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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

Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter
Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter (1811-1859)

Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter

(1811-1859)

Thomas Dent Mutter was born on March 9, 1811, in Richmond, VA. His mother died in 1813, and his father died of tuberculosis in 1817. Thomas was orphaned when he was barely 8 years old. His father left him a somewhat meager inheritance and in his early life had to do with less that others with his objectives in life. He was well educated under the tutelage of Robert Carter, his guardian, and in 1824 he started his studies at the Hampden Sidney College of Virginia. He continued with a medical apprenticeship with a Dr. Simms in VA. He was well respected and even at his early age he would do home visits for his medical benefactor with great results. He started medical studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his MD in 1831. The new young doctor, Thomas Dent Mutter, MD was only 20 years of age.

At the time, Europe was the place to go to if you wanted advanced medical studies. Dr. Mutter had no money, so he applied as a ship surgeon to be able to cross the Atlantic. Once in Europe, he spent time in Paris, where he studied under the tutelage of Dr. Guillaume Dupuytren. He later studied for a short time in England where he met Dr. Robert Liston. Following Dupuytren's teachings, Mutter was fascinated by plastic surgery.

A chance encounter with what was to become his first well-known acquisition of a medical curiosity, Mutter started thinking on how to help those people that were known at that time as “monsters”, patients who the general public did not see, because they did not appear in public. The curiosity in question was a wax reproduction of the face of a French woman who had a “horn” arising from her forehead. This piece is on exhibit at the Mütter Museum.

Back in the United States in 1832, Thomas Dent Mutter changed his last name to give it a more “European” sound and added an “umlaut”, so now he was Thomas D. Mütter, MD. It may also be that he wanted to pay homage to his Scottish-German heritage, who knows? He opened his medical office in Philadelphia and although it took time, eventually he had a thriving practice. One of his specialties was the work on “deformities” so common at the time because of facial scars born out of the use of open fires in houses, and deformities caused by burns and loss of tissue due to chemicals used in local industry. Dr. Mütter is the pioneer of what we call today “Reconstructive Surgery”.

In 1835 he was asked to join the Medical Institute of Philadelphia as an assistant professor of Surgery. He was an instant success. Dr. Mütter was adored by his students because, he would question the students and guide them to discovery instead of just lecturing and leaving. In his Discourse eulogy of Dr. Mütter by Joseph Pancoast he writes:” The power of attracting students near him by his mingled gentleness, energy, and enthusiasm; of fixing their attention by the lucid and methodical arrangements of his Subject, by his clear demonstrations, and sprightly oral elucidations, came so readily to him, and was so early displayed) as to seem almost intuitive.” In 1841 Dr Mütter was appointed Professor of Surgery at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

Dr. Mütter had always had poor health, even in childhood, and his dedication to his passion, long hours, took its toll on his body. In 1956 he set sail for Europe and resigned his teaching duties. He was named Emeritus Professor of Surgery. Unfortunately, the trip did not help, and he returned to the US in early 1958. Fearful of another winter in cold Philadelphia, he moved to Charleston, SC, where he died on March 19, 1859.

Dr. Mütter’s story does not end here. He was an avid collector and throughout his short life he had pulled together an impressive collection of medical oddities, samples, and curiosities. Knowing that his life was at an end, he negotiated with the Philadelphia College of Physicians to have them host his collection in perpetuity as well as the creation of a trust fund that would ensure that the public and medical students would have access to this incredible collection. Through the years this collection has increased and is known today as the Mütter Museum of the Philadelphia College of Physicians. I strongly urge our readers to visit this incredible museum. For more information, click here.

Personal notes: In the late 90’s, I attended a meeting of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists.  During the meeting I met Gretchen Worden, who at the time was the Curator of the Mütter museum. Gretchen was inspirational, fun, and a great conversationalist! I had the opportunity to visit Gretchen at the Mütter museum and had the luck to be treated to a “behind the scenes” tour. What an experience! I was saddened to hear that Gretchen Worden passed on August 2, 2004. Still, in my recent visit to the Mütter Museum, I was glad to see a new section at the museum that remembers Gretchen. Her biography can be read here.

I would like to thank Dr. Leslie Wolf for lending me the book by O’Keefe that lead to me writing this article. Dr. Miranda

Sources:
1. “Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine” O’Keefe, C. 2015 Penguin Random House, LLC
2. “A Discourse Commemorative of the Late Professor T.D. Mütter” Pancoast, J. 1859 J Wilson Publisher
3. “Thomas Dent Mütter: the humble narrative of a surgeon, teacher, and curious collector” Baker, J, et al. The American Surgeon, Atlanta 77:iss5 662-14
4. “Thomas Dent Mutter, MD: early reparative surgeon” Harris, ES; Morgan, RF. Ann Plast Surg 1994 33(3):333-8
5. “5 Things I Learned from Thomas Dent Mütter” O’Keefe C.


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Bartolomeo Eustachius


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.

Bartolomeo Eustachius (c1500 - 1574) Italian physician and anatomist, also known as Bartholomew Eustachius, he was born in the small town of San Severino Marche, in the province of Macerata, central Italy. His father was a respected physician, and may have attended as a student the University of Sapienza, where he later taught as a professor of practical medicine. Eustachius’ life is mostly unknown and some of his works remained hidden for over 150 years. His birth date is only an estimate and data varies from c1500 AD to c1510 AD.

It is known that Eustachius lived and worked in Rome from 1549 to 1574. He was both an anatomist and a physician to the Vatican.  As an anatomist, Eustachius is credited for having been the first to prepare anatomical images for printing using copper plates.

As a hospital physician, Eustachius was adamant on the need of autopsies on patients who died at the hospital, crediting him with being one of the first pathological anatomists.

Eustachius
Eustachius’ is credited with several anatomical discoveries, which he published in short monographs, on topics like the kidneys, the suprarenal glands (which he was the first to describe), the movements of the head, the azygos vein, etc. One of these was entirely dedicated to dentistry, “Libellus de Dentibus”, which have led to some to call Eustachius “The Father of Dental Anatomy”.

Eustachius dedicated himself to prepare a number of anatomical copper plates, apparently getting ready to publish a book to rival Vesalius’ “Fabrica”. It is known that Eustachius disliked Vesalius because of Vesalius’ contempt for the teachings of Galen. Eustachius died before completing his work and the copper plates were forgotten for over a century. After being rediscovered, these plates were published with commentaries by anatomists, until a final publication in Latin by Bernard Siegfried Albinus (1697 – 1770) entitled “Explicatio Tabularum Anatomicarum Bartholomaei Eustachii Anatomici Summi” (An explanation of the Anatomical Picture of Bartholomew Eustachius, Supreme Anatomist”.

Besides the suprarenal gland, Eustachius is credited for having discovered the stapes, the tensor tympani muscle, the valve of the inferior vena cava, the cervical sympathetic chain and the thoracic duct.

Interesting note: Eustachius’ assistant Petrus Matthaeus Pinus, who helped develop the copper plates, voiced his master’s dislike of Vesalius in a poem that was published by Albinus over a hundred years after the death of all of them, it is also an epitaph for a great anatomist:

“Just as the Master from Pergamon (Galen)
Teaching his method of healing, once refuted
The false writings of the ignorant Thessalus,
So also my BARTOLO (Eustachius)
Teaching his method of denoting every detail, position,
Shape, structure, order, number and condition
Has repulsed the shameless arrogance and claims
Of the impudent Vesalius
To him (Eustachius) all future generations 
Adhere In reverential admiration
The age to come will envy us on account of you Father,
And historians will wish they had lived sooner
They will extol our era, through you fortunate,
Lucky beyond measure"

Sources:  
1. "The root of dental anatomy: a case for naming Eustachius the "Father of Dental Anatomy"" Bennett, G (2009) J Hist Dent (1089-6287), 57 (2) 85 -88
2. “The papal anatomist: Eustachius in renaissance Rome” Simpson, D, ANZ J Surg (2011) 81: (12)905 -910
3. “Bartholomeo Eustachio – The Third Man: Eustachius Published by Albinus” Fahrer, M. (2003) ANS J Surg; 73: 523- 528
4. "Bartolommeo Eustachio; a great medical genius whose masterpiece remained hidden for 150 years" Wells, WA Arch Otolaring (1925) 48: 58

Original image courtesy of: nlm.nih.gov