A streptococcus having peculiar properties was isolated from the dead pulp of the left upper first molar in the region where the attacks of pain usually began. The streptococcus was also demonstrated in the sections and isolated from the infiltrated deep fascia and muscles of the left side of the neck. A similar streptococcus was isolated from the pharynx and stool. This streptococcus was proved to have elective affinity for the pulp of teeth, dental nerves and muscles in animals. It was repeatedly isolated from and demonstrated in the experimental lesions in animals whose blood was sterile; the lesions were again produced on reinjection and the streptococcus again isolated. Many animals appeared to be in pain and 1 rabbit (Fig. 4) had marked swelling and tenderness over the left upper jaw. This affinity was proved absent in the diptheroid bacillus and Bacillus fusiformis, which also were isolated from the pulp of the tooth, and in the streptococcus broth culture filtrate. Streptococci from other sources rarely cause lesions in the pulp of teeth and dental nerves. The phagocytic power of the patient's blood following the attack over the strain from the tooth was twice that of comparable normal blood.
These results would appear to warrant drawing the conclusion that the attacks of pain in the face in this patient were due to a streptococcus infection of the sheaths of the dental nerves, and that the pain, swelling, tenderness and spasm of the muscles of the neck were due to myositis and fibrositis—the result of infection by this streptococcus. The demonstration of living streptococci in the pulp of the tooth and in the fascia and muscle during quiescent intervals is significant and may explain the recurrence of the attacks. The cavity in the tooth containing the dead pulp, which was originally infected from the mouth, judging by the character of the filling and of the bacterial flora, was quite unable to heal for mechanical reasons. The contents of the cavity appeared to afford a culture medium for the growth of the streptococcus. From stimulation of the defensive mechanism in the patient during the attacks, active growth appeared to be held in check and the symptoms disappeared in consequence, only to reappear later from recurrence of active growth and localization of the streptococci when the immunity was low.
The improvement in the patient since extraction of the tooth appears to be due to the removal of this focus and to prolonged artificial stimulation of the defensive mechanism by means of the autogenous vaccine, which, it is hoped, will lead to the destruction of all the streptococci in the muscle and dental nerves, and result in the ultimate recovery of the patient. However, the isolation of this streptococcus from so many places, indicates that complete recovery will probably be difficult.
Read before the American Association of Immunologists, Washington, D. C., May 11, 1916.