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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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The lost influence of Andreas Vesalius on eponymic anatomy

Andreas Vesalius Bruxellensis (1515-1564) is considered to be the father of modern anatomy, remembered because an illustrious life and by his book “De Humani Corporis Fabrica, Libri Septem” published first in 1543. Scores of books, translations, articles, and analyzes of his work have been published in the over 500 years since his birth.

With such an incredible pedigree we would expect his name to be attached to more than a few anatomical structures, many of which were first described in his opus magnus, the “Fabrica”, I wonder why this is not so. It is true that modern anatomy is trying to move from eponyms to more descriptive anatomical terms. Still, there are many that will not go away, as is the famous ligament of Treitz, or the sphincter or Oddi.

Today there is only one recorded eponym for Andreas Vesalius, the os vesalianum, a rare accessory bone in the foot located proximally to the base of the fifth metatarsal. It is usually asymptomatic, but in rare cases it can cause pain. It is formed by the failed fusion of the secondary ossification center of the fifth metatarsal.

Reviewing history, I was able to find other references to Andreas Vesalius eponyms or potential eponyms, now in disuse or misnamed:

Andreas Vesalius Bruxellensis
Suspensory ligaments of the mammary gland. Although first described by Vesalius in the Fabrica, these structures are named after Sir Astley Paston Cooper (1768 -1841), almost 300 years after being described by the great anatomist, who called them a “fleshy membrane” that stretched between the pectoral fascia and the skin.

- The vermiform appendix. Although called by many just “the appendix”, this structure is mentioned, but not named, by Jacobo Berengario da Carpi in 1524. It was Andreas Vesalius who first described it as an appendix, suggested it looked like a worm (Lat: vermis) calling it the “vermiform appendix”.

- The ligamentum suspensorium Vesalii or crural arch. First described by Giovanni Baptista Morgagni (1682-1771), it was named in honor of Vesalius by Dr. Laurentii (Lorenz) Heisters in his “Compendium Anatomicum” published in 1756. Other authors point to Gabrielle Fallopius as the first to describe this structure in 1561, although he did publish later than Vesalius (1543). Although named after Vesalius, it was later named after Francois Poupart who described it in 1695. You probably know this structure as the inguinal ligament.

-The ligamentum teres femoris. The round ligament of the femur was also first described by Vesalius in 1543.

NOTE: If you have other structures that have been named after Vesalius, please let me know by clicking here.

Sources:
1. “A Rare Cause of Foot Pain with Golf Swing. Symptomatic Os Vesalianum Pedis—A Case Report” Petrera, M et al. Sports Health. 2013 Jul; 5(4): 357–359.
2. “Andreas Vesalius’ 500th Anniversary: First Description of the Mammary Suspensory Ligaments” Brinkman RJ, Hage, JJ. World J Surg (2016) 40:2144–2148
3. “Compendium Anatomicum” Heisters, L. 1756 (German)
4. “Anatomy: An Encyclopedic Reference to the Language of Anatomy and Neuroanatomy. It Provides the Fascinating Origin of Terms and Biographies of Anatomists/Physicians Who Originated Them” Bergman, RA, Afifi, AK 2016