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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 

Title page of Anathomia Corporis Humanis by Mondino de Luzzi. Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine
Title page of "Anathomia Corporis Humanis" by Mondino de Luzzi

Alessandra Giliani

 
(1307 – 1326

Italian prosector and anatomist. Alessandra Giliani is the first woman to be on record as being an anatomist and prossector. She was born on 1307 in the town of Persiceto in northern Italy.

She was admitted to the University of Bologna circa 1323. Most probably she studied philosophy and the foundations of anatomy and medicine. She studied under Mondino de Luzzi (c.1270 – 1326), one of the most famous teachers at Bologna.

Giliani was the prosector for the dissections performed at the Bolognese “studium” in the Bologna School of Anatomy. She developed a technique (now lost to history) to highlight the vascular tree in a cadaver using fluid dyes which would harden without destroying them. Giliani would later paint these structures using a small brush. This technique allowed the students to see even small veins.

Giliani died at the age of 19 on March 26, 1326, the same year that her teacher Mondino de Luzzi died.  It is said that she was buried in front of the Madonna delle Lettere in the church of San Pietro e Marcellino at the Hospital of Santa Maria del Mareto in Florence by Otto Agenius Lustrulanus, another assistant to Modino de Luzzi.

Some ascribe to Agenius a love interest in Giliani because of the wording of the plaque that is translated as follows:

"In this urn enclosed are the ashes of the body of 
Alessandra Giliani, a maiden of Persiceto. 
Skillful with her brush in anatomical demonstrations 
And a disciple equaled by few, 
Of the most noted physician, Mondino de Luzzi, 
She awaits the resurrection. 
She lived 19 years: She died consumed by her labors 
March 26, in the year of grace 1326. 
Otto Agenius Lustrulanus, by her taking away 
Deprived of his better part, inconsolable for his companion, 
Choice and deservinging of the best from himself, 
Has erected this plaque"

Sir William Osler says of Alessandra Giliani “She died, consumed by her labors, at the early age of nineteen, and her monument is still to be seen”

The teaching of anatomy in the times of Mondino de Luzzi and Alessandra Giliani required the professor to be seated on a high chair or “cathedra” from whence he would read an anatomy book by Galen or another respected author while a prosector or “ostensor” would demonstrate the structures to the student. The professor would not consider coming down from the cathedra to discuss the anatomy shown. This was changed by Andreas Vesalius.

The image in this article is a close up of the title page of Mondino’s “Anothomia Corporis Humani” written in 1316, but published in 1478. Click on the image for a complete depiction of this title page. I would like to think that the individual doing the dissection looking up to the cathedra and Mondino de Luzzi is Alessandra Giliani… we will never know.

The life and death of Alessandra Giliani has been novelized in the fiction book “A Golden Web” by Barbara Quick.

Sources 
1. “Books of the Body: Anatomical Ritual and Renaissance Learning” Carlino, A. U Chicago Press, 1999 
2. “Encyclopedia of World Scientists” Oakes, EH. Infobase Publishing, 2002 
3. “The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science”Harvey, J; Ogilvie, M. Vol1. Routledge 2000 
4. “The Evolution of Modern Medicine” Osler, W. Yale U Press 1921 
5. “The Mondino Myth” Pilcher, LS. 1906 
Original image courtesy of NLM
 


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Sesamoid

The word [sesamoid] means "similar to a sesame". First used by Galen c.180AD, he describes small ovoid bones that are "similar to a sesame seed", referencing the seed of the plant sesamum indicum, the oil of which was used as a laxative at that time. 

Sesamoid bones are found in the tendons of some muscles and are mostly inconstant. Largey and Bonnet proposed a classification for these bones as: accessory, capsuloligamentous, intratendineous, and mixed.

Of special interest to this article are the sesamoid bones found within the two tendons of the flexor hallucis brevis muscle in the base of the foot (see accompanying X-ray image). These bones, especially the medial sesamoid bone, was attributed religious, mystical, and magical powers since ancient times. This is due to the fact that this small bone is highly resistant to natural decomposition. A Hebrew medical text dated 210 BC, attributed to Ushaia presented a small bone he called "luz" as the "depository of the soul". Many other authors, including Vesalius (who called it Albadaran), believed that upon resurrection, the whole body could reform from this "seed" bone.

This belief was later reinforced by religious texts into the early Renaissance which stated that this bone was indestructible and its presence was enough to guarantee resurrection for believers. 

Sources:
1. "Les os se?samo?¨des de l’hallux : du mythe a` la fonction" Largely,A; Bonnel, BE Med Chir Pied 2008 24: 28–38
2. "Tratado de Anatomia Humana" Testut et Latarjet 8 Ed. 1931 Salvat Editores, Spain
3. "De Humani Corporis Fabrica" Vesalius, Andrea. 1543 Oporinus
Thanks to the first year medical students at the University of Cincinnati who inspired this article. Dr. Miranda
 

Foot X-ray

Original image courtesy of
Wesley Norman, Ph.D.


Ignaz Semmelweis


This article is part of the series "A Moment in History" where we honor those who have contributed to the growth of medical knowledge in the areas of anatomy, medicine, surgery, and medical research.To search all the articles in this series, click here.

Ignaz Semmelweis, MD (1818- 1865). Born in Budapest as Ign?c F?l?p Semmelweis, he started his university studies as a lawyer, but changed to Medicine and in 1844, at the age of 26, attained his MD degree. in 1847 he was appointed as an assistant in Obstetrics, almost at the same time of the death of a friend (Kolletschka, a pathologist) who died of what appeared to be "puerperal fever", also known as "childbed fever" after being accidentally stabbed by a knife during the autopsy of a female who had died of that disease. Semmelweis reasoned that the disease somehow was transmitted via the wound and started a crusade to have surgeons and students clean their hands with a carbolized solution before examining a healthy pregnant woman.

Although the obstetric wards under his care reduced the rate of this disease to almost nothing, Semmelweis endured criticism from his teachers, colleagues, and peers, and he did not make any friends by calling "murderers" those who did not follow his ideas.  murderers".  An excerpt of a letter to one of this detractors reads: "I denounce you before God and the world as a murderer and the history of puerperal fever will not do you an injustice when for the service of having been the first to oppose my life-saving technique it perpetuates your name as a medical Nero". He did not publish his findings until later in life, and then received even more criticism.

In 1865 was committed to an mental asylum only to die a few days later. He was only 47 years old. The same year he died Joseph Lister performed the first operations using antiseptic technique.


Original image courtesy of
Images from the History of Medicine.

Sources:
1. NEWSOM S." PIONEERS IN INFECTION CONTROL - SEMMELWEIS,IGNAZ,PHILIPP". The Journal of hospital infection. 1993-03-01;23:175-187.
2. Ellis, H. (2008). Ignaz Semmelweis: tragic pioneer in the prevention of puerperal sepsis. British Journal Of Hospital Medicine (London, England: 2005), 69(6), 358 
3
. " A Corner of History: Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis" Wynder, EL  Prev Med 3" (4) Dec 1974, 574-580
4. "Ignaz Semmeweis; a hand-washing pioneer" P. Rangapa JAPI May 2010 58:328

Muscle

The term [muscle] arises from the Latin word [musculus] which derives from the Latin term [mus] meaning "mouse". We can only guess that, just as today, Roman fathers would show their biceps and forearm muscles to their children and tried to make them believe a mouse had gotten under their skin!. The root term for muscle is [-my-]. The corresponding combining form is [-myo-]. 

There are three types of muscle in the human body:

• Skeletal muscle: it is typical of muscles related to bones (skeletal) and they are voluntary.
Smooth muscle: found in organs that act without volition (involuntary), such as the digestive system and glands.
Cardiac muscle: found exclusively in the heart.

Skeletal (striated) muscle structure
Skeletal and cardiac muscles have distinct striations visible under a microscope. 

Muscles are formed by subunits, each one surrounded by a named membrane. One of the suffixes that means layer or membrane is [-sium]:

Epimysium: Epi=outer; my=muscle; sium=membrane. The outer or external membrane (layer) of a muscle
 Perimysium: Peri=around; my=muscle; sium=membrane. A membrane around a muscle
 Endomysium: Endo= inner or internal; my=muscle; sium=membrane. The inner or internal membrane of a muscle

Original image courtesy of Wikipedia. Click on the image for a larger version. 

 

Trabeculae carnae

The trabeculae carnae is a meshwork of fleshy cords found in the inner aspect of the right and left ventricles of the heart.

The Latin term [trab] means "beam", and [trabeculum] refers to the group of beams that supports a roof, like an intertwined network.  The plural for of [trabeculum] is [trabeculae].

The second term [carnae] is Latin for "meaty". The meaning of [trabeculae carnae] is the "meaty meshwork".

The trabeculae carnae are more evident and larger in the left ventricle than in the right ventricle, and larger and more complex towards the cardiac apex.  The accompanying image shows the dissection of a human heart exposing the trabeculae carnaes in the right ventricle.

Click on the image for a larger version

Image property of: CAA.Inc.

Interior of the right ventricle - Human heart

-nym-

Although not a medical root term, the root [-nym-] arises from the Greek [onoma] meaning "name". There are many terms that incorporate this root:

Eponym: Use of a proper name to denote a structure
Eunym: [Eu-] is a prefix that means "good", so it imeans a "good name". Also written as "euonym"
Homonym: Same name
Synomym: "A name with the same sense, or same meaning"
Antomym: From the Greek [ant- and anti] meaning opposite. An opposite name
Anonym: From the Greek [an- and ano-] meaning "without". Without a name (anonymous)
Pseudonym: From the Greek [Pseudo-] meaning "false". A false name
Toponym: From [topos], meaning place. The name of a place or location


Henry Koplik, MD


This article is part of the series "A Moment in History" where we honor those who have contributed to the growth of medical knowledge in the areas of anatomy, medicine, surgery, and medical research.To search all the articles in this series, click here.

Henry Koplik, MD (1858 -1927). American pediatrician and researcher, was born in 1858 in the city of New York.  He received his MD from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at the Colombia University in New York. He spent several years studying in Berlin, Vienna, and Prague. Upon his return to the US he worked at the lower Manhattan Good Samaritan dispensary, where he later built a large pediatric outpatient clinic which became a model for the care of infants and children. In fact, under Dr Koplik's direction, this clinic became the world's first "milk depot" providing fresh milk and infant food for underprivileged mothers in the area. Dr. Koplik was one of the founders of the American Pediatric Society, and was one of its presidents.

Mostly remembered by the pathognomonic and eponymic "Koplik's spots", Dr Koplik had many other achievements. Some of them include the prophylaxis of a milk depot, the strict discipline in diagnosis and care of the pediatric patient,  the discovery of the bacillus responsible for whooping cough, the prevention of cross-contamination at a pediatric ward, etc.

Dr. Koplik wrote a number of clinical and research papers on hygiene and public health, as well on a number of medical topics, plus a book on "Diseases of Infancy and Childhood". 

Sources:
1. "Koplik's Spots for the Record: an Illustrated Historical Note" Brem, J; Clin Ped 1972 11:3 161-163
2. "Pediatric Profiles: Henry Koplik (1858-1927)" Bass, MH J Ped 1957 119-125
3. "The History of the First Milk Depot or Gouttes de Lait With Consultations in America" JAMA 50: 1574, 1914.
4. "Some Pediatric Eponyms: Koplik's Spots," W. R. Bett Brit. J. Child.Dis. 28: 127, 1931 
Original imagecourtesy of National Institutes of Health.


Original imagecourtesy of National Institutes of Health.