Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

The Cyclopaedia of Anatomy and Physiology, vol. 3: Ins-Pla
Todd, Robert Bentley
epiglottis, in every case that I have seen, more 
or less removed by ulceration. The whole con¬ 
figuration of the organ is lost or spoiled, and 
scarcely bears a resemblance to the natural 
shape and appearance of a healthy larynx. We 
cannot even form a conjecture of the causes 
that occasion this formidable disease, or of the 
circumstances that dispose to its production. 
At some time beyond the middle period of life 
the cartilages of the larynx, except the epiglottis, 
and often of the trachea also, become converted 
into bone, and from the circumstance of carious 
bone being so constantly found in these ab¬ 
scesses, it would appear that it is either during 
the process of ossification or immediately after¬ 
wards that the disease commences. I have 
always imagined that it was at the former of 
these periods, and that the affection was pro¬ 
duced by some imperfection or irregularity in, 
or deviation from, the ordinary and natural pro¬ 
cess—in a word, that this earthy unorganized 
material was formed instead of healthy bone. I 
had once an opportunity of seeing a case which I 
regarded as an example of the commencement of 
this disease, in the person of a man who, having 
suffered from laryngeal symptoms for some 
months, suddenly died in the M eath Hospital, ap¬ 
parently from the effects of spasm. “ On slitting 
up the larynx, the cricoid cartilage appeared to 
be highly vascular and organised. Its substance 
was internally as red as blood, and in three or 
four places there were specks of an earthy white 
substance that crackled under the knife, and was 
evidently of the same nature with that usually 
found in caries of the laryngeal cartilages.” I 
am aware that one case can prove but little, 
particularly in pathological science, but oppor¬ 
tunities of seeing the incipient stages of such 
an affection as this must be very rare, and every 
case ought to be recorded that will in any man¬ 
ner tend to throw light on a disease the etiology 
of which is so extremely obscure. 
However occasioned, this earthy degeneration 
of the laryngeal cartilages is an extremely in- 
| sidious disease, its approach being so gradual 
as scarcely to alarm the patient, and its progress 
slow. There is usually sore throat and difficulty 
of swallowing, although this latter is not neces¬ 
sarily a constant symptom; hoarseness, and at 
first but triflingly impeded respiration. These 
inconveniences in the commencement are not 
such as to produce much distress; fori have 
known one patient suffer for three months and 
another nearly nine, before either applied for rel ief, 
and in both the disease had a fatal termination. 
Afterwards, however, the symptoms become 
= much more aggravated, the difficulty of breath¬ 
ing is exceedingly distressing, and there are exa¬ 
cerbations that bring the patient to the point of 
death by suffocation. I have already noticed 
one case in which dissolution took place at a 
very early period, and when the occurrence 
could only be e-xplained by the suddenness and 
severity of the spasm. At length, as the dys¬ 
pnoea becomes extreme, the patient suddenly 
experiences some partial relief; his cough, which 
was before teasingand troublesome, now becomes 
I softer, and the expectoration free and copious. 
This latter has all the characters of purulent 
matter, and there are, mixed with it, particles 
of that white, gritty, earthy substance already 
described. Occasionally, pieces of the size of 
a pea of this unorganised substance are coughed 
up, and when they appear they leave very little 
doubt of the nature of the complaint. Towards 
the latter end of the disease the breathing be¬ 
comes loud and sonorous, with a whistling 
noise, so as to be heard at a considerable dis¬ 
tance. The cough is incessant ; the expectora¬ 
tion copious, with a peculiarly fetid gangrenous 
smell ; the patient’s breath has this odour also, 
which may also be regarded as an unfavourable 
symptom. There is at all times convulsive 
struggling for breath, with occasional exacerba¬ 
tions. In most cases, but not in all, the chest 
becomes affected ; there is pain in some one 
part of it or other, with a sensation of tightness 
round the thorax as if the patient could not 
draw a full inspiration. His strength seems to 
give way rapidly under these symptoms; his 
body becomes emaciated ; he has night sweats 
accompanied with excessive restlessness ; and 
at last he sinks exhausted in the struggle and 
Throughout the entire progress of the dis¬ 
ease there is seldom any well-marked paroxysm 
of fever, although the pulse is never much 
under 100 ; however, this may be attributed to 
the constant irritation under which the patient 
labours. The tongue is usually clean ; the ap¬ 
petite good—in some instances ravenous ; and 
the general functions of the body, with the 
exception of respiration, seem to suffer but 
little. The countenance is always pale, with 
that sickly dirty hue that characterises hectic 
fever. The expression evinces great anxiety ; 
and this is so remarkable that patients suffering 
under this species of cynanche often seem to 
bear a strong resemblance to each other. 
It is now familiarly known to surgeons that 
even this dreadful condition is not utterly di¬ 
vested of hope, and patients in whom this dis¬ 
ease had wrought such ravages as to render the 
larynx quite unfit for the performance of its 
functions, nevertheless survived for years after 
an artificial opening had been practised in the 
trachea. Some of these patients have since 
died, and thus in a limited degree afforded op¬ 
portunity for examining the extent of destruc¬ 
tion produced, as well as proving the all-im¬ 
portant practical fact, that ulcerations here, how¬ 
ever extensive, are capable of being cicatrized 
if the organ is only left in a state of repose. In 
the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons 
in Ireland is the larynx of a patient who lived 
for more than two years after having been ope¬ 
rated on by Mr. Purdon of Belfast, and the 
following are the appearances exhibited by the 
preparation. About half the epiglottis had 
been carried away, and the edge of the remnant 
is cicatrized. The space between the root of 
the epiglottis and the rima, rough on its sur¬ 
face, irregular and warty. The ventricles 
altered in shape, diminished in size, but not ob¬ 
literated. The dimensions of the rima greatly 
diminished. The canal of the larynx is not 
more than one-third of its natural size, and is 
lined by a thick uneven membrane, evidently


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