The idea that syphilis may be the etiologic factor in the production of wasting of muscles is by no means new. As far back as 1795, Graves1 was led to ascribe to syphilis an atrophy that disappeared under antisyphilitic remedies. In his textbook, Gowers2 (1896) stated that chronic muscular atrophy "sometimes succeeds syphilis, and no other cause may be traceable."
It was, however, not until Raymond3 that a microscopic study was made of the spinal cord from a patient in whom there was a degeneration of the anterior horn cells as well as a diffuse meningomyelitis.
Léri,4 in 1903, in a paper entitled "Atrophies musculaires progressives spinales et syphilis," which he read before the Congress of Alienists and Neurologists, described six cases of muscular atrophy, all of which were in syphilitic patients. Two autopsies showed the lesions of a diffuse vascular meningomyelitis analogous to that observed
WINKELMAN NW. CHRONIC SYPHILITIC POLIOMYELITIS. Arch NeurPsych. 1932;28(1):151–159. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archneurpsyc.1932.02240010159012
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