Posts tagged Anatomy word of the month

Anatomy word of the month: Buccinator

The “trumpeter” in Latin. Our cheek muscles, the buccinator, assist the tongue during chewing movements to hold food between our teeth. Otherwise food would accumulate between our cheek and gums making chewing much less efficient and much more frustrating to accomplish.  The buccinator muscles also hold in our cheeks during whistling and forceful blowing through […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: Decussation

“To make an X” (Latin). A decussation is an intersection of pathways in the form of an X. Most nerve pathways between our brain and spinal cord cross over at some point. This accounts for why each side of our brain (two cerebral hemispheres) has control over the opposite side of our body. In anatomical […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: Cruciate ligaments

“Cross-shaped” in Latin. In the knee joint are two ligaments that cross over each other, the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments. These ligaments help stabilize the joint, in particular, to prevent the femur (thigh bone) from slipping too far forward or backward on the tibia (leg bone). The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is frequently torn […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: Phrenic nerve

The phrenic nerves control the diaphragm, our major muscle of respiration (breathing). From the Greek, phrenic means both diaphragm and mind. The ancient Greeks believed that the diaphragm was the seat of our emotions. Sound farfetched? Have you ever “heaved a sigh” of sadness or relief? The same stem is found in schizophrenic and, less […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: Vagus

Vagus means “wandering” in Latin. This aptly named nerve (there are a pair of them) meanders from our brainstem, down the sides of our neck giving branches to our palate, larynx and pharynx, through our chest cavity providing branches to the heart and lungs, and into our abdominal cavity providing branches to most of our […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: gluteus maximus

The most feared of all the Roman emperors? Not really! The gluteus maximus (Latin- largest of the buttock) is the muscle mass making up most of the buttocks. Contrary to popular opinion, we do not sit on these muscles, because they move aside laterally as we sit. Actually, we sit on our pelvic bones protected with […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: duodenum

“Twelve each” in Latin. The duodenum is the first section of the small intestine attached to the outlet of the stomach, the pylorus. Early anatomists measured it as approximately twelve fingers’ breadths long. Duodecim is the number 12 in Latin. Take the Latin number, pass it through old French dozaine into modern English, and you have “dozen”!

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: atlas

The atlas is the first, or top, vertebra of our bony spinal column supporting the “globe” of the head.  In Greek mythology, Atlas was one of the early gods, called the Titans.  Atlas warred against Zeus, King of the Olympian gods, and lost.  For his punishment, Atlas was condemned to bear the weight of the world and heavens […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: coronary

The coronary arteries encircle the heart “like a crown” which is its literal meaning in Latin.  The coronaries supply blood to the heart muscle itself.  Blockage of a branch of a coronary artery causes a “heart attack” in layman’s language.  The same root meaning is found in coronation and coroner.  The latter word originally referred to an official appointed […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: gallbladder

Gall is an Anglo-Saxon word for bile.  The gallbladder stores bile from the liver.  Bile is released into the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine, when triggered by a fatty meal.  Bile is from the Latin word for the secretion which also means “anger”.  Chole is the Greek word for bile (and wrath) found in medical […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: salpinx

Salpinx means “trumpet” in Greek , that is, a tube-shaped structure with a flared opening. The term is not used alone, but as a root or central meaning in numerous words referring to the uterine tubes. Examples of these terms are: salpingitis (inflammation of), salpingectomy (removal of), hematosalpinx (bleeding within). You may be more familiar […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: pylorus

The “gatekeeper” in Greek. This ring of muscle tissue surrounds the juncture between the stomach and the first part of the small intestine, the duodenum. It functions as a gatekeeper by preventing food from exiting the stomach until it has reached a thick, soup-like consistency. Stomach contents called chyme, “juice” in Greek, then is squirted […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: cadaver

“To fall”, “to perish” in Latin. Many terms are used for a dead body some more irreverent than others: the decedent, a corpse, a stiff, a cadaver. But only the last word is exclusively used for a body that has been preserved for dissection. Although atlases, highly realistic models, and computer simulations have supplemented even […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: crista galli

The “cock’s comb” is a wedge of bone found on the anterior floor inside of the skull in the midline. The meninges (protective membranes surrounding the brain) are anchored anteriorly at this point. The Latin name for the group of animals including chickens and turkeys is galliformes. Those imaginative ancient anatomists thought that the vertical, […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: retinaculum

A “cord or cable” in Latin. Retinacula are thickenings of tissue underneath your skin that serve to bind down tendons of muscles so they don’t “bowstring” at certain joints, meaning pop up when the joint is flexed or extended. For example, there is a retinaculum on the underside of your wrist that keeps tendons from […]

— Bill Dyche

Anatomy word of the month: bursa

A bursa, latin for a little bag or purse, is a closed fluid-filled sack that is typically found in places where a tendon crosses a bone or a muscle comes in contact with bone. It acts as a shock absorber and protection against friction damage to tendons, primarily. They are found in and around our […]

— Bill Dyche