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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

Giovanni Batista Morgagni
Original image courtesy of National Institutes of Health

Giovanni Battista Morgagni

(1682 - 1771)

Italian anatomist, physician, and pathologist, Morgagni was born in the city of Forli. He started his medical studies at the University of Bologna, graduating in 1701 with a degree in Medicine and Philosophy. In 1712 he became a professor of anatomy at the University of Padua, Italy, 175 years after Andreas Vesalius. Morgagni was offered and accepted the Chair of Anatomy in 1715 at the University of Padua. Although Morgagni held a position at the anatomy department of the University of Padua, his name is associated mostly with his pathological studies.

Morgagni was interested in the works of Theophile Boneti (1620 - 1689), who started analyzing the correlation between post-mortem anatomical findings and diseases. He tried to establish a relation between the disease and the cause of death. In 1761 Morgagni published his most influential work "De Sedibus et Causis Morburum Per Anatomen Indagatis"  (On the Sites and Causes of Diseases, Investigated by Dissection). His work was essential for pathological anatomy to be recognized as a science in itself.

Morgagni was elected to become a member of several Academies of Science and Surgery: The Royal Society of London, The Academy of Science in Paris, The Berlin Academy of Science, and the Imperial Academy of Saint Petersburg in Russia. He is remembered today by several eponyms in anatomy and pathology:

• Morgagni's caruncle or lobe, referring to the miidle lobe of the prostate
• Morgagni's columns: the anal (or anorectal) colums
• Morgagni's concha, referring to the superior nasal concha
• Morgagni's foramina: two hiatuses in the respiratory diaphragm allowing for passage of the superior epigastric vessels
 Morgagni's hernia: an hiatal hernia through Morgagni's foramen, in the respiratory diaphragm
• Morgagni's ventricle: an internal pouch or dilation between the true and false vocal cords in the larynx
• Morgagni's nodules: the nodules at the point of coaptation of the leaflets (cusps) of the pulmonary valve. Erroneously called the "nodules of Arantius", which are only found in the aortic valve

Sources:
1. "A Note From History:The First Printed Case Reports of Cancer" Hadju, S.I. Cancer 2010;116:2493–8
2. "Giovanni Battista Morgagni" Klotz, O. Can Med Assoc J 1932 27:3 298-303
3. "Morgagni (1682 -1771)" JAMA 1964 187:12 948-950

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Symptom

The  medical term [symptom] has many definitions, as shown in this article. A good definition follows: A symptom is that what a patient refers, it is subjective, and cannot be measured or standardized (between patients). Examples of symptoms are thermal sensation ("I feel hot or feverish"), visceral sensations ("I feel a lump on my throat"), etc. In all cases the main characteristic of a symptom is that is subjective and patient-dependent.  It is only relevant to a particular patient and cannot be compared from one patient to another.

Symptoms are part of the clinical study or history of a patient that help lead to a diagnosis.

Merrian-Webster: "subjective evidence of disease or physical disturbance", "something that indicates the existence of something else"
Memidex: "any sensation or change in bodily function that is experienced by a patient and is associated with a particular disease"
Pandora World: "Feelings and perceptions reported by a patient   indicative or that can be correlated with a disease process"
Oxford Dictionaries: "A physical or mental feature that is regarded as indicating a condition of disease, particularly such a feature that is apparent to the patient"

Personal note: Pain is a subjective entity, as it is characteristic to an individual. We all feel and respond to pain differently, as there are people with higher and lower thresholds to pain. Although I understand the need to have some type of standard, I dread the question posed by many..."From one to ten, can you tell me what your pain level is?.  If the answer allows the physician or nurse to compare levels of pain within the same patient and see the evolution of a pathology, I am OK with that. But you cannot use that measurement to compare pain levels between patients!... at least that is my opinion. Dr. Miranda