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May 1965

Polymyositis and Other Diseases Resembling Muscular Dystrophy

Author Affiliations


From the Departments of Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery, Northwestern University, the Medical Service, Veterans Administration Research Hospital, and the Department of Research, Chicago Wesley Memorial Hospital, Chicago; and the Childrens Cancer Research Foundation, Childrens Hospital Medical Center, Boston. Associate Professor of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Lecturer in Medicine, Harvard Medical School (Dr. Dowken); Assistant Clinical Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School (Dr. Vawter); lately Clinical Assistant in Medicine, Northwestern University; present address: Health Service, University of New Mexico, Alburquerque, NM (Dr. Brandfonbrenner); Fellow in Medicine, Northwestern University, Trainee in Metabolism under National Institutes of Health Training Grant 2A-5071; present address: University of Michigan Hospital, Ann Arbor, Mich (Dr. Sniderman); Instructor of Orthopedic Surgery, Northwestern University (Dr. Kaegy).

Arch Intern Med. 1965;115(5):584-594. doi:10.1001/archinte.1960.03860170066015

THE renewed interest by physicians in detecting and treating muscle diseases and the increased awareness of them by the laiety has contributed, no doubt, to the more freqent diagnosis of muscular dystrophy in recent years. However, a large fraction of patients sent to our clinic with the diagnosis of muscular dystrophy were found to suffer from some other malady. The diseases most frequently mistaken for muscular dystrophy were polymyositis and the syndrome of "benign hypotonia." Polymyositis, with its protean manifestations and variable course, may mimic all of the forms of muscular dystrophy so closely that differentiation becomes especially difficult.

The diagnostic label of polymyositis is applied to a heterogeneous group of cases where muscle weakness is accompanied by one or more of the following clinical features: undoubted remission of weakness, muscular pain or tenderness, cutaneous eruptions accompanying the appearance or worsening of weakness, dysphagia, high levels of serum aldolase in