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A medical eponym honours a scientist’s accomplishment in discovering a disease, symptom, anatomical part, procedure or principle.1 Many of them are firmly embedded in our terminology, such as Hodgkin’s disease, Babinski’s sign, Meckel’s diverticulum or Billroth’s surgery, respectively. Eponyms can be very helpful for professional communication, because they evoke characteristic images in every medical student or doctor and are usually easier to memorise than designations based on pathophysiology or their acronyms. However, the use of eponyms also has disadvantages. They may become outdated, because a progress in knowledge requires a new terminology, or worse, the name belongs to a person, whose acts or views are not in accordance with the social ethos of medical literature.1 2 Therefore, many medical eponyms that once were popular have become outdated over the course of time. In rheumatology, we are currently witnessing a rare phenomenon: an eponymous designation for a disease, which 100 years ago was frequently used in the literature, then became almost forgotten and now reappears in the context of a new immunopathology: ‘Mikulicz’s syndrome’.
Jan Mikulicz-Radecki (from 1899 Johann Freiherr von Mikulicz-Radecki) was born in 1850 in Černivci (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, today Ukraine) as son of a Polish forest and construction official (figure 1). Initially pursuing a career in music, he began his medical training at the University of Vienna in 1869. After finishing his studies in 1875, he became voluntary assistant and later a close friend of the famous surgeon Theodor Billroth. Mikulicz’s contributions to surgery are numerous. He was the first to perform endoscopies of oesophagus and stomach and described achalasia as sphincter dysfunction. He …
Handling editor Josef S Smolen
Contributors Both authors have contributed to the conception and design of the work, the acquisition and interpretation of data. Both authors revised it critically for important intellectual content and gave final approval of the version published. They agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.
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Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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