Medical Definition of Phthisis

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Phthisis: A good trivia or crossword item. An over-consonanted Greek word meaning "a dwindling or wasting away." Pronounced TIE-sis.

Phthisis is an archaic name for tuberculosis. A person afflicted with tuberculosis in the old days was destined to dwindle and waste away like Mimi, the heroine of Puccini's 1896 opera "La Boheme."

Nephronophthisis is derived from "nephron" + "phthisis." The nephron is the fundamental functional unit in the kidney and includes the renal tubule and glomerulus. In nephronophthisis the kidney is progressively destroyed.

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Last Editorial Review: 1/25/2017

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