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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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"Vesalius and the Invention of the Modern Body"

Last week I attended this interdisciplinary symposium hosted by the Saint Louis University and Washington University. This three-day event was inspired by the landmark publication of Andrea Vesalius’s "De humani corporis fabrica, libri septem" (Basel, 1543 and 1555) and the new critical edition and translation of this work, the New Fabrica. Two of the keynote speakers were Daniel Garrison and  Malcolm Hast, authors of the new Fabrica by Karger Publishers. Besides them there were several internationally-renowned speakers, art exhibits, presentation of academic papers of leading research, a public anatomy demonstration, rare books workshops, and a publishers’ exhibit hall.

Because the Fabrica represented a collaborative project involving a scientist (Vesalius), a humanist (Johannes Oporinus, the printer), and an artist (Jan van Kalkar), the goal of the conference was to encourage a network of scholars working in disparate fields to explore the potential for future interdisciplinary research. This objective was clearly attained, as I was able to speak and share with rare books curators, university librarians, artists, anatomist, physicians, poets, historians, etc., all of them brought together by the shared admiration for Andreas Vesalius, his work, his publications, and his legacy.

Vesalius and the Invention of the Modern Body
There were many highlights in this symposium and I will try to cover some of them in a series of articles.  The first one was a presentation by Dr. Stephen N. Joffe, where he described the number of Vesalius' books still in existence in the US and estimates around the world. It was interesting to me that and estimated 600 first edition Fabricas were ever published, and that of those only a fraction exist today, most in university libraries!

Another highlight was the presentation by Pascale Pollier, a Belgian artist, of the Vesalius Continuum project, part of which are the Fabrica Vitae art exhibit that was available to the attendees and the public for the duration of the symposium. Another part of Vesalius Continuum was the meeting in Zakynthos, Greece in 2014. Pascale also presented the process of creation of a bust of Dr. Gunther Von Hagens, the inventor of the system of plastination.

Probably the most rewarding segments of this symposium were the question and answer sessions after each presentation.