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In the late nineteenth century some 50,000 terms for various
body parts were in use. The same structures were described by
different names, depending (among other things) on the anatomist’s
school and national tradition. Vernacular translations of Latin and
Greek, as well as various eponymous terms, were barriers to
effective international communication. There was disagreement and
confusion among anatomists regarding anatomical terminology.
The first and last entries in the following table aren't NA
editions, but they are included for the sake of continuity.
Although these early editions were authorized by different
bodies, they are sometimes considered part of the same series.
||Work on a new international system of anatomical terminology
began in 1887. The system was approved in 1895 by the Ninth
Congress of the Anatomische Gesellschaft in Basel (then "Basle"), Switzerland.
It became known as the Basle Nomina Anatomica
(BNA). The BNA reduced the number of anatomical terms from
50,000 down to 5,528.
Federation of Associations of Anatomists (IFAA) is the
international body representing anatomical societies from
throughout the world. The First Federative International
Congress of Anatomy met in Geneva in 1903.
||The BNA was adopted by anatomists from many countries including
Spain and the United States, but the reception was far from
- French anatomists preferred to continue in their own
- British anatomists broke away from the BNA in 1933, adopting
- The Anatomische Gesellschaft itself produced a
revision, the Jena Nomina
Anatomica (JNA), in 1935.
The JNA was notable for its adoption of a pronograde (horizontal)
axis, which was well suited for the use of common anatomy for
humans and other vertebrates.
The BNA and its various revisions (BR, JNA) remained standard
international terminology until 1955.
|first edition of Nomina Anatomica
||The Fifth Congress (Oxford, 1950) established a
committee, the International Anatomical Nomenclature
Committee (IANC), to work on standardized anatomical
terminology. The IANC’s revision of the BNA was approved in 1955 at
the Sixth Congress, meeting in Paris. It was originally called the
Parisiensia Nomina Anatomica (PNA) but later
became known simply as the Nomina Anatomica (NA).
It contained 5,640 terms, of which 4,286 were unchanged from the
The committee favored the BNA's orthograde orientation (anatomical position) over the JNA's
pronograde orientation, which led to a schism with veterinary
anatomists, and the subsequent publication of the Nomina Anatomica
Veterinaria in 1968.
||Revisions of Nomina Anatomica were approved at the
Seventh Congress (New
||the Eighth Congress (Wiesbaden, 1965)
||the Ninth Congress (Leningrad, 1970), the
Tenth Congress (Tokyo,
||the Eleventh Congress (Mexico City, 1980).
||the Twelfth Congress (London, 1985). (The title of the sixth edition
includes the phrase "authorised by the Twelfth International
Congress of Anatomists in London, 1985", but this authorization is
|Terminologia Anatomica (see
||the Thirteenth Congress (Rio de Janeiro, 1989)
and the FCAT
Around the time of the Twelfth Congress (London, 1985), a dispute arose
over the editorial independence of the
IANC. The IANC did not believe that their work should be subject to
the approval of IFAA Member Associations.
The types of discussion underlying this dispute are illustrated
in an article by Roger Warwick, then Honorary Secretary of the
- An aura of scholasticism, erudition and, unfortunately,
pedantry has therefore often impeded attempts to rationalize and
simplify anatomical nomenclature, and such obstruction still
persists. The preservation of archaic terms such as Lien,
Ventriculus, Epiplooon and
Syndesmologia, in a world which uses and continues to use
Splen, Gaster, Omentum and Arthrologia (and their
numerous derivatives) provides an example of such pedantry.
- We have inherited a number of archaic and now somewhat
irrational terms which are confusing to the non-Latinistic students
and scientists of today . . . Knowledge of Latin is extremely
limited today, and thus any Latin nomenclature must be simplified
to the utmost to achieve maximum clarity, usefulness, and hence
- Unless anatomical nomenclatue is subject to a most rigorous
revision, in terms of simplification and rationalization, general
use of such an internationally official nomenclature as Nomina
Anatomica will decline rather than increase.
What declined, however, was the influence of the IANC on
anatomical terminology. The IANC published a sixth edition
of Nomina Anatomica,
but it was never approved by the IFAA.
Instead, at the Thirteenth Congress (Rio de Janeiro,
1989), the IFAA created a new committee – the Federative
Committee on Anatomical Terminology (FCAT).
The FCAT took over the task of revising international anatomical
terminology. The result was the publication, in 1998,
of a “new, updated, simplified and uniform anatomical terminology,”
the Terminologia Anatomica (TA) . The
IANC was acknowledged in this work as follows:
- Since the first meeting, the FCAT made several contacts with
the IANC aiming at the natural transition from the old approach to
the approach established by the General Assembly of the IFAA. Such
initiatives, however, did not result in a modus vivendi
for harmonious collaboration.
The Terminologia Anatomica
is the joint creation of the FCAT (now FICAT – the Federative
International Committee on Anatomical Terminology) and the Member
Associations of the International Federation of Associations of
Anatomists (IFAA). The first edition, published in 1998, supersedes
all previous lists. It is the international standard for anatomical
The 39th edition of Gray’s Anatomy (2005) explicitly
recognizes Terminologia Anatomica.
Modern use of the Nomina
NA and its derivatives are still used in some contexts (even the
controversial sixth edition), and there remain some obstacles to
universal adoption of TA:
- The TA is only available in Latin, English, and Spanish, while
the NA is available in many additional languages,
which has had an impact upon international adoption of TA.
- Terminologia Embryologica is
under development, but is not yet available. By contrast, multiple
editions of Nomina Embryologica were published.
- Nomina Histologica underwent several editions. Until recently,
there was no Terminologia Histologica.
However, an edition was published in 2008.
- ^ Kachlik D, Baca V, Bozdechova I, Cech P,
Musil V (August 2008). "Anatomical terminology and
nomenclature: past, present and highlights". Surg Radiol
Anat 30 (6): 459–66. doi:10.1007/s00276-008-0357-y. PMID 18488135. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00276-008-0357-y.
- ^ Segen, J. C. (1992). The dictionary of
modern medicine: a sourcebook of currently used medical
expressions, jargon, and technical terms. Carnforth, Lancs.,
U.K: Parthenon Pub. Group. pp. 497. ISBN
- ^ a
Wilson, JA. Anatomical nomenclature of
fossil vertebrates: standardized terms or 'lingua franca'? J
Vert Paleontol. 2006;26:511–518.
Greulich, W. W., R. L. Bacon, D. L. Bassett, C. H. Danforth, D. J.
Gray, H. Kirkman, and R. S. Turner. 1945. Terms of position and
direction in the NK-INA revision of the Basle Nomina Anatomica. The
Anatomical Record 92:359–362.
- ^ Gielecki J, Zurada A, Osman N (May 2008).
"Terminologia anatomica in the past and the future from perspective
of 110th anniversary of Polish Anatomical Terminology". Folia
Morphol. (Warsz) 67 (2): 87–97. PMID 18521806.
Nomina Anatomica: Approved by the
Tenth International Congress of Anatomists at Tokyo, August 1975,
Together with Nomina Histologica and Nomina Embryologica By
International Anatomical Nomenclature Committee, World Association
of Veterinary Anatomists International Committee on Veterinary
Anatomical Nomenclature. 1977. ISBN
- ^ Nomina anatomica: approved by the
Eleventh International Congress of Anatomists at Mexico City, 1980:
together with Nomina histologica, second edition and Nomina
embryologica, second edition. Baltimore: Williams &
Wilkins. 1983. ISBN
- ^ "IFAA History". http://www.ifaa.net/Histry.htm. Retrieved
- ^ Warwick R (May 1978). "The future of Nomina
Anatomica--a personal view". J. Anat.
126 (Pt 1): 221–3. PMID 649501.
- ^ Nomina anatomica: authorised by the
Twelfth International Congress of Anatomists in London, 1985:
together with Nomina histologica, third edition, and Nomina
embryologica, third edition. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
- ^ Federative Committee on Anatomical Termi
(1998). Terminologia Anatomica: International Anatomical
Terminology. Thieme Stuttgart. pp. 161. ISBN
- ^ Whitmore I (April 1999). <50::AID-AR4>3.0.CO;2-W
"Terminologia anatomica: new terminology for the new
anatomist". Anat. Rec. 257 (2): 50–3.
PMID 10321431. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1097-0185(19990415)257:2<50::AID-AR4>3.0.CO;2-W.
Federative Committee on Anatomical Terminology. Terminologia
Anatomica. Thieme, 1998
- ^ "anatomickenazvoslovi.cz". http://www.anatomickenazvoslovi.cz/ta.htm. Retrieved
Standring S. Gray’s Anatomy, 39th edition. Elsevier
Churchill Livingstone, 2005
- ^ Fabry P, Baud R, Burgun A, Lovis C (July
2006). "Amplification of
Terminologia anatomica by French language terms using Latin terms
matching algorithm: a prototype for other language". Int J
Med Inform 75 (7): 542–52. doi:10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2005.08.008. PMID 16203172. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1386-5056(05)00175-9.
- ^ Terminologia Histologica: International
Terms for Human Cytology and Histology, Book/CD-ROM Bundle.
Hagerstwon, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. 2008. ISBN