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".

Sources:
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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-auricul- / -aur(i)

The root term [-auricul-] arises from the Latin word [Auricula], which is a diminutive of [auris] meaning "ear". Auricula means "a little ear".

The adjectival form [auricular] is used in several places in human anatomy. One of them is the [auricular surface of the iliac bone] (see image) referring to a roughened area in the medial aspect of the iliac bone where it articulates with the sacrum, forming the sacroiliac joint. The Latin term for this articular surface is facies auricularis ossis ilii. A corresponding auricular surface is found in the sacral bone, the facies auricularis ossis sacri.

[Auricular] is also used in the term [auricular cartilage], referring to the fibrocartilage found in the ear or [pinna].

A shortened version is the root term [-aur(i)-], meaning the same. It is used in the word [auricle] referring to the atrial appendages of the heart. These appendages when seen from the outside of the heart really look like little "boxer's ears". This image (click here) shows the left atrial appendage (LAA) or left auricle.

By the way, did you know that one of the digits was called "digitus auricularis"? Read the story here.

Image property of:CAA.Inc.Photographer:David M. Klein

Medial view of the pelvic bone

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