Monday, August 1, 2011

A term in anatomy: parotid duct, also known as Stenson's duct (ductus Stenonianus)

The parotid duct is the duct of the parotid gland, which supplies saliva to the mouth. It passes lateral to the masseter muscle and enters the oral cavity through the buccal tissues adjacent to the maxillary first and second molar [1,2]. It is also named Stenson's duct (ductus Stenonianus), after its discoverer, the Danish anatomist and geologist Niels Stensen (1638-1686), today known as Nicolaus Steno.

The seventeenth-century scientist Steno discovered the parotid duct in the laboratory of Gerard Blaes, a physician in the city of Amsterdam: Steno brought a sheep's head into Blaes's lab, where he investigated the veins and arteries at the sheep's mouth [3]. Alan Cutler reports in his biography of Steno, that he repeated the dissection in the Dutch city of Leiden, where he showed the duct to his anatomy professor, who immediately confirmed that it was new to science. This was a significant discovery, since neither the source of saliva nor the function of the gland was known up to the point of Steno's finding.

Keynotes: anatomy, medical term, eponym, salivary glands, history.

References and more to explore
[1] The Free Dictionary: Stensen's duct [].
[2] Pathology Outlines: Salivary Glands [].
[3] Alan Cutler: The Seashell on the Mountaintop. Dutton (Penguin Group), New York, 2003; page 37.

No comments:

Post a Comment