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Poland’s Syndrome: Current Thoughts in the Setting of a Controversy

Ram, Ashwin N. B.S.; Chung, Kevin C. M.D., M.S.

Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery: March 2009 - Volume 123 - Issue 3 - pp 949-953
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e318199f508
Hand/Peripheral Nerve: Special Topic

Summary: Poland’s syndrome is a rare congenital disorder that is characterized by hypoplasia of the pectoralis muscles and ipsilateral webbing of the fingers. The name of this condition pays homage to Dr. Alfred Poland of Guy’s Hospital, who in 1841 described a case of these two deformities during the autopsy of a 27-year-old convict. An exploration of the historical series reveals a clear progression of knowledge about this syndrome, accumulated by scientists across Europe and America. As such, the name “Poland’s syndrome” stands as a point of contention to those who oppose the injudicious use of eponyms in medicine. An analysis of the relevant literature reveals a stepwise understanding of what has come to be known as Poland’s syndrome.

Ann Arbor, Mich.

From The University of Michigan Medical School and Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, The University of Michigan Health System.

Received for publication June 17, 2008; accepted July 31, 2008.

Disclosure: Neither of the authors has a financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.

Kevin C. Chung, M.D., M.S., Section of Plastic Surgery, The University of Michigan Health System, 1500 E. Medical Center Drive, 2130 Taubman Center, SPC 5340, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48109-5340,

©2009American Society of Plastic Surgeons