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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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-itis

The suffix [-itis] originates from the Greek and means "inflammation". This suffix is also used to mean "infection", although inflammation is only one of the signs of infection. The symptoms and signs of infection are:

• Edema - localized swelling (tumor)
• Redness- Localized (rubor)
• Localized raise in temperature - Fever (calor)
• Pain - (dolor)
• Localized functional impairment

Examples of uses of this suffix are:

Hepatitis: Inflammation or infection of the liver
Pancreatitis: Inflammation or infection of the pancreas
Cholecystitis: Inflammation or infection of the gallbladder [chole-]="gall'; [cyst]="sac" or "bladder"
Rhinitis: Inflammation or infection of the nose
Pharyngotracheitis: Inflammation or infection of the pharynx and trachea


-oid

The suffix [-oid] originates from the Greek [oeides], meaning "similar to", "like", or "shaped like". This suffix can be found the the medical terms [sigmoid] meaning "similar or shaped like a sigma"; [sphenoid], meaning "shaped like a wedge"; [cricoid], meaning "shaped like a ring", and [arytenoid] also from the Greek [arytaina], meaning "similar to a ladle".

This suffix is also used in daily conversation, as the following examples illustrate:

Android - "similar to a human", from the Greek [andros] human
Anthropoid - similar to a man, from the Greek [anthropos], "man"
Asteroid - "similar to a star", from the Greek [aster], "star"
Arachnoid - "similar to a spider", from the latin [arachnid], spider. It refers to the spider-web look of this menynx


Coronary

The term [coronary] comes from the Latin root [corona] meaning "crown", therefore [coronary] is used to denote a structure that surrounds another as a crown or a garland. In the heart, the coronary arteries and their branches form a crown that surrounds the heart at the level of the atrioventricular sulcus. There are two coronary arteries, the right coronary artery (RCA), and the left coronary arteryartery (*). The two main branches that arise from the left coronary artery are the circumflex artery (CFX) and the left anterior descending artery (LAD).

There can be interesting anatomical variations in the coronary arteries of the heart.

Although not in use anymore, the gastric arteries used to be called the "gastric coronaries" as the right and left gastric arteries and the right and left gastroepiploic arteries form a garland of arteries that surround the stomach. The term still does apply to the left gastric veins.

Coronary arteries

Vertebra

From the Latin [vertere] meaning "to turn", the term refers to one of the bones that forms the spinal column or raquis. This word was first used by Celsus  both to denote the intervertebral joint and the bone itself. The plural form of the term [vertebra] is [vertebrae].

All vertebrae are different, although they have some similarities which allows us to group them by region: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and coccygeal. The image shows us a cervical vertebra, characterized by a slender, small vertebral body and two lateral openings, the transverse foramina. If you hover your cursor over the image, a thoracic vertebra will appear. Thoracic vertebrae are characterized by a heart-shaped body, the presence of articular surfaces for the ribs, etc. With few exceptions, all vertebrae have a basivertebral foramen.

Photography by D.M.Klein

 


Bariatric

Compound word with two Greek roots: [Baros], meaning "weight" or "pressure", and [iatros] meaning "doctor, physician, healer, or medicine". The suffix [-ic] means "pertaining to". The term bariatric means "pertaining to weight-related medicine". 

Bariatric surgery is on the rise. In the USA, the Center for Disease Control has accumulated data on obesity since 1985, and has a dedicated area in their website on the topic. 

 

USA Obesity Trends 1985-2010

BMI Calculator for Adults


       

"Gastrointestinal Clinical Anatomy" and "Bariatric Surgery" are among the many educational topics offered by Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc. Click here to see additional educational materials and lecture topics specifically designed for medical industry professionals. Courtesy of CDC.gov