The first description of the pathology of MS was made by Robert Carswell, a pathologist of the mid 19th century.
- During a postmortem, Carswell found lesions in the spinal cord of an unfortunate subject.
- Unaware of their cause, he recorded their gross appearance and made a hand-painted illustration of the lesions (above).
- The illustration and description were published in 1838 in his Atlas of Pathology.
- Despite Carswell’s major contribution in describing the pathology of MS lesions, he did not record any clinical associations with his observations.
“Why is important? To define a disease you need to link the pathology to the clinical presentation and clinical characteristics of the disease; the so called clinico-pathological correlate. He did not do this therefore the definition of MS could not be attributed to Carswell; in other words we can’t refer to MS as Carswell’s disease.”
Other relevant postings on the history of MS: