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August 1939

SYPHILITIC POLYNEURITIS: A Clinicopathologic Entity

Author Affiliations

Washington, D. C.; Northport, N. Y.

From St. Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, D. C.

Arch NeurPsych. 1939;42(2):273-285. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1939.02270200093009

In spite of the great frequency of syphilis of the central nervous system, it is rare that the peripheral nerves are involved. In fact, it is actually doubted by many that such a clinicopathologic entity as syphilitic neuritis exists. There are several reasons for this skepticism. Polyneuritis, as a neurologic symptom, is rather frequent generally, and there is no reason why nonsyphilitic multiple neuritis may not occur in a syphilitic person. Moreover, there are no clinical signs or symptoms which can specifically differentiate polyneuritis of syphilitic from that of nonsyphilitic origin, and this makes accurate diagnosis difficult. Most syphilitic patients are treated with bismuth, mercury and arsenical preparations; while neuritis as a result of therapeutic doses of these drugs is unusual it may occur, and the polyneuritis is often attributed to them. Though there are numerous clinical reports of syphilitic neuritis in the literature, detailed pathologic examinations have been strikingly

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