You know you've spent too much time in hospitals when the first thing you notice about people is their veins and what size IV would fit in them and the first thing that comes into your mind when a hockey player takes a skate blade to the neck is, "OMG is he okay?! Good thing his circle of Willis is intact!"
Monday, February 11, 2008
Seven Wonders of the Anatomical World?
I'll admit right off the bat that I don't have seven in mind right at this moment. I'll work on that list and be happy to take suggestions. Right now the one anatomical marvel that's on my mind is the one that protected hockey player Richard Zednik's brain yesterday when his carotid got sliced open* accidentally by teammate Olli Jokinen's skate blade when Jokinen took a spill. The circle of Willis.
The circle of Willis is a ring of connected arteries that supply blood to the brain. When the ring is intact, injury to a blood vessel on one side can, up to a point, and depending on the injury, be compensated for by the blood coming up to the brain from the other side and traveling around the circle of Willis. It's how people who have severe occlusion of a carotid due to atherosclerosis can still get some blood up there.
I'll try to list seven other "Wonders of the Anatomical World" here but if anyone thinks of any that I've spaced out on (beside obvious wonders like the brain), please feel free to chime in. I could probably come up with a whole other list...
6. The fine muscles of the hand.
5. The larynx (I'm an anesthesiologist - I have to love the larynx).
4. The ductus arteriosus (and I'm gonna cheat here and include the fetal circulation in general as well as the placenta)
3. The His-Purkinje system (cardiac conduction fibers)
2. The chemoreceptors in lung vasculature that cause blood vessels in the lung to dilate in response to oxygen, when all the other receptors in the body cause constriction.
1. Tiny sensors and transmitters: the cochlea and ossicles in the ear, and rods & cones in the retina (actually, the whole eye is pretty amazing)
*The Canadian news video I had originally linked to has been removed. This is some American footage. I can't believe he got up and skated halfway down the rink and was able to get to the trainer, and I'm so glad he got help right away. I wish Mr. Zednik and his family well and bow my head in admiration toward Dr. Sonya Noor, who performed the repair, and all the docs, nurses, and techs at Buffalo General Hospital who helped take care of him.