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March 1981

An Early Case Report of Muscular Dystrophy: A Footnote to the History of Neuromuscular Disorders

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the John F. Kennedy Institute, Baltimore.

Arch Neurol. 1981;38(3):144-146. doi:10.1001/archneur.1981.00510030038004

Duchenne published his first case of paraplégie hypertrophique in 18611; by 1868 he had collected data on 13 cases of paralysie musculaire pseudohypertrophique.2 In the latter report, he reviewed the clinical course of the disease and its histology and described a novel technique for muscle biopsy to confirm the diagnosis prior to autopsy. The eponym "Duchenne's muscular dystrophy" reflects Duchenne's monumental contribution to the classification of disorders of muscle.3

An earlier case report by Dr Edward Meryon4 has been credited as the first accurate and detailed description of muscular dystrophy.5.6 Dr Meryon followed the initial case from 1848 to 1850 and described the family with four involved brothers in 1853. He attributed the disease to an interstitial fatty degeneration secondary to nutritional inadequacy.

As a physician, William John Little (1810-1894) is remembered for his experimentation with intravenous solutions in the treatment of cholera. As an

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