The onset of sudden or rapidly progressing deafness in patients with syphilis is a not uncommon occurrence. It is usually considered to be due to a syphilitic lesion of the eighth nerve or of the labyrinth, and the prognosis for the regaining of hearing by the patient is considered unfavorable. It is the purpose of this communication to show that these affections should not be considered and treated as instances of isolated disease of the organ of hearing, but merely as manifestations of that extremely serious condition, syphilis of the central nervous system. Cases will also be reported which demonstrate how satisfactorily hearing may return, if the diagnosis is promptly made and thorough treatment instituted before irreparable damage to the nervous tissue has resulted.
The relative frequency of syphilis of the inner ear, especially early in the syphilitic infection, has been the subject of much discussion, especially during the past
ELLIS AWM, SWIFT HF. INVOLVEMENT OF THE EIGHTH NERVE IN SYPHILIS OF THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM. JAMA. 1915;LXIV(18):1471–1477. doi:10.1001/jama.1915.02570440011005
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