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

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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Biceps brachii

The musculus biceps brachii is a long muscle found in the anterior, aspect of the arm and is one of the three muscles contained in the anterior compartment (flexor compartment) of the arm, the other two being the brachialis and coracobrachialis muscles.  It is composed by two muscular heads, one long (lateral) , and one short (medial) that originate superiorly from separate tendons that attach to the scapula. These two heads join to  form a single long, oval-shaped belly with a single tendon that crosses the elbow joint and attaches to the radius. 

The short tendon of the biceps brachii passes anteromedial to the shoulder joint and attaches to the coracoid process of the scapula by way of a tendon that mixes with the tendon of the coracobrachialis muscle.

The long cylindrical tendon of the biceps brachii is found in the intertubercular (bicipital) groove (Lat: sulcus intertubercularis) of the humerus, and passes between the greater and lesser tubercles of the humerus, entering the articular cavity of shoulder joint, and continues superiorly to insert in the supraglenoid tubercle of the scapula.

The distal, common tendon of the biceps brachii courses inferiorly and attaches to the radial (bicipital) tuberosity of the radius. There is a well-defined bursa between the radial tuberosity and the biceps brachii tendon that allows for movement of the tendon.

Biceps brachii muscle - Image modified from the original, Wikimedia Commons. Public domain
Biceps brachii muscle.
Click on the image for a larger depiction

Also, a flat, fascial extension of the tendon, known as the bicipital aponeurosis extends inferomedially to blend with the antebrachial aponeurosis that covers the epitrochlear muscles of the forearm (pronator teres, flexor carpi radialis muscles). The brachial artery passes between the tendon of the biceps brachii and the bicipital aponeurosis in the anterior aspect of the elbow joint.

The biceps brachii crosses both the shoulder and the elbow join. As such, its functions will depend on which joint is fixed and which one is not. This muscle flexes the elbow, supinates the forearm, and flexes the shoulder.

It is innervated by the musculocutaneous nerve (C5,D6) which is a branch of the brachial plexus. It receives arterial supply by way of muscular branches that arise from the brachial artery.

The name of the muscle literally means "two heads" as the prefix "bi" means "two" and the Latin term "-ceps" means "head".

Note: Because the long and the short head of the biceps brachii attach to different locations of the scapula, some authors and Internet websites say that there are 18 muscles that attach to the scapula. I do not agree, as the biceps brachii is a single muscle that happens to have to separate attachments to the scapula. It would be different if this article was titled "Name the 18 separate muscular attachment points of the scapula". Dr. Miranda

The side image modified from the original via Wikimedia. Public domain. Animated image below by Wikimedia Commons - Anatomography [CC BY-SA 2.1 following Creative Commons attributes.

Niwadare, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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" 42nd British Ed. Churchill Livingstone 2021
4. “An Illustrated Atlas of the Skeletal Muscles” Bowden, B. 4th Ed. Morton Publishing. 2015
5. "Trail Guide to The Body" 4th. Ed. Biel, A. Books of Discovery. 2010