Thursday, July 14, 2011

According to the Greeks, the term "camptocormia" is being misused!

Arkady Melikyan, MD
Dr. Arkady Melikyan, a neurology resident currently rotating on my neuropathology service, informed me today of a word in the neurological lexicon that I had not heard of before: camptocormia. Dr. Melikyan credits attending neurologist Rodger Elble, MD, PhD for enlightening him with regard to this term. Camptocormia, according to Adams and Victor's Principles of Neurology (9th edition, page 117), is "a severe forward bending of the trunk at the waist that is symptomatic of either a dystonia, Parkinson disease, or one of several muscle diseases that focally weaken the extensors of the spine." This condition causes "the patient to walk while looking at the ground beneath the feet, but rarely causes falling". Look at this 17-second video on YouTube demonstrating the condition. Camptocormia is derived from the Greek words campto (meaning to bend forward actively) and cormos (meaning body or trunk). In an article entitled Camptocormia or cormoptosis? The etymology of the word [Ann Rheum Dis. 1996 November; 55(11): 858], Greek authors (and they ought to know!) Drs. Dimitrios Karras, John Vassilakos, and Dimitrios Kassimos have proposed the word cormoptosis instead for this condition (with ptosis meaning passive movement downward). They recommend that the term "camptocormia" be reserved only for patients whose stoop is psychogenic in origin.

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