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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 post anatomical, medical or surgical terms, their 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 

Martin Naboth, title page of De Sterelitate Mulierum 

Martin Naboth
(1675 – 1721)

Not much is known about this German physician and anatomist. He was born in 1675 in Calau, a town in Southern Brandenburg, Germany. He studied medicine at the University in Leipzig, receiving his doctorate in Philosophy in 1701 and his MD in 1703. Although his interests were based in chemistry, Naboth became an avid anatomist, with interest in the anatomy of the female reproductive system.

His main publication in 1707 was “De Sterilitate Mulierum” (On Sterility in Women). In this book he refers to small pearl-like transparent structures found in the uterine cervix. Believing that he had discovered the way women store eggs, he called these “ovarium novum” (new ovaries). His discovery was accepted by many and these structures came to be known as “Ovula Nabothii “. Only later were to understand these structures as cysts created by clogging of the opening of the glands found around the uterine cervix. These mucus-producing glands are known as the [cervical glands] and also as Nabothian glands. These cysts, which are common and do not represent a sign of cervical cancer, are known today as Nabothian cysts.

Naboth had only rediscovered these cysts first described in 1681 by Guillaume des Noues (1650 – 1735), although the eponym records Naboth’s name.

Naboth died in Leipzig in 1721 leaving a large anatomical collection. We have not been able to find an image of Naboth, so we are depicting the title page of his 1707 “De Sterilitate Mulierum”. If you click on the image you can see a larger depiction.

Sources
1. “Histoire de la M?decine, depuis son origine jusqu'au dix-neuvi?me si?cle” A. J. L. Jourdan ; E. F. M. Bosquillon  1815
2. “The Origin of Medical Terms” Skinner HA 1970 Hafner Publishing Co.


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Nabothian cyst

A cyst is a sac-like structure filled with fluid. One of the many types of cysts that can be present in the human body is a Nabothian cyst.

Nabothian cysts are found on the uterine cervix, and are caused by the clogging of the cervical glands, also referred to as the Nabothian glands. These small cysts are usually found in two types of presentations. The first are serous filled cysts, and are seen as clear fluid-filled sacs on the surface of the cervix. In the accompanying image, these are depicted with a yellow circle.

The second type of Nabothian cysts are sacs filled with a yellowish, more dense and mucous-like fluid on the surface of the cervix. In the accompanying image, there is only one of these cysts and is depicted with a red circle.

Uterine cervix with three Nabothian cysts
The presence of Nabothian cysts is quite normal, they are not dangerous and are not cancerous. When present and when large, they may impede a gynecological exam and obscure the cervical os, the entrance to the uterus through the cervical canal. In the image the cervical os is indicated by a blue arrow. A gynecologist may need to open and drain these cysts prior to performing a Pap smear (named after Dr. George Papanicolau).

Nabothian cysts are named after Dr. Martin Naboth (1675 - 1721), a German physician and anatomist. His main publication in 1707 was “De Sterilitate Mulierum” (On Sterility in Women). In this book he refers to small pearl-like transparent structures found in the uterine cervix. Believing that he had discovered the way women store eggs, he called these “ovarium novum” (new ovaries). His discovery was accepted by many and these structures came to be known as “Ovula Nabothii“. Today we know this is not true, but his name remains attached eponymically to these structures.

My personal thanks to Dr. Sanford Osher  and his patient who volunteered and provided the image for this article.  Dr. Miranda