Sponsors   Medical Terminology Daily (MTD) is a blog prepared 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

Marie_Francois Xavier Bichat

Marie-Francois Xavier Bichat
(1771 - 1802) 

French physician, surgeon, anatomist and physiologist, Marie-Francois Xavier Bichat was born in the village of Thoirette. His fater was a physician, influencing his early instruction and vocation. In Lyon he studied anatomy and surgery. At 28 years of age Bichat was appointed physician to the Hôtel (Hospital) Dieu. His life was influenced by his mentor, Pierre-Joseph Dassault (1738 - 1795). Upon his mentor's death Bichat took upon him to continue and finish his work, while supporting his mentor's family.

Bichat is know for the concept of the body composed of distinct tissues, which he originally called "membranes". Without the aid of the microscope Bichat described 21 different tissues and is considered the founder of the science of histology. His name is preserved in many eponymic structures such as Bichat’s fossa (pterygopalatine fossa), Bichat’s buccal fat pad, Bichat’s foramen (cistern of the vena magna of Galen), Bichat’s ligament (lower fasciculus of the posterior sacroiliac ligament), and Bichat’s tunica intima (tunica intima vasorum). 

Xavier Bichat also contributed to a newer description of the humoral physiological theory, later becoming the basis of hematology. He was also interested in the description of life and death, proposing the existence of an "organic life" and an "animal life". An interesting note is that Bichat died because of an infection he acquired while dissecting a cadaver. Remember that at the time, no embalming was used!

Original image courtesy of Images from the History of Medicine

1. "Marie-François Xavier Bichat (1771-1802) and his contributions to the foundations of pathological anatomy and modern medicine" Shoja M.M., Tubbs R.S., Loukas M., Shokouhi G., Ardalan M.R.(2008) Annals of Anatomy, 190(5),413-420
2. "Physiological Researches on Life and Death" Bichat, Marie-Francois Xavier, 1827. Translated from French by F. Gold. Richardson and Lord, Boston.
3. "A Historical Perspective: Infection from Cadaveric Dissection from the 18th to the 20th Centuries" Shoja, MM et al. Clin Anat (2013) 26:154-160

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[Infundibulum] is a Latin word and it means "funnel". The plural form is [infundibula]. Variations of the word include [infundibuliform] meaning "with the shape or form of a funnel], and [infundibular] meaning "pertaining to a funnel". This word is widely used in human anatomy and embryology:

Infundibuliform fascia: Funnel-shaped portion of the transversalis fascia that is directed toward and forming the internal inguinal ring.

Hypophyseal infundibulum: An inferior extension of the hypothalamus forming a funnel-shaped stalk connected to the hypophysis or pituitary gland. (see image)

Cystic infundibulum: The funnel-shaped portion of the gallbladder

Ethmoidal infundibulum: a funnel-shaped extension of the middle meatus of the ethmoid bone, etc.

Uterine infundibulum: Refers to the funnel-shaped distal opening of the uterine tube

The term infundibulum is also found in heart anatomy. It refers to funnel-shaped extensions of the cardiac chambers. This is well-illustrated by both the cone-like right and left ventricular outflow tracts toward the semilunar valves (aortic and pulmonary). In the case of the atrioventricular valves (tricuspid and mitral) there is also described an infundibular region. In all cases, these funnel-shaped regions allow for smooth, non-turbulent blood flow towards their respective valves.

Word suggested by:J.Estrada. Original image courtesy of bartleby.com