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 
Philippo Verheyen
Philippo Verhayen 
(1648 – 1710) 

Flemish physician and anatomist, Philippo (Philip) Verhayen was born in the city of Verrebroek in Belgium, worked as a farmer in his early years and was probably expected to be a farmer for the rest of his life. The Catholic parish pastor, Johannes Jaspars, recognizing his intelligence started teaching him Latin and letters with the intention of having Philip become a priest.

In 1672, he was sent to the Trinity College in Leuven where he started his studies in arts and later in theology. He continued his studies in Theology at the Collegium Sancti Spiritus (College of the Holy Spirit). During the latter part of his studies Verhayen was already wearing a priest’s collar. In 1675 Verheyen suffered an injury that lead to gangrene and eventual amputation of his left leg. This injury prevented him from taking his final vows as a priest.

Verheyen enrolled at the University of Leuven College Of Medicine where after 3 years he becomes a physician.  Unhappy with his mostly theoretical medical knowledge Verhayen moves to Leyden to continue his studies with Frederick Ryus and others.

In 1683 Verheyen returns to Leuven where he presents his doctoral thesis which is accepted. In August 1669 elected Rector Magnificus at the University of Leyden, one of the highest honors ever bestowed on him.

Verheyen was a prolific writer including several books and manuscripts. His main work “Corporis Humani  Anatomiae”, a two book work, had twelve editions, some in other languages besides Latin. This book became one of the most used anatomy books until the middle of the 18th century. Interestingly, Verheyen relates his life and studies at the beginning of his book in a chapter call Compendium Vitae (CV). Only the first edition was published while Verheyen was alive.

Verhayen is credited with the creation of the eponym the “Achilles tendon” which denominates the common tendon for the gastrocnemius and soleus muscle, although at the time he called it the “Chorda Achillis”. He also described the kidneys in detail, especially the arterial “stars” found on the surface of the kidney, which are today known as the “Stars of Verheyen”.

In 2005 an article appeared on the World Wide Web with a painting showing Verhayen dissecting his own amputated leg. This initially “anonymous” picture is actually a Photoshop-edited image which incorporates parts of the painting “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” by Rembrandt.  This work was made by ShrestaRit Premnath,. This is a conceptual artwork depicting the concept of amputation, but not an actual oil painting.

The story of Verheyen keeping and dissecting his own leg is most probably a myth for several reasons. Verhayen was poor and did not have enough money to go to Leyden to have his leg amputated there as the myth suggests. Preservation techniques were not too good at the time and when Verheyen had his leg amputated he had yet to enter medical school and be introduced to the art of human anatomy. Granted, he had dissected animals before in the farm, but it is doubtful that this myth is true.

For a more complete biography of Verheyen click here.

Sources
1. “Philip Verheyen (1648-1710) and his Corporis Humani Anatomiae” Suy R. Acta chir belg, 2007, 107, 343-354
2. “Achilles tendon: the 305th anniversary of the French priority on the introduction of the famous anatomical eponym” Musil, V. et al Surg Radiol Anat (2011) 33:421–427
3. "Philip Verheyen" Research and movie by digitalstories.be by Hedwige Daenens

Original image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine  


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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".

Sources:
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