Venothromboembolic signs and medical eponyms: Part I

Fan Ye, Halil Tekiner, Eileen S Yale, Joseph J Mazza, Carolyn Stalvey, Steven H Yale
Thrombosis Research 2019 June 21
Eponyms are honorific terms ascribed to individuals who discovered a sign, test, syndrome, technique, or instrument. Despite some contentions, eponyms continue to be widely ingrained and incorporated into the medical literature and contemporary language. Physical signs are considered unreliable methods alone for detecting deep venous thrombosis (DVT). The accuracy of the majority of these signs is unknown. For those signs that have been studied, there are a number of methodological limitations hindering the ability to draw meaningful conclusions about their accuracy and validity in clinical practice. Nevertheless, some findings when present and used in conjunction with other key signs, symptoms, and aspects of the patients history may be useful in further supporting the clinical suspicion and likelihood of DVT and/or pulmonary embolism (PE) or venothromboembolism (VTE). These signs also provide the means to better recognize the relationship between clinical findings and VTE. The acquisition of historical knowledge about these signs is important as it further enhances our understanding and appreciation of the diagnostic acumen that physicians were required to employ and to diagnose VTE prior to the advent of advanced imaging methods. Described in this paper is a brief overview of thrombosis as enumerated by Rudolf Virchow, and eponymous signs described in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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