Our Sponsors caatmsmtdad    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 
Sir Astley Paston Cooper
Sir Astley Paston Cooper
(1768 - 1841) 

An English anatomist and surgeon, Astley Cooper started his medical studies when he was only 16, at the St. Thomas hospital in London. He studied under Henry Cline, and later under John Hunter. Astley Cooper was a well-known anatomist, lecturer, and surgeon in his time. He is known for his many studies in abdominal hernia, otology, aneurysms, and the anatomy and diseases of the breast. In 1804 he described the abdominal transversalis fascia and the internal inguinal ring.

Born in the village of Brooke, Norfolk. At 16 years of age he was placed under the tutelage of Henry Cline (1750 - 1827), senior surgeon at the St. Thomas hospital in London for a seven-year apprenticeship. In 1789 he was appointed as an anatomy lecturer at the same hospital. In 1800 Cooper was appointed Surgeon to the Guy's Hospital in London.

He was the first to attempt the ligation of the abdominal aorta in a patient that had suffered an aortic abdominal aneurysm rupture. The patient survived for one additional day. "Astley Cooper introduced no new philosophy, policy or practice into surgery but was the perfect exponent of the scientific approach to surgery combined with skillful and successful practical ability" Brock (1969)

Cooper’s name survives in several eponymous anatomical structures and diseases he described, following are two of them:

Cooper's ligaments of the breast: Connective tissue ligamentous strands between the pectoral fascia and the skin overlying the breast. • Cooper's pectineal ligament: A thickening of the periostium on the superior aspect of the pubic bone, lateral to the pubic tubercle. This structure is a preferred site for staple positioning during a laparoscopic herniorrhaphy. When placing the staples, consideration should be placed on the potential presence of an anatomical vascular variation named the "Corona Mortis".

Although Cooper published a number of books and research papers, his seminal contribution to surgery was his two-volume "Treatise on Hernia". The first volume was published in 1795 and the second volume in 1807, with a revised second edition published in 1827.

1. "Sir Astley Paston Cooper." Singal, R. et al. Indian J Surg 73:1 (2011): 82-84.
2. "Sir Astley Paston Cooper, 1768-1841:the prince of surgery"Rawling, EG. Can Med Assoc J 99.5 (1968): 221.
3. "The life and work of Sir Astley Cooper" Brock, RC. Ann Royal Coll Surg England 44.1 (1969): 1-18
Photograph courtesy of: surgical-tutor.org.uk 


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Corona Mortis

Important for inguinal hernia anatomy and surgery, this term is Latin from [corona] meaning "crown' and [mortis] meaning "death'; the "crown or circle of death". The corona mortis (blue arrow) refers to an anatomical variation1, a vascular anastomosis between the obturator and the external iliac vascular systems that passes over Cooper's pectineal ligament and posterior to the lacunar (Gimbernat's) ligament. 

In some cases, the corona mortis is the actual obturator artery that arises from the inferior epigastric artery instead of the internal iliac artery. It can also arise from the external iliac artery. In both cases, it has been called an "aberrant obturator artery". This could be a misnomer, as this anatomical variation can be present in up to 25% of the cases. When present, the corona mortis  can be injured when a surgeon looks to enlarge the femoral ring by opening the lacunar ligament. This vascular structure could even be endangered in a laparoscopic procedure for inguinal of femoral hernia repair and a staple or tack is driven blindly into the pectineal (Cooper's) ligament.

Corona Mortis (A)Image property of: CAA.Inc.Artist: M. Zuptich

Berberoglu states that "although these tiny anastomoses... have been described in classical anatomy textbooks, these texts neglect to mention that theses anastomoses can be life-threatening".

In some rare cases, the corona mortis (aberrant obturator artery) coexists with the normal obturator artery.  Although called a [corona], this anatomical structure is an incomplete circle. In the image, the [corona mortis] is labeled "A".

1. Rusu et al: "Anatomical considerations on the corona mortis" Surg Radiol Anat (2010) 32:17–24
2. Berberoglu et al: "An anatomic study in seven cadavers and an endoscopic study in 28 patients" Surg Endosc (2001) 15:72-75