Definition: a type of late tertiary syphilis, seen predominantly in men; its major clinical manifestations are ataxia, urinary incontinence, and brief lancinating pains (“lightning pains”), which can affect any portion of the body, but particularly the legs; clinical abnormalities are Argyll-Robertson pupils, optic atrophy, impaired vibration and position sense, as well as absent deep tendon reflexes in the lower limbs, and a positive Romberg sign; pathologic studies reveal marked thinning of the dorsal roots, principally in the lumbosacral region, and degeneration of the posterior columns of the spinal cord; often no evidence of active syphilis is present at this late stage.
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