Medical Definition of Phocomelia

  • 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.

Phocomelia: A birth defect in which the hands and feet are attached to abbreviated arms and legs. The term comes from phoco (meaning 'seal') and melia (meaning 'limb'), to indicate that a limb is like a seal's flipper, as in exposure of the developing fetus to thalidomide. Phocomelia may also, in some cases, be genetic.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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