(redirected from atrophic)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.


atrophy (ătˈrəfē), diminution in the size of a cell, tissue, or organ from its fully developed normal size. Temporary atrophy may occur in muscles that are not used, as when a limb is encased in a plaster cast. Interference with cellular nutrition, as through starvation; diseases affecting the nerve supply of tissues, e.g., poliomyelitis and muscular dystrophy; and prolonged disuse may cause a permanent wasting away of tissue. Atrophy may also follow hypertrophy.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the decrease in the size of an organ or tissue of the living organism of animals and man, accompanied by a disorder or cessation of functions. Atrophy is the result of a predominance of dissimilation over the processes of assimilation.

Atrophy can be physiological and pathological, systemic and local. Physiological atrophy is a function of the growth changes of an organism (atrophy of the thymus during puberty, atrophy of the sex glands, skin, and bones in old people, and so on). General pathological atrophy (emaciation, cachexia) appears in cases of insufficient nutrition, chronic infection or intoxication, or disorders of the endocrine glands or of the central nervous system. Local pathological atrophy arises from various causes—from a disorder in the regulation of the trophic nerves (for example, atrophy of the skeletal muscles during poliomyelitis), from insufficient supply of blood (for example, atrophy of the brain cortex during atherosclerosis of the blood vessels of the brain); dysfunctional atrophy (for example, atrophy of the optic nerve after removal of an eye), as a result of pressure (for example, atrophy of the kidney in cases of embolism of the urether and accumulation of urine in the renal pelvis), from lack of use (for example, atrophy of the muscles in the extremities after long immobilization), or from the effects of physiological and chemical factors (for example, atrophy of the lymphoid tissue from the effects of solar energy, atrophy of the thyroid gland upon application of iodine preparations).

When an organ atrophies it diminishes in size but subsequently sometimes appears larger as a result of the expansion of fat tissue which replaces the atrophied cellular elements. Pathological atrophy is, up to a certain stage, a reversible process. Treatment consists of the elimination of the causes producing atrophy.


Strukov, A. I. Patologicheskaia anatomiia. Moscow, 1967.
Cameron, G. R. Pathology of the Cell. Edinburgh, 1952.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Diminution in the size of a cell, tissue, or organ that was once fully developed and of normal size.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a wasting away of an organ or part, or a failure to grow to normal size as the result of disease, faulty nutrition, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
When the border of the lesion is clearly distinguishable in terms of color (e.g., atrophic and nonatrophic mucosae have a different color), it is easy to determine the extent of atrophy.
Caption: FIGURE 1: Violaceous, atrophic, linear striae in the right axilla and proximal arm.
Clinical appearance, close-up of lesions: slightly elevated edges and atrophic center.
* The report reviews key players involved Vaginal Atrophy (Atrophic Vaginitis) therapeutics and enlists all their major and minor projects
As shown in Tables 5 and 6, noninvasive detected atrophic gastritis methods, described in this article, have quite high sensitivity at detected non-atrophic and antral severe atrophic gastritis and corpus severe atrophic gastritis, excepting mild antral atrophic gastritis and mild corpus atrophic gastritis cases.
Thickness of epithelial lining Inflammatory infiltrate Normal Atrophic Hyperplastic Normal and atrophic Absent 1 0 0 0 Slight 7 36 2 6 Moderate 7 80 4 20 Intense 1 26 5 5 p value * 0.001 Thickness of epithelial lining Inflammatory infiltrate Normal and Atrophic and hyperplastic hyperplastic Absent 0 0 Slight 1 0 Moderate 4 2 Intense 1 6 p value * 0.001 * Chi-square test at 5% significance level.
A controlled Italian study (16) of asymptomatic subjects with APCA and patients with pernicious anemia found atrophic gastritis on histopathological examination in 18% of asymptomatic APCA subjects, in 75% of patients with pernicious anemia, and only in 3% of controls.
Atrophic vaginitis has been recognized as a diagnostic and clinical entity since the inception of cervical cancer screening, which serendipitously emerged through the investigation of hormonal influences on the cervix and vaginal vault.
Let them know that common menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes, atrophic vaginitis, insomnia, diminished libido, and hair loss, can be treated successfully with a variety of hormonal and nonhormonal agents.
With hysteroscopy, the most common findings were endometrial polyps (40%) and atrophic endometrium (34%).