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

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Right coronary artery

The right coronary artery (RCA) is one of the two branches that arises from the ascending aorta and provide blood supply to the heart. The RCA begins at the coronary ostium, situated usually within the right sinus of Valsalva found in the aortic valve, one of the semilunar valves of the heart.

The RCA gives off in its initial course two arteries: the conus artery, which gives blood to the conus arteriosus, the outflow tract of the right ventricle, and the artery to the sinuatrial (SA) node, a component of the conduction system of the heart.

The RCA descends in the atrioventricular sulcus, giving off a series of small right ventricular branches and a couple of small right atrial branches, it then bends around the acute margin (margo acutus) and passes to the posterior surface of the heart. Just before the RCA bends posteriorly, it will give off the acute marginal artery, usually a thin, longer branch that extends towards the cardiac apex.

Heart, anterior view. SVC: superior vena cava. RCA: right coronary artery; IVC: inferior vena cava; CFX: circumflex artery; LMCA: left main coronary artery; LAD: left anterior descending artery

Heart - Anterior view. Click on the image for a larger version.

In its posterior trajectory the RCA gives off a couple of small posterior right ventricular arteries and then ends at the crux cordis, where the RCA gives off the posterior interventricular artery, commonly known as the posterior descending artery (PDA). The RCA will also give off the posterolateral artery, which, situated in the atrioventricular sulcus, extends the vascular territory of the RCA into the region of the left ventricle. This origin of the PDA from the RCA is subject to anatomical variation, which gives origin to the concept of coronary dominance.

Arising from the terminal portion of the RCA (sometimes from the posterolateral artery) is the artery to the atrioventricular (AV) node, another component of the conduction system of the heart. It is easily understood that stricture or stenosis of the RCA (depending on location) can then lead to damage of the conduction system of the heart.

Human heart and coronary artery anatomy and pathology are some of the many lecture topics developed and presented by Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc.

Image property of:CAA.Inc.Artist:Victoria G. Ratcliffe