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

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.

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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Subscapular muscle (subscapularis)

The subscapular muscle or subscapularis is a large triangular muscle which is found on the anterior aspect of the scapula, in close relation to the posterolateral aspect of the thorax. It is covered by a well-defined fascia layer, the subscapularis fascia. It is one of the muscles that forms the rotator cuff.

It originates from the internal aspect of the medial border of the scapula, in close proximity to the insertion of the serratus anterior (magnus), and the internal aspect of the inferolateral border of the scapula, where it is separated from the teres major muscle by a thick aponeurosis. It also takes origin directly from the subscapular fossa, where some of the muscular fibers attach directly to the bone.

The muscle inserts by way of a tendon in the lesser tubercle of the humerus and the anterior aspect of the glenohumeral joint capsule. The tendon of the muscle is separated from the neck of the scapula by a large bursa (the infratendinous bursa of the subscapularis) which communicates with the cavity of the glenohumeral joint through an aperture in the capsule.

It receives innervation by two subscapular nerves, both branches of the brachial plexus.

Subscapularis muscle - Image modified from the original by Henry VanDyke Carter, MD. Public domain
Subscapularis muscle.
Click on the image for a larger depiction 
The superior suprascapular nerve arises from the ventral rami of C5 and C6 nerve fibers. It branches from the posterior cord of the brachial plexus and supplies the superior aspect of the muscle. The inferior subscapular nerve arises from the ventral rami of C5 and C6 nerve fibers. It branches from the posterior cord of the brachial plexus and supplies the superior aspect of the muscle. Although these nerves have the same origin from the cervical spine, their origin from the posterior cord of the brachial plexus is different.

This muscle rotates the head of the humerus medially. When the upper extremity is raised, it draws the humerus anteroinferiorly.  As part of the shoulder’s rotator cuff it helps prevent subluxation of the glenohumeral joint by keeping the head of the humerus in situ.

Note: The image shown in this article is from “Gray’s Anatomy” (1918) which is in the public domain

1. “Gray’s Anatomy” Henry Gray, 1918
2. "Tratado de Anatomia Humana" Testut et Latarjet 8th Ed. 1931 Salvat Editores, Spain
3. "Gray's Anatomy" 38th British Ed. Churchill Livingstone 1995
4. “An Illustrated Atlas of the Skeletal Muscles” Bowden, B. 4th Ed. Morton Publishing. 2015

Image modified from the original by Henry VanDyke Carter, MD. Public domain