Syphilitic lesion of the arteries, and likewise of other fibrous tissues, often involves grave consequential damage to nervous structures fed or supported by such parts.
Some of the most successful of the advances of medicine as a healing art have followed the detection of syphilitic disease of the vessels, or of the supporting tissues of nervous centres and of the peripheral nerves; so that, by specific medication, the treatment of paralytic, convulsive, and other terrible manifestations of nervous disease thus secondarily induced is now undertaken in early stages with definite prospect of cure.
Such injuries are apt to occur in syphilitic endarteritis, or senile arterial decay, whereby an artery may be blocked permanently, as if with an embolus, and the area supplied by it, in so far as it was dependent upon this vessel, deprived of nutrition.
Hoffmann (52) from essential syphilitic lesions, and now known as Treponeina (Spirochaete) pallida, Schaud.
In its tertiary stages - and also earlier - this disease yields in the most rapid and unmistakable fashion to iodides; so much so that the administration of these salts is at present the best means of determining whether, for instance, a cranial tumour be syphilitic or not.
No surgeon would think of operating on such a case until iodides had been freely administered and, by failing to cure, had proved the disease to be non-syphilitic. Another instance of this deobstruent power - "alterative," it was formerly termed - is seen in the case of chronic lead poisoning.
The diseases to which the application has been hitherto confined are papillomata, lupus vulgaris, epithelial tumours, syphilitic ulcers, pigmentary naevi, angiomata, and pruritus and chronic itching of the skin; but the use of radium in therapeutics is still experimental.