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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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Midline / Median plane / Midsagittal

The definition of a geometrical plane is "a surface defined by a minimum of three points". By definition, a plane is imaginary. The [median plane] is "a vertical plane that divides the human body standing in the anatomical position in two halves, left and right, that are equal in size" (although not in content).

The term "midline" is a bit of a misnomer, as this is a plane and not a line, although if you look at the median plane from the anterior or posterior aspect of an individual in the anatomical position, you would have a line, ergo, midline!

To visualize the above statement, click on this "anatomical position" link and hover your mouse over the image. The midline will appear.

Another term that can be used synonymously with [midline] or [median plane] is that of "midsagittal plane". Any plane that is parallel to the midsagittal plane (therefore not on the median plane) can be called either "sagittal" or "parasagittal".

Since planes are imaginary, the only way to make them real is to cut, section, or image following a plane, this is called a "plane of section"

 

Image property of: CAA.Inc. Artist: Victoria G. Ratcliffe


Antonio Scarpa


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.
Antonio Scarpa (1752-1832). An Italian physician and anatomist, Antonio Scarpa is probably most remembered by the many human anatomy eponymic structures named after him, like "Scarpa's Fascia". Arising from humble origins, a very young Scarpa started medical studies at the University of Padua and obtained his doctorate at 18 years of age.

In 1772 he published a detailed anatomical study of the middle and internal ear, and later continued with animal comparative studies, surgical studies, and discoveries such as the innervation of the heart, and introduced the concept of arteriosclerosis. He left behind a solid group of books and publications

Known for his aggressive personality, Scarpa is said to have had more enemies than friends. After his death, his head was preserved and is still on display today at the History Museum of the University of Pavia, in Italy. Click here for a YouTube video depicting Scarpa's life and his head on display (Italian)

Antonio Scarpa was one of the first to describe the cochlea, one of the components of the inner ear

Original image courtesy of Images from the History of Medicine at nih.gov

Antonio Scarpa

-lithiasis

The suffix [-(o)lithiasis] is a compound suffix with the Greek root [-lith-] meaning "stone" and the suffix [-iasis] meaning "condition, pathology, or disease". [-(o)lithiasis] then means the "condition or presence of stones".

This suffix can be found in many medical terms such as:

Choledocolithiasis: a condition of stones in the bile duct
Nephrolithiasis: Kidney stones
Cholelithiasis: Gall or bile stones. This term does not indicate specific stone location
Cholecystolithiasis: Stones in the gallbladder
Cystolithiasis: Bladder stones
Choledocholithiasis: Stones in the common bile duct

Can you find the meaning of the word dacryocystolithiasis?


Sternum

The sternum is a median bone that, with the anterior portion of the ribs, forms the anterior boundary of the bony thorax.

The term [sternum] comes from the Greek, meaning "flat chest or flat surface". In early anatomy, the sternum was known by a Latin term [gladius] referring to the similarity of the sternum to the short sword of the gladiators.

The sternum is composed by three segments, from superior to inferior they are the:

1. Manubrium: This is Latin for "handle" (of the sword)
2. Body: This segment is formed by four separate bones that fuse together later in life. Each separate bony component of the sternal body is known as a "sternabra" (plural: sternabrae)
3. Xiphoid appendix: The term [xiphoid] is Greek and means "similar to a straight sword", but it refers only to the lowest portion of the sternum. Sometimes called the [xiphisternum], the xiphoid appendage or process is cartilaginous and is the last cartilage to ossify in the human.

Sternum
The boundary between the manubrium and sternal body is known as the "sternal angle" or the "angle of Louis"named after Antoine Louis, a French physician. Click on the image of the thorax to see a detailed image of the sternum.

Images property of: CAA.Inc.Artist: David M. Klein


Henri Fruchaud


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.

Dr. Henri Rene Fruchaud (1894-1960) was born in 1894 in Angers, the capital of the French province of Anjou. He started his medical studies in Anjou and continued them later in Paris. He was active in both WWI and WWII, earning several medals for bravery. He published a large number of articles in diverse surgical fields. 

An anatomist and a surgeon, Fruchaud is best known for his work in the field of Hernia Surgery by two of his books published in 1956: "L'Anatomie chirurgicale de la r?gion de l'aine" (Surgical anatomy of the groin region), and "Le traitement chirurgical des hernies de l'aine" (Surgical Treatment of Groin Hernias). He described the presence of a weak area in the pelvic region that he calls the "Myopectineal Orifice" or MPO. He states in his book: "It may be said that a healthy man is, unknown to himself, a hernia bearer". The MPO concept has become of importance after the advent of the laparoscopic repair of inguinofemoral hernias.

He is one of the members of the French Order of the Liberation, where you can read his biography in French.

Original image of Dr. Henri Fruchaud courtesy of the French Order of the Liberation Museum.
Source: "Henri Fruchaud (1894–1960): A man of bravery, an anatomist a surgeon" Stoppa,R and Wantz,G.  Hernia 1998,Vol 2,(1) 45 - 47
 

Interstices / interstitial

The word [interstice] is a derivation of the Latin term [interstitium] meaning "interval" or "spaces between". The plural form is [interstices]. The terms is used in anatomy to denote small spaces within a structure. As an example, bone marrow and venous sinuses are found in the [interstices] of the cancellous bone in the body of a vertebra.

The term is also used to describe different pathologies such as insterstitial cystitis and instertitial lung disease.

Word suggested by: Sara Mueller