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Many medical conditions are named after a person - often the person who first described it (or was credited for doing so by many people). While some like the historical continuity that eponyms provide, they have rather gone out of favour, as more systematic names are generally easier to remember.

QuotationMarkLeft.png The possessive form of an eponym should be discontinued, since the author neither had nor owned the disorder QuotationMarkRight.pngNational Institute of Health[1]

In 1974, the United States National Institute of Health called a conference to standardize the naming of diseases and disorders. They recommended eliminating the possessive form (see quotation).[2][3] For example, trisomy 21 is known as Down syndrome in the USA, Canada and other countries, although the possessive form is used in the United Kingdom and other countries.

LogoKeyPointsBox.pngEponym misrepresentation of priority is common even in the peer reviewed literature

QuotationMarkLeft.png The synthetic genitive in English medical eponyms, although based on centuries of linguistic tradition, is viewed by some as a source of inconsistency, uncertainty, and error. The move to expel this form from medical language, like the compulsive use of gender-neutral language in English-language publishing (“He or she should carry proof of his or her insurance coverage with him or her at all times”), has been engineered by an influential minority of writers and editors who display ignorance of linguistics, a superficial and mechanistic view of language, disdain for tradition, and, sometimes, the arrogance of authority. One would wish that, in their zeal for order and consistency, these reformers would seek to purge medical terminology of some of its many ambiguities and inaccuracies instead of presuming to intervene with such a heavy hand in the history of a living language. QuotationMarkRight.pngJ H Dirckx.[4]

There's a little dictionary of eponyms available, with the jokey name of "Who was Coudé" - the joke being that the coudé catheter is a catheter with an elbow in it - and coude is the French for elbow, so the catheter is not named after somebody called Coudé.

Peter English remembers a professor of orthopaedics who loved to ask students about eponymous diseases or structures and the people they were named after. What else can you call the inguinal ligament? Who was Poupart? In a medical exam, if you're asked about the person an eponymous condition is named after, you can usually relax - the examiners have decided that you've clearly passed/failed/achieve a certain grade, and there's little chance that you can change that now (as long as you don't suggest doing something that would kill the patient).

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