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Basedow's syndrome or disease

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A disorder characterized by a triad of hyperthyroidism, goiter, and exophthalmos (bulging eyeballs). The symptoms include cardiac arrhythmias, increased pulse rate, weight loss in the presence of increased appetite, intolerance to heat, elevated basal metabolism rate, profuse sweating, apprehension, weakness, elevated protein-bound iodine level, tremor, diarrhoea, vomiting, eyelid retraction, and stare. Goitres are more prevalent in fresh water and lake countries and less so on the seacoast, due to the lack of iodine in fresh water.

Etiology unknown, but may be related to malfunction of the immune system. Female dominance, ratio 4: 1; onset in third or fifth decade of life.

According to Jan-Gustaf Ljunggren, in an article in the Swedish journal Läkartidningen (1983; No 32-33), eponymic priority may be due to a Persian physcian. According to Ljunggren, more than eight hundred years ago the Persian physician Sayyid Ismail Al-Jurjani seems to have noted the association of goitre and exophthalmos, in Thesaurus of the Shah of Khwarazm, the most famous of his five books, and the major medical dictionary of its time.

The clinical picture was first noted by Caleb Hillier Parry (1755-1822) in 1786 and reported in his posthumous collection of unpublished writings in 1825. It was first described by the Italians Giuseppe Flajani (1741-1808) in 1802 and Antonio Giuseppe Testa (1756-1814) in 1810. Robert James Graves (1797-1853) of Ireland in 1835, and Karl Adolph von Basedow in 1840. The clinical triad described by Basedow included goiter, exophthalmos, and tachyardia. On the European Continent the term Basedow’s disease is the more common, while it is known as Graves’ disease in the English-speaking world.


  • Sayyid Ismail Al-Jurjani:
    Thesaurus of the Shah of Khwarazm.
  • G. Flajani:
    Sopra un tumor freddo nell'anterior parte del collo broncocele. (Osservazione LXVII.).
    In his: Collezione d'osservazioni e reflessioni di chirurgia. Rome, Michele A Ripa Presso Lino Contedini, 1802. Volume 3, pp 270-273.
  • A. G. Testa:
    Delle malattie del cuore, loro cagioni, specie, segni e cura.
    Bologna, 1810. 2nd edition in 3 volumes, Florence, 1823; Milano 1831; German translation, Halle, 1813.
  • C. H. Parry:
    Enlargement of the thyroid gland in connection with enlargement or palpitations of the heart.
    Posthumous, in: Collections from the unpublished medical writings of C. H. Parry. London, 1825, pp. 111-129.
    According to Garrison, Parry first noted the condition in 1786. He briefly reported it in his Elements of Pathology and Therapeutics, 1815. Reprinted in Medical Classics, 1940, 5: 8-30.
  • Robert J. Graves:
    New observed affection of the thyroid gland in females.(Clinical lectures.)
    London Medical and Surgical Journal (Renshaw), 1835; 7: 516-517.
    Reprinted in Medical Classics, 1940, 5: 33-36.
  • H. Marsh:
    Dilatation of the cavities of the heart. Enlargement of the thyroid gland.
    Dublin Journal of Medical and Chemical Science. 1842, 20: 471-474. Abstract.
  • K. A. von Basedow:
    Exophthalmus durch Hypertrophie des Zellgewebes in der Augenhöhle.
    [Casper’s] Wochenschrift für die gesammte Heilkunde, Berlin, 1840, 6: 197-204; 220-228.
    Partial English translation in: Ralph Hermon Major (1884-1970): Classic Descriptions of Disease. Springfield, C. C. Thomas, 1932. 2nd edition, 1939; 3rd editon, 1945. Die Glotzaugen. [Casper’s] Wochenschrift für die gesammte Heilkunde, Berlin, 1848: 769-777.
  • J. Begbie:
    Anaemia and its consequences; enlargement of the thyroid gland and eyeballs. Anaemia and goitre, are they related?
    Monthly Journal of Medical Science, London, 1849, 9: 496-508.

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