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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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Dr. John Benjamin Murphy


This article is part of the series "A Moment in History" where we honor those who have contributed to the growth of medical knowledge in the areas of anatomy, medicine, surgery, and medical research.To search all the articles in this series, click here.

Dr. John Benjamin Murphy (1857 – 1916). An American surgeon, John Benjamin Murphy was born in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1857. He studied anatomy and physiology in Appleton under the care of Dr. H.W. Reilly, a local physician, after which J.B. Murphy entered the Rush Medical College, receiving his degree in 1879.  

Urged by the new trends in surgery and antisepsis, in 1882 Dr. Murphy he traveled to Vienna to study with Theodor Billroth (1829 – 1894), and then on to Heidelberg and Berlin. Upon his return, he started great advances in the surgery of the time. One of them was to propose the immediate extirpation of the vermiform appendix when acute appendicitis was diagnosed, as opposed to the common practice of waiting until the vermiform appendix ruptured. 

In 1892 Dr. Murphy became professor of clinical surgery at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Chicago. Dr. Murphy is one of the founders of the American College of Surgeons. His surgical endeavors span many specialties including abdominal, thoracic, peripheral vascular, orthopedics, neurosurgery, etc. 

Dr. John Benjamin Murphy

One of his well-known inventions was a metal sutureless compression anastomotic device, known to many as the “Murphy button”. Although in 1826 Denans and Henroz had created metal compression anastomotic devices with a similar concept, Murphy’s improvements on the device caused it to be used well into the 1900’s. The reason for this is the support the device had from the Mayo brothers, founders of the today well-known Mayo Clinic. Although not a stapler, the Murphy button established the need for anastomotic leakage control and the possibility of and end-to-end anastomosis. This makes Dr. Murphy's concept part of the history of surgical stapling. For an image of the Murphy anastomotic device click here, the link is courtesy of the Museum of Health Care at Kingston, Canada.

Murphy’s first use for his device was for a cholecystojejunostomy, the anastomosis of the gallbladder to the jejunum to allow drainage of the bile into the digestive system. 

His name is remembered in many eponyms: Murphy’s button, Murphy’s drip, Murphy’s test, Murphy’s punch, and the Murphy-Lane bone skid.

Sources:
1. “Cholecystointestinal, gastrointestinal, enterintestinal anastomosis, and approximation without sutures” Murphy JB. Med Rec (1892) 42: 665
2 . “John Benjamin Murphy – Pioneer of gastrointestinal anastomosis” Bhattacharya, K., & Bhattacharya, N. (2008). Indian J. Surg., 70, 330-333.
3. “The Story of Surgery” Graham, H. (1939) New York: Doubleday, Doran & Co.. Inc.
4. “Compression Anastomosis: History and Clinical Considerations”Kaidar-Person, O, et al, e. (2008) Am J Surg, 818-826.
5. “Current Practice of Surgical Stapling” Ravitch, M. M., Steichen, F. M., & Welter, R. (1991) Philadelphia: Lea& Febiger.
6.
“Rese¤as Históricas: John Benjamin Murphy” Parquet, R.A. Acta Gastroenterol Latinoam 2010;40:97