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

Giovanni Domenico Santorini

Giovanni Domenico Santorini
(1681 – 1737)

Italian anatomist, Santorini was born in 1681 in Venice. The son of an apothecary, Santorini studied medicine at Bologna and Padua, receiving his doctorate in Pisa in 1701. He was appointed Public Professor of Anatomy at the Physicomedical College of Medicine when he was 22 years of age.

Santorini was praised for the clarity of his lectures and his dexterity as an anatomist.  He used magnifying glasses to study minute anatomical details, allowing him to clearly describe small structures hitherto unknown. Most of Santorini’s biographical data was written by Michael Girardi (1731 – 1797), one of his students. Girardi published Santorini’s work posthumously in 1775 in the book “Anatomici Summi-Septendecim Tabulae”.

Santorini’s himself wrote “Opuscula medica de structura” (Minute Medical Structures) in 1705. His most important book was “Observationes anatomicae”, published in Venice in 1724. One of the most interesting chapters in this book was “De mulierum partis procreationes datis” (Data on the female procreational structures ), making him a pioneer in the teaching of obstetrics. Santorini was physician to the Spedaletto (Hospital) of Venice, where he taught midwifery.

Santorini died in 1737 because of an infection he acquired during the dissection of a cadaver. At that time the rationale for infection and cadaver embalming were unknown.

With his posthumous publications, Santorini’s name and teachings became popular. Today his name is eponymically tied to several structures in the human body:

• Duct of Santorini: An accessory pancreatic duct that opens into a secondary duodenal papilla in the second portion of the duodenum
• Santorini’s valves: Mucosal folds found in the lumen of the primary duodenal papilla (of Vater) or hepatopancretic ampulla
• Santorini’s muscle: Risorius muscle • Santorini’s cartilages: The laryngeal corniculate cartilages
• Santorini’s veins: A plexus of vesicoprostatic veins found in the retropubic space) of Retzius
• Santorini’s concha: The superior nasal turbinate

Sources:
1. “The Dorsal Venous Complex: Dorsal Venous or Dorsal Vasculature Complex? Santorini’s Plexus revisited” Power NE, et al. BJU Inter (2011) 108: 930-932
2. “Giovanni Domenico Santorini: Santorini’s Duct” Edmonson, JM Gastrointest Endosc (2001) 53:6; 25A
3. "Santorini of the duct of Santorini" Haubrich, WS  Gastroenterol 120:4, 805
4. “Wirsung and Santorini: The Men Behind the Ducts” Flati, G; Andren-Sandberg, A. Pancreatology (2002)2:4-11
5. "A Historical Perspective: Infection from Cadaveric Dissection from the 18th to the 20th Centuries" Shoja, MM et al. Clin Anat (2013) 26:154-160

Original image courtesy of National Library of Medicine.


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Andreas Vesalius Bruxellensis

On December 31st, 2017 we celebrate Andreas Vesalius' 503rd birthday...
His teachings and presence inspire us to continue our quest for knowledge, as his motto states:
"Vivitur Ingenio, Cætera Mortis Erunt"


This article is part of the series "A Moment in History" where we honor those who have contributed to the growth of medical knowledge in the areas of anatomy, medicine, surgery, and medical research.To search all the articles in this series, click here.

Andreas Vesalius Bruxellensis (1514- 1564). A Flemish anatomist and surgeon, Andreas Vesalius was born on December 31, 1514 in Brussels, Belgium. He is considered to be the father of the science of Anatomy. Up until his studies and publications human anatomy studies consisted only on the confirmation of the old doctrines of Galen of Pergamon (129AD - 200AD). Anatomy professors would read to the students from Galen's work and a demonstrator would point in a body to the area being described, if a body was used at all. The reasoning was that there was no need to dissect since all that was needed to know was already written in Galen's books. Vesalius, Fallopius, and others started the change by describing what they actually saw in a dissection as opposed to what was supposed to be there. 

Vesalius had a notorious career, both as an anatomist and as a surgeon. His revolutionary book "De Humani Corporis Fabrica: Libri Septem" was published in May 26, 1543. One of the most famous anatomical images is his plate 22 of the book, called sometimes "The Hamlet". You can see this image if you hover over Vesalius' only known portrait which accompanies this article. Sir William Osler said of this book "... it is the greatest book ever printed, from which modern medicine dates" 

After the original 1543 printing, the Fabrica was reprinted in 1555. It was re-reprinted and translated in many languages, although many of these printings were low-quality copies with no respect for copyright or authorship.

Andreas Vesalius Bruxellensis
The story of the wood blocks with the carved images used for the original printing extends into the 20th century. In 1934 these original wood blocks were used to print 617 copies of the book "Iconaes Anatomica". This book is rare and no more can be printed because, sadly, during a 1943 WWII bombing raid over Munich all the wood blocks were burnt.

One interesting aspect of the book was the landscape panorama in some of his most famous woodcuts which was only "discovered" until 1903.

Vesalius was controversial in life and he still is in death. We know that he died on his way back from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but how he died, and exactly where he died is lost in controversy. We do know he was alive when he set foot on the port of Zakynthos in the island of the same name in Greece. He is said to have suddenly collapsed and die at the gates of the city, presumably as a consequence of scurvy. Records show that he was interred in the cemetery of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, but the city and the church were destroyed by an earthquake and Vesalius' grave lost to history. Modern researchers are looking into finding the lost grave and have identified the location of the cemetery. This story has not ended yet.

For a detailed biography of Andreas Vesalius CLICK HERE.

Personal note: To commemorate Andrea Vesalius' 500th birthday in 2014, there were many scientific meetings throughout the world, one of them was the "Vesalius Continuum" anatomical meeting on the island of Zakynthos, Greece on September 4-8, 2014. This is the island where Vesalius died in 1564. I had the opportunity to attend and there are several articles in this website on the presence of Andreas Vesalius on Zakynthos island. During 2015 I also attended a symposium on "Vesalius and the Invention of the Modern Body" at the St. Louis University. At this symposium I had the honor of meeting of Drs. Garrison and Hast, authors of the "New Fabrica". For other articles on Andreas Vesalius, click hereDr. Miranda