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December 6, 1976

Destructive Bone Disease in Early Syphilis

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama School of Medicine, Birmingham, Ala.

JAMA. 1976;236(23):2646-2648. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270240042025

Although destructive bone disease is a well-known complication of tertiary syphilis, osteitis or osteomyelitis are not commonly recognized as complications of early (primary or secondary) syphilis. A patient with secondary syphilis characterized by generalized lymphadenopathy, perianal condyloma lata, and positive rapid plasma reagin (RPR) and fluorescent treponemal antibody-absorption (FTA-ABS) tests also complained of headache, right shoulder pain, and right anterior chest pain and swelling. Roentgenograms showed mottled osteolytic lesions consistent with previously described luetic bone disease. Biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of syphilitic osteomyelitis, and treatment with penicillin resulted in prompt resolution of symptoms.

(JAMA 236:2646-2648, 1976)