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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

Johann Gottfried Zinn

Johann Gottfried Zinn
(1727–1759)

Anatomist and botanist, Johann Gottfried Zinn was born on December 6, 1727 in the city of Ansbach, Germany. He started his medical studies in his native city, becoming later a student of Dr.  Albrecht von Hallers at the University of Göttingen, and received his MD in 1749.

He left for Berlin to continue his studies but came back shortly thereafter. He became a professor of anatomy at the University of Göttingen and in 1753 he also became the director of the botanical garden in the same city.

He is known for his anatomical treatise on the anatomy of the human eye: “Descriptio anatomica oculi humani iconibus illustrata”. Because of this, his name has become an eponym in the “Zonule of Zinn”, a ring of strands that forms a fibrous band connecting the ciliary body with the capsule of the lens of the eye. Zonule of Zinn is sometimes referred to as the suspensory ligaments of the lens, or the “ligament of Zinn”. His name is also attached to the anular ring tendon found in the posterior aspect of the eye, the "anular tendon of Zinn". This ring serves as attachment for all the extraocular muscles of the eye and the optic nerve passes through the center of the ring.

Carol Linné (Carolus Linneaus) named a genus of flowers in the family Asteraceae known vernacularly today as “Zinnia” in his honor. Hover your cursor over his portrait to see the flower.

The chapter on orbital anatomy of his anatomy book, taken from the second edition in 1780, has been translated and the first of three parts is published in an issue of “Strabismus”

His book "Catalogus Plantarum Horti Academici Et Agri" can be seen online here.

His life was short, dying at the early age of 32, but his name lives on in the name of a beautiful flower.

Sources:
1. “Johann Gottfried Zinn" Simonz, HJ Strabismus – 2004, Vol. 12, No. 2, p. 125 
2. "Anatomical Description of the Human Eye" Zinn, JG Strabismus, 13:45–52, 2005 
Images: Public Domain by Wikipedia Commons. 1. Own work I_am Jin, and H. Wilhem Dietz


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The seven hiatuses (openings) of the respiratory diaphragm

The term [hiatus] derives from the Latin word [hiare], meaning to "gape" or to "yawn". In human anatomy this term is used to mean an "opening" or a "defect". It must be pointed out that in anatomy (and surgery) the term "defect" does not necessarily mean "defective". In most cases a "defect" is a normal opening in a structure, such as the esophageal hiatus. The plural form is either [hiatus] or [hiatuses].

In the case of the respiratory diaphragm, there are seven such openings, seven normal hiatuses. On top of this, you can find an abnormal opening caused by incomplete congenital closure of the dome of the diaphragm, a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), also known as Bochdalek's hernia, found in the posterior aspect of the respiratory diaphragm.

The seven hiatuses of the respiratory diaphragm are:

• Esphageal hiatus

• Aortic hiatus

• Inferior vena cava hiatus

Respiratory diaphragm (www.bartleby.com)
Images and links courtesy of Bartleby.com
• Hiatuses (2) for the superior epigastric vessels, which are the inferior continuation of the internal thoracic (mammary) vessels. Also known as the hiatuses of Morgagni. A hernia in a newborn through this hiatus is also considered a CDH.

• Hiatuses (2) for the splanchnic nerves

Based on the above it is wrong (maybe not wrong, but incomplete) to say that a patient has a "hiatal hernia", as the term does not include which hiatus is involved. In fact the hernia of Morgagni is also a "hiatal hernia" as the hernia passes through a normal defect in the respiratory diaphragm. Come to think of it, it could also be a hernia in a hiatus somewhere else in the body, such as a hernia of Schwalbe, a type or pelvic diaphragm hernia.

Note: Thanks to DHREAMS of the Columbia University Medical Center for the link on CDH.