Anatomy word of the month: eustachian tube

September 1, 2010 —

Most anatomical terms are descriptive in Latin or Greek. However, “Eustachian” doesn’t mean anything. It is a term called an eponym. Traditionally, in anatomy the person who first discovered or described an anatomical structure was honored by having that structure named after them. Bartolommeo Eustachi (Eustachius), a sixteenth century Italian anatomist, described the tube that connects the middle ear cavity with the throat. It helps equalize pressure on either side of the ear drum. When your ear feels blocked as often happens when rapidly ascending or descending in a plane, you yawn to “pop” your ears. What you are doing is widening the Eustachian (auditory) tube to allow passage of more air.


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?

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