More practical and descriptive terms for body parts will be favoured over the irrelevant, confusing and often misogynistic terminology of the past, with some doctors saying they’re sure terms like Achilles heel, Fallopian tube and Adam’s apple will eventually become “obsolete”.
“I think we have a personal choice to decolonise our language and these historical terms will fade out,” specialist obstetrician/gynaecologist Dr Kirsten Small, who is also an anatomy lecturer at Queensland’s Griffith University, told The Sunday Mail .
Dr Small said there’s always an alternative to the “dead man’s name for body parts”, and is teaching her midwifery students both the eponyms and the alternatives.
I teach anatomy and have found there is always an alternative to the dead man's name for body parts. Fallopian tube = uterine tube. Pouch of Douglas = rectovaginal pouch. We have a personal choice to decolonise our language. Make use of it.
Rarely are women represented in the old-school terms, with Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists council member Dr Nisha Khot calling many of them no longer “appropriate”.
“The young trainees doctors are mostly keen to learn the more relevant language and are often shocked when they hear the origins of some medical terms,” Dr Khot said.
“The origins of hysterectomy for example has a horrendous connection to past days when female hysteria was a medical conditions often treated with a surgical hysterectomy. That’s not appropriate today. I prefer the term uterectomy.”
Dr Khot told The Sunday Mail she also encourages her trainee doctors to explore alternative terms.
“The push for change may have started in the area of women’s health but the conversation is now in the wider health community. It just makes sense for the medics but also for the patients to use more understandable terms,” she said.
The majority of surgical instruments are also named after historical figures, including slave traders, Dr Khot said.
“In medicine many body parts are named from people from many centuries ago, even ancient kings and heroes. And gods. Women don’t even get a look in.”