Scientific Colloquium
October 5, 2012

"Beethoven and the Sound that Failed"

Beethoven, as nearly everyone knows, went deaf. Not nearly as well known is that his deafness, which was complete by the time he reached 50, was just one of a whole host of medical problems. He also suffered for many years with irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatism, migraines, recurrent fevers, painful eyes, and terminal cirrhosis. Did he have one or many disorders? Only one in particular could explain all of these complaints and also demonstrate so well that it makes no difference to the disease that takes us how great or how insignificant are our accomplishments in this world.

About the speaker:

Dr. Philip A. Mackowiak is director of medical care at the VA Maryland Health Care System and professor and vice chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He has taught the art of clinical diagnosis to medical students and graduate physicians for over three decades. His book Post Mortem was inspired by the annual Historical Clinicopathological Conference hosted by Dr. Mackowiak since 1995 for the VA Maryland Health Care System and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
From the description of Post Mortem:
Their lives changed history. Their deaths were mysteries, until now! Post-Mortem: Solving History's Great Medical Mysteries by Philip A. Mackowiak, MD, FACP, examines the controversial lives and deaths of 12 famous men and women. Post-Mortem traces 3,500 years of medical history from the perspective of what contemporary physicians thought about the diseases of their renowned patients and how they might have treated them. It follows the case history format of today's clinical pathologic conferences, describing the characteristics of the illnesses in question, and bringing to life the medical history, social history, family history, and physical examination of their famous victims. Post-Mortem then sifts through the medical evidence, testing a wide range of diagnostic theories against the known facts and today's best scientific research, to arrive at the diagnosis most consistent with the illness described in the historic record.
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