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September 13, 2010

Medical EponymsTime for a Name Change

Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(16):1499-1500. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.281

A medical eponym is the name of a disease or condition based on the name of a person or a place. It has traditionally been considered an honor for physicians to have an illness, microorganism, semiological sign, or anatomical area named after them. Eponyms can be a convenient shortcut to refer to groups of pleomorphic conditions whose specific descriptions are difficult to remember and describe. As Woywodt et al1 pointed out, it is much easier to speak of Fallot tetralogy than congenital cyanotic heart disease due to ventricular septal defect, pulmonary stenosis, right ventricular hypertrophy, and aortic dextroposition. Furthermore, eponyms often provide a historical context to the description of the syndrome and a link to the development of medical science.

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