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1. Both secondary and tertiary syphilis can affect the cord.

2. The secondary manifestation of meningovascular syphilis can present as infarction of the spinal cord (rare).

3. Tertiary syphilis presents as cognitive impairment, tabes dorsalis, and/or aortitis.

4. The cognitive impairment can be remembered by the mnemonic PARESIS: personality, affect, reflexes, eyes (Argyll-Robertson pupil), sensorium, intellect, speech.

5. Tabes dorsalis is syphilitic involvement of the posterior columns that causes deficits in proprioception, manifesting as ataxia and paresthesias.


1. Wilkinson, I. (2017). Oxford handbook of clinical medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2. Hannaman, R. A., Bullock, L., Hatchell, C. A., & Yoffe, M. (2016). Internal medicine review core curriculum, 2017-2018. CO Springs, CO: MedStudy.
3. Image: no reference available.

Ⓒ A. Manickam 2018

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