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September 1959

Note on a Monstrous Finger

Author Affiliations

Iowa City

From the Department of Internal Medicine and the University Hospitals of the State University of Iowa College of Medicine.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1959;104(3):433-438. doi:10.1001/archinte.1959.00270090087016

In our sometimes apathetic acceptance of nature we rarely wonder at the marvelous symmetry of man. This he has in common with most highly advanced creatures. We take it for granted that as we grow our right and left sides will remain roughly symmetrical. Most persons start and stop growing at the appointed time. Only when growth fails and results in various kinds of dwarfism or exceeds its regular confines in gigantism and acromegaly do we notice nature's mistakes. Then we wonder what are the governors, the starters and the stoppers of growth? More freakish and rare than dwarfs or giants are examples of local gigantism. These are not well understood either. Even the common clubbing of the fingers and osteoarthropathy, acquired reversible forms of modest localized overgrowth, are comprehended only in part. Though we know something of mechanisms, of hormones, and of the role of the circulation of blood,