The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Digital Library

Skull with Syphilitic Necrosis

About This Item

Title

Skull with Syphilitic Necrosis

Subject

Skull
Syphilis
Necrosis
Medical History, 19th Cent.

Description

This ravaged skull, from a 26-year-old woman, shows the effects of late-stage syphilis. The bones of the cranium, especially the frontal bone, are deeply invaded. The vomer (which forms part of the nasal septum) is partially destroyed. The alveolar processes (the ridges that hold the teeth) are so affected that most of the teeth were lost before death.

Generally, such an advanced case of syphilis would take several decades to develop; this young woman was particularly unlucky. As Georges Dieulafoy wrote in A Text-book of Medicine (1912) “…when we see the destruction wrought by syphilis upon the cranial vault, we ask how life could have been compatible with such lesions.”

Contributor

Thomas Dent Mütter, MD

Identifier

1161.07

Coverage

19th Century

Original Format

Human skull, metal springs

Citation

“Skull with Syphilitic Necrosis,” The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Digital Library, accessed July 15, 2020, https://www.cppdigitallibrary.org/items/show/4371.