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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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Juan Vucetich


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.
Personal note: When working on the root term [-dactyl-] I came upon the biography of Juan Vucetich, the individual who created the modern method of dactyloscopy. Even though not a physician or anatomist, his life and accomplishments deserve to be presented here. Dr. Miranda.

Juan Vucetich  (1858–1925) Juan Vucetich was born Ivan Vučetić in Croatia. In 1882, at 24 years of age he immigrated to Argentina, where he adopted the Spanish translation of his Croatian name. Because of his literacy (I have found no information on his actual studies), he started to work at the Argentinian Sanitary Works until he transferred to the Police Department Office of Identification and Statistics.

Vucetich was placed in charge of the anthropometric method used at the time to identify criminals based on bodily measurements. After reading an article in a French journal on Francis Galton's experiments with fingerprints as a means of identification, Vucetich began collecting fingerprints, taken from arrested men, while also making Bertillon-style anthropometric measurements. Galton's initial study proposed 40 parameters to classify fingerprints, but no system to collect or identify and individual using only this method.

Juan Vucetich

He soon devised a useable system to group and classify fingerprints, which he called "Ichnophalangometrics" (description of phalangeal measurements). Thankfully, that name was later changed to dactyloscopy

Vucetich demonstrated the utility of fingerprint evidence in an 1892 case, which resulted in the identification and conviction of a suspect for first-degree murder. Shortly after that, he dismissed entirely the Bertillon anthropometric system, arguing that a full ten-finger set of fingerprints was sufficient for identification, and that complicated anthropometric measurements were unnecessary.

In 1900, the Argentine Republic began issuing a kind of internal passport which included fingerprints—a practice that was eventually adopted by many other countries. The 1904 publication of "Dactiloscop?a Comparada", Vucetich's definitive work on fingerprint identification, and his travels to other countries, helped to spread his system throughout the world. Today, the Argentinian Police Academy is named after Juan Vucetich

Sources:1. "Juan Vucetich and the origins of forensic fingerprinting". Visible Proofs. National Library of Medicine
2. Vucetich, Juan. Dactiloscopia comparada: El nuevo sistema argentino. Tip. Jacobo Peuser, 1904