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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 21, 2009

THE FREQUENCY OF TUBERCULOSIS IN MAN

JAMA. 2009;302(15):1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1390

A few years ago Naegeli aroused widespread interest by reporting that a careful examination of a large number of bodies had demonstrated the presence of evidences of tuberculosis in over 90 per cent. The findings attracted wide attention because they were so startling and because they justified the old axiom of “every one has a little tuberculosis,” and so Naegeli's figures have been widely quoted and almost universally accepted. For the most part pathologists supported Naegeli's contention, for their experience in autopsy work had shown them that few adult bodies were free from calcified peribronchial glands, calcified nodules in the lungs, pleural scars and apical adhesions, which lesions are all suspicious, although not positive, evidence of healed tuberculous processes. General impressions are one thing and careful analysis of evidence is another, however, and as regards this very important matter of the tuberculosis morbidity, the former have been much more abundant than the latter. Burkhardt found in the material investigated at Dresden about the same high proportion of tuberculosis as Naegeli had found in Zurich, but by Lubarsch the occurrence of tuberculous lesion was placed at but 70 per cent., and Necker's figures are about the same as Lubarsch's.

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