Journal Mobile

D Doyle
Journal Issue: 
Volume 37: Issue 1: 2007


In the first papers in this series, it was shown that eponyms were often bestowed on physicians and surgeons who were already famous, had made many discoveries never honoured with eponyms, and were often the leading doctors of their  day.  Only  occasionally  was  the  eponym  suggested  by  a  friend  or  colleague; more usually it was a doctor abroad who wanted to show respect to a great man but  the  choice  of  the  particular  syndrome  or  discovery  was  a  random  one. Eponyms may have had their uses. They were usually much shorter than a detailed description of a medical syndrome or anatomical feature and may sometimes have been used as euphemisms in much the same way as, until recently, bedside teachers protected  the  patients  by  speaking  of  ‘mitotic  lesions’  or  ‘neoplasms’, ‘Hansen’s Disease’  or  ‘acid-fast  bacilli’.  The  conferring  and  use  of  eponyms  appears  to  be lessening but, as shown in this final paper, they are still used and possibly useful, and can tell us things of interest about the recipient and the proposer.