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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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Vernacular

Although not a medical term per se, we use the word [vernacular] constantly on this blog to refer to terms used commonly or colloquially by non-health care professionals.

Merriam-Webster’s definitions of [vernacular] are multiple, all pointing to common usage by a group:

 of, relating to, or using the language of ordinary speech rather than formal writing
 of, or relating to the common style of a particular time, place, or group
using a language or dialect native to a region or country rather than a literary, cultured, or foreign language
of, relating to, or being a nonstandard language or dialect of a place, region, or country
of, relating to, or being the normal spoken form of a language
applied to a plant or animal in the common native speech as distinguished from the Latin nomenclature of scientific classification

This last definition is the one that applies mostly to what we mean in this blog. While we may use the anatomical term “rectus abdominis” , most people would say “six-pack” – which is wrong on two aspects:  it is vernacular, and it is not a “six pack”, if you count them, you will see that a well-developed rectus abdominis has eight bellies, four on each side, making it really an “eight pack”!

Another one would be the vernacular term "pinky" to refer to the fifth digit of the hand. Yet another one would be the use of the vernacular term “stomach” to refer to the abdomen,  that is one of my pet peeves!