The presence of a tattoo in a patient is an indicator of syphilis until proved otherwise.
DescriptionOne of our frequent contributors is William Charles Caccamise Sr, MD, of Pittsford, New York, USA. Besides eponyms in his own specialty, ophthalmology, he has sent us this:
Early in my youth, my father - a general practitioner - familiarized me with Osler's Sign: the presence of a tattoo in a patient was an indicator of syphilis until proved otherwise. A supporting reference is: "In the 1800s, Sir William Osler viewed the presence of a tattoo on a patient as a sure sign of syphilis. He stated 'I often think that if I look closely enough at tattooings, I can see the track of the spirochete!'
BibliographyH. E. MacDermot:
An Osler anecdote (letter). Certified Medical Assistant Journal, 1971, 105, 1129.
Referred to in, Terrence A. Cronin Jr:
Tattoos, Body Piercings and Other Skin Adornments.
Skin & Aging, volume 11, issue 4, April 2003.