Objective: To analyze the case notes of 127 patients with chorea admitted to the National Hospital at Queen Square, London, under the care of William Richard Gowers and review his contribution to the study of choreas. Methods: We consulted the case books available at the Queen Square Library, from 1878 to 1911, comprising 42 volumes. Results: 97 patients (76.3%) were female and the age of presentation ranged from 4 to 60 years (mean 14.3). 43 patients (33.8%) experienced recurrent attacks of chorea. 29 patients (22.8%) had a family history of chorea. Past history of rheumatic fever was observed in 46 patients (36.2%). 54 patients (42.5%) had speech impairment while a similar number had a cardiac murmur. Generalized chorea occurred in 87.4% and hemichorea in 11.8%. Gowers diagnosed different forms of chorea:Huntington’s disease, paralytic, persistent, recurrent, tetanoid, functional, maniacal, hemichorea and chorea gravidarum. Conclusions: Gowers was one of the pioneers in recognizing chorea as a physical sign found in a myriad of etiologies. He also provided a comprehensive description of the clinical features and natural history of Sydenham’s chorea in his work.


Source: Karger

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