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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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Temporal bone

The temporal bone is a complex bone composed of several regions. The image shows an anterior view of the right temporal bone. To see the location of the bone, look at the inset that shows by transparency the location of the bone. Click on the image for a larger picture.

A. Squamous portion: From the Latin [squama], and meaning "scale-like", this portion of the bone is very thin, articulating with the parietal and sphenoid bones.

B. Zygomatic process: an anterior extension that articulates with the corresponding temporal process of the zygomatic bone.

C. Mastoid process: A Greek term from [-mast-] meaning breast, and the suffix [-oid] meaning "similar to".

D. Styloid process: Another Greek term from [stylos] meaning a "pillar", but also a "pen", therefore "shaped or similar to a pen". This is a slender and long inferior bony process. Close to the syloid process there are other processes, the pterygoid processes.

E.Petrous process: From the Latin [petrus] meaning "rock". The petrous process contains the components of the external auditory canal, the middle and inner ear, and a large canal through which passes the internal carotid artery

Temporal bone (anterior view)

 

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

Ectopic

This term has combined Greek components. The prefix [ect-] comes from [ectos], meaning "outside", and the root term [-top-] from [topos], meaning "place or location". The suffix [-ic] of course means "pertaining to". The word [ectopic] then means "outside its (normal) place or location".

The words has several uses. As an example, in atrial fibrillation, the atria of the heart will depolarize in abnormal or ectopic locations, causing a dysrhythmia. Another common use is in endometriosis, where there are abnormal or ectopic implantation sites of endometrium.


Oliver W. Holmes Sr.


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.

Oliver W. Holmes Sr. (1809-1894). American physician, writer, and poet, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. was born in 1809 in Cambridge, MA. He started his studies in law, but soon turned to Medicine, studying part of his time in Paris. In 1843 he joined the fight against "puerperal fever", for which he was mocked, but he stood his ground on principle. A gifted writer, he published several books on essays, biography, and poetry. He was Dean of the Harvard Medical School.  He received several honorary doctorates in Law and letters from Harvard and Cambridge. Little known is his contribution to Medicine by  the coining of the terms "anesthesia" and "anesthetic", and that he was the father of a Supreme Court Judge, Justice Oliver Wendell Homes Jr.

The Journal of Clinical Anatomy published an article on Oliver W. Holmes Sr. profiling his many accomplishments.

Original image courtesy of www.nndb.com.
Sources:
1. "The Origin of Medical Terms" Skinner, H.A.(1970)
2. "Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–1894): Physician, jurist, poet, inventor, pioneer, and anatomist" Tubbs, RS et al, Clin Anat 25:8; 992-997 (2012)

Omentum

The origin or etymology of the word [omentum] is not clear. The plural form is [omenta] and it refers to membranes associated with the stomach. The term was first used by Galen and later by Celsus. It was Andrea Vesalius who gave us the first clear anatomical description of the omenta.

The omenta are double-layered peritoneal membranes. There are two omenta. The lesser omentum ("Lo" in the image) extends between the liver and stomach, and liver and the first part of the duodenum. The greater omentum ("Go" in the image) projects off the stomach, reaches as low as the lower abdominal cavity and reflects superiorly to connect with the transverse colon. The greater omentum contains a larger amount of fat than the lesser omentum.

Both omenta contain a number of arteries, veins, and other structures between their layers. In the case of the greater omentum, we find the right and left gastroepiploic arteries as well as the greater curvature vascular arcade.

Images property of: CAA.Inc.Photographer: D.M. Klein

Abdominal dissection
Go= Greateromentum, Lo=Lesseromentum, 
E=Esophagus, f=fundus, P= Pylorus.

Theodor Billroth


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.

Christian Albert Theodor Billroth (1829-1894) was born in Prussia, in the city of Bergen. After being considered a slow learner requiring tutoring at home, Billroth studied Medicine in Berlin. In 1860 he was appointed as Professor of Clinical Surgery.

He is well-know by the partial or subtotal gastric resection surgeries he pioneered. In 1881 he performed the first of what is now known as a "Billroth I" procedure. He was the first to perform a partial resection and anastomosis of the esophagus, as well as the first surgeon to excise a rectal cancer. He is considered one of the Masters of Surgery.

Billroth was also a gifted musician playing the violin and viola. Good friend with Johannes Bramhs, he was sometimes invited to conduct the Zurich Symphonic Orchestra.

The first Billroth I procedure was performed in 1881 in a 43 year old female. Besides the well-known Billroth I and Billroth II subtotal gastrectomies, there are several eponyms that carry Billroth's name. Billroth's concepts on gastrointestinal anastomoses paved the way for the invention of surgical staplers.

Source: "Christian Albert Theodor Billroth: Master of surgery" Kazi, RA; Peter, RE, J Postgrad Med March 2004 50:1, 82-83
Original image courtesy of Images from the History of Medicine at nih.gov

Femur

The Latin word [femur] means "thigh". the femur is the bone of the thigh, and this is why the anatomical region of the thigh is known as the "femoral region".

The femur is a long bone and has several anatomical characteristics such as a head (which articulates with the pelvic bone), a neck, a small and a large trochanter, and two condyles for articulation with the tibia at the knee joint.

For a detailed description of the anatomy of the femur, click here. Click on the image for a larger view.

 

 

Links courtesy of bartleby.com
Original image modified from Andrea Vesalius' "De Humani Corporis Fabrica, Libri Septem"

Femur