The Importance of Precision

A final word of advice for your study of anatomy and physiology: Be precise in your use of terms. It may seem trivial if you misspell trapezius as trapezium, but in doing so, you would be changing the name of a back muscle to the name of a wrist bone. Similarly, changing occipitalis to occipital or zygomaticus to zygomatic changes other muscle names to bone names. A "little" error such as misspelling ileum as ilium changes the name of the final portion of the small intestine to the name of the hip bone. Changing malleus to malleolus changes the name of a middle-ear bone to the name of a bony protuberance of your ankle. Elephantiasis is a disease that produces an elephant-like thickening of the limbs and skin. Many people misspell this elephantitis; if such a word existed, it would mean inflammation of an elephant.

The health professions demand the utmost attention to detail and precision—people's lives may one day be in your hands. The habit of carefulness must extend to your use of language as well. Many patients have died because of miscommunication in the hospital.

Before You Go On

Answer the following questions to test your understanding of the preceding section:

  1. Explain why modern anatomical terminology is so heavily based on Greek and Latin.
  2. Distinguish between an eponym and an acronym, and explain why both of these present difficulties for interpreting anatomical terms.
  3. Break each of the following words down into its roots and affixes and state their meanings, following the example of gastroenterology analyzed earlier: pericardium, appendectomy, subcutaneous, phonocardiogram, otorhinolaryngology. Consult the list of word elements in appendix C for help.
  4. Write the singular form of each of the following words: pleurae, gyri, nomina, ganglia, fissures. Write the plural form of each of the following: villus, tibia, encephalitis, cervix, stoma.

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Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

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