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

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.

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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The ribs form the lateral bony wall of the thorax.  The ribs are paired and there are 12 pairs of ribs in the human thorax, most of them connecting the thoracic spine with the sternum. They are numbered from superior to inferior.

Ribs have different anatomical characteristics depending on their level. A typical rib has the following characteristics from posterior to anterior:

• Head: The head of each rib articulates with one or two ribs depending on their level. Typically ribs number 1,2, 10, 11, and 12 articulate with one vertebra, while the rest articulate with two vertebrae.

Thoracic rib, Posteroinferior view

Thoracic rib - Posteroinferior view.
Click on the image for a larger version.

Facets: These are the articular surfaces found in the head of each rib. They are covered by hyaline cartilage and form part of the costovertebral synovial joints. In the case of ribs 3 to 9, since they articulate with two vertebrae, they have two facets, each one called a demifacet, with an interarticular crest between them.

• Neck: A short, somewhat narrower portion of the rib that projects straight posterolaterally.

• Costal tubercle: A bony protuberance, usually with two components, one articular and one non-articular. The articular part of the costal tubercle presents with a facet that articulates with the transverse process of a thoracic vertebra.

• Costal angle: A sharp posterior curvature of the rib. The body when supine rests of these costal angles which deflect pressure from the thoracic spine.

• Costal body: The area of the rib anterior to the costal angle. In most ribs this oval-shaped region of the rib presents with an inferior and internal groove. This is the costal groove or costal sulcus. The corresponding level intercostal artery, vein, and nerve are found in the costal sulcus.

• Costal cartilage: All ribs have an anterior fibrocartilaginous component. Some of them attach directly to the sternum (chondrosternal joints), while some of them attach only to other costal cartilages (chondrochondral joints).

The 12 pairs of ribs are divided as follows:

• True ribs: Ribs 1-7, which attach by way of their costal cartilage directly to the sternum

• False ribs: Ribs 8-10, whose costal cartilage attach only to the cartilage of the superior rib, creating a lower border for the thoracic cage known as the costal margin.

• Free or "floating" ribs: Ribs 11 and 12. Their anterior cartilaginous end does not attach to sternum or other cartilage, so the end is free. The term "floating" although used, is a misnomer as these ribs do attach posteriorly to the thoracic spine.

There can be anatomical variations to the ribs, including the existence of extra cervical or lumbar ribs.

Images courtesy of Bartleby.com.For more information: click here