Eponymously named diseases are a slippery slope
November 22, 2012 Leave a comment
OK so I admit the following post is a bit of a random rant.
Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome. Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but it has always been my favorite example of an eponymously named medical disease. It’s so much more fun than saying ‘Müllerian agenesis’. So I did some reading on the condition and one thing led to another (so I’m taking you through my train of thought here, bear with me) Interestingly, the alternative name of the condition is also an eponymous term – named after Johannes Peter Müller, the German physiologist who described the ducts that develop into the female reproductive system in early development. He worked at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (the medical school of the HU is the Charité, where I am now studying). While there, he tutored both the prominent physician/physicist (!) Hermann von Helmholtz and the ‘father of pathology’ Rudolf Virchow. The latter is buried in St. Matthews Cemetery in the locality of Schöneberg, a few blocks away from my flat in Berlin (also, Albert Einstein lived in this same locality for 15 years). Now back to MRKH syndrome – one of the people who described this condition is Baron Carl von Rokitansky, a pathologist and physician who worked with Johann Wagner, a relatively less known pathologist (perhaps due to his death at 33 years of age). Together they performed the post-mortem examination of Ludwig van Beethoven – this was Rokitansky’s first of over 50,000 autopsies in his career.
And that’s how I spent my ‘precious’ free time.