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April 1969

Disuse Atrophy of Human Skeletal Muscles

Author Affiliations

Bombay, India
From the Neuropathology Unit, Post Graduate Research Laboratories, J. J. Group of Hospitals, Bombay-8, India. Dr. Patel is now at the Department of Neurosurgery, Atkinson Morley Hospital, London.

Arch Neurol. 1969;20(4):413-421. doi:10.1001/archneur.1969.00480100089013

DISUSE ATROPHY is a term frequently and glibly used by clinicians and pathologists alike when faced with a nonspecific muscular atrophy. Unfortunately for both, this is usually a diagnosis of exclusion. Histological changes in cases of pure disuse atrophy in human skeletal muscles are wanting.

The purpose of this paper is to describe the histological changes occurring in skeletal muscle in individuals who were immobilized for varying intervals of time.

Materials and Methods  The subjects were ten men who had sustained closed traumatic uncomplicated fractures of their extremities, and one (case 11) who had simultaneously incurred injury of the lateral popliteal nerve with foot-drop, and were immobilized by either plaster or traction. They were studied when the plaster or traction was removed, 31/2 to 14 weeks later. The girths of the immobilized extremity and its mate were measured. Strength of the involved extremity could not be adequately tested due