HealthCommunities Glossary

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echocardiogram record produced by echocardiography
echocardiography noninvasive cardiac imaging procedure used to diagnose heart disease, valve disorders (valvular heart disease), weakened heart muscle, fluid around the heart (pericarditis), and other abnormalities or defects by reflecting sound waves off the heart
eczema disorder of the skin characterized by inflammation, itching, blisters, and scales
edema swelling as a result of fluid retention
test used to study brain wave activity, often used to evaluate seizure disorders
ejaculation ejection of semen during male orgasm
ejection fraction percentage of blood that is ejected out of the left ventricle into the aorta with each heart beat
graphical recording of the electrical currents that pass through the heart muscle during each heartbeat; commonly called an EKG because the procedure was developed in the Netherlands, where it was spelled "electrokardiogram"
lithotripsy (EHL)
technique that uses small shock waves to break up small kidney stones
electron-beam radiation radiation therapy in which the beams penetrate the skin only, thus limiting internal side effects
nerve conduction study)
test to study the nerves and muscles for diagnosis of disorder, with electrical conduction studied in the NCV
encephalitis inflammation or infection of the brain
endocarditis inflammation and infection of a heart valve or the lining of the heart's chambers
endothelium layer of epithelial cells that lines the cavities of the heart, blood vessels, and the serous cavities of the body
enterocele herniation of the small bowel into the vagina
epidermis top layer of skin, composed mainly of squamous cells, as well as basal cells, melanocytes, and other types of cells
(pl., epididymes)
coiled tube that extends the length of each testis and connects with the vas deferens
epilepsy episodic disorder resulting from temporary brain dysfunction which produces convulsive or nonconvulsive seizures
erosion moist, slightly depressed area of skin where the top layer (epidermis) has been removed
erythema redness and warming of the skin, typically due to inflammation caused by trauma or infection

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erythroderma diffuse reddening of the skin, caused by one of many disorders including psoriasis, eczema, drug sensitivities, and lymphoma
esophagus muscular tube that begins at the back of the throat, passes through the neck and chest, and enters the stomach at the gastroesophageal junction just below the diaphragm
duodenoscopy (EGD)
test to observe the esophagus, stomach, and portion of the small intestine
estrogen hormone produced by the ovaries that is responsible for the development of female sex characteristics
eversion motion of a body part as it tilts away from the midline
evoked potentials series of electrophysiological tests to evaluate the function of specific nervous system elements associated with multiple sclerosis
exacerbation worsening of symptoms
excise to cut out
excisional biopsy surgical removal of tissue for pathological analysis
exfoliation shedding of the top layers of the epidermis
radiation therapy
treatment that utilizes external-beam radiation
extraocular muscles six muscles that attach to each eyeball and perform eye movements and rotation
extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy(ESWL) highly focused electrical impulses that are projected from outside the body to pulverize kidney stones
extrinsic asthma asthma triggered by an allergic reaction, usually something that is inhaled
eyelashes small hairs that grow at the edge of each eyelid
eyelids moveable folds of skin that protect the surface of the eyeballs

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fasciculation twitching of the muscles that is seen in diseases of the peripheral nervous system
fibrillation uncontrolled rapid contraction of the fibers in the heart that occurs in the atrial, or upper, chambers (atrial fibrillation) and in the ventricular, or lower, chambers (ventricular fibrillation)
fibrosis formation of fibrous (scar) tissue after an injury
fine needle aspirate
insertion of small gauge needle into an area of abnormality with an attempt to suck out small amounts of tumor for review by a pathologist
first metatarsal
phalangeal joint
(1st MTJ)
where the big toe connects to the foot; common site for the development of osteoarthritis
fissure linear split or crack, usually in areas of chronic inflammation and skin thickening such as calluses on hands and feet
flexible sigmoidoscopy insertion of a small-sized tube into the rectum to visualize the rectum and a portion of the colon
follicle (hair follicle) tiny tubular structure in the skin, contiguous with the top skin layer, or epidermis, that includes the canal, the hair shaft, the sebaceous (oil) gland, and the muscle anchored to the follicle's side wall
folliculitis inflammation with or without infection of the hair follicle
fovea small, shallow depression in the center of the macula that provides the sharpest vision and contains the highest concentration of cone cells
functional electrical stimulation incontinence treatment in which electrical currents are used to stimulate nerves
functional urinary incontinence condition in which limited mobility leads to incontinence; causes include confusion, dementia, and poor eyesight
fungus (p., fungi) member of a group of simple plantlike organisms that do not have leaves or flowers and that live off organic matter such as hair, skin, and nail cells of humans, animals, and plants
furuncle deep inflammation and infection of the hair follicle

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gadolinium contrast agent that is given intravenously during MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to increase visualization of specific abnormalities
gait manner of walking
gallium scan nuclear medicine study used to monitor gallium-avid lymphomas
radiosurgery used most often to treat brain tumors and vascular lesions
gantry the doughnut- or bagel-shaped device used for CT or MRI
(GE) junction
important junction between the esophagus and the stomach that normally permits one-way ingestion to the stomach
GI gastrointestinal
gout systemic disease caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints of the body, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain
grade system used to classify the aggressiveness of a tumor
granulocytes infection-fighting white blood cells (also called polymorphonuclear cells, PMNs, or polys)
inflammatory disorder of the peripheral nerves characterized by rapid onset of weakness and often paralysis of the legs, arms, breathing muscles, and face.; acute idiopathic polyneuritis

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habit training behavioral modification technique that establishes scheduled toileting at regular intervals
hallux proximal phalanx (end bone) of the first, big toe; site of many muscle attachments that, when imbalanced, contribute to the formation of a bunion
hammertoes common deformity caused by a muscle imbalance in the foot
hay fever See rhinitis.
heart attack See myocardial infarction.
heart failure See congestive heart failure.
heart murmur whooshing sound caused by the turbulent flow of blood from the left ventricle across the mitral valve and back into the left atrium
heart transplant See cardiac transplantation.
heel spur condition in which a small piece of bone is pulled away from the calcaneus

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hematemesis act of vomiting blood
hematuria blood in the urine, visible or microscopic
hemiparesis weakness that affects one side of the body
hemoptysis act of coughing up blood
hemorrhage bleeding
heparin drug that inhibits blood clotting
hepatitis inflammation of the liver; viral disease spread through contaminated food, water, feces, blood, and bodily fluid; associated with alcoholism and intravenous drug use

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her2-neu protein that indicates aggressive cancer, which is found in 30% of breast cancer patients
histamine chemical present in cells throughout the body, which is released during an allergic reaction
HIV (human
immunodeficiency virus)
virus that affects the immune system and causes the disease known as AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency disorder)
homograft valve aortic valve that has been taken from a human organ donor and used to replace a diseased heart valve
hormonal therapy systemic therapy to block the action of specific hormones; use of antiandrogens to deprive cancer cells of the testosterone they need for growth
hospice home-based health care and support for terminally ill patients and their families
hydrocele painless swelling of the scrotum caused by a collection of fluid around the testicle; common in middle-aged men
hydrodystention procedure in which a cystoscope is used to examine the walls of the urinary bladder to diagnose and treat interstitial cystitis (IC)
or high cholesterol
excessive or disproportionate amounts of lipids (fats) in the circulating blood, including low-density lipoproteins (LDL), high-density lipoproteins (HDL), and tryglicerides
hypermobility inability of the pelvic floor muscles to provide the necessary support for the urethra and bladder neck, causing the bladder neck to drop when any downward pressure is applied, and leading to involuntary leakage
hyperpigmented accentuation or increase of pigment
hyperplasia excessive growth of normal cells of an organ
hypertension, or high blood pressure increased resistance to blood flow through small blood vessels (arterioles), which forces the heart to work harder
hypopigmented lessening or lightening of pigment
hysterectomy surgical procedure to remove the uterus (womb); may also include removing other parts of the female reproductive system such as the cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes

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idiopathic without a known cause
idiopathic pericarditis inflammation of the tissues of the pericardium, with no known or detectable cause
ileal conduit surgical techinque used to create a diversion for urine after removal of the urinary bladder
immune cells cells produced in our bodies that protect us from disease-causing agents by producing antibodies
immune system collection of cells, proteins, and lymphatic tissues that help protect the body from potentially harmful, infectious microorganisms
immunity insusceptibility that usually results from previous exposure to an infectious agent, either naturally or by vaccination
immunoglobulins proteins found in blood and in tissue fluids that are produced by B-lymphocyte cells in the immune system and which bind to foreign substances in the body in order to destroy them; antibodies
immunotherapy preventive, incrementally progressive, anti-inflammatory treatment for allergies to substances such as pollens, dust mites, fungi, and insect venom; allergy shots
incisional biopsy surgical removal of tumor tissue through a small incision
inflammation redness, swelling, heat, and pain in a tissue caused by injury, infection, or hypersensitivity to an allergen

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insemination deposition of semen into the uterus, cervix, or vagina
in-situ confined to the top layer or epidermis; cancer that has not spread to deeper tissues and has minimal propensity to metastasize
interstim continence control therapy therapy used to treat urge incontinence
interstitial cystitis chronic inflammatory condition of the bladder that causes scarring, frequent, urgent, and painful urination, and pelvic pain
interstitial laser laser probe used to destroy prostatic tissue and to allow easier urination
intrinsic asthma asthma that has no apparent external cause
intrinsic sphincter deficiency (ISD) weakening of the urethra sphincter muscles
intussusception when one section of intestine slips over the next, like a sheath
invasive procedure medical examination that invades the body either by incision or by insertion of an instrument through the skin
inversion motion of a body part as it tilts toward the midline
iris colored part of the eye that contains the muscles that adjust the size of the pupil to control the amount of light entering the eye
irritable bladder involuntary contractions of muscles in the bladder that cause uncontrolled urination
irritant contact dermatitis dermatitis caused by irritating chemicals that come into contact with the skin
ischemia lack of blood flow to a part, often caused by constriction or obstruction of a blood vessel
isolated systolic hypertension condition usually found in the elderly in which only the systolic blood pressure is elevated

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Kegel exercises exercises to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor in order to control urination and prevent leakage
keratoacanthoma mostly benign, rapidly growing skin tumor that regresses spontaneously
kidney one of a pair of organs located at the back of the abdominal cavity that makes urine through blood filtration
kidney stone hard mass composed of urine elements that form in the kidneys
KOH potassium hydroxide
KUB kidney, ureter, bladder

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labia vagina(pl.) two sets of vaginal lips made of skin and adipose tissue that form the border of the vulva and surround the vaginal opening; labia majora and labia minora
lacrimal gland gland located just above the outer corner of the eye that produces tears
lacunar subtype of stroke that affects the deeper parts of the brain and involves the tiny perforating arteries
laparoscopic lymph node dissection (LLND) procedure using a laparoscope to obtain a tissue sample of a lymph node(s)
laparoscopy generally less invasive surgery that uses a laparoscope to visualize internal organs through a small incision
large bowel three-foot section of the gastrointestinal tract beginning in the lower right side of the abdomen; the colon

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laser light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation; device that produces light in a coherent, intense beam
lateral describes the plane or movement that inclines away from the center or midline; opposite of medial
lateral collateral ligaments complex of three ligaments that helps support the lateral side of the ankle joint; consisting of the anterior talofibular, calcaneofibular, and the posterior talofibular ligaments
left ventricular assist device (LVAD) complex pump that is implanted in the body to assist the left ventricle in pumping blood
lens, or crystalline lens transparent double convex-shaped (outward curve on both sides) structure suspended between the posterior chamber and vitreous body
LGBT acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender; also GLBT
ligament substance made of fibrous tissue that helps connect and stabilize joints, strengthening the gap between two or more bones, cartilage, and/or muscles
liquid nitrogen liquid form of nitrogen gas (-195 degrees Celsius) that is used to treat various skin lesions in cryosurgery
lithotripsy procedure that uses ultrasonic shock waves to break up stones in the urinary tract so their fragments can be passed

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lumbar puncture (spinal tap) removal and analysis of some of the cerebrospinal fluid from the base of the spine, used to diagnose meningitis or nervous system syphilis
lung organ (pair) of the thorax whose contractions and expansions during respiration deliver oxygen to the blood
Lyme disease disease that affects the joints, nervous system, and heart that is transmitted by the deer tick and is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi
lymph node small, bean-shaped structures that store special cells, which can trap cancer cells or bacteria traveling through the body.
lymphatic system tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry cells that fight infection and disease. This system includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes
macula small, highly sensitive located in the center of the retina responsible for near and fine detail vision
macule small area of skin different in color to the majority of the body, but flush with the surrounding skin
malignant cancerous tumor or other disease state that has a debilitating, unremitting course

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medial inclining toward the center or midline of the body; opposite of lateral
mediastinoscopy insertion of a tube into the chest, to view the organs in the mediastinum, or the area between the lungs (including the heart and its veins and arteries, the trachea, the esophagus, the bronchi, and lymph nodes). An incision is made at the base of the neck above the breastbone to insert the tube.
melanocytes cells intermingled with the basal cells in the bottom layer of the epidermis that produce pigment globules known as melanin
melanoma skin cancer that originates in a melanocyte
melena blood in the stool, typically loosely formed or liquid
meninges the three laminated ultrathin membranes surrounding the brain
meningitis inflammation or infection of the meninges
menopause period that marks the permanent cessation of menstrual activity, usually occurring between the ages of 40 and 58

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metastasis spread of disease from one organ or part to another
metastasize to spread from one part of the body to another, as in cancer
metastatic pertaining to metastasis; cancer that has spread to either the lymph nodes (regionally metastatic) or organs, e.g., lung, liver, adrenal glands, bone, or brain (distant metastasis)
metatarsals five bones that run from the center of the foot to the beginning of the toes
metered-dose inhaler (MDI) most common device for administering quick-relief asthma medications, consisting of a tube-shaped mouthpiece connected to a canister that projects a measured amount of medication when actuated by the user
mg milligram
midline invisible reference line that runs longitudinally and divides any body or object in half
migraine headache characterized by throbbing, one-sided pain, that may be associated with nausea, vomiting, and aura (sensory disturbances)
mitral valve one-way valve that allows blood to pass from the left atrium into the left ventricle and normally prohibits its reentry
mixed incontinence stress and urge incontinence occurring simultaneously
mL milliliter

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motor neuron cells cells located in the spinal cord that give rise to nerves that supply the muscles
MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) test in which an MRI scanner is used to focus on structures within which blood flows, such as the arteries in the neck, brain, and lungs
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) diagnostic test that uses electromagnetic energy to produce soft-tissue images of the central nervous and musculoskeletal systems
multi-infarct dementia dementia that is caused by the cumulative affect of multiple strokes
multiple sclerosis (MS) chronic neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system, i.e., the brain and spinal cord
muscular dystrophy congenital (hereditary) disorder resulting in muscular weakness and dysfunction
myasthenia gravis disorder affecting the space between the nerve and the muscle (neuromuscular junction) that results in transient motor weakness of the face and limbs
myelin outer lipid (fatty) layer that covers nerves and nervous system pathways in the brain and spinal cord
myelosuppressive therapy that diminishes white blood cell count
myocardial infarction medical emergency that occurs when a blood clot forms suddenly in a coronary artery and blocks blood flow to an area of the heart; heart attack
myopathy disease of muscular dysfunction, usually causing weakness and atrophy

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nadir lowest white blood cell count measured between chemotherapy treatments
narcolepsy sleep disorder characterized by sudden and repeated attacks of sleep, usually accompanied by cataplexy, hypnogogic hallucination, and sleep paralysis
nasolacrimal duct passageway that carries tears to the nose
nebulizer device used to deliver inhaled medications, in which an air compressor is used to blow an atomized medication through a mouthpiece or face mask
needle localization biopsy needle marker is inserted to define abnormal area prior to biopsy
nephrectomy removal of the kidney
nephrotomography conventional tomograms of the kidneys, especially in small sections of the kidneys
neurofibromatosis genetic disorder which causes skin lesions, cutaneous and subcutaneous tumors, and tumors on internal organs
neurogenic bladder impaired bladder function caused by nerve damage
neurons nerve cells of the brain responsible for neurological function

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neuropathy condition resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves that results in weakness or sensory loss and pain in the arms, hand, legs, and feet
neutropenia low level of neutrophils in the blood
neutropenic fevers fever associated with low white blood cell count and low granulocyte count
neutrophil most abundant type of white blood cell, or leukocyte, that is active in immune responses and inflammatory reactions
nevus (pl., nevi) congenital skin lesion, e.g., mole, birthmark, etc.
nodule elevated, solid mass or lump (up to 2 cm in diameter) that can be located in the epidermis, dermis, or the subcutaneous fat
noninvasive procedure medical examination that does not penetrate the skin or invade the body, except for minor needle sticks
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) drugs that act against inflammation, reduce fever, relieve muscle pain, and prevent blood clots (Due to potentially severe gastrointestinal and cardiovascular side effects, NSAIDs should only be used as instructed.)
normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH) increase in pressure within the ventricles of the brain, causing dementia, gait difficulties, and urinary incontinence
nystagmus jerking movement of the eyes associated with neurological disorder

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occlusion closure; in sleep apnea, closing of the airway at the back of the mouth or top of the throat
oncologist physician specializing in cancer treatment
onychomycosis fungal infection of the fingernails or toenails that causes thickened, discolored, and often brittle nails
open nephrolithotomy surgical excision of kidney stones via the back or abdomen in which the kidney may be opened
optic disc/optic nerve head area where the optic nerve connects to the retina
optic nerve cranial nerve II; transmits visual information from the retina to the brain
orchiectomy surgical removal of one or both of the testicles
orchitis inflammation of the testicle
osteoarthritis deterioration of cartilage in the joints
osteomyelitis infection in a bone
overactive bladder condition characterized by involuntary, uncontrollable bladder muscle contractions during the bladder filling phase
overall survival percentage of disease survivors, with disease and free of disease, after a specified period of time
overflow UI leakage of small amounts of urine from a bladder that is always full

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