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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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The presence of Andreas Vesalius in Zakynthos (2)

Continued from “The presence of Andreas Vesalius in Zakynthos (1)

The second reminder of the presence of Andreas Vesalius in the Zakynthos Island is a street in the west side of the city of Laganas, “ΟΔΟΣ ΑΝΔΡΕΑ ΒΕΖΑΛ” or” Andrea Vesalius Street”. It is relatively short, narrow and windy, and it has several restaurants and hotels as you get closer to the sea where it ends at the beach. At this point there is a monument that honors Andrea Vesalius. This monument was erected in 1965. It has inscriptions in Greek, and Latin. This is the third memento to Vesalius in Zakynthos.

This monument was erected in Laganas following a legend that Vesalius had shipwrecked and he was found at the beach. Another legend says that Vesalius was left at the beach at Laganas to die as he was very sick. One of the presentations at the 2014 Vesalius Continuum meeting by Dr. Mauritz Biesbrouck disputed these legends with recently found letters by George Boucher to Johanes Metellus. George Boucher was a German jeweler that traveled with Vesalius back from Jerusalem and paid for Vesalius’ burial and monument at the church of Santa Maria della Grazie. These letters were authenticated and analyzed, bringing light to Vesalius’ place of disembarkment in Zakynthos. The Laganas monument, although correct in content, should be moved to the port of Zakynthos, to the point where the old city walls were found, the place where Vesalius collapsed and died.

The monument has a legend in both Greek and Latin. It reads as follows:

ΕΙΣ ΜΝΗΜΗΝ ΤΟΥ
ΑΝΔΡΕΑ ΒΕΖΑΛ
ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΒΕΛΓΟΥ ΑΝΑΤΟΜΟΥ
ΘΑΝΟΝΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΖΑΚΥΝΘΩ ΤΟ 1564
Η ΕΝΩΣΙΣ ΤΩΝ ΔΙΠΛΜΑΤΟΥΧΩΝ ΤΩΝ
ΠΑΝΕΠΙΣΤΗΜΙΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΑΝΩΤΑΤΩΝ ΣΧΟΛΩΝ
ΤΟΥ ΒΕΛΓΙΟΥ, ΤΗΝ ΣΧΟΛΩΝ
ΑΝΗΓΕΙΡΕΝ ΤΘ 1965

IN MEMORIAM

ANDREAE VESALII BRUXELLENSIS
TUMULUS
QUI OBIIT IDIBUS OCTOBRIS ANNO MDLXIV
AETATIS VERO SUAE L
QUUM HIEROSOLYMIS REDISSET

Vesalii cineres venerandaque gentibus ossa
quisquis remota conteueris insula
qua jacer incultis memorosa Zakynthos arenis
gradum, viator et laborem sistito
naturae genium finemque extre maque rerum
vidisse credens coetera insanus labor

The first part is in Greek and reads: ”Here died the great Belgian humanist Andre Vesal. This stone was erected in 1965 by the union of Greeks who gained their qualifications in Belgian Universities” (Dirix, 2014)

The second part is Latin and is a copy of the original epitaph found on Vesalius’ grave as recorded in several manuscripts. It reads:

IN MEMORY
GRAVE OF
ANDREA VESALIUS FROM BRUSSELS
WHO DIED IN OCTOBER OF THE YEAR 1564
AT THE AGE OF 50
DURING HIS RETURN FROM JERUSALEM

Vesalius street sign in Laganas

Directions to the Vesalius monument in Laganas

Vesalius Monument in Laganas

Vesalius Monument in Laganas, Zakynthos Island

The rest is a poem in Latin that is translated as:

“The ashes and bones of Vesalius, sacred to the world
whoever finds then on this isolated island passing by the wild shores of Zakynthos,
should hold his tired steps, and believe that it is here that Vesalius met the ultimate goal of nature
and understood that striving for anything else is pointless” (Stouffis, Z, 1990)

When I visited this spot it was raining very hard and while I waited to take these pictures I looked out at the dark sea almost believing that maybe this was the spot where Vesalius came to land in Zakynthos. Now we know that it is not, but the moment was poignant and made me feel closer to the great anatomist.

On a more mundane note, in this area of Laganas because of the street name there are several businesses named "Vezal", a hotel, a supermarket and a taverna! I could not bring myself to post images of those places.

Continued in  "The presence of Andreas Vesalius in Zakynthos (3)"  


The presence of Andreas Vesalius in Zakynthos (1)

The island of Zakynthos is one of the Ionian Islands found 155 miles (250 km) to the West of Athens. It is to the South of Macedonia, the island of Odysseus. It is also known as Zanthe or Zante, both pronunciations of the medieval Italian name for this island.

In October 15, 1564 Andreas Vesalius died suddenly at the gates of the main city of the island, also called Zakynthos, after a long and perilous return voyage from his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The details of this trip and his potential cause of death will be covered in subsequent articles.

As famous as Vesalius is today, you would think that it would be easy to find information as to his grave and presence in the island. This is not so. Vesalius last trip to Jerusalem, his return, his death has been to date shrouded in mystery and legend. Some of these have been clarified in the 2014 Vesalius Continuum meeting in Zakynthos.

There are a few reminders of the presence of Vesalius on the island. The first one is a marble bust found in a small triangular plaza found about 100 yards from the building of the Municipality of Zakynthos and the Dionysios Solomos Square(Πλατεία Διονυσίου Σολωμού). The plaza was initially called “Vesal square” and later was renamed after the former major of Zakynthos, Fotis Ladikos.

Described by O’Malley (1965) in his well-known Vesalius’ biography, I had a difficult time finding the bust, although it is on the main street in front of the sea looking at the port, as most locals do not know about it. It was only by chance that one of the attendees to the meeting, Dr. Kenneth Wise found it close to a well-known Greek Restaurant, the Gallo D’Oro (Golden Rooster). It was also by chance that he and I talked about it when discussing Dr. Wise’s book on Vesalius entitled “All Else Is Mortal”.

The marble bust has a barely readable marble plaque that reads in Greek:

ΑΝΔΡΕΑΣ ΒΕΖΑΛ
ΕΓΕΝΝΗΘΗ ΕΙΣ ΒΡΥξΕλλΕΣ 1-2-1515
ΑΠΕΘΑΝΕ ΕΝ ΖΑΚΥΝΘΩ 15-10-1564

ANDREAS VESALIUS
BORN IN BRUSSELS 1-2-1515
DIED IN ZAKYNTHOS 15-10-1564

This plaque has the wrong date of birth, as it is well documented that Andreas Vesalius was born on the early morning of December 31st, 1514, , making the year 2014 the 500th anniversary of his birth and the 450th  anniversary of this death. This is the year when I spent a week in Zakynthos.

Continued here.

Bust of Vesalius in Zakynthos

Plaque on the Bust of Vesalius in Zakynthos

Bust of Vesalius in Zakynthos


Prosopagnosia

Prosopagnosia is a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to recognize faces.  It is also known as face blindness or facial agnosia. There are different degrees of presentation of this pathology and some patients go through life without knowing that they have this problem characterizing it as just “a quirk” or that “they just are not good at remembering faces”.

Advanced forms of prosopagnosia cause some patients not to be able to recognize their own face or their own family members. Prosopagnosia is thought to be the result of abnormalities, damage, or functional impairment in the right fusiform gyrus, located in the inferior occipitotemporal region of the brain. The fusiform gyrus is related to the limbic system and seems to coordinate the systems that control facial perception and memory.  Prosopagnosia can result from stroke, traumatic brain injury, or certain neurodegenerative diseases

Prosopagnosia seems to also be congenital and run in certain families, pointing to a possible genetic disorder in the fusiform gyrus region.

Fusiform GyrusFusiform gyrus.

The etymology of the term prosopagnosia is complex. It starts with the Greek word “gnosia”, a derivate of [γνώση] (gnósi)  meaning “cognition”, “awareness”, or "knowledge". Adding the prefix “a-" leads to [agnosia] meaning lack or absence of cognition or awareness. The prefix "prosop-" derives from the Greek term [πρόσωπο] (prósopo) means f"ace". Therefore, prosopagnosia means “absence of facial awareness”.

There are famous people with prosopagnosia including Jane Goodall and Steve Wozniak.

Here is an interesting video from YouTube on the topic.

videocover010

Image courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fusiform_gyrus_animation.gif
Video courtesy of YouTube and Lucy Barnarf
Note: The links to Google Translate include an icon ()that will allow you to hear the pronunciation of the word.d


10 medical words that are used incorrectly

1. In the heart, heart valve, and ring valvuloplasty arena, everybody talks about the “anulus”, but most everybody misspells it! The word anulus originates from the Latin term “anulus” meaning “ring”. The proper way of writing it is ANULUS not ANNULUS, with a double "n"

2. The word “process” is English, therefore its plural form should be pronounce as “processes” not with a Latinized inflection as “processiiis”

3. The inflammation of a tendon is “tendonitis”, not “tendinitis”

4. When there is an excess amount of fluid in the pericardium that interferes with cardiac function, that is called a cardiac “tamponade”, not a “tamponaade” (with a French accent) and please don’t call it a “tapenade” (I have heard it), a dish consisting of puréed or finely chopped olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil!

5. The singular form for “criteria” is “criterium”. The following is wrong:  “only one criteria was used to make the decision”. The proper sentence should be "only one criterium was used to make the decision".

6. When using a scope to examine the fundus of the uterus, the procedure is a funduscopic procedure, not fundoscopic! It is more euphonic, I will agree, but not correct!

7. In spinal anatomy, the term “a facet joint” is most commonly used, but the term should be pronounced with the accent on the first syllable as in “fácet”! And just to be a bit more correct, the proper term for a so-called “facet joint” is “zygapophyseal joint”

8. In colon pathology a “diverticulum” is an outpouching of the colon wall. The plural form for “diverticulum” is diverticula.  The terms diverticulae of diverticuli are not correct

9. The terms centigrade and centimeter are derivate from the Latin word “centus”, meaning “one hundred” therefore the “French-like pronunciation of centimeter and centigrade with a French twist, with a nasal initial "a" although cool, is not correct!

10. An finally, my pet peeve: The words “anatomy” and “dissection” are actually synonymous.  Anatomy has a Greek origin. Ana means “apart” and “otomy” is the “process of cutting”: “to cut apart”  Dissection has a Latin origin and means exactly the same! In fact, for many years the term “to anatomize” was used instead of “to dissect”!

Where is the problem? In the pronunciation! “Dissection” should rhyme with “dissent”. For a complete article on this topic, click here.

Sources:
1. “"The Doctor’s Dyslexicon: 101 pitfalls in medical language" John H. Dirckx The American Journal of Dermatopathology. 27(1):86-88, FEBRUARY 2005 DOI: 10.1097/01.dad.0000148282.96494.0f PMID: 15677983


Plexus

UPDATED: The term [plexus] comes from the Latin term [plectere] meaning " to twine, or to braid". In anatomy, the term [plexus] refers to a group of structures that are intertwined or form a meshwork.  The plural form is [plexuses], although the Latin plural form [plexi] is also correct. Gabrielle Fallopius used the term to denote "a tangle of nerves"

There are many plexuses described in the human body. Most are formed by nerves, but there are many that are lymphatic or vascular. The best known are the plexuses of nerves formed by the ventral rami of the spinal nerves. These are the cervical plexus, the brachial plexus, the lumbar plexus, and the sacral plexus. The image depicts the brachial plexus. For a larger version, click on the image, and for further information on the cervical and brachial plexuses, click here

Images and links courtesy of:www.bartleby.com

Brachial plexus (www.bartleby.com)

One of my pet peeves...

(UPDATED)

Say the following words out loud: "DISSECT" and "DISSECTION", then read on...

This is very high up on my list of personal annoyances or pet peeves. It was first brought up to my attention by Aaron Ruhalter, MD in his lectures. I was elated to find an article by Dr John H. Dirckx that took on the topic of the pronunciation of these terms. Dr. Dirckx states that the word should be pronounced with a short "i" as in "dissent"

The words “anatomy” and “dissection” are actually synonymous.  Anatomy has a Greek origin. "Ana" means “apart” and “otomy” is the “process of cutting”: “to cut apart”.

Dissection has a Latin origin and means exactly the same! In fact, for many years the term “to anatomize” was used instead of “ to dissect”! Where is the problem? In the pronunciation! “Dissection” should rhyme with “dissent”, "kissed", and "missed"

An argument could be made that the wrong pronunciation (dai-ssect) is so prevalent that it should be accepted. I disagree, the wrong pronunciation of a word does not make it acceptable.

Further to this argument is a listing of words that include the term (-iss-) which you can read online here. I challenge the audience to find one instance, besides "dissect" and "dissection" where the term is pronounces "ais" instead of "iss".

Other pet peeves:

- Using the word "leg" to mean "lower extremity" as the leg is only a segment of the lower extremity: click here
- Using the term "ramus" instead of "ramus intermedius" for an anatomical variation of the cardiac vasculature: click here
- Using the term "thoratomy" instead of the proper term "thoracotomy": click here

... do not get me started on anatomical and terminological pet peeves...

Sources
1. "The Doctor's Dyslexicon: 101 Pitfalls in Medical Language" Dirckx, JH Am J Dermatopath 2005 Vol: 27(1):86. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1097/01.dad.0000148282.96494.0f
2. The Free Dictionary :https://www.thefreedictionary.com/words-containing-iss