Soma Weiss (1898-1942)

Soma Weiss (1898-1942) was a Hungarian-born American physician

In 1929, along with pathologist George Kenneth Mallory (1900-1986) described hemorrhagic lacerations of the cardiac orifice of the stomach due to vomiting.

Eponymously remembered for Mallory-Weiss Syndrome/lesion/tear and Charcot-Weiss-Baker Syndrome.

  • Born on January 27, 1898 in n Bistriţa, Transylvania
  • 1916 – studied physiology and biochemistry at the Royal Hungarian University
  • 1920 – emigrated to the USA
  • 1921 – BA, Columbia University
  • 1923 – MD, Cornell University; worked the pharmacological institute of Cornell University, studying the effects of digitalis.
  • 1925 – research fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School based at Boston City Hospital. With Herrmann Ludwig Blumgart (1895-1977) conducted experiments with in-vivo circulating blood radioactive tracers, the first practical method of measuring circulation in time
  • 1929 – along with pathologist George Kenneth Mallory (1900-1986) described hemorrhagic lacerations of the cardiac orifice of the stomach due to vomiting – Mallory-Weiss syndrome
  • 1939 – physician-in-chief and professor at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital
  • Died on January 31, 1942 from a ruptured intracranial aneurysm aged 44

Medical Eponyms
Mallory–Weiss Lesion (1929)

The characteristic of this lesion are longitudinal mucosal lacerations in the distal esophagus and proximal stomach, which are usually associated with forceful or prolonged vomiting, retching or coughing.

In 1929 George Mallory and Soma Weiss described 15 cases. They identified a characteristic history of heavy alcohol use followed by persistent nausea, retching and vomiting.

It was assumed by the clinicians that the cause of haematemesis was a ruptured varice however there was no underlying liver cirrhosis identified. Of the 15 cases they document, 4 died from the blood loss and in postmortem there were similar lesions. These lesions were described as fissure-like and were located in the mucosa around the cardia of the stomach. In 1 of the 4 patients that died, haematemesis was not a feature however was found to have the same lesion.

Mallory–Weiss Lesion (1929)
Fig. 5.—Cross section of one of the ulcerations from Case II from the lower end of the lesion. Normal mucosa of stomach is present on either side of ulceration. Fissure is narrow and extends down into the submucosa. The floor is composed of fibrin and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. 1929

Mallory and Weiss arrived at the conclusion that these lesions were related to persistent vomiting rather than alcohol due to a case with persistent vomiting in pregnancy. They then went one step further to simulate increased pressure by dilating the stomach against a tied pylorus reproducing the lacerations at the cardia in a cadaveric study.

In 1932 Mallory and Weiss report on two further cases, one which would be considered classical and the second which might now be viewed differently. The second case was not identified until post mortem when they discovered a lonitudinal ulcer at the oesophageal junction. Based on some infrequent prior episodes of small volume haematemesis, Mallory and Weiss drew the conclusions that acute longitudinal lacerations could lead to chronic longitudinal lacerations and ulcers. Perhaps this would now be more inkeeping with Barrett’s Oesophagus.

In their paper Mallory and Weiss identify – Johann Friedrich Hermann Albers (1833) as the first to document an ulcer in the lower oesophagus. Mallory and Weiss also comment on the work of Heinrich Irenaeus Quincke and the less common oesophageal ‘peptic’ ulcer. Mallory and Weiss then separated their work from that reported by Georges Dieulafoy based on histology.

Charcot-Weiss-Baker syndrome (1933)

Transient attacks of syncope with marked slowing in heart rate and lowering of blood pressure, and loss of consciousness, caused by strong pressure on the neck over the bifurcation of the carotid arteries, which cause the excitation of baroreceptors of the carotid sinuses. The attacks may also be produced by a sudden turn of the head or wearing a tight collar. More commonly affecting those with atherosclerotic disease or over he age of 45.

Major Publications



Eponymous terms

Mallory-Weiss syndrome

Charcot-Weiss-Baker syndrome


the person behind the name

Dr William McGalliard LITFL Author

Graduated Medicine in 2020 from Queens University Belfast. Interested in Internal Medicine.

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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