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

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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Nodules of Arantius

The eponymic nodules (or nodes) of Arantius are thickenings of the tunica intima layer covering the ventricular aspect of the leaflets of the aortic valve, also known as the ventricularis layer (see blue arrows in the accompanying image). The thickening happens at the point of coaptation of all three leaflets. The shape and size of these growths varies from person to person and with age. The proper name for these structures is “nodes of the semilunar cusps” or “noduli valvularium semilunarium valvae aortae” in Latin

The portion of the leaflet proximal to the node of Arantius is the load-bearing portion and the portion of the leaflet distal to the node of Arantius is non-functional and is known as the “lunule”

Hypertrophy of the node of Arantius is not common, but when present and excessive it can lead to aortic valve dysfunction and insufficiency.

Aortic root of the ascending aorta open by dissection. The blue arrows show the nodes of Aranttius
Aortic root open. Click on the image for a larger version.
These excrescences of the valve leaflets are named after Giulio Cesare Aranzio (1530 – 1589), an Italian anatomist better known by his Latinized name Arantius.

Although most anatomists and surgeons use the same eponym for the excrescences of the pulmonary valve, those should be called the “nodes of Morgagni” after Giovanni Batista Morgagni (1682 - 1771) or "Noduli valvularum semilunarium valvae trunci pulmonalis" in Latin

1. “The surface anatomy of the human aortic valve as revealed by scanning electron microscopy.” Hurle, JM et al  Anat Embryol (Berl). 1985;172(1):61-7
2. “Hypertrophy of nodules of Arantius and aortic insufficiency: pathophysiology and repair.” Shapira, N et al Ann Thorac Surg. 1991 Jun;51(6):969-72
3. "The origin of Medical Terms" Skinner, AH, 1970
4. "Terminologia Anatomica: International Anatomical Terminology (FCAT)" Thieme, 1998
5. "Tratado de Anatomia Humana" Testut et Latarjet 8th Ed. 1931 Salvat Editores, Spain 
Image property of: CAA.Inc.Photographer: D.M. Klein