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 post anatomical, medical or surgical terms, their 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

Self-portrait, Henry Vandyke Carter, MD (Public Domain)
Self-portrait, Henry Vandyke Carter, MD (Public Domain)

Henry Vandyke Carter, MD
(1831 – 1897)

English physician, surgeon, medical artist, and a pioneer in leprosy and mycetoma studies.  HV Carter was born in Yorkshire in 1831. He was the son of Henry Barlow Carter, a well-known artist and it is possible that he honed his natural talents with his father. His mother picked his middle name after a famous painter, Anthony Van Dyck. This is probably why his name is sometimes shown as Henry Van Dyke Carter, although the most common presentation of his middle name is Vandyke.

Having problems to finance his medical studies, HV Carter trained as an apothecary and later as an anatomical demonstrator at St. George’s Hospital in London, where he met Henry Gray (1872-1861), who was at the time the anatomical lecturer. Having seen the quality of HV Carter’s drawings, Henry Gray teamed with him to produce one of the most popular and longer-lived anatomy books in history: “Gray’s Anatomy”, which was first published in late 1857.  The book itself, about which many papers have been written, was immediately accepted and praised because of the clarity of the text as well as the incredible drawings of Henry Vandyke Carter.

While working on the book’s drawings, HV Carter continued his studies and received his MD in 1856.

In spite of initially being offered a co-authorship of the book, Dr. Carter was relegated to the position of illustrator by Henry Gray and never saw the royalties that the book could have generated for him. For all his work and dedication, Dr. Carter only received a one-time payment of 150 pounds. Dr.  Carter never worked again with Gray, who died of smallpox only a few years later.

Frustrated, Dr. Carter took the exams for the India Medical Service.  In 1858 he joined as an Assistant Surgeon and later became a professor of anatomy and physiology. Even later he served as a Civil Surgeon. During his tenure with the India Medical Service he attained the ranks of Surgeon, Surgeon-Major, Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel, and Brigade-Surgeon.

Dr. Carter dedicated the rest of his life to the study of leprosy, and other ailments typical of India at that time. He held several important offices, including that of Dean of the Medical School of the University of Bombay. In 1890, after his retirement, he was appointed Honorary Physician to the Queen.

Dr. Henry Vandyke Carter died of tuberculosis in 1897.

Personal note: Had history been different, this famous book would have been called “Gray and Carter’s Anatomy” and Dr. Carter never gone to India. His legacy is still seen in the images of the thousands of copies of “Gray’s Anatomy” throughout the world and the many reproductions of his work available on the Internet. We are proud to use some of his images in this blog. The image accompanying this article is a self-portrait of Dr. Carter. Click on the image for a larger depiction. Dr. Miranda

1. “Obituary: Henry Vandyke Carter” Br Med J (1897);1:1256-7
2. “The Anatomist: A True Story of ‘Gray’s Anatomy” Hayes W. (2007) USA: Ballantine
3. “A Glimpse of Our Past: Henry Gray’s Anatomy” Pearce, JMS. J Clin Anat (2009) 22:291–295
4. “Henry Gray and Henry Vandyke Carter: Creators of a famous textbook” Roberts S. J Med Biogr (2000) 8:206–212.
5. “Henry Vandyke Carter and his meritorious works in India” Tappa, DM et al. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol (2011) 77:101-3

"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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The Latin word [ventriculus] means "little sac" or "little belly" and arises from the Latin term [venter] meaning "belly" or "abdomen". Originally the term [ventricle] was used to denote the stomach. This use of the word has changed and now the term [ventricle] denotes a "sac" or "cavity", as in the "ventricles of the brain". The term [ventricular] means "pertaining or related to a ventricle".

In the case of the heart, the ventricles represent the two inferior chambers of the heart. (see image, items "C=right ventricle" and "D=left ventricle"). The anatomy of the right and left ventricles is quite different. The left ventricle has a thicker lateral muscular wall, almost three times thicker than the lateral wall of the right ventricle.

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

Heart model - LAO cranial view
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The term [perineum] has two definitions:

1. It is the area of the trunk inferior to the pelvic diaphragm. As such, the perineum contains the ischioanal fossa, the urogenital diaphragm, and the superficial genitalia.

2. It is the area of the body between the upper thighs containing the external openings of urethra, vagina, and anus. This area is delimited (see image) by the symphysis pubis, ischial tuberosities, and coccyx.

The perineum, as described in the second definition, is formed by two large triangular regions. The anterior region (in purple) is called the urogenital triangle, and the posterior region (in yellow) is called the anal triangle. 

Image property of: CAA.Inc.. Artist: D.M. Klein.
Word suggested and edited by: Dr. Sanford S. Osher , MTD Contributor

Perineum, inferior view
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Pelvic diaphragm

The pelvic diaphragm is one of the four diaphragms in the human body (do you know the other three?) and it represents the lower boundary of the abdominopelvic cavity. This thin and  transversely oriented structure is formed from anterior to posterior by the puboccygeus, the iliococcygeus, and the coccygeus muscles.

The first two anterior muscles overlap, the pubococcygeus muscle being superior to the iliococcygeus muscle. Both of them attach laterally to a thickening of the obturator internus fascia that covers the obturator internus muscle. This thickening is known as the arcus tendineus levator ani (ATLA in the image). Because of the relation of the medial fibers of the puboccygeus muscle to the anal canal (puborectalis muscle), and what happens when these muscles contract, these two anterior muscles are known by one common name, the "levator ani" muscle. Click on the picture for a larger image.

Pelvic diaphragm, superior view
The posterior component of the pelvic diaphragm is the coccygeus muscle, which is found lying on the internal aspect of the sacrospinous ligament.
Image property of: CAA.Inc.Artist: D.M. Klein
Word suggested and edited by: Dr. Sanford S. Osher, MTD Contributor
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The root word [-gyne-] is Greek, from [gynaik] meaning "woman" or "female". The suffix [-ology] is also Greek,  derived from [logos] meaning "study of". [Gynecology] is then "study of a woman or a female". The term refers to the medical specialty that studies and treats the female reproductive system. A separate specialty, obstetrics, deals with the care of the pregnant patient and delivery of the fetus.

Originally, both specialties were the domain of midwives. It was not until the 1600's that male physicians were allowed to treat gynecological problems and attend  births. As the image shows, man-widwifes in Europe were allowed access to the patient only with the use of a "modesty blanket". This is plate XV from the 1681 book "Korte en Bondige Van Der Voortteeling en Kinderbaren" by Samuel Janson.

A man-midwife and a 'modesty blanket' c.1681
As an interesting side note in history, the first male physician to work as a man-midwife was Dr. Wertt from Hamburg. Dr Wertt decided to disguise himself as a woman to attend patients. When he was discovered, the punishment was "swift and salutary": He was burned at the stake.
"The Story of Surgery" by H. Graham, 1939
Word suggested and edited by: Dr. Sanford S. Osher , MTD Contributor
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From the Greek word [stoma] meaning "mouth or opening", and the suffix [-y] meaning "process or condition". The suffix [-(o)stomy] refers to the "process of creating an opening". This process can be physiological, without intervention, as in the creation of a spontaneous fistula, or it can be a surgical procedure.

As a working explanation of [-ostomy] in surgery, we like to use the term "drainage". Therefore, an [ileostomy] would be the procedure by means of which a drainage opening is creating an anastomosis between the ileum and the abdominal wall.

The accompanying image shows an early 1900's procedure to create a gastrostomy (Wietzel's gastrostomy). The root term [gastr-] means "stomach".

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From the Greek [kheirurgia], a compound word meaning "a work done by hand". The Greek word [kheir/cheir] means "hand", and [ergon] means "work". The intent of the word is that of a medical treatment that is realized by the use of the hands and/or hand instrumentation.

Technology has advanced the evolution of surgery. Today minimally invasive surgical procedures, videoscopic procedures,  and robotic-enhanced surgery are commonplace

Images and links courtesy of: www.wikipedia.com

Cardiovascular bypass surgery (www.wikipedia.com)

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