|Description:||This image depicts the upper back of a patient diagnosed with tertiary, or late-staged syphilis. The patient developed an aortic aneurysm, which due to its size and long-standing effects, had eroded his posterior chest wall, as evidenced by the bulge in the region just lateral to the inferior angle of the left scapula, or shoulder blade.|
Late and Latent Stages
The latent (hidden) stage of syphilis begins when primary and secondary symptoms disappear. Without treatment, the infected person will continue to have syphilis even though there are no signs or symptoms; infection remains in the body. This latent stage can last for years. The late stages of syphilis can develop in about 15% of people who have not been treated for syphilis, and can appear 10–20 years after infection was first acquired. In the late stages of syphilis, the disease may subsequently damage the internal organs, including the brain, nerves, eyes, heart, blood vessels, liver, bones, and joints. Signs and symptoms of the late stage of syphilis include difficulty coordinating muscle movements, paralysis, numbness, gradual blindness, and dementia. This damage may be serious enough to cause death.