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A Moment in History

Self-portrait, Henry Vandyke Carter, MD (Public Domain)
Self-portrait, Henry Vandyke Carter, MD (Public Domain)

Henry Vandyke Carter, MD
(1831 – 1897)

English physician, surgeon, medical artist, and a pioneer in leprosy and mycetoma studies.  HV Carter was born in Yorkshire in 1831. He was the son of Henry Barlow Carter, a well-known artist and it is possible that he honed his natural talents with his father. His mother picked his middle name after a famous painter, Anthony Van Dyck. This is probably why his name is sometimes shown as Henry Van Dyke Carter, although the most common presentation of his middle name is Vandyke.

Having problems to finance his medical studies, HV Carter trained as an apothecary and later as an anatomical demonstrator at St. George’s Hospital in London, where he met Henry Gray (1872-1861), who was at the time the anatomical lecturer. Having seen the quality of HV Carter’s drawings, Henry Gray teamed with him to produce one of the most popular and longer-lived anatomy books in history: “Gray’s Anatomy”, which was first published in late 1857.  The book itself, about which many papers have been written, was immediately accepted and praised because of the clarity of the text as well as the incredible drawings of Henry Vandyke Carter.

While working on the book’s drawings, HV Carter continued his studies and received his MD in 1856.

In spite of initially being offered a co-authorship of the book, Dr. Carter was relegated to the position of illustrator by Henry Gray and never saw the royalties that the book could have generated for him. For all his work and dedication, Dr. Carter only received a one-time payment of 150 pounds. Dr.  Carter never worked again with Gray, who died of smallpox only a few years later.

Frustrated, Dr. Carter took the exams for the India Medical Service.  In 1858 he joined as an Assistant Surgeon and later became a professor of anatomy and physiology. Even later he served as a Civil Surgeon. During his tenure with the India Medical Service he attained the ranks of Surgeon, Surgeon-Major, Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel, and Brigade-Surgeon.

Dr. Carter dedicated the rest of his life to the study of leprosy, and other ailments typical of India at that time. He held several important offices, including that of Dean of the Medical School of the University of Bombay. In 1890, after his retirement, he was appointed Honorary Physician to the Queen.

Dr. Henry Vandyke Carter died of tuberculosis in 1897.

Personal note: Had history been different, this famous book would have been called “Gray and Carter’s Anatomy” and Dr. Carter never gone to India. His legacy is still seen in the images of the thousands of copies of “Gray’s Anatomy” throughout the world and the many reproductions of his work available on the Internet. We are proud to use some of his images in this blog. The image accompanying this article is a self-portrait of Dr. Carter. Click on the image for a larger depiction. Dr. Miranda

1. “Obituary: Henry Vandyke Carter” Br Med J (1897);1:1256-7
2. “The Anatomist: A True Story of ‘Gray’s Anatomy” Hayes W. (2007) USA: Ballantine
3. “A Glimpse of Our Past: Henry Gray’s Anatomy” Pearce, JMS. J Clin Anat (2009) 22:291–295
4. “Henry Gray and Henry Vandyke Carter: Creators of a famous textbook” Roberts S. J Med Biogr (2000) 8:206–212.
5. “Henry Vandyke Carter and his meritorious works in India” Tappa, DM et al. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol (2011) 77:101-3

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Hemangioma / hemangiomata

[UPDATED] The medical term [hemangioma] is formed by two root terms and a suffix. The root term [hem-] arises from the Greek word [αίμα] (a?ma) meaning "blood", the second root term [-angi-] .from the Greek term [αγγείο] (angeio), meaning "vessel” and the suffix [-oma] (ωμα), also Greek, meaning "mass", "growth”, or "tumor". The term [hemangioma] then means a “mass of blood vessels”, a description not far from the truth.

A variation of the term is [hemangiomata], where the suffix [-omata] is plural, indicating multiple hemangiomas.

In general, a hemangioma can be described as a mass of blood vessels that can be convoluted, radiated, or swollen. Usually benign, hemangiomas appear in newborns and tend to evolve, involve, and disappear in the first ten years of life.

Small hemangioma on the scalp of a two year old female.  By Cbheumircanl (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Small hemangioma on the scalp of a two year old female.  By Cbheumircanl (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Other types of hemangiomas can be found in adults, with a tendency to be more prevalent in females than males. There are three types of hemangiomas described:

• Capillary hemangioma. Usually form skin patches known as “strawberry hemangiomas”. See image.
Venous hemangioma. They are characterized by a “knot” or convoluted mass of veins. Since veins are usually more dilated than arteries, they are also known as “cavernous hemangiomas”. They can be found in a subcutaneous location or on internal organs, such as the liver.
• Arterial hemangioma. Formed by arteries, they tend to radiate and form a network of arteries, hence the term “plexiform hemangiomas”
Vulvar hemangiomata. Multiple hemangiomas in the external female genitalia. For more information, click here