Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 395–401 | Cite as

Eponyms in forensic pathology

  • Pavel Nečas
  • Petr Hejna


The phenomenon of eponymous terms in forensic pathology is described in this paper. The authors analyzed representative textbooks (monographs) dealing with forensic pathology in both English and German and identified several eponymous terms. The paper aims to present to the reader the most important eponymous terms in forensic pathology. Included in the paper are the following terms: Beckwith’s Sign, Casper’s Rule, Krönlein’s Shot, Lichtenberg’s Figures, Nysten’s Law, Paltauf’s Spots, Puppe’s Rule, Sehrt’s Sign, Simon’s Sign, Sveshnikov’s Sign, Tardieu’s Spots, Wischnewski Spots, Wydler’s Sign. The spread of eponymous terms throughout various languages is mentioned. The linguistic basis of such terms as well as their advantages and disadvantages in specialist fields, and indeed in even wider circles, is discussed. The authors state that the main function of these terms is to facilitate the open flow of unambiguous information among scholars. Eponymous terms in forensic pathology are characteristic for the German speaking countries and for all countries influenced by the German school of forensic pathology. Their usage in the Anglo-Saxon world is much less widespread, meaning they do not occur very often in English monographs and textbooks.


Forensic pathology Terminology Eponym Communication Language for special purposes Textbooks 



The authors wish to acknowledge Prof. Roger W. Byard (University of Adelaide, Australia) for providing Fig. 1, and Olga Bukačová (Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic) and Jana Hercová (National Medical Library, Prague, Czech Republic) for their kind help.


  1. 1.
    Bozděchová I. Současná terminologie [Contemporary Terminology]. Praha: Karolinum; 2009.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Saukko P, Knight B. Knight’s forensic pathology. London: A Hodder Arnold Publication; 2004.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Spitz WU, et al. Spitz and Fisher’s medicolegal investigation of death. Springfield: Charles C Thomas Publisher; 2006.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Byard RW. Sudden death in the young. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2010.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Brinkmann B, Madea B. Handbuch gerichtliche Medizin, Band 1. Berlin: Springer; 2003.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Reimann W, Prokop P. Vademecum Gerichtsmedizin. Berlin: VEB Verlag Volk und Gesundheit; 1980.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hochmeister M, Grassberger M, Stimpfl T. Forensische Medizin für Studium und Praxis. Wien: Maudrich; 2007.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Madea B, editor. Praxis Rechtsmedizin. Berlin: Springer; 2007.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Madea B, Dettmeyer R, Schmidt P. Leichenschau. In: Madea B, editor. Praxis Rechtsmedizin. Berlin: Springer; 2007. p. 45.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hejna P, Šafr M, Zátopková L. Reconstruction of devastating head injuries: a useful method in forensic pathology. Int J Legal Med. 2011;125:587–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Resnik BI, Wetli CV. Lichtenberg figures. Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 1996;17:99–102.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Wick R, Byard RW. Electrocution and the autopsy. In: Tsokos M, editor. Forensic pathology reviews, vol. 5. Totowa: Humana Press; 2008. p. 53–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Tsokos M. Postmortem changes and artifacts occurring during the early postmortem interval. In: Tsokos M, editor. Forensic pathology reviews, vol. 3. Totowa: Humana Press; 2005. p. 183–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Brinkmann B. Tod im Wasser. In: Brinkmann B, Madea B, editors. Handbuch Gerichtliche Medizin. Berlin: Springer; 2004. p. 797–824.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Viel G, Gehl A, Sperhake JP. Intersecting fractures of the skull and gunshot wounds. Case report and literature review. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2009;5:22–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hejna P, Rejtarová O. Bleedings into the anterior aspect of the intervertebral disks in the lumbar region of the spine as a diagnostic sign of hanging. J Forensic Sci. 2010;55:428–31.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Nikolić S, Zivković V, Juković F, Babić D, Stanojkovski G. Simon’s bleedings: a possible mechanism of appearance and forensic importace (a prospective autopsy study). Int J Legal Med. 2009;123:293–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
  19. 19.
    Bohnert M, Ropohl D, Pollak S. Forensic medicine significance of the fluid content of the sphenoid sinuses. Arch Kriminol. 2002;209:158–64.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hottmar P. Detection of fluid in paranasal sinuses as a possible diagnostic sign of death by drowning. Arch Kriminol. 1996;198:89–94.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Brinkmann B. Ersticken. In: Brinkmann B, Madea B, editors. Handbuch Gerichtliche Medizin. Berlin: Springer; 2004. p. 699–796.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Hottmar P, Hejna P. Death due to fatal hypothermia in victims dissected in Department of Forensic Medicine in Hradec Králové between 1992–2003. Soud Lek. 2005;50:38–41.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Madea B, Preuß J, Henn V, Lignitz E. Morphological findings in fatal hypothermia and their pathogenesis. In: Oehmichen M, editor. Hypothermia—clinical, pathomorphological and forensic features. Lübeck: Schmidt-Römhild; 2004. p. 181–204.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Madea B, Preuß J, Lignitz E. Unterkühlung: Umstände, Morphologische Befunde und ihre Patogenese. Rechtsmedizin. 2004;14:41–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Türk EE. Hypothermia. Forensic Sci Med Pathol. 2010;6:106–15.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Pacovský V, Sucharda P. Jazykozpyt medicíny. Praha: Galén; 2008.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Doležal A. Lékařský slang a úsloví. Praha: Galén; 2007.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Páč L. Slovník anatomických eponym. Praha: Galén; 2010.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Languages, Faculty of Medicine in Hradec KrálovéCharles University in PragueHradec KrálovéCzech Republic
  2. 2.Institute of Legal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital in Hradec KrálovéCharles University in PragueHradec KrálovéCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations