STICK YOUR TONGUE OUT AND SAY "VESOPHAGOGASTRODUODENOSCOPY"
Unveil The History Behind These 12 Medical Terms!
Published on January 25, 2024
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Medical science is in constant evolution. Many of the procedures that now are considered state-of-the-art might be deemed barbaric in just a few decades. Each discovery in the field generates new medical concepts and illustrates the different paths that human ingenuity takes in its quest to save and improve lives.
Behind each seemingly clinical term lies a rich narrative, a story that traverses centuries and continents, revealing the evolution of medical understanding and the often-surprising origins of the words we take for granted in the modern healthcare lexicon.
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Fewer words within the medical realm are so used as this one. The word has two traceable origins: The Old French ospital, meaning hostel, shelter, or lodging; and the Late Latin hospitale, meaning guest-house or inn. But the definition we give to the word these days was first recorded in the 1540s when its meaning shifted toward "institution for sick or wounded people".
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Anesthesia must have been a very welcome innovation within the medical world when it first appeared back in the 19th century. The term itself unfolds as a testament to the remarkable evolution of medical science in alleviating human suffering.
Rooted in the Greek language, with an, signifying absence, and aisthesis, representing sensation; anesthesia illustrates the profound concept of rendering patients insensible to pain during medical procedures.
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While not every medical term describes an ancient discovery, many rely on the Greek language for a definition. The term "biopsy", for example, combines the Greek words bios (life) and opsis (a sight).
This mix describes a medical procedure crucial for studying the intricacies of living tissues. Dating back to the early 20th century, the concept of biopsy gained prominence with the advancements in medical microscopy and pathology.
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A much less used word than the previous ones, borborygmus is a term that describes those loud gurgles your belly sometimes makes. The seldomly heard idiom traces to the Greek verb borboryzein , which means "to rumble".
Often referred to as stomach or bowel rumbling, borborygmus is the audible result of the movement of gases and fluids within the digestive system. While typically a normal bodily function, excessive borborygmi can be indicative of underlying gastrointestinal issues.
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This unusual word shares its origin with the more common migraine. Both Latin and Greek speakers afflicted with a pain in one side of the head called their ailment hemicrania , from the Greek terms hemi -, meaning "half," and kranion , meaning "cranium."
The French people who experienced this ailment used migraine, a modification of hemicrania, for the very same condition. Nowadays, megrim and migraine can still be used interchangeably, but megrim is much less common.
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Warfarin is an anticoagulant drug used to prevent blood clots in conditions such as atrial fibrillation and rheumatic heart disease. Interestingly, the drug was originally developed for use as rat poison before it was used in human medicine.
Warfarin is derived from dicoumarol, which can be deadly in large doses. It was discovered in the 1920s after previously healthy cattle in the Northern Plains of America and the prairies of Canada started dying. It was found that the cattle were grazing on hay infested with mold, which turned the naturally occurring chemical coumarin (responsible for the smell of newly mown grass) into dicoumarol.
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An extremely specific word, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is a string of Latin terms that together describe an inflammatory lung disease caused by long-term inhalation of silica dust.
The formidable term claims to be one of the longest words in the English language. This tongue-twisting word showcases the intricacies of medical nomenclature.
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An almost mystical word, "xenotransplantation" marks a frontier in medical science, combining the Greek roots xeno (foreign) and "transplantation." This term defines the concept of transplanting organs or tissues from one species to another.
While the idea dates back centuries, the term gained prominence in the 20th century with advancements in immunology and genetic engineering. Xenotransplantation holds the promise of addressing the shortage of human donor organs, yet it confronts challenges related to immune rejection and the risk of cross-species infections.
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Medicine has a word for almost everything. For example, those little transparent threads you sometimes see floating across your eyeball have a name: muscae volitantes ("flying flies"), the name for the little bits of protein or other material in the jelly inside your eye.
A term born from the intricate world of ophthalmology, where Latin meets the art of describing visual phenomena, muscae volitantes captures the floaters or specks that drift across one's field of vision due to particles or debris within the eye's vitreous humor.
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A more dignified word for "hangover", veisalgia originated in a 2000 paper in a medical journal. It combines the Norwegian word kveis ("uneasiness following debauchery") with the Greek word for pain.
The undeniable universality of this human experience made it a matter of time -even if took so long- for a more serious defining term to appear.
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The realm of phobias has room for some strange fears and this one is near the top spot. Arachibutyrophobia is a kind of phobia -in the sense that is not recognized as an official phobia- where the person fears that the peanut butter being consumed could get stuck on the roof of their mouth.
The term is a combination of Greek words: arachi for "ground nut", butyr for butter, and phobia for fear . As we see, even the most specific and peculiar fears can find expression in the rich world of medical language.
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There is a good reason for doctors abbreviating so many of the words in their everyday lexicon and this one is one of those. "Esophagogastroduodenoscopy," a formidable amalgamation of Greek roots, unveils a crucial diagnostic procedure in the realm of gastroenterology.
This term, often abbreviated as EGD, signifies the examination of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum through an endoscope. Coined in the mid-20th century, the term reflects the precision demanded by medical language to encapsulate complex procedures.