Corneal Dellen versus Delle - origin?

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Corneal Dellen versus Delle - origin?

Post by Nicole127 » Tue Sep 13, 2005 2:05 pm

I am a medical transcriptionist and I have come to an ophthalmology term whose origins interest and elude me. Dellen, or corneal dellen, is defined as a localized zone of thinning. However, the doctor has frequently dictated delle and specifically spelled it out.

I am familiar with another ophthalmology term, drusen, which means tiny yellowish-white protein deposits on the retina. The singular of this is druse. I have always thought that this must come from the German language where a plural is sometimes formed by adding -en.

Can anyone shed light on the origin and meaning of dellen, and any feedback as to whether delle is correct usage? Thanks very much.
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Corneal Dellen versus Delle - origin?

Post by russcable » Tue Sep 13, 2005 3:29 pm

Using http://www.onelook.com which searches multiple dictionaries including some specific to medicine, I was able to discover that delle, plural dellen, is German for depression, dent, low ground, pit. The 3 medical dictionaries all used delle to refer to the dent in the middle of a red blood cell, and the plural dellen to refer to the corneal meaning but also in the plural, i.e. dellen are "excavations at the margin of the cornea". IANAD (I am not a doctor), but I'm guessing from that usage it would be unusual to find just one, but I can't see why it would be wrong to refer to just one as a delle.

Likewise, the medical dictionaries list drusen in plural rather than singular as well - "Small bright structures seen in the retina and in the optic disk." I'm guessing the plural is for much the same reason as above. Druse is from the German for stony nodule or geode.
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Corneal Dellen versus Delle - origin?

Post by Nicole127 » Tue Sep 13, 2005 3:41 pm

Thank you very much, RussCable! This is exactly what I wanted to know.

Thanks also for citing your source (onelook.com). Sounds like a wonderful reference, and I will be sure to check there in the future.
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Corneal Dellen versus Delle - origin?

Post by dalehileman » Tue Sep 13, 2005 3:55 pm

As a former avid rockhound, submit herewith a meaning we often used:

druse - yourDictionary.com - American Heritage Dictionary
Search Mamma.com for "druse". ...
druse ...crust of tiny crystals lining a rock cavity, ...
http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/d/d0403200.html
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Corneal Dellen versus Delle - origin?

Post by Nicole127 » Tue Sep 13, 2005 4:23 pm

Thanks DaleHileman. That conjures up a perfect picture of drusen, how the retina is like the inner wall of a rock cavity and the drusen are like crystals growing on it.

I will probably never type "drusen" again without thinking of this image!
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Corneal Dellen versus Delle - origin?

Post by Phil White » Tue Sep 13, 2005 4:36 pm

Correct. Delle on its own simply means a dent or depression in normal German. A "Hornhautdelle" (one of them) is a corneal delle ("Hornhaut" being the German for "cornea"). They appear to hunt in packs, as both "Hornhautdellen" and "corneal dellen" appear far more often than their singular counterparts on the Web.

Your assumptions about the singular and plural forms of "Druse" (the "e" at the end is pronounced) are also correct. The meaning in ophthalmology that you cite is only one of the three medical meanings in German, the others being "an agglomeration of filaments and spores of actinomyces" and "senile plaque", a symptom of Alzheimer's disease. I do not know whether the German term "druse" is used for these also in English.

I shall ask my ophthalmologist about singular usage of "Delle" when I speak to him later this week (if the senile plaque doesn't get me first...).
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Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

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