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

Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter
Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter (1811-1859)

Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter


Thomas Dent Mutter was born on March 9, 1811, in Richmond, VA. His mother died in 1813, and his father died of tuberculosis in 1817. Thomas was orphaned when he was barely 8 years old. His father left him a somewhat meager inheritance and in his early life had to do with less that others with his objectives in life. He was well educated under the tutelage of Robert Carter, his guardian, and in 1824 he started his studies at the Hampden Sidney College of Virginia. He continued with a medical apprenticeship with a Dr. Simms in VA. He was well respected and even at his early age he would do home visits for his medical benefactor with great results. He started medical studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his MD in 1831. The new young doctor, Thomas Dent Mutter, MD was only 20 years of age.

At the time, Europe was the place to go to if you wanted advanced medical studies. Dr. Mutter had no money, so he applied as a ship surgeon to be able to cross the Atlantic. Once in Europe, he spent time in Paris, where he studied under the tutelage of Dr. Guillaume Dupuytren. He later studied for a short time in England where he met Dr. Robert Liston. Following Dupuytren's teachings, Mutter was fascinated by plastic surgery.

A chance encounter with what was to become his first well-known acquisition of a medical curiosity, Mutter started thinking on how to help those people that were known at that time as “monsters”, patients who the general public did not see, because they did not appear in public. The curiosity in question was a wax reproduction of the face of a French woman who had a “horn” arising from her forehead. This piece is on exhibit at the Mütter Museum.

Back in the United States in 1832, Thomas Dent Mutter changed his last name to give it a more “European” sound and added an “umlaut”, so now he was Thomas D. Mütter, MD. It may also be that he wanted to pay homage to his Scottish-German heritage, who knows? He opened his medical office in Philadelphia and although it took time, eventually he had a thriving practice. One of his specialties was the work on “deformities” so common at the time because of facial scars born out of the use of open fires in houses, and deformities caused by burns and loss of tissue due to chemicals used in local industry. Dr. Mütter is the pioneer of what we call today “Reconstructive Surgery”.

In 1835 he was asked to join the Medical Institute of Philadelphia as an assistant professor of Surgery. He was an instant success. Dr. Mütter was adored by his students because, he would question the students and guide them to discovery instead of just lecturing and leaving. In his Discourse eulogy of Dr. Mütter by Joseph Pancoast he writes:” The power of attracting students near him by his mingled gentleness, energy, and enthusiasm; of fixing their attention by the lucid and methodical arrangements of his Subject, by his clear demonstrations, and sprightly oral elucidations, came so readily to him, and was so early displayed) as to seem almost intuitive.” In 1841 Dr Mütter was appointed Professor of Surgery at the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

Dr. Mütter had always had poor health, even in childhood, and his dedication to his passion, long hours, took its toll on his body. In 1956 he set sail for Europe and resigned his teaching duties. He was named Emeritus Professor of Surgery. Unfortunately, the trip did not help, and he returned to the US in early 1958. Fearful of another winter in cold Philadelphia, he moved to Charleston, SC, where he died on March 19, 1859.

Dr. Mütter’s story does not end here. He was an avid collector and throughout his short life he had pulled together an impressive collection of medical oddities, samples, and curiosities. Knowing that his life was at an end, he negotiated with the Philadelphia College of Physicians to have them host his collection in perpetuity as well as the creation of a trust fund that would ensure that the public and medical students would have access to this incredible collection. Through the years this collection has increased and is known today as the Mütter Museum of the Philadelphia College of Physicians. I strongly urge our readers to visit this incredible museum. For more information, click here.

Personal notes: In the late 90’s, I attended a meeting of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists.  During the meeting I met Gretchen Worden, who at the time was the Curator of the Mütter museum. Gretchen was inspirational, fun, and a great conversationalist! I had the opportunity to visit Gretchen at the Mütter museum and had the luck to be treated to a “behind the scenes” tour. What an experience! I was saddened to hear that Gretchen Worden passed on August 2, 2004. Still, in my recent visit to the Mütter Museum, I was glad to see a new section at the museum that remembers Gretchen. Her biography can be read here.

I would like to thank Dr. Leslie Wolf for lending me the book by O’Keefe that lead to me writing this article. Dr. Miranda

1. “Dr. Mütter’s Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine” O’Keefe, C. 2015 Penguin Random House, LLC
2. “A Discourse Commemorative of the Late Professor T.D. Mütter” Pancoast, J. 1859 J Wilson Publisher
3. “Thomas Dent Mütter: the humble narrative of a surgeon, teacher, and curious collector” Baker, J, et al. The American Surgeon, Atlanta 77:iss5 662-14
4. “Thomas Dent Mutter, MD: early reparative surgeon” Harris, ES; Morgan, RF. Ann Plast Surg 1994 33(3):333-8
5. “5 Things I Learned from Thomas Dent Mütter” O’Keefe C.

"Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc., and the contributors of "Medical Terminology Daily" wish to thank all individuals who donate their bodies and tissues for the advancement of education and research”.

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2017 AACA Meeting (4)

2017 AACA Meeting – Wednesday, July 19.

This is the 2017 Meeting of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists in Minneapolis, MN. This 34th meeting of the association, gets together over 300 clinical anatomists, anatomists, physicians, and students from all over the world.

Second day of the meeting, by now I have met most all my old friends from the AACA, and I have started making some new ones… I really like this meeting.

The meeting started with the poster session where I am a judge. I made it a point to look at all the posters yesterday and the quality of the presentations is impressive. I am humbled to have to judge so much talent and feel that many deserve the award for the best poster presentation.

The platform sessions for the day were dedicated to the Upper Limb and Education.

There was a special session dedicated to the topic “The Legal and Ethic Consideration of Being the Guardian of the Gift”. This session dealt with the legal and ethical implications of curating and keeping old collections of fetal tissue, osteology, teratology, and anatomical specimens.

I also attended the Clinical Anatomy Terminology Committee meeting… it was fun. We formed groups and tried to make anatomical definitions according to new standards being developed by the AACA.

The day ended with a social event (food and drinks) where we were treated to samples of books from the Wangensteen library (NO TOUCHING) and medical devices from the Bakken museum. What a day!!!

More nice stuff tomorrow!!!

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2017 AACA Meeting (3)

2017 AACA Meeting – Tuesday, July 18.

This is the 2017 Meeting of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists in Minneapolis, MN. This 34th meeting of the association, gets together over 300 clinical anatomists, anatomists, physicians, and students from all over the world.

The meeting started with the official welcome by the president of the AACA, Neil S. Norton, Ph. D., and the welcome by our local Minnesota host Tucker W. LeBien, Ph.D.

Unfortunately, our Honored Member James D. Collins, M.D., is sick and could not attend. We all wish him well.

The rest of the day was spent in poster sessions, the Tech Fair, and a reception where new AACA members can meet our mentors and possibly connect throughout their careers. The AACA aims to help its members through these activities.

We also had time to visit the exhibit hall where our sponsors can present their products. We sincerely thank them for their contribution.

One of the presentations that caught my attention was the use of augmented reality in anatomy, where you can see an anatomical structure floating in the air superimposed on the environment. 3D anatomical resources were also presented by the exhibitors.

One of the highlights of my day was to meet again with Victor M. Spitzer, Ph.D., (Honored Member AACA 2014) and talk about meeting in Colorado at his lab, and the incredible revolution in anatomy that he started with The Visual Human Project. I invited him to become a contributor to our blog…. Hope he accepts!

The day ended with some of the attendees to the meeting going to see a New York Yankees vs, the Minnesota Twins baseball game…. I stayed. Unfortunately for our hosts the NYY won 6-3.

More nice stuff tomorrow!!!

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2017 AACA Meeting (2)

2017 AACA Meeting – Monday, July 17.

This is the 2017 Meeting of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists in Minneapolis, MN. This 34th meeting of the association, gets together over 300 clinical anatomists, anatomists, physicians, and students from all over the world.

We started with a judge’s meeting. I will be one of many judges that will evaluate the many posters presented by mostly new AACA members and students sponsored by an AACA member. This is a very important activity, as the winner will be presented with an award. Each poster presenter will explain their scientific research and answer questions from the judges.

After the judge’s meeting, it is time for the inaugural reception. This is the time to meet with old friends and colleagues as well as an opportunity to welcome first time attendees and new AACA members. Luckily, they are easily identifiable by a green badge.

I am very lucky to be here, and looking forward to tomorrow with the inaugural session, the tech fairs, posters sessions, and platform session on the torso.

The following post and pictures will take you to the Facebook page of Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc.

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2017 AACA Meeting (1)

This is the first time I embed a Facebook article from https://www.facebook.com/CAAInc

 During this week, I will be attending the 2017 Meeting of the American Association of Clinical Anatomists in Minneapolis, MN. This 34th meeting of the association, gets together over 300 clinical anatomists, anatomists, physicians, and students from all over the world.

I will try to post pictures, and excerpts from some of the lectures, presentations and posters. After the meeting, there will be a postgraduate course which I will also attend.

The meeting will be held at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center Convention Center and is hosted by the University of Minnesota Medical School.

So, let’s start with travel! I flew N21315 to Minneapolis. The flight was IFR, uneventful, at 12,000 ft. (with oxygen support) and landed at KSTP (St. Paul Downtown airport). I decided to post some pictures of the flight and the airplane. 
Now I am getting ready for the judge’s meeting and then the reception. I will be posting some pictures tomorrow!

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Do you want your name in a book? The Quest for the Lost Grave....

We are getting closer and closer to the objective, that is, to fund and find the lost grave of  Andreas Vesalius, recognized worldwide as the Father of Modern Anatomy. We are setting up the dates for the next phase and preparing the logistics for the crews from Crete and Belgium.

The quest for the lost grave of Andreas Vesalius continues, the permits have been obtained, and we only have the last hurdle to finish, the funding of the project trough our GoFundMe page.

Theo Dirix, a contributor to Medical Terminology Daily, now has an offer that you may like. He wrote the book "In Search of Andreas Vesalius" which relates the beginning of this Quest. The book is out-of-print today, but there are a few copies available. By donating 30 € (US$35)you'll receive one of the last available copies and you'll be mentioned in the sequel of the book that will be dedicated to the next stage of the project.

The project is private and funded by those who believe we still have an opportunity to find the lost grave. For more information, you are welcome to read Theo Dirix's article : "To put it in another way: where do we have to look for Vesalius's grave?" 

Here are some reviews for Theo Drix's book "In Search of Andreas Vesalius" :

Vivian Nutton: "I read with pleasure and wry amusement Theo’s account (..) and was reminded of reading the autobiographical account by Stephen Miller of his time as head of the American archaeological school and the boss of the Nemea excavations in the 1980s and 90s (...)

Cover of the book by Theo Dirix
Cover of the book by Theo Dirix.
Click on the image for a larger depiction

(Professor Vivian Nutton specialises in the history of the classical tradition in medicine, from Antiquity to the present, and particularly on Galen, some of whose works he has edited and translated, and on medicine during the Renaissance.)

Jacqueline Vons: " here is a book " without claim " but well documented, which is committed to tracing the research made to zakynthos by the author and a team of doctors, historians and artists to find the tomb of vesalius (1514-1564).

(Jacqueline Vons est professeur agrégé de lettres classiques, docteur ès études latines, enseignant-chercheur habilité à diriger des recherches. Elle a enseigné le latin et l'histoire de la médecine au CESR et à la faculté de Lettres de Tours et a assuré pendant plusieurs années des enseignements complémentaires en sciences humaines à la faculté de Médecine. Ses thèmes de recherche sont orientés vers l'histoire de la médecine et notamment autour d'André Vésale (éditions, traductions, transcriptions), de la pensée et des pratiques médicales en France à l'époque moderne ainsi que des textes médicaux latins centrés principalement sur l'anatomie.)

Maurits Biesbrouck: in search of Andreas Vesalius is so well researched and written, that if the further search for his grave completely shutting down (something we hope not! ) and only after a few decades be rebooted again, the perfect future researchers would know to where you came, and the wire without wasting time we can again. It is a very detailed history of the search that has already been made, a solid status and simultaneously present an extremely valuable tool for further extrapolating.

(Dr. Maurits Biesbrouck has a lifelong interest in Andreas Vesalius. He translated the first book of the De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem into Dutch, compiled an annually updated Vesalius-bibliography and wrote many articles on his life and works, many as a co-author with Omer Steeno (Leuven, Belgium) and Theodoor Goddeeris (Kortrijk, Belgium). See www.andreasvesalius.be.)

UPDATE: April 25, 2018.  Theo Dirix's new book is already published, the names of the contributors have been incorporated in the book. The title of the new book is "In Search of Andreas Vesalius The Quest for the Grave, Lost and not yet found". Dr. Miranda


UPDATED: The word [glenoid] is composed of the root term [-glen-] which arises from the Greek [γλήνη] (glíni), meaning “a shallow socket”, and the suffix [-oid], also Greek, meaning “similar to”. Similar to a shallow socket.

The etymology of the word is not clear, as some authors contend that it means “eyeball” or just the “pupil” of the eye. The earliest known use of the term by Homer was referring to a “mirror”. All of these meanings carry the reference to reflection of an image.

The term [glenoid cavity] is the smooth, slightly concave surface of the glenoid process of the scapula that forms part of the shoulder joint. Being so shallow, the glenoid cavity is supplemented by a fibrocartilaginous ring called the [glenoid labrum]. There are other uses of the term [glenoid] in human anatomy.

Greek mirror, notice the shallow concavity of the mirror, similar to the shoulder's glenoid cavity
Image courtesy of Ancient Touch
Personal note: I have read several authors including Skinner (1970) on this word. I noticed that ancient Greek mirrors have one very slightly concave surface (see image) and this could be the origin of this term as well as the later association with reflection. Dr. Miranda

Original image courtesy of www.ancienttouch.com