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JAMA 100 Years Ago
September 20, 2000


Author Affiliations

JenniferReiling, Editorial Assistant

JAMA. 2000;284(11):1354. doi:10.1001/jama.284.11.1354-JJY00030-3-1

The calcareous degeneration of certain tissues is a well-known fact, but the formation of true bone in the tissues, not normally thus developing, and apart from any direct connection with the natural bony growths, is still to some extent a pathologic curiosity. This is especially true of the ossifications of the muscles, of which a comparatively small number of cases have been reported in medical literature. Dr. Lydia M. DeWitt reports1 a case, with the discussion of the literature of this subject, in part honestly acknowledged as second-hand, with the theories that have been proposed to account for the condition. The fact that in certain animals the so-called splint bones occur has a certain physiological bearing, but the facts do not fully apply to the human subject. The curious malformation that has been observed in some 75 per cent. of the recorded cases of this disease of microdactylia and imperfection of the thumb and great toe is of great interest, and is one of the unexplained but indefinitely suggestive peculiarities that we sometimes meet with in connection with obscure diseases. Dr. DeWitt's idea seems to be that on the whole the condition is not so mysterious a one as might be supposed. The fact that different members of the connective-tissue group change with special readiness into other forms of connective-tissue structure is, she holds, a probably sufficient explanation, lacking others a little more definite. She does not consider the suggestion of Gegenbaur, of specialized osteoplastic nuclei existing from before birth, as necessary to account for the pathologic bone formation. The cells which in certain regions act as osteoblasts are not, she thinks, necessarily histogenetically different from those which in other localities develop into fibrous connective tissue. The subject is by no means definitely cleared up, but her communication is a reasonable discussion of the facts and probabilities.

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