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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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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