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Who named it? www.whonamedit.com
  1. A J Larner
  1. Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Liverpool L9 7LJ, UK; larner-awcnn-tr.nwest.nhs.uk

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    The “Whiggish” approach to medical history, which documented great men (sic) and their great deeds, is now frowned upon in academic circles. However, many in neurological practice will continue to feel an affinity with their forebears (male and female) who confronted and described clinical problems with which we ourselves also grapple. This site, based in Norway, claims to be the “the world’s most comprehensive dictionary of medical eponyms”. Currently there are over 6000 eponyms included (compare with Marcucci’s Handbook of medical eponyms (Philadelphia: Lippincott Willimas & Wilkins, 2001), which claims 8000), with plans to expand to over 15000 eponyms with 6000 biographies.

    The design is simple and the user interface straightforward, allowing search by category, letter, and country, as well as eponym per se. There is also a separate category of female entries. There are links between eponyms and biographies. Entries for eponyms give a short description and the original reference(s); biographies are longer and usually include a bibliography of original references, and biographical works are also mentioned occasionally.

    As the site is still evolving, criticism about omissions may be misplaced. The curators invite help and there is a facility to send in a message, presumably on behalf of your personal medical hero/heroine, or to correct errors, the possibility of which is admitted. I found the lack of more recent references, perhaps critically evaluating eponymous signs (sensitivity, specificity) and syndromes (validity), a shortcoming because, judged by current evidence-based criteria, many eponyms are probably obsolete. But this, along with the fact that the text does not seem to be leavened by any illustrations, may be addressed as the site develops. The site is of general interest and is highly “browsable”.


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