Grave’s Disease


Other Known AliasesAutoimmune hyperthyroidism

Definition – Hyperthyrodism caused by antibodies that stimulate T3/T4 secretion.  The most common antibodies are thyroid-secreting hormone (TSH) and thyrotropin receptor antibody (TRAb). 

Clinical SignificanceClassic clinical manifestations of hyperthyroidism include thyromegaly, ophthalmaopathy, resting tremor, palpitations, weight loss, heat intolerance.  For more in depth analysis of hyperthyroidism, see my 2017 talk at ASPA here.

History – Named after Robert James Graves (1796-1853), who was an prolific Irish physician, surgeon, and educator.  He was named Regius professor of the Institute of Medicine in Trinity College, founded the Dublin Journal of Medical and Chemical Sciences, and was a an early adopter of clinical bedside rounding and teaching with medical students. Dr. Graves wrote a routine clinical lecture series in the London Medical and Surgical Journal and first described a young female patient with ophthalmopathy and goiter in 1835.  Dr. Armand Trousseau then published the collection of these articles in 1864 entitled “Clinical Lectures on the Practice of Medicine” and gave him this eponym.  Another contribution of Dr. Graves was the creation of the second hand on watches to time pulses and the practice of providing food and water with patients with a fever, instead of the common practice of withholding nourishment.

Image result for robert james graves



  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com
  5. Graves RJ.  Newly Observed Affection of the Thyroid Gland. London Medical and Surgical Journal.  1835. Vol.7. Part 2. 512
  6. Graves RJ, Trousseau A.  Clinical Lectures on the Practice of Medicine.  1864.  Dublin.
  7. Smith TJ, Hegedüs L. Graves’ Disease. The New England journal of medicine. 2016; 375(16):1552-1565. [pubmed]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s