A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog about common names for diseases and physical findings. Well, here’s some more thoughts about this fascinating topic.
Sometimes your discoveries are just so awesome that you hit the jackpot so to speak: three different conditions named after you! The doctor was Cushing and attached to his esteemed name are three items: Cushing’s disease, which refers to a condition where too much of the hormone cortisol is produced. Cushing’s syndrome is similar but applies to other pathology which can cause excess cortisol. Finally, Cushing’s triad are three findings which are often seen with elevated pressure around the brain. Sure enough, some other dude named Addison managed to get his name attached to the opposite: a lack of cortisol known as Addison’s syndrome.
Wouldn’t it be nicer to have your name attached to a anatomical part, rather than some horrible disease? Wharton and Stenson’s ducts are located in the mouth where certain sputum producing glands release their product otherwise known as spit. Ok, so it’s not the most glamorous anatomical structure, but still a heck of lot better than the things the next two schmucks had named after them. Consider poor Throckmorton (who besides a physical finding had a street in Mill Valley named after him or perhaps after someone related). Throckmorton’s sign refers to the elevation of the testicle on the side of an injury. For example, a subtle hip fracture could conceivably be picked up by noticing that that half of the male anatomy was higher than the other side. Fournier, who boasts a rather sophisticated name, nevertheless must have done some research on one awful disease: Fourniers gangrene, which refers to a very serious bacterial infection around the groin. This infection often results in loss of tissue, which turns black and can even cause death.
You would think that these guys might have preferred to have their name attached to say a sport’s arena or a famous theater, but I imagine that they thought hey-it’s better to leave some long lasting memorial so to speak than to have left this world without some disease named after me. For me, I can rejoice in the fact that Tietzes syndrome exists. Tietze ( no relation, but sounds similar to my last name Tietz) described rib cartilage inflammation near the chest ( and guys the name Tietze has nothing to do with that). So, in a way I too have a medical legacy.