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July 1968

Romberg's Sign

Arch Neurol. 1968;19(1):123. doi:10.1001/archneur.1968.00480010141013

MORITZ Heinrich Romberg is best remembered for the neurological sign that bears his name. Less widely recognized is his role as a founder of modern neurology.1-5 One of the earliest physicians to specialize in the neurological disorders, Romberg had established an active neurology clinic at the University of Berlin by 1837 and wrote the first major textbook of neurology, published in segments between 1840 and 1846.6

In this outstanding work, which was translated into English in 1853,7 Romberg presented his classical description of tabes dorsalis. Despite the fact that syphilis had been introduced into Europe in the 15th century, cases of true tabes dorsalis apparently had not been described in medical writings until the 19th century.8 Romberg presented the first organized account of this disease, although he did not recognize its relationship to syphilis and he did not clearly distinguish ataxia from weakness.

In his