V.M. Bekhterev and the Bekhterev phenomenon in neuro-otology

1Rector, Kazan State Medical University, Kazan, Russia.  rector AT kgmu.kcn.ru
2Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation, Kazan State Medical University, Kazan, Russia.  enver_bogdanov AT mail.ru, ravilzm AT mail.ru, elvira2005 AT hotmail.ru
3Department of History of Medicine, Kazan State Medical University, Kazan, Russia.  sozinov63 AT mail.ru

Objective: The impact on neurotology of VM Bekhterev (1857-1927) as the founder of the Kazan Neurology School.

Background: Vestibular compensation has been the subject of study from Florence (1824) to today (G.M. Halmagyi, I.S. Curthhoys, 1999). Bekhterev concentrated on neuroanatomy and vestibular function during his time in Flechsig’s laboratory in Leipzig, 1884-1885. He continued his work in Kazan University from 1885-1893.

Design/Methods: Literature review of all of the original papers by VMB, available at the archives of KSU, in comparison with modern data.

Results: The result of his animal work in 1883 showed that changes in the brainstem are likely responsible for the recovery of static symptoms. VMB described the pattern of vestibular dysfunction after unilateral labyrinth destruction (Spontaneous nystagmus, postural symptoms, vertigo). If the second labyrinthectomy performed a few days or weeks after the previous the animal shows a near-complete pattern of behavioural response, just if the second labyrinthectomy was the first labirinthectomy on a normal animal (Bekhterev, 1883). During his work with Flechsig VMB published the paper distinguishing the anterior and posterior roots of the VIIIth cranial nerve and discovered the superior vestibular nucleus which is bearing his name (Bekhterev, 1885). However Sigmund Freud and Darkshevich in 1885 erroneously concluded that “vestibular nucleus of Deiters was the third acoustic nucleus…” (G. Wiest & R. Baloh, 2002). VMB summarised his neuroanatomy studies at the famous handbook Passages of Spinal Cord and Cerebrum (1893).

Conclusions: Thus, Bekhterev was the first to describe clinical picture of vestibular compensation after second labyrinth destruction which is called Bechterev Phenomenon. Further study on the Bekhterev Phenomenon will give the answer on crucial question about difference between well and poorly - compensated patients for their long-term rehabilitation.


Poster Session
Saturday, 24 June 2006, 11.00 am - 12.30 pm

11th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)

Pavia, Italy, 2006