Gustave Roussy

Gustave Roussy (1874 - 1948)

Gustave Roussy (1874 – 1948) was a Swiss-French neuropathologist.


  • Born 24 November 1874 in Vevey at Lake Geneva, Switzerland
  • 1907 – MD Thesis: Le syndrome thalamique under Jules-Joseph Déjerine (1849 – 1917) and later known as Dejerine-Roussy syndrome
  • 1907 – Became a French citizen
  • 1913 – Head of Paul Brousse Hospital
  • 1914-1918 Army Neurological Centre (of the VIIth region at Besançon) collaborating with Jean Lhermitte (1877 – 1959) on publications dealing with ‘psychonévroses de guerre’ (shell shock and war psychoneurosis)
  • 1919 – Opened the first French oncology outpatients department at the Paul-Brousse hospital
  • 1925 – Full professor of pathology
  • Died 30 September 1948

Medical Eponyms

Darier-Roussy sarcoid (1904) [Sarcoïdes hypodermiques; sarcoïdes sous-cutanées] cutaneous expression of systemic sarcoidosis characterized by symmetrically distributed subcutaneous nodules, chiefly on the extremities, but also on thighs and shoulders. Skin-coloured or bluish-red lesions, slowly evolving without ulceration.

Déjerine-Roussy syndrome (1906) [*syndrome de Déjérine-Roussy, thalamic syndrome, capsulothalamic syndrome] Roussy with Jules Déjerine (1849-1917) described thalamic pain following lesions of the ventroposterior thalamic nuclei or the deep white matter of the parietal lobe following contralateral hemiparesis, hemiataxia and choreoathetosis. Characterized by severe scalding, shooting or stabbing pain on the opposite side of the body.

Dejerine and Roussy provided the earliest formal accounts of “le syndrome thalamique” as a syndrome clinically characterised:

  1. A slight hemiplegia, usually without contracture and rapidly regressive.
  2. A persistent superficial hemianaesthesia ofan organic character, which can in some cases be replaced by cutaneous hyperaesthesia but is always accompanied by marked and persistent disturbances of deep sensation.
  3. Mild hemiataxia and more or less complete astereognosis.
  4. Severe, persistent, paroxysmal and often intolerable pains on the hemiplegic side, not yielding to any analgesic treatment.
  5. Choreoathetoid movements in the ‘limbs on the paralyzed side’
  6. In 1923

In 1923 Charles Foix (1882-1927) and Masson demonstrated that the most common cause was “Le syndrome de l’artère cérébrale postérieure

Roussy-Lévy syndrome (1926) [Dystasie héréditaire aréflexive, hereditary areflexive dystasia]. Roussy with Gabrielle Lévy (1886-1935) described this dominantly inherited condition associated with partial duplication at chromosome 17p11.2. related to the spinocerebellar degenerations and manifesting pes cavus, sensory and gait ataxia, areflexia, awkward movements, and a mild cerebellar intention tremor, but no nystagmus, present from the time of infancy. Syndrome now thought to be hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy (HMSN) with benign essential tremor.

Following the description of the seven patients, the authors summarized the main signs, notably (1) gait and standing problems; (2) areflexia; and (3) clubfoot

Roussy G, Lévy GA. La dystasie aréflexique héréditaire 1932

In some family members additional findings included slight clumsiness of the hands, rarely a tendency to atrophy of the palm muscles, and disappearance of the cutaneous reflexes.

Nous avons eu l’occasion d’observer sept cas d’une maladie familiale dont la symptomatologie nous a paru singulière, et non encore décrite

Roussy, Levy 1926: 427

We have had the occasion to observe seven cases of a familial disease, of which the symptomatology appeared remarkable, and not yet described

Roussy, Levy 1926: 427

Roussy-Cornil syndrome (1919) [*progressive, nonfamilial hypertrophic neuritis] A demyelinating sensorimotor peripheral neuropathy with onset usually after the third decade, affecting the upper limbs more than the lower. Sensory ataxia, lancinating pains, generalized areflexia, and intention tremor may also be evident

Major Publications


BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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