On eponyms and disease: Dupuytren’s or Dupuytren?

Rachael Leung, Robert Capstick, Warren M. Rozen, David J. Hunter-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: Throughout medical history, eponyms have been oft-used to describe disease. Acknowledging the ongoing debate regarding eponym use, we aim to address a facet of this topic. Flexion contracture of the fingers from superficial palmar fibromatosis, named for Guillaume Dupuytren, exists as three variations of nomenclature within literature—Dupuytren’s, Dupuytren and Dupuytrens disease. This article comprises a linguistic exploration of this nomenclature; we aim to ascertain which form is most common, and most linguistically correct, using a review of the literature. Methods: A literature search of the PubMed database (limited to English articles from 1988 to 2018) was performed using keywords Dupuytren, Dupuytren’s and Dupuytrens. Results: From 1195 papers, “Dupuytren’s” was by far the most common form, followed by “Dupuytren”. “Dupuytrens” was rare. USA published using both Dupuytren’s and Dupuytren, while UK almost exclusively used Dupuytren’s. Dupuytren was also popular in the Netherlands. There are two schools of thought regarding use of the possessive form in medical eponyms. Dupuytren was neither the first nor the only person to describe the disease, and though his contribution was significant, should an eponymous disease “belong” to its discoverer? While the possessive is currently most commonly used, a recent shift towards non-possessive eponyms is reflected in our data. Conclusions: Nomenclature of flexion contracture of fingers takes several forms both clinically and in literature. Arguments exist for both possessive and non-possessive forms of the eponym. While Dupuytren’s disease is currently the more common term, changing medical conventions and terminology have potential to guide transition to the non-possessive form, Dupuytren disease. Level of evidence: Not ratable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695-700
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Plastic Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Dupuytren contracture
  • Eponyms
  • History of medicine
  • Terminology as topic

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