What was Beethovens disease?
Ludwig von Beethoven (1770–1827) noted hearing loss at the age of 26 years, was “stone deaf” at 49 years, and died at 57 years. His deafness is popularly attributed to otosclerosis or eighth nerve compression from Paget disease. More in-depth studies included records of attacks of rheumatism. A postmortem by Wagner and Rokitansky described “dense half-inch-thick cranial vault, shrunken auditory nerves, wasted limbs, with cutaneous petechiae, cirrhosis with ascites, a large spleen, and chalky deposits in the kidneys.” These findings led to the differential diagnosis of meningovascular syphilis, sarcoidosis, and Whipple disease.