Medical Terminology Daily (MTD) is a blog sponsored by Clinical Anatomy Associates, Inc. as a service to the medical community. 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

Jean-Louis Petit

Jean Louis Petit
(1674 – 1750)

French surgeon and anatomist, Jean Louis Petit was born in Paris in on March 13, 1674.  His family rented an apartment at his house to Alexis Littre (1658 – 1726), a French anatomist. Petit became an apprentice of Littre at seven years of age, helping him in the dissections for his lectures and at an early age became the assistant in charge of the anatomic amphitheater.

Because of Petit’s dedication to anatomy and medicine, in 1690 at the age of sixteen, became a disciple of a famous Paris surgeon, Castel.

In 1692, Petit entered the French army and performed surgery in two military campaigns. By 1693 he started delivering lectures and was accepted as a great surgeon, being invited to the most difficult operations.  In 1700 he was appointed Chief Surgeon of the Military School in Paris and in the same year he received the degree of Master of Surgery from the Faculty of Paris.

In 1715 he was made a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and an honorary member of the Royal Society of London. He was appointed by the King as the first Director General of the Royal Academy of Surgery when it was founded in 1731.

Petit’s written works are of historical importance.  “Traite des Maladies des Os” ( A Treatise on Bone Diseases);  “Traite des Maladies Chirurgicales et des Operation” (A Treatise on Surgical Diseases and their Operations” This last book was published posthumously in 1774. He also published a monograph on hemorrhage, another on lachrymal fistula, and others.

He was one of the first to perform choIecystotomy and mastoidotomy. His original tourniquet design for amputations saved many in the battlefield and the design of the same surgical instrument today has not changed much since its invention by him.

His name is remembered in the lumbar triangle, also called the "triangle of Petit", and the abdominal hernia that can ensue through that area of weakness, the lumbar hernia or "Petit's hernia".

1. “Jean Louis Petit – A Sketch of his Life, Character, and Writings” Hayne, AP San Fran Western Lancet 1875 4: 446-454
2. “Oeuvres compl?tes de Jean-Louis Petit” 1837 Imprimerie de F. Chapoulaud
3. Extraits de l'eloge de Jean-Louis Petit Ius dans Ia seance publique de I' Academie royale de chirurgie du 26 mai 1750” Louis A. Chirurgie 2001: 126 : 475- 81

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This is a Greek compound word. [ana-] meaning "through or complete", the root term  [-stom-] from [stoma], meaning "mouth or opening" and the suffix [-osis] meaning "condition". Usually [-osis] refers to a disease, but in this case it refers to an action or process. The plural form for [anastomosis] is [anastomoses].

The word [anastomosis] then refers to the "process or action of creating a complete opening". In reality an anastomosis is the process of creating a permanent opening between two structures which allows for drainage or flow from one structure into the other. The suffix [-ostomy], being the term for "drainage" is the best suffix to describe an anastomosis. An anastomosis can be the result of a surgical procedure or found as a natural occurrence, such as the anastomoses found in the arterial circle of Willis or an abnormal fistula.

The accompanying image shows an early 1900's depiction of an anterior gastrojejunostomy. The term [gastrojejunostomy] is then the "creation of a drainage opening (a common mouth or opening) between the stomach and the jejunum, the second portion of the small intestine.

Anterior gastrojejunostomy (Babcock)

It is our belief and core competency, that surgical medical device sales representatives and managers should be completely familiar with this medical term, as well as the many types of anastomoses that can be performed surgically. To this end, we have developed a video on the History of Surgical Stapling. At the end of a video you can see a demonstration of the use of these devices to create an anastomosis

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