tetany

[tet-n-ee]
noun Pathology.
a state marked by severe, intermittent tonic contractions and muscular pain, due to abnormal calcium metabolism.

Origin:
1880–85; < Neo-Latin tetania. See tetanus, -y3

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World English Dictionary
tetany (ˈtɛtənɪ)
 
n
pathol an abnormal increase in the excitability of nerves and muscles resulting in spasms of the arms and legs, caused by a deficiency of parathyroid secretion
 
[C19: from French tétanie. See tetanus]

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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

tetany tet·a·ny (tět'n-ē)
n.
An abnormal condition characterized by periodic painful muscular spasms and tremors, caused by faulty calcium metabolism and associated with diminished function of the parathyroid glands. Also called intermittent cramp, intermittent tetanus.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

tetany

condition characterized by rhythmic cramping of the muscles of the hands and feet, muscle twitching, and possible spasms of the larynx, with difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, convulsions, and pain. Tetany results from a metabolic imbalance; it may be caused by too little calcium, potassium, or magnesium in the circulation or by an over-acid or over-alkaline condition of the body. It may accompany poorly controlled hypoparathyroidism, hypophosphatemia, osteomalacia, renal disorders, or malabsorption syndromes. Treatment is directed at restoring metabolic balance, as by intravenous administration of calcium in cases of hypocalcemia (calcium deficiency).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Spasms of the hands or feet may be an important early sign of tetany, a potentially life-threatening condition.
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