Sponsor   

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.

Click on the link below to subscribe to the MTD newsletter. If you think an article could be interesting to somebody else, click on the mail link at the top of each article to forward it. 

You are welcome to submit questions and suggestions using our "Contact Us" form. The information on this blog follows the terms on our "Privacy and Security Statement"  and cannot be construed as medical guidance or instructions for treatment. 


Click here to subscribe to the Medical Terminology Daily Newsletter

fbbuttons sm

We have 334 guests and no members online


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.


"Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc., and the contributors of "Medical Terminology Daily" wish to thank all individuals who donate their bodies and tissues for the advancement of education and research”.

Click here for more information


Rare & Collectible Books at AbeBooks.com 

 

Surface anatomy

UPDATED: Surface anatomy is a subset of human anatomy that studies the relationship of external anatomical landmarks and deeply situated structures. These landmarks are created by cartilage, bones, tendons and muscles. In some cases they may be caused by a hypertrophic or diseased organ. Palpation is and art and my favorite book on the subject is the "Trail Guide to the Body" series by Andrew Biel

Surface anatomy is a core clinical skill for physicians, physical therapists and other health care professionals (HCP), as palpation in specific locations can lead to rapid diagnosis in certain cases.  It is also used in surgery to determine the appropriate place for incisions or insertion of a trocar in the case of minimally invasive surgery.

It is true that individual habitus and anatomical variations must make the HCP wary of potential mistakes, but in the majority of cases these anatomical landmarks and diagnoses are correct.

Many book chapters have been written on the topic, but unfortunately, the need to dedicate time to modern discoveries have reduced the time spent on this wonderful learning tool to the point that modern books of anatomy barely touch upon the subject. Many feel today that the need for this tool has been made irrelevant by the bed-side availability of ultrasound imaging.  I have to agree with Standring (2012) when she states “I am not convinced that surface anatomy is under growing threat from modern imaging technology…” There is and always will be the need for applied surface anatomy, although maybe not in the way and depth it was used in the past when imaging technology was scarce and expensive.

Surface anatomy art by Danny Quirk - with permission
Surface anatomy art by Danny Quirk - with permission

In order to make the importance of surface anatomy relevant in medical schools, some have added body painting as a tool in their anatomical curriculum with great results. Will it be used everywhere? I doubt it, but here again is a link between human anatomy and art, which our contributor Pascale Pollier presents through her art in "Artem Medicalis".

The artwork in this article is by Danny Quirk. Click on the image for a larger depiction. The video links are for the RMIT University Muscle Man and the Skeletal Man body paintings from the class by Dr. Claudia Diaz.

Personal note: One of the best book chapters on Surface Anatomy was written in "The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice" by Becker, Wilson and Gehweiler (1971). Unfortunately, although the content is very good, the images used, the lighthearted humor,  and type of humor used by the authors, plus the times at which the book was published forced the publisher to recall the book and destroy most of the copies. It was banned from use in medical colleges through the country. Known to many as the "green book" because of its cover, it is today considered a collector's curiosity. In the "sources" section of this article you can find a links to a journal article on the subject as well as images of the book. Dr. Miranda.

Sources:
1. “Evidence-Based Surface Anatomy” Standrig, S J Clin Anat (2012) 25:813–815
2. “Giving Color to a New Curriculum: Bodypaint as a Tool in Medical Education” Den Akker, JW. Et al J Clin Anat (2002) 15:356–362
3. “Body-Painting: A Tool Which Can Be Used to Teach Surface Anatomy” Nanjundaiah, K. J Clin Diag Res (2012) October, Vol-6(8): 1405-1408 Copy of the article here
4. “RMIT students paint anatomical man into human textbook” RMIT Dr. Diaz, C. Copy of the article here
5. “Should We Use Body Painting to Teach Anatomy?” Gambino, M article at Smithsonian.com  
6. “The role of Fresh Tissue Dissection and Anatomic Body Painting in Anatomy Education” Bennet, C. PPT presentation on PDF here
7. " The anatomical Basis of Medical Practice" Becker, RF. Wilson, JW, Gehweiler, JA 1971, Baltimore, Williams & Wilkins
8. "The Pornographic Anatomy Book? The Curious Tale of The Anatomical Basis of Medical Practice" Halperin EC, Acad Med (2009) 84:2; 278-283 Article here
9. "The OBJECTIFICATION of Female Surface Anatomy" Ruiz, V. Internet article. Click here