Anatomy word of the month: pes anserinus

August 1, 2009 —

Did you know you had a “goose foot” on the inner side of your knees? Those imaginative, ancient anatomists envisioned that the three muscles that come together on the medial surface of the knee looked like the three-toed foot of a goose. Each of the three muscles, in turn, has interesting meanings. Semitendinosus is quite literal describing its long rope-like attachment. Gracilis muscle means “graceful or slender”. The sartorius muscle means “tailor”. Long ago before sewing machines, the tailor’s traditional position while sewing was to sit cross-legged. The actions of the sartorius muscle assists in getting in and out of this position. In some flowery literature someone elegantly dressed may be described as “sartorially resplendent”.


Dr. Dyche was born in New Jersey and trained at Penn State’s Hershey Medical Center before coming to Des Moines in 1976. Over 30 plus years he has taught gross anatomy, embryology and neuroanatomy. He also served in administration as associate dean for basic sciences, dean of the College of Health Sciences, and acting director of the PA program. He was one of the founding instructors of CPR and ACLS at a time when few medical schools offered this training. He retired to Oregon in 2008, then returned to DMU in 2009. Did he miss the tornadoes, the below zero wind chills or the cadavers?