Toward the end of the 19th century the clinical entity of hypertrophic osteoarthropathy was first brought to the attention of the medical world. Since that time numerous theories have attempted to explain the mechanisms involved, yet the exact pathogenesis still remains obscure.
Early in the history of this disease, suppurative conditions, such as bronchiectasis, empyema, lung abscess, and pulmonary tuberculosis, were among the principal primary diseases responsible for the arthropathy. As the incidence and severity of these conditions have shown a gradual decline, bronchogenic carcinoma has come to be recognized as the principal cause. This is of prime importance because the signs and symptoms of hypertrophic osteoarthropathy may appear long before the lung lesion can be detected. Therefore, the early recognition of this bone and joint syndrome may be a clue to the earlier diagnosis of the pulmonic lesion, ergo, earlier treatment and possible decrease in the over-all mortality rate