December 1966

Saturnine Gout

Author Affiliations


From the Section of Rheumatology, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia.

Arch Intern Med. 1966;118(6):572-574. doi:10.1001/archinte.1966.00290180048009

MEDIEVAL alchemists named the base metal lead after the Titan Saturn for unknown reasons—perhaps because the metal seemed to devour all others, much as the old god ate his own children. Divers diseases were attributed to lead poisoning in days when this intoxication was still a major industrial problem; among these was gout. Some of the great names of medical history are associated with the concept of saturnine gout: Sir Alfred Garrod,1 who first emphasized the relationship between gout and lead poisoning; Bence-Jones; Charcot; and Ebstein. Luthje 2 attempted to demonstrate that the gout was produced by the metal lead itself and not by changes in urate. Little attention has been paid to saturnine gout in recent years. Although saturnine gout was the subject of a medical-legal discussion in France 3 in the 1940's, and of a review by Ludwig4 in 1957, Talbot 5 expresses some doubt

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