Word of the Day : September 9, 2014


adjective stair-ee-uh-TAK-tik


: involving or used in a surgical technique for precisely directing the tip of a delicate instrument or beam of radiation in three planes using coordinates provided by medical imaging in order to reach a specific locus in the body

Did You Know?

At the beginning of the 20th century, neurosurgeons were experimenting with a technique used to direct the tip of a needle or an electrode in three spatial planes (length, width, and depth) to reach a particular place in the brain. At that time, the word for this technique was "stereotaxic," based on the prefix "stereo-" ("dealing with three dimensions of space") and "taxis" (referring to the manual restoration of a displaced body part). In 1950, "stereotactic" (based on "tactic," meaning "of or relating to touch") joined the medical vocabulary as a synonym of "stereotaxic." Around the same time, a noninvasive neurosurgery technique was developed using beams of radiation. It is this procedure that is now often described as "stereotactic" and (less frequently) "stereotaxic."


"Once in the OR, Mario was given a local anesthetic. His head had been shaved, his brain targeted to millimeter precision by MRIs. Attached to his head was a stereotactic frame to provide surgeons with precise coordinates and mapping imagery." - Lauren Slater, Mother Jones, November 2005

"The center is equipped with a $5 million machine, known as a stereotactic body radiotherapy system, that zaps tumors with high doses of radiation without damaging nearby tissue and organs." - James T. Mulder, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), July 18, 2014

Test Your Memory

What former Word of the Day is the Latin name for the magpie bird and refers to an eating disorder? The answer is …


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