That syphilis may be a cause of spinal muscular atrophy is probably not sufficiently realized. Yet long before the original work of Aran and Duchenne on progressive muscular atrophy, Graves1 described a case in which syphilis seemed to be the etiologic factor. In time, many other contributions2 appeared to attest the fact and to increase knowledge of syphilitic amyotrophy.
Just how frequently this condition occurs has not been definitely shown. In 1902, Bramwell3 analyzed 155 cases of tabes dorsalis and found definite localized muscular atrophy in about 4 per cent. Four years before, Whiting,4 in a survey of 200 cases of tabes dorsalis at the National Hospital for the Paralyzed and Epileptic, found obvious atrophy in 8 per cent, and stated that this was the percentage given by Duchenne. Whiting's study is instructive and demonstrates that almost any voluntary muscle in the body is a possible
MACKAY RP, HALL GW. SYPHILITIC AMYOTROPHY. Arch NeurPsych. 1933;29(2):241–254. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1933.02240080031003