Thursday, February 23, 2012

Keeping Up With Your....Toes.

I had the hardest time in anatomy class trying to remember the names of my fingers and toes. What constitutes a carpal? A tarsal? Meta-what?  Wait- now just what is phalange again? I had to document on a client's toe the other day, and boy was I thrown.
Your big toe has two parts: proximal phalanx and distal phalanx. A phalanx is the little straight bone that makes up the "knuckle" of your toe or finger. Only thing different about the other 4 toes is that they have 3 phalanges- still a proximal and distal, but throw a middle in there as well. Phalanges=digits. Or in your toes' cases, pigs. 

That is the traditional toe naming for you. Confusing, huh? However, this whole pointless issue is no more- thanks to a med student, that must have been high as a kite, who formally gave Latin names for every toe based on the "Little Piggy" rhyme. John Phillips, then a fourth-year med student at Yale, published these gems in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine that was published long ago in 1991.... when I was 5. The "p." stands for "porcellus."

porcellus fori (big toe), translation: little pig at market
p. domi (second toe); translation: baby pig at home
p. carnivorus (third toe), translation: meat-eating piglet
p. nonvoratus (fourth digit) translation: small pig that has not eaten
p. plorans domum (smallest toe) translation: piggy crying all the way home

There are entirely too many names for something that most doctors will just describe as a "toe" in a History and Physical report. So, you're welcome for this edition of Semi-Useless Nursing Knowledge.


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