Eponyms or eponymous medical signs are names given to diseases, clinical findings, anatomical structures, etc. Eponyms are usually named after a person or persons who first discovered or described disease, or pioneered the treatment, but they could be also occasionally named after the famous patient with the signs.
In medical practice, eponyms can be used to summarize or communicate a complex abnormality or injury with your peers. But the problem is that there are thousands of eponyms, and no matter how good your ability to remember names might be you could have trouble remembering them all. This could lead to an inappropriate use, and inappropriate use of an eponym may lead to potentially dangerous miscommunication.
This is particularly important for nurses or medical students on a rotation in, let's say, a busy ER. While you may be familiar with some, such as Aaron sign that indicates appendicitis or Brudzinski reflex and signs used to diagnose meningitis, others may leave you puzzled about what they mean or how they affect your patient.
For example, if the triage nurse or older colleague tells you about Friedrich's sign, Gallavardin dissociation or Queckenstedt's maneuver, you probably won't know what these mean, or if your colleagues are just messing with you.
You can however, pull your phone out of your pocket, type in these eponyms, and quickly learn that the first eponym is the exaggerated drop in diastolic central venous pressure manifested as abrupt collapse of the neck veins and seen in constrictive pericarditis, the second is a common clinical sign found in patients with aortic stenosis, and that the last one is no longer used for diagnosing spinal stenosis.
Eponyms app for iPhone and Android is a great tool for this, allowing you to have a better understanding of a disease or a sign you had never heard of before in just few seconds.
Eponyms app is a comprehensive database of, as its name suggests, medical eponyms. The database currently contains more than 1,700 eponyms that could help medical students, junior interns, nurses, but also seasoned residents learn more about common and obscure medical conditions, signs, tests, and other procedures hidden behind complex eponyms.
Upon opening the app, you'll notice that the app has simple and perhaps a bit outdated design, but it exactly what it advertises. It organizes a big database of medical eponyms based on specialty. This makes the app easy to navigate and use, allowing users you get to the eponyms as fast as possible.
There are three main menus at the top of the main screen, including All Eponyms, Starred Eponyms, and Recent Eponyms. As their names suggest, the first category lists all 1,700+ eponyms, the second allow you to add favorite eponyms (by taping on the star icon beside each), and the last category lists most recently opened eponyms.
Additionally, the eponyms may be searched by categories that cover main specialties of medicine, from Anatomy and Cardiovascular, to Pediatrics and Urology.
Category search also includes sections that cover biochemistry & metabolism related eponyms, lab tests and procedures, as well as signs and symptoms, which makes it obvious that the author's goal was to make the app that would be as much detailed as possible, not leaving the single eponym out.
You can also use the search option that works well with auto-complete feature and is the fastest way to find the eponyms, of course if you know what you're looking for. To use it, you need to tap on specific category, because search bar is not available on the home screen.
However, keep in mind that you can only search for specific eponyms in their particular category. For example searching for certain Cardiovascular-related eponyms in Endocrinology category might not return any result if the eponym isn't related to Endocrinology as well. To avoid this, you can simply select All Eponyms and start your search from there.
Eponyms are listed in their particular categories in alphabetical order. If you tap on any eponym, you'll see that they provide quick reference, briefly explaining the eponym, i.e. disease, symptom, test, or procedure. Explanations are very brief and do not provide much detail or links to resources used for the information provided in the app.
Also, some specialties would benefit from adding visual content, particularly the images of the certain examinations and procedures, for example the images that explain abdominal examinations, orthopedic procedures, etc.
Due to its lack of detailed information and reference links, Eponyms app may not be particularly useful to physicians, orthopedic surgeons and other medical providers as a point-of-care tool. However for medical students on a rotation, it can be a very handy reference guide.
Benefit: The app may be particularly useful to medical students and interns, as well as nurses.