- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Gorham's disease

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A very rare syndrome marked by the gradual and often complete circumscribed spontaneous resorption of bone tissue or a group of bones. The condition is frequently posttraumatic and affects both sexes about equally. Clinical onset from childhood to young adulthood. Almost constantly unilateral, focal haemangioma involving one or several contiguous bones, including adjacent vertebrae; massive osteolysis. Soft tissues near bone lesion usually involved. Diffuse muscle atrophy. Involvement of the thoracic cage is usually fatal. Haemangioma on overlying skin or may not be present. The aetiology is unknown.

The earliest known publication was by J. B. S. Jackson (no more information available), who in 1838 first described its presence in the humerus of a 13-year-old boy.


  • J. B. S. Jackson:
    A boneless arm. The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, 1838, 18: 368-369.
  • L. W. Gorham, A. W. Wright, H. H. Schultz, F. C. Maxon:
    Disappearing bones: a rare form of massive osteolysis, report of two cases, one with autopsy findings.
    American Journal of Medicine, New York, 1954, 17: 674-681.
  • L. W. Gorham, A. P. Stout:
    Massive Osteolysis (Acute spontaneous absorption of bone, phantom bone, disappearing bone).
    Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Boston, 1955, 15-A: 985-1004.

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