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November 5, 1898


Author Affiliations

Physician to Out-Patients at the City Hospital and at the Infants Hospital, Boston; Assistant in Clinical Medicine, Harvard Medical School. BOSTON. MASS.

JAMA. 1898;XXXI(19):1084-1088. doi:10.1001/jama.1898.92450190008002c

Very great differences of opinion exist with regard to what constitutes tetany, as well as to the frequency of its occurrence and its etiology and pathology.

It is generally accepted that the most characteristic symptom of tatany is muscular rigidity, this rigidity occurring as intermittent paroxysmal contractures. The duration and intensity of the contractures vary, in some cases being long and remittent, in others fleeting and occurring at long intervals. The extent of the contractures also varies within wide limits, the seat par excellence, however, being in the muscles of the arms, especially of the fore-arms. The positions assumed by the hands and feet during these contractures are very characteristic. The fingers are flexed at the metacarpo-phalangeal joints, while the phalanges are extended. The thumb is strongly adducted in the extended position. The wrist is acutely flexed and the hand turned to the ulnar side. The elbow-and shoulder-joints are not