Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Food imagery ideal for teaching doctors -- but they must have strong stomachs

Date:
July 10, 2014
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
From 'beer belly' to 'port wine stain,' food imagery has a long history of being used in medicine to identify the diagnostic features of a wide range of conditions and ailments, says a pathologist. In a gastronomic tour of some of the many food descriptors used in medicine, the author highlights imagery such as 'anchovy sauce' to describe the pus from a liver abscess, through 'sago spleen' to indicate protein (amyloid) deposits, to 'oat cell carcinoma,' which describes the appearance of a highly aggressive form of lung cancer.

From 'beer belly' to 'port wine stain', food imagery has a long history of being used in medicine to identify the diagnostic features of a wide range of conditions and ailments, says a pathologist in Medical Humanities.

Related Articles


The helpful visual and diagnostic clues it provides are ideal for enhancing doctors' understanding of disease and are part of a tradition that is worth celebrating, despite its admittedly European bias, she says.

In a gastronomic tour of some of the many food descriptors used in medicine, the author highlights imagery such as 'anchovy sauce' to describe the pus from a liver abscess, through 'sago spleen' to indicate protein (amyloid) deposits, to 'oat cell carcinoma,' which describes the appearance of a highly aggressive form of lung cancer.

Dairy products feature prominently in the medical lexicon: 'milk patch' describes the appearance of healed inflamed membranes surrounding the heart (rheumatic pericarditis), while café au lait describes the tell-tale skin pigmentation of von Recklinghausen's disease -- a genetic disorder characterised by nerve tumours. And 'egg shell crackling' denotes the grating sound indicative of the bone tumour ameloblastoma.

Fruit is also popular, as in 'apple' or 'pear' shape to describe the appearance of fat distribution around the body, or 'strawberry cervix' which indicates inflammation in the neck of the womb brought about by Trichomonas infection.

Water melon, oranges, currant jelly, grapes, and cherry all find their way into visual clues for a range of conditions, while breakfast food imagery is common.

A 'croissant' appearance in a cell nucleus is indicative of a benign growth on peripheral nerves. Similarly, a 'blueberry muffin' rash is characteristic of congenital rubella, while the appearance of a red blood cell is referred to as 'doughnut' shaped.

There's even a reference to an entire dish, as a skin condition called tinea versicolor is denoted by its 'spaghetti and meatball' appearance.

The author suggests that food descriptors reflect a basic human need for survival, or perhaps the fact that many medical practitioners are forced to grab their meals on the job.

But doctors must have strong stomachs, she says. "It is a wonder that, in the midst of the smells and sights of human affliction, a physician has the stomach to think of food at all," she suggests.

But she adds: "Whatever the genesis, these time honored allusions have been, and will continue to be, a lively learning inducement for generations of budding physicians."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. R. Lakhtakia. Twist of taste: gastronomic allusions in medicine. Medical Humanities, 2014; DOI: 10.1136/medhum-2014-010522

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Food imagery ideal for teaching doctors -- but they must have strong stomachs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710081450.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2014, July 10). Food imagery ideal for teaching doctors -- but they must have strong stomachs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710081450.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Food imagery ideal for teaching doctors -- but they must have strong stomachs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710081450.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins