Medical Terms That Defy Expectations - dummies

By Beverley Henderson, Jennifer Lee Dorsey

When it comes to determining the root meaning of a medical term, you can often break down the word into its useful parts, prefixes and suffixes, to make sense of the word. But sometimes the etymology of the term can’t be broken down because it is actually named for a real, live human being. What then?

Well, get out your flash cards so you can start memorizing! Here are some tongue-twisting terms that can’t be broken down by prefix or suffix:

  • Birch-Hirschfeld: To correct entropion (infolding of the margin of the eyelid)

  • Blalock-Hanlon: A form of heart surgery, an intentional creation of a septal defect in order to allow flow of oxygenated blood

  • Fanconi: Disorder of kidney tubules; substances normally absorbed into the bloodstream by the kidneys are released into the urine instead

  • Kernig: Thigh is bent at the hip and knee, with subsequent extension the knee is painful, indicating subarchnoid hemorrhage or meningitis

  • Libman-Sacks: A form of nonbacterial endocarditis, seen in patients with systemic lupus

  • Mounier-Kuhn: Enlargement of trachea and bronchi (tracheobronchomegaly)

  • Nikolsky: Exfoliation of outer layer of skin with blister formation resulting from slight rubbing of skin

  • Ramstedt: Procedure to correct congenital stenosis of the pylorus

  • Trendelenburg: Waddling gait due to paralysis of gluteal muscles

  • Waardenburg: Rare genetic disorder characterized by varying degrees of deafness

  • Wartenberg: Reduction or absence of pendulum movements of arm when walking

  • Zahradnicek: Procedure to correct congenital dislocation of the hip in children

  • Zancolli Lasso: Tendon transfer to correct claw deformity of the fingers