Anatomical Eponyms

Like all science, anatomy has its own language. The set of terms used to designate and describe the organism or its parts is called Anatomical Nomenclature. With the extraordinary accumulation of knowledge at the end of the last century, thanks to the work of important “anatomical schools” (especially in Italy, France, England and Germany), the same structures of the human body received different names in these centers of studies and research.< /span>

Due to this lack of methodology and inevitable arbitrariness, more than 20 000 anatomical terms were assigned (now reduced to few more than 5 000). The first attempt to standardize and create an international anatomical nomenclature took place in 1895. In successive congresses of Anatomy in 1933, 1936 and 1950 revisions were made and finally in 1955, in Paris, the Anatomical Nomenclature, known under the acronym of P.N.A. (Paris Nomina Anatomica).

Subsequent revisions were made in 1960, 1965 and 1970, as the anatomical nomenclature has a dynamic character and can always be criticized and modified, provided that there are sufficient reasons for the modifications and that they are approved at International Congresses of Anatomy. The officially adopted language is Latin (because it is a “dead language”), but each country can translate it into its own vernacular.

When designating a structure of the organism, the nomenclature tries to use terms that are not just signals to the memory, but also bring some information or description about said structure. Within this principle, eponyms (names of people to designate things) were abolished, and the terms indicate: the shape (trapezius muscle); your position or situation (median nerve); its path (scapula circumflex artery); their connections or interrelationships (sacroiliac ligament); its relationship with the skeleton (radial artery); its function (m. scapula lifter); mixed criterion (m. superficial flexor of the fingers – function and situation). However, there are inappropriate or not very logical names that have been retained because they are consecrated by usage.

Below is a list of eponyms that were used to designate elements of human anatomy. Eponyms have only historical importance in anatomy. They are difficult to memorize, imprecise and ethnocentric. They are often redundant as the same structure is renamed several times depending on the country. The trend is that eponyms come into disuse over the years. In order for us to have scientific precision and universalization, it is necessary that we use the current nomenclature below:

     Old Name Current Name
Angle of His Cardial Notch
Louis Angle Sternal Angle
Sylvius Aqueduct Aqueduct of the Midbrain
Purkinje Cell Layer Purkingense Stratum
Fallopian Channel Facial Nerve Channel
Malpighi's Capsule Spleen Capsule
Santorini Cartilage Minor Papilla of the Duodenum
Circle of Willis Brain Arterial Circle
Meynert's Commissure Supra-optic Back Commissure
Corpuscle of Malpighi Splenic Pulp
Meckel's Diversion Illegal Fun
Bartholin's Duct Major Sublingual Duct
Sphincter of Oddi M. Hepatopancreatic Ampulla Sphincter
Camper's Fascia Cating Intermediate Fascia
Scarpa's Fascia Membraceous Stratum
Beam of His Atrioventricular fascicle
Purkinge Beam Subdendocardial Branches
Rolling Crack Central sulcus (brain)
Sylvius Fissure Side furrow (brain)
Graff Follicle Ovarian Vesicular Follicle
Foramen of Luschka Fourth Ventricle Side Opening
Magendie's Foramen Mid Opening of Fourth Ventricle
Foramen de Monro Interventricular foramen (brain)
Scarpa Ganglion Vestibular Ganglion
Bartolin's Gland Big Vestibular Gland
Bowman's Gland Olfactory Glands
Cowper's Gland Bulbourethral Gland
Islets of Langerhans Pancreatic eyes
Gaps of Morgagni Urethral Gaps
Fallopian Ligament Inguinal Ligament
Bowman's Membrane Previous Limiting Blade (Cornea)
Vidian Nerve Pterygoid Channel Nerve
Meynert's Core Basular core (olfactory core)
Wormian Bone Sutural Bone
Adam's apple Laryngeal Prominence
Pool Bridge Bridge
Douglas pleat Retouterine Fold
Haversian Folds Synovial Folds
Achilles Tendon Calcaneal Tendon
Arnold's Treat Frontopontine Tract
Eustachian Horn Hearing Tube
Fallopian tube Uterine Tube
Vin of Galen Great Cerebral Vein
Morgagni's Ventricle Laryngeal Ventricle

The above list does not contain all eponyms, just a few commonly used ones. To access all eponyms, look for an International Anatomical Terminology book that contains affiliation with the FCAT (CFTA) – Federative Committee on Anatomical Terminology.