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polyp,in medicine, a benign tumor occurring in areas lined with mucous membrane such as the nose, gastrointestinal tract (especially the colon), and the uterus. Some polyps are pedunculated tumors, i.e., they grow on stems; others, attached by a broad base, are called sessile. Nasal polyps are usually associated with an allergic condition; since they interfere with breathing, it is advisable that they be removed. Uterine and gastrointestinal polyps are likely to cause bleeding, but, more important, they may undergo malignant degeneration and for this reason are also usually removed.
a morbid growth that develops on mucosa of the respiratory tract, uterus, stomach, large intestine, rectum, and urinary bladder. Polyps are villous formations of various shapes; sometimes pear-shaped, they are usually broad-based or pedunculated. They may ulcerate and cause hemorrhages. Modern medical practice considers polyps precancerous, and therefore they are surgically removed.
the common name for the predominantly benthic form of coelenterates. In metagenetic forms, that is, in hydrozoans (except hydras) and scyphozoans, polyps are capable only of vegetative reproduction, forming either medusae (in hydrozoans by budding, in scyphozoans by transverse division) or other polyps. Sexual reproduction is characteristic in such forms only in individuals of the medusa phase—free-swimming individuals or individuals remaining attached to the polyp. In homogenetic forms (hydrida and anthozoans), the polyps are capable of both sexual and vegetative reproduction. With sexual reproduction, larvae develop from the eggs and are transformed into polyps.
Polyps usually are cylindrical and measure from several millimeters to several centimeters tall (rarely up to 1 m). The upper part of the body contains the mouth, which is surrounded by tentacles. The base serves as a foot by which the polyp attaches itself to the substrate (in solitary forms) or to the colony (in colonial forms). There is often a hard external or internal skeleton of organic matter or limestone. The nervous system, which is developed considerably less than in the medusa, is in the form of a subepithelial nerve ganglion. Sex glands are present only in homogenetic forms and are located in the ectoderm (in Hydrida) or in the entoderm (in anthozoans). Sexual products are eliminated through ruptures in the walls of the gonads. In rare cases (in some actiniae), development occurs in the gastral cavity of the maternal body.
Polyps, except for hydras and a few related forms, are marine organisms. The majority lead a sedentary life; many form colonies. Movements are limited by the extension and contraction of the body and tentacles. Some solitary forms, hydras and actiniae, move slowly along the substrate; a few actiniae inhabit the depths. Polyps feed predominantly on animal substances, usually capturing their prey with their tentacles.
REFERENCESSee references under COELENTERATA.
D. V. NAUMOV