgeon can come back periodically to perform an abdominal "lavage" to manage an intractable abdominal sepsis
Laparorrhaphy: the suffix [-orrhaphy] means "to repair". Refers to the repair or closure of a laparotomy

Abdominal regions and their content

Sources:
1. Mughal, M. M., Bancewicz, J. and Irving, M. H. (1986), ‘Laparostomy’: A technique for the management of intractable intra-abdominal sepsis. Br J Surg, 73: 253–259
2. Thomas, B.(1878). "A Manual for the Practice of Surgery" PHiladelphia: Henry C. Lea and Sons