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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Criminal Sentence 191: Awkward Hyphen

From a medical thriller (abbreviated version):

"In addition to the trach, he had a gastric feeding tube in place... and a BOLT pressure manometer that passed through his skull and into the spinal fluid-containing ventricle of his brain."

The original sentence, as you can probably tell, was quite complicated, and having the phrase "the spinal fluid-containing ventricle of his brain" at the end didn't make the sentence any easier to follow. The sentence a bit on the long side (the poor patient needed lots of medical intervention), so it's a good idea to attempt to shorten or simplify it.

"Spinal fluid-containing ventricle" is just too much of a mouthful. I'm trying now to find a simpler way to express this, but it's hard. My best effort is "and into the brain ventricle that contains spinal fluid." I realize that's not perfect. Perhaps "and into his brain" would be best.

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