Tabes dorsalis

Tabes dorsalis


Caption =
DiseasesDB = 29061
ICD10 = ICD10|A|52|1|a|50
ICD9 = ICD9|094.0
MedlinePlus =
eMedicineSubj = neuro
eMedicineTopic = 684
MeshID = D013606

Tabes dorsalis is a slow degeneration of the nerve cells and nerve fibers that carry sensory information to the brain. The degenerating nerves are in the dorsal columns of the spinal cord (the portion closest to the back of the body) and carry information that help maintain a person's sense of position, vibration, and discriminative touch.


Tabes dorsalis is caused by demyelination. It is the result of an untreated syphilis infection.


Symptoms may not appear for some decades after the initial infection and include: weakness, diminished reflexes, paresthesias including morbid cutaneous sensations having no objective cause, shooting and burning pains, pricking sensations, and formication (a sensation like that produced by small insects crawling over skin), and hypesthesias (abnormally diminished cutaneous, especially tactile, sensory modalities), unsteady gait (locomotor ataxia), progressive degeneration of the joints, loss of coordination, episodes of intense pain and disturbed sensation (including glossodynia), personality changes, dementia, deafness, visual impairment, and impaired response to light. The skeletal musculature is hypotonic due to destruction of the sensory limb of the spindle reflex. The deep tendon reflexes are also diminished or absent. For example, the knee jerk or patellar reflex may be lacking, a characteristic finding in tabes known as Westphal's sign.

"Tabes dorsalgia" is a related back pain.


If left untreated, tabes dorsalis can lead to paralysis, dementia, and blindness. Existing nerve damage cannot be reversed.


The disease is more frequent in males than in females. Onset is commonly during mid-life. The incidence of tabes dorsalis is rising, in part due to co-associated HIV infection.


Penicillin, administered intravenously, is the treatment of choice. Associated pain can be treated with opiates, valproate, or carbamazepine. Patients may also require physical or rehabilitative therapy to deal with muscle wasting and weakness. Preventive treatment for those who come into sexual contact with an individual with tabes dorsalis is important.


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, completed his doctorate on tabes dorsalis in 1885.

ee also

* General paresis of the insane


* [ 'An Essay Upon the Vasomotor Changes in Tabes Dorsalis' by Arthur Conan Doyle]

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • TABES DORSALIS — (спинная сухотка, сухотка спинного мозга, прогрессивная локомоторная атаксия, ataxie locomotrice progressive), хрон. сифилитическое заболевание нервной системы, поражающее преимущественно в спинном мозгу систему задних столбов и задних корешков,… …   Большая медицинская энциклопедия

  • Tabes dorsalis — Tabes Ta bes (t[=a] b[=e]z), n. [L., a wasting disease.] (Med.) Progressive emaciation of the body, accompanied with hectic fever, with no well marked local symptoms. [1913 Webster] {Tabes dorsalis} (t[=a] b[=e]z d[^o]r*s[=a] l[i^]s) [NL., tabes… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tabes dorsalis — [dôr sā′lis, dôrsal′is] n. [ModL, tabes of the back: see TABES & DORSAL1] a chronic disease of the nervous system, usually caused by syphilis and characterized by disturbances of sensations, loss of reflexes and of muscular coordination,… …   English World dictionary

  • tabes dorsalis — tabes dor·sa·lis dȯr sā ləs, sal əs n a syphilitic disorder that involves the dorsal horns of the spinal cord and the sensory nerve trunks and that is marked by wasting, pain, lack of coordination of voluntary movements and reflexes, and… …   Medical dictionary

  • tabes dorsalis — ataxia locomotriz progresiva Diccionario ilustrado de Términos Médicos.. Alvaro Galiano. 2010 …   Diccionario médico

  • Tabes dorsalis —   [zu lateinisch dorsum »Rücken«] die, , volkstümliche Bezeichnung Rückenmarkschwindsucht, besondere Erscheinungsform der Syphilis im Spätstadium mit fortschreitender entzündlicher Degeneration der Hinterstränge des Rückenmarks und der Wurzeln… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Tabes dorsalis — Klassifikation nach ICD 10 A52.1 Floride Neurosyphilis A52.2 Asymptomatische Neurosyphilis A52.3 Neurosyphilis, n …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • tabes dorsalis — /dawr sal is, say lis/, Pathol. syphilis of the spinal cord and its appendages, characterized by shooting pains and other sensory disturbances, and, in the later stages, by paralysis. Also called locomotor ataxia. [1675 85; < NL tabes dorsalis… …   Universalium

  • tabes dorsalis — noun /ˈteɪbiːz dɔːˈseɪlɪs/ locomotor ataxia , 1970: Malcolm X: the death of terminal fibrillation, as elegant as the trembling of hands in tabes dorsalis JG Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition …   Wiktionary

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