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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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Edward Jenner


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.

Edward Jenner (1749 - 1823). English physician and surgeon, Edward Jenner was born in Berkeley, Gloucestershire. His training included a seven year apprenticeship to a surgeon. He then moved to London where he completed his training at the St. George’s Hospital with John Hunter. Jenner became Hunter’s assistant for anatomical dissection and research. After finishing his studies, he returned to Berkeley.

During Jenner’s time smallpox was a disease with high mortality and terrible complications that could leave a patient blind or scarred for life. Of most interest to him was local lore that related that farmers and milkmaids that contracted cowpox could not contract smallpox, even when in direct exposure to smallpox. Cowpox is a viral infection of cows causing only minor discomfort and complications when acquired by a human. 

In 1796 Jenner was visited by Sarah Nelmes, a patient with smallpox-like signs on her hands. Jenner diagnosed cowpox instead of smallpox and discovered that she was a milkmaid. Sensing the need for additional research, he inoculated a young boy by scratching the boy’s skin and then rubbing some of the material exuding from Sarah’s pustules. The boy developed cowpox.

Edward Jenner
A month and a half later Jenner exposed the boy to smallpox. The boy did not develop any signs or symptoms of smallpox. The new era of vaccination had started.

In spite of his success, the spread of this new technique was slow and not easy, with many detractor and critics. In the end, Jenner was honored for his discovery. In 1980 the World Health Organization formally declared the erradication of smallpox from the world. Individuals are not vaccinated against smallpox anymore and only a few samples of the virus exist in restricted laboratories in the world.

In the pages of “Medical Terminology Daily” we explain why the process is called “vaccination” and also the role that Jenner’s discovery had in the “Royal Philanthropic Vaccination Expedition” to the New World.

Sources:  
1. “Edward Jenner and the history of smallpox and vaccination” Riedel, S Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). Jan 2005; 18(1): 21–25
2. “Edward Jenner and the eradication of smallpox” Willis NJ Scott Med J. 1997 Aug; 42(4):118-21.