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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

Thomas Willis, MD
Thomas Willis
(1621-1675)

An English physician and anatomist, Willis was born on his parents' farm in Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, where his father held the stewardship of the Manor. He was a kinsman of the Willys baronets of Fen Ditton, Cambridgeshire. He graduated M.A. from Christ Church, Oxford in 1642. In the Civil War years he was a royalist, and was dispossessed of the family farm at North Hinksey by Parliamentary forces. In the 1640's Willis was one of the royal physicians to Charles I of England. He obtained his medical degree in 1646.

Thomas Willis might well be one of the greatest physicians of the 17th century.He is one of the founders of the Royal Society of London. He is remembered by his many publications, especially "Cerebri Anatome: Cui accessit Nervorum Descriptio et Usu", where he describes the arterial anastomoses at the base of the brain. This work is also the first detailed description of the vasculature of the brain. Willis described nine cranial nerves.

He is considered as the father of Neurology as a discipline. He used the term "neurology" for the first time in 1664. He described several neurological conditions

The Arterial Circle of Willis is a famous eponymous structure found at the base of the brain. It represents an anastomotic roundabout that connects the right and left sides as well as the carotid and vertebral arterial territories that supply the brain. Named after Thomas Willis, this structure was known well before him, but it was Willis who described its function.  If you click on the image or here, you will be redirected to a detailed description of this structure.

Sources:

1. "The legendary contributions of Thomas Willis (1621-1675): the arterial circle and beyond" Rengachary SS et al J Neurosurg. 2008 Oct;109(4):765-75
2. "Thomas Willis, a pioneer in translational research in anatomy (on the 350th anniversary of Cerebri anatome)" Arraez-AybarJournal of Anatomy, 03/2015, Volume 226, Issue 3
3. " The naming of the cranial nerves: A historical review" Davis, M Clinical Anatomy, 01/2014, Volume 27, Issue 1
4. "Observations on the history of the circle of Willis". Meyer A, Hieros, R.Med Hist 6:119–130, 1962


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HOUSTON AFib PATIENT EXPERIENCE SEMINAR


If you arrived to this article looking for information on Atrial Fibrillation, you will find some in this article. If you need to contact Dr. Wolf, please click here.


HOUSTON AFib PATIENT EXPERIENCE SEMINAR

Saturday, April 21st, 2018 9am – 4pm
Westin at Memorial City, 945 Gesner Rd.
Houston, TX 77024
877-900-AFIB (2342)

This seminar is free and open to the public. To attend, please call the telephone number to register.

WELCOME MESSAGE FROM DR. RANDALL WOLF

In my experience over the last 18 years as a physician who specializes in the treatment of Atrial fibrillation (AFib), I have learned AFib sufferers want two things: Hope and a chance to feel better.

The first step to hope and to feeling better is to self educate. Learn about the latest medications, techniques and devices to treat AFib. Ask questions. Get a second opinion. Take charge of your health.

The purpose of the Houston AFib Patient Experience Seminar is to help AFib sufferers like you take charge of your health.

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About 30 million people worldwide carry an AFib diagnosis. Today seems everyone either has AFib or knows someone that has AFib. When I first held an Afib seminar in Beijing, China, over 1200 people with AFib signed up for the seminar. It was standing room only!

Despite the common occurrence of AFib around the world, a recent study found that in patients who were diagnosed with AFib, 40-50% of patients with an elevated risk of stroke were not treated with the best therapy, and the rate of stroke over the next five years was 10%.

Here in Houston, we can do better! Learn more about AFib right here today, and I guarantee you will have hope and be more likely to reach your goal of feeling better.

Towards an AFib free healthy life,

Randall K. Wolf, MD.


SEMINAR AGENDA

9:00 am     Introductions -  Randall Wolf, MD, FACS, FACC, Professor at McGovern Medical School, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Course Director for the AFib Patient Experience Seminar

9:15 am      The cost of AFib

9:30 am     Mechanisms

9:45 am     Blood Thinners – W. Ross Brown, MD, FACC, Comprehensive Heart Care, PA

10:15 am   Medications – Sunil Reddy, MD, Assistant Professor at McGovern Medical School, Cardiovascular Medicine

10:30 am   BREAK

10:45 am   Diet – Baxter Montgomery, MD, FACC, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, McGovern Medical School, Department of Cardiology

11:00 am   Sleep Apnea – Murtuza Ahmed, MD, FAASM, Razzack and Associates, Houston

11:15 am   AF Monitoring – Sunil Reddy, MD, Assistant Professor at McGovern Medical School, Cardiovascular Medicine

11:30 am   Questions with panel

12 noon      LUNCH

Testimonials: Donna Roth, Houston, TX Gary Wight, Houston, TX Mac Peirson, Houston, TX Ross Wroblewski, Lompac, CA Michaela Senk-Eustace, Hartford, CT

1:00 pm     Catheter Ablation – Siddharth S. Mukerji, MD, Assistant Professor at McGovern Medical School, Cardiovascular Medicine

1:30 pm     Surgery – Randall Wolf, MD, FACS, FACC

2:00 pm     Stop AFib.org – Mellanie True Hills, President

2:30 pm     Panel Discussion

2:45 pm     Stroke – Ritvij Bowry, MD, Assistant Professor at McGovern Medical School, Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery

3:00 pm     LAA Closure – Siddharth S. Mukerji, MD, Assistant Professor at McGovern Medical School, Cardiovascular Medicine & Randall Wolf, MD, FACS, FACC

3:30 pm     Panel Discussion

4:00 pm     Adjourn – Meet with Faculty


ABOUT THE HOUSTON AFIB PATIENT EXPERIENCE SEMINAR

The University of Texas McGovern Medical School, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery Department in Houston, is proud to host the inaugural Houston AFIB Patient Experience Seminar. The purpose is to educate the public in an interactive format allowing the audience to engage in conversation in a question/answer format with leading medical professionals. Our list of panel members and guest presentations include surgeons, cardiologists, neurologists, pulmonologists as well as testimonials from AFib patients. We are honored to be able to bring awareness to the resources and options available to patients suffering from AFIB.

NOTE: If you cannot attend the seminar, there is more information on Atrial Fibrillation at this website; click here.

 

Atrial fibrillation

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is one of the most common heart conditions, affecting 4% of the adult population. Characterized by a rapid, irregular heartbeat, AFib is largely due to abnormal electrical impulses that cause the atria of the heart to quiver when it should be beating steadily. Blood flow is reduced and is not completely pumped out of the two small upper chambers of the heart, the atria.  This negatively impacts cardiac performance and also allows the blood to pool and potentially clot. At rest, a normal heart rate is approximately 60 – 100 beats per minute.  In a person with AFib, that heart rate can skyrocket to 180 bpm or even higher.  Thorough testing by your health care provider can spot abnormalities in the heart's rhythm before any obvious symptoms are noticed.

What are the symptoms?

EKG - Atrial Fibrillation, courtesy Dr. Randall K Wolf
Click on the image for a larger view

Whether it is caused by stress, exercise, or too much caffeine, most people experience a racing heart from time to time.  Most cases are harmless, but AFib is a serious medical condition that may often be long lasting.  Some people with AFib experience no symptoms at all.  But for others,  AFib may cause:

    Exercise intolerance
    Fatigue
    Severe shortness of breath
    Chest pain
    Palpitations
    Light-headiness

What causes atrial fibrillation?

Your heart is divided into four chambers: the two upper chambers called atria, and two lower chambers called ventricles. In order for blood to be pumped through your body, a group of specialized cardiac cells, the conduction system of the heart,  sends electrical impulses to the atria that tells your heart to contract. Contractions of the heart send approximately five quarts of blood through your body every minute. In people with AFib, however, the impulses are sent chaotically. The atria quiver instead of beat; the blood isn't completely pumped out and may pool and potentially clot.

Are you at risk?

Your chances of developing AFib increase with age.  AFib occurs more commonly in women than in men.  According to the Framingham Heart Study (http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/content/full/110/9/1042), AFib is associated with a higher risk of death for women than for men. You are also at greater risk of developing AFib if you suffer from an overactive thyroid, high blood pressure, a prior heart attack, congestive heart failure, valve disease or congenital disorders.

Diagnosis

AFib can sometimes be diagnosed with a stethoscope during an exam by a doctor or other health care provider and is confirmed or diagnosed with an electrocardiogram (EKG). There are several types of EKG’s. They are:

Resting EKG – Electrical activity in the heart is monitored when a person is at rest.
Exercise EKG – Activity is monitored when a person jogs on a treadmill or exercises on a stationary bike.
24-hour EKG (Holter Monitor) – A person wears a small, portable monitor that detects activity over the course of a day.
Transtelephonic event monitoring – A person wears a monitor for a period of a few days to several weeks. When AF is felt, the person telephones a monitoring station or activates the monitor's memory function. This type of EKG is particularly useful in detecting AF that occurs only once every few days or weeks. Unfortunately this type of monitor does not record heart events while you are sleeping.

The image on this article is a typical EKG AFib recording showing the flutter of the atria followed by the ventricular contraction. In the larger image (click on the image of the article) you can see how this fluttering of the atria causes an abnormal spacing of the ventricular contractions which some patients feel in their chest.

PERSONAL NOTE:Dr. Wolf will lecture on a seminar on this topic on April 21st, 2018 in Houston, TX. For more information on this event and on AFib, click here.

Thanks to Dr. Randall Wolf for the image and links
 

An analysis of a letter from Dr. Ephraim McDowell (1829)


This article continues the musings of "Interesting discoveries in a medical book". In this book I found a copy of a letter written by Ephraim McDowell, MD; who on December 25, 1809 performed the first recorded ovariotomy in the world. The patient was Mrs. Jane Todd Crawford, who has also been the subject of several articles in this website, including a homage to the "unknown patient/donor".

The book seems to have belonged to Cecil Striker, MD, who practiced in Cincinnati. Dr. Striker was a faculty at the University of Cincinnati and one of the founders of the American Diabetes Association (ADA). He also was one of the first physicians to work in 1923 with a "newly discovered" drug by the Eli Lilly Company (Indianapolis) this drug was named Insulin. The medical application of Insulin had only just been discovered about a year earlier.

Inside the book there is a copy of a letter by Dr. Ephraim McDowell to Dr. Robert Thompson dated January 2nd, 1829, a year before Dr. McDowell's death. At the time (1829) Dr. Thompson (Sr.) was a medical student in Philadelphia. According to the note Dr. Thompson lived in Woodford County, KY, had three children and died in 1887. One of his children was also a doctor, but I have not been able to ascertain if this book was given to him by Dr. Striker.

The letter is shown in the image attached. In this letter Dr. McDowell describes in his own words the ovariotomy he performed on Jane Todd. He also describes other ovariotomies he performed and his opinion on "peritoneal inflammation".

Note how the letter has no paragraph separation. Apparently, at the time writing paper was expensive and the less pages used, the better! The text of the letter is as follows:

Danville, January 2, 1829

Mr. Robert Thompson
Student of Medicine
No. 59 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Sir,

Letter from Ephraim McDowell to Robert Thompson
Letter from Ephraim McDowell to Robert Thompson
Click on the image for a larger depiction

At the request of your father I take the liberty of addressing you a letter giving you a short account of the circumstances which lead to the first operation for diseased ovaria. I was sent in 1809 to deliver a Mrs. Crawford near Greentown of twins; as the two attending physicians supposed. Upon examination per vaginam I soon ascertained that she was not pregnant; but had a large tumor in the abdomen which moved easily from side to side. I told the lady that I could do her no good and carefully stated to her, her deplorable situation. Informed her that John Bell, Hunter, Hay, and A. Wood four of the first and most eminent surgeons in England and Scotland had uniformly declared in their lectures that such was the danger of peritoneal inflammation, that opening the abdomen to extract the tumor was inevitable death. But not standing with this, if she thought herself prepared to die, I would take the lump from her if she would come to Danville. She came in a few days after my return home and in six days I opened her side and extracted one of the ovaria which from its diseased and enlarged state weighed upwards of twenty pounds. The intestines as soon as an opening was made run out upon the table, remained out about twenty minutes and being upon Christmas Day they became so cold that I thought proper to bathe them in tepid water previous to my replacing them; I then returned them, stitched up the wound and she was perfectly well in 25 days. Since that time I have operated eleven times and have lost but one. I now can tell at once when relief can be obtained by an examination of the tumor if it floats freely from side to side or appears free from attachments except of the lower part of the abdomen. I advise the operation, having no fear from the inflammation that may ensue. I last spring operated upon a Mrs. Bryant from the mouth of the Elkhorn from below Frankfort. I opened the abdomen from the umbilicus to the pubis and extracted sixteen pounds. The said contained the most offensive water I ever smelt, and the attendants puked or discharged except myself. She is now living; from being successful in the above operation. Several young gentlemen with ruptures have come to me. I have uniformly cut the ring open, put the intestines up if down the cut the ring all around, every quarter of an inch then pushed the parts closely together and in every case the cure has been perfect. Therefore it appears to me a mere humbug about the danger of the peritoneal inflammation. Much talked about by most surgeons. After wishing you Health and Happiness,

I am yours sincerely
E. McDowell

P.S. Your father looks better than I have ever seen. Your sister is also in health

The most important point of this letter is how easily and publicly they name patients and their home addresses. Today this would be  a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, commonly known as HIPPA, a legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions to safeguard patient medical information.

It is also interesting to see how Dr. McDowell explained to Mrs. Crawford how difficult and dangerous the procedure would be. He stated how four renown surgeons in England and Scotland said that opening the abdomen was "inevitable death". Another point was how long the intestines were outside the body ... twenty minutes, and the maneuver Dr. McDowell used to bring them back to normal temperature. Late December in Kentucky is quite cold, even with wooden stoves and such. I wonder how much the lower temperature helped the patient.

The last point refers to his success in hernia procedures in young males. In the 1800's the word "rupture" was the standard to name abdominal hernias. Without explaining the procedure in detail, Dr. McDowell says that "every cure has been perfect". At the time, this was unprecedented, as the recurrence of inguinal hernia procedures, when attempted, was close to 25%.

The house where Dr. McDowell lived and practiced is today a museum in Danville, KY. In February, 2017 I visited this museum and wrote an extensive article on it. I encourage those interested in the History of Medicine to visit the place.


Pes anserinus

UPDATED: [Pes anserinus] is the name given to a tri-flanged structure formed by the attachment of the flattened tendons of three muscles to the anteromedial surface of the superior aspect of the shaft of the tibia. The tendons correspond to the sartorius, the gracilis, and the semitendinosus muscles. The pes anserinus is related superficially to the the tibial insertion of the medial collateral ligament of the knee. 

There is a bursa deep to these tendons, the [bursa anserinus], which can be the cause of painful bursitis.

The term [pes anserinus] literally means “goose foot”, as early anatomists compared this structure to the foot of this bird. In Latin [pes] means “foot”, and [anserinus] or [anser] means “goose”.

Pes anserinus. Image courtesy of Primal Pictures
For other anatomical structures whose names are related to birds, click here.

Thanks to Jackie Miranda-Klein for suggesting this post. Jackie is studying for the Physician Assistant Master's degree at Kettering College. Dr. Miranda.

Image modified from the original: "3D Human Anatomy: Regional Edition DVD-ROM." Courtesy of Primal Pictures


Torus

The word [torus] is of Latin origin and refers to “a rounded protuberance or swelling”. In science, it refers to a doughnut-shaped structure (see image). It also refers to the rounded, bulging, and circular base component of a pillar, found between the square plinth and the main body of the pillar. The torus can be seen in Egyptian, Greek, and Roman style pillars.

The term is used in anatomy and medicine to denote normal or abnormal circular or semicircular protuberances, as in the case of the “torus tubarius”, a normal semicircular elevation found at the ostium of the auditory tube (of Eustachius) in the lateral walls of the rhinopharynx. The torus tubarius elevation is due to the presence of lymphoid tissue which can get inflamed.

Torus - By LucasVB [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Click on the image for a larger view

Torus mandibularis. An exostosis that develops on the inner side of the mandible
Torus palatinus: a benign, small exostosis that appears in the midline of the hard palate

In orthopedics it is used to denote a compression fracture where the cortex of a long bone close to one of its epiphyses buckles under longitudinal (axial) compression. The look of the fracture is similar to the location of the torus in a pillar. An example of this is the torus fracture (also known as buckle fractures) in children.

The term [torulus] is related to [torus], as it means a “small torus” and it refers to a small elevation, which is synonymous with the word “papilla”. An example of this is the term torulus tactiles palmaris, referring to small elevations on the palms of the hand. Another related term is [torulosis], referring to a large number of small elevations or pimples.

The following images are of a Greek pillar taken in 2014 in Athens showing the location of the torus. The next image shows a torus fracture. The image is from www.kidsfractures.com/forearm/ and we thank them for sharing the image with us. This is a great site for information on fractures in children.

Greek pillar - Personal picture Athens 2014
Click on the image for a larger view

Torus fracture - www.kidsfractures.com/forearm/
Click on the image for a larger view

Sources:
1. “Medical Meanings: A Glossary of Word Origins” Haubrich, WS. Am Coll Phys. Philadelphia 1997
2. “The Origin of Medical Terms” Skinner, HA 1970, New York. Hafner Publishing Company
3. “Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary” 16th Ed. 1989. Philadelphia. FA Davis Company
4.  www.kidsfractures.com/forearm/

Torus image: By LucasVB [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to Jackie Miranda-Klein for suggesting this post. Jackie is studying for the Physician Assistant Master's degree at Kettering College. Dr. Miranda.


Bicuspid aortic valve

The normal components of the aortic valve are part of the aortic root. The valve is composed of three leaflets, each of which are related to a sinus of Valsalva, and three interleaflet triangles. The anatomy of the aortic root, the aortic valve and the interleaflet triangles of the aortic root have been described in other articles in this website.

A bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) is probably the most common cardiac defect of congenital origin. The prevalence of BAV ranges from 0.9% to 2% in the general population with a 3:1 male-female ratio.

In spite of the anomaly, a BAV may achieve normal valvular function, but this probably does not last, as BAV tend to develop calcifications in the adult leading to valvular disease, dysfunction, valvar stenosis, so complications are common, the most common being dilation of the aortic root and ascending aorta.

Excised bicuspid aortic leaflets
Excised bicuspid aortic leaflets.
Click on the image for a larger version.
 
The etiology of a BAV is commonly accepted as congenital and there are some studies that demonstrate a familial component, but it can appear in families where there is no known history of BAV.

There are several attempts at classifying BAV, as the leaflets that fuse are different, and so is the way of fusion.

There is one rare BAV called “pure”. This purely BAV is a true BAV, composed of two leaflets of similar size where there is no clear fusion line or “raphe” between the fused leaflets (see image). This valve has two well developed interleaflet triangles and the third can be absent or vestigial.  The image depicts the excised calcified leaflets where the left and right coronary cusps are fused.  

Other types of BAV have a well-developed raphe, have two well developed interleaflet triangles and the third may be large or anomalous. The leaflets may also be asymmetrical. The classification of the different types of BAV goes beyond the objective of this article, but they can be studied in the references at the end of this article. There is no doubt that the different types of BAV can cause valvar disease and hemodynamic chaos, so the surgical approach for these may be different, including valve repair, aortic annuloplasty, interleaflet triangle remodeling, and of course valve removal and prosthetic implant, either biological or mechanical.

Clinically, the pathologies related to the function of the aortic valve are stenosis, valvular incompetence, and in some cases intimal aortic dissection, which is a catastrophic complication. Some of these complications are triggered by the calcification of the bicuspid leaflets. Interestingly, although BAV is a congenital disease, only one in fifty children known to have BAV have clinically significant disease by adolescence.

PERSONAL NOTE: I have permission to publish the image in this article… because the bicuspid aortic valve depicted in this article is my own. My personal thanks to the medical and support personnel at the Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute, in Houston, TX., and my three cardiovascular physicians without whom I would not be back writing this article, Drs. Randall K. Wolf (contributor to this website), Dr. William Ross Brown (cardiologist), and Dr. Tuyen Nguyen, who operated on me. Dr. Miranda.

Sources:
1. “Etiology of bicuspid aortic valve disease: Focus on hemodynamics: Atkins, SA, Sucosky, P World J Cardiol. 2014 Dec 26; 6(12): 1227–1233.
2. “A classification system for the bicuspid aortic valve from 304 surgical specimens” Sievers, HH., Schmidtke, C. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2007;133:1226-33
3. “Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease” Siu, SC, Silversides, CK. JACC Vol. 55, No. 25, 2010:2789 – 800
4. “Bicuspid aortic valve aortopathy in adults: Incidence, etiology, and clinical significance” Int J Card 2015:1;400-407
5. ”Sutureless valve in freestyle root: new surgical valve-in-valve therapy” Villa E, Messina A  et al. Ann Thorac Surg  2013:96:e155–e157
6.” Sutureless aortic bioprosthesis valve implantation and bicuspid valve anatomy: an unsolved dilemma?” Lona, M, Guichard JB, et al Heart vessels 2016.31:1783-1789