Hong Kong Med J 2000;6:433-8 | Number 4, December 2000
Deafness and liver disease in a 57-year-old man: a medical history of Beethoven
ACF Hui, SM Wong
Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong
Ludwig van Beethoven had a number of medical conditions, including deafness and chronic liver disease, for which there are contemporary descriptions. An autopsy was performed on the day after his death. Physicians and historians have tried to reinterpret original sources to determine the causes of his deafness and systemic illnesses. We have reviewed the differential diagnoses that have been proposed by otologists and physicians. Clinical and post-mortem findings point to renal papillary necrosis and liver cirrhosis of unknown aetiology. In the absence of further histological examination, there is no definitive answer to the cause of his deafness and gastro-intestinal symptoms.
Key words: Deafness/history; Famous persons; History of medicine, 19th cent.; Liver cirrhosis/history; Music/history
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