HealthCommunities' Glossary

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pacemaker battery-powered implantable device that electrically stimulates the heart to contract and pump blood throughout the body in cases where the heart's electrical system is dysfunctional
palliation relieving symptoms and maintaining comfort through either the use of surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy
palliative something that helps manage symptoms of, but does not cure, a disease
papule small (less than 1 centimeter), circumscribed, elevated skin lesion that is pointed, flat topped, dome shaped, smooth, or eroded
paraneoplastic disorders that occur due to the remote effects of cancer, such as through the mechanism of hormonal or antibody production
parasite organism that lives in or on another organism (host) strictly for its own survival
paresthesias unusual sensory symptoms of tingling, numbness, or other abnormal feelings of sensation
Parkinson's disease condition in which cells that produce dopamine degenerate, causing tremor, muscle stiffness, and loss of motor function
pathology field concerned with examination of tissues removed for the purposes of diagnosing disease and guiding patient care
PCP (primary care physician) large subset of physicians who do not provide specialized care, including internists, pediatricians, and general practitioners
pathology study of disease through examination of cells, tissues, and body fluids; diagnosis of disease
peak expiratory flow measurement of the ability to blow air out of the lungs that is used to diagnose asthma
pelvic muscle exercises pelvic muscle exercises intended to improve pelvic muscle tone and prevent leakage associated with stress urinary incontinence; Kegel exercises
percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCN) manual extraction of kidney stones "through the skin"
pericardial effusion accumulation of fluid between the pericardium and the heart
pericardiocentesis surgical puncuture of the pericardial space in order to drain fluid
pericarditis inflammation of the tissues of the pericardium
pericardium thin membranous covering of the outer surfaces of the heart
perineal prostatectomy procedure to remove the prostate that uses a perineal incison, which allows easier visualization of the bladder/urethral anastomosis, quicker recovery, tissue spare, and blood conservation
peripheral nerves nerves outside the brain and spinal cord
peripheral nervous system peripheral nerves and muscular structures
periurethral bulking injections procedure in which injected implants are used to "bulk up" the area around the neck of the bladder, allowing it to resist increases in abdominal pressure, which can push down on the bladder and cause leakage
pes cavus highly arched feet
pes planus flat feet
pessary silicone or latex device inserted into the vagina to compress the urethra and support the bladder neck to prevent stress incontinence or treat prolapse
petechiae (pe tek' ee) small, pinpoint red or brown spots that represent escape of blood from the vessels into the surrounding skin
phalanx (pl., phalanges) small bones of the foot that make up the toes; the first toe having two, the proximal phalanx (hallux) and the distal phalanx; the other four toes having three phalanges each: proximal, middle, and distal

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phleboliths small stones, or calcium deposits, that form within veins, causing congestion
photophobia visual aversion to light, as experienced with migraine headache
plain film basic x-ray with no contrast agents
plantar fascia band of connective tissue that anchors the calcaneus to the front of the foot in order to support the arch
plantar fasciitis inflammation of the plantar fascia, often occurring with, or caused by, a heel spur
plantar warts warts that occur on the sole or plantar surface of the foot
plantarflex downward motion of a body part
plaque broad, elevated patch of skin, frequently formed by papules joining together; lesion that occurs in the "white matter" of the brain due to demyelination; in atherosclerosis, a mixture composed of cholesterol, other fatty substances, fibrous tissue, and calcium that collects in the lining of an arterial wall
platelets coagulating blood cells
polyps small fingerlike outgrowths of tissue from the linings of various tubular organs that are usually benign
polysomnography sleep study, in which numerous physiological monitors are attached to the patient to record nighttime breathing, brain activity, and physical activity
porcine valve valve made of tissue from a pig that is used to replace a diseased heart valve

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positive airway pressure technique for treating obstructive sleep apnea in which forced air, fed through a mask, is pumped into the nose and mouth, and which keeps the airway open during sleep
posterior repair (rectocele repair) procedure in which tissue surrounding the rectum is tightened to prevent prolapse
post-void residual (PVR) volume diagnostic test that measures how much urine remains in the bladder after urination
posterior chamber space between the iris and the lens
prophylactic medications or treatments that are preventative in the treatment of disease
prostaglandin various oxygenated unsaturated cyclic fatty acids of animals that have a variety of hormonelike actions, e.g., to control blood pressure or smooth muscle contraction
prostate muscular, walnut-sized gland that surrounds part of the urethra and secretes seminal fluid, a milky substance that combines with sperm (produced in the testicles) to form semen
prostatectomy surgical removal of the prostate; See also suprapubic prostatectomy, retropubic prostatectomy, radical retropubic prostatectomy, perineal prostatectomy.
prostatic stent wire device that expands after placement, pushing prostate tissue away from passageway and allowing for easier urination
prostatitis inflammation of the prostate
prostatron (TUMT, or transurethral microwave thermotherapy) microwaves used to open passageways, allowing for easier urination
ptosis drooping of the eyelids due to weakness of the muscles that normally keep the lids open
pubovaginal sling surgical procedure in which tissue or synthetic material (mesh) is placed under the bladder neck to support and immobilize it, improving sphincter function and continence by decreasing bladder neck movement
pulmonary embolus blockage in the lung, namely a blood clot
pupil opening in the center of the iris through which light enters the eye
pustule raised lesion on the skin that contains pus
pyelonephritis inflammation of the kidney, usually due to a bacterial infection
pyuria presence of pus in the urine, usually an indication of kidney or urinary tract infection

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radiation anti-cancer therapy or treatment using high-energy rays beamed to the tumor site to destroy cancer cells
radiation oncologist physician trained in the use of radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer
radical retropubic prostatectomy removal of the entire prostate through an abdominal incision that allows the surgeon to spare nerve tissue and analyze lymph nodes
radiculopathy irritation and inflammation of one of the nerve roots in the vicinity of the spinal column
rectocele herniation of the rectum into the vagina
rectum cavity between colon and anal canal; approximately 5 inches long by 1 * inches wide; stores feces prior to defecation
REM (rapid eye-movement sleep) stage of sleep that is characterized by significantly decreased muscle tone, rapid eye movements, and dreaming; stage 5 sleep
respiratory system group of body organs responsible for carrying oxygen from the air to the bloodstream and for expelling carbon dioxide as a waste product
restless legs syndrome common neurological disorder that causes pulling, tearing, and jerking sensations in the legs when a person is at rest
retina multilayered, light-sensitive tissue that contains a variety of nerve cells (neurons) that process visual information
retinal vessels central retinal artery and central retinal vein
retrograde ejaculation discharge of semen into the bladder rather than through the urethra and out of the body
retropubic prostatectomy surgical procedure using an abdominal incision in order to incise the prostatic capsule and remove obstructing tissue
rheumatoid arthritis chronic inflammatory disease that causes the body's immune system to attack the joints
rhinitis inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the nose, often caused by allergies to pollen, dust, and other airborne substances
rigidity stiffness in the limbs or body due to dysfunction of the basal ganglia and related structures
rods photoreceptor cells in the retina that are primarily responsible for peripheral vision and vision in dim light

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SA node (sinoatrial node) small area of specialized heart tissue located in the right atrium that conducts impulses through the right and left atria, signaling these chambers to contract and pump blood into the ventricles
scales layers of skin cells (fine and barely visible, thick and silvery, waxy, or large and adherent) accumulated on top of the skin due to abnormal formation and shedding of the top layers
scar permanent fibrous skin changes, often elevated and thickened, that follow some sort of damage; pink to purple in hue, eventually fading to shiny white
sciatic nerve large nerve in the lumbar-sacral spinal region that is composed of multiple nerve roots that supply the lower extremities
sclera tough white tissue that encases the entire eyeball, except for the part covered by the cornea
seizure abnormal electrical discharge of brain cells (neurons) that results in a transient disturbance in brain function
SEP (somatosensory evoked response) measures function of the central nervous system, including pathways from the extremities
serotonin important neurotransmitter (communicates information chemically between brain cells) that is involved in pain sensation and emotional perceptions
sesamoiditis inflammation of the sesamoid bones
sesamoids bones contained within a ligament that provide strength and leverage to the ligament; two in the foot, located under the ball
sexually transmitted disease (STD) infection spread through sexual intercourse or genital contact
shinsplints injury or inflammation of the posterior tibial muscle and tendon caused by overstretching or improper/excessive use
silhouette sign observance of one type of tissue over another; x-ray

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sling procedures surgical methods for treating urinary incontinence involving the placement of a sling, made of either a synthetic material (mesh) or tissue obtained from the person undergoing the procedure
small bowel fourteen-foot section of the gastrointestinal tract, consisting of the duodenum, the jejunum, and the ileum, which empties into the beginning of the large bowel (the cecum) at the ileocecal valve
spasticity stiffness of the body involving the limbs that results from dysfunction of the corticospinal tracts
spermatic cord bundle of testicular arteries and ducts protected by woven tissue
s-phase laboratory study to determine the percentage of cells preparing to divide, where low s-phase suggests less activity and biological aggressiveness, and high s-phase suggests increased activity and biological aggressiveness
sphincter ring of muscle fibers located around an opening in the body that regulates the passage of substances through the opening
spinal stenosis narrowing of the spinal canal due to disc disease, bony changes, ligamentous thickening, and congenital factors
spirometry medical testing procedure which measures the amount of air entering and leaving the lungs
squamous cell carcinoma second most common skin cancer that originates in the squamous cell
squamous cells flat cells that make up most of the epidermis
statins drugs that inhibit the manufacture of cholesterol by the liver; used to treat high cholesterol, or hypercholesterolemia

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status epilepticus seizures that continue for more than 20 minutes without an intervening period of responsiveness
stenosis condition that develops when any of the four major valves that regulate blood flow through the heart and lungs thickens, becomes damaged, or is diseased
stent (ureteral) thin catheter inserted into the ureter to carry urine from the kidney to the bladder or to an external collection system
stereotactic biopsy biopsy technique that relies on computer guidance to exactly locate and biopsy the tumor
straight slang; heterosexual orientation
stress test test that monitors the heart during exercise in order to identify the presence of heart disease or the risk of developing cardiac problems during strenuous activity; also, diagnostic test that requires patients to lift something or perform an exercise to determine if there is urine loss when stress is placed on bladder muscles
stress urinary incontinence involuntary loss of urine during periods of increased abdominal pressure, such as laughing, sneezing, coughing, or lifting
stroke medical event that occurs when a blood clot blocks the blood and oxygen supply to the brain; brain attack
subarachnoid hemorrhage bleeding in the area surrounding the brain, usually caused by a ruptured cerebral aneurysm
subcutaneous fat third layer of skin, located below the dermis and composed mainly of fat cells and blood vessels
suprapubic catheter thin tube inserted into the urinary bladder through an incision in the abdomen
suprapubic prostatectomy incising the bladder to remove obstructing prostatic tissue through a suprapubic incision below the navel
surgeon physician who has been educated and trained in diagnosis and preoperative, operative, and postoperative management
suture (n.) a stitch; (v.) to stitch
synovial fluid viscous substance that lubricates joints in the body and allows two adjacent cartilage caps to glide upon one another with minimal friction
systemic involving the entire body or multiple body systems
systolic pressure arterial pressure measured as the heart contracts

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T cell type of white blood cell that regulates the immune response; T lymphocyte
talus most superior bone of the foot that provides the primary connection between the leg and the foot and that articulates with the calcaneus to make up the subtalar joint
tarsal tunnel syndrome entrapment and compression of the tibial nerve that causes pain, burning, and tingling on the sole of the foot
TEE See transesophageal echo.
telangiectasia (tel an'je ek ta' zha) dilatation of tiny blood vessels in the skin that usually appear as fine red lines, sometimes in a meshlike pattern
tendon structure formed when a muscle condenses into a smaller complex before it attaches to a bone
tensilon test diagnostic test that is used to confirm myasthenia gravis
testosterone sex hormone that stimulates development of male sex characteristics and bone and muscle growth; produced by the testicles and, in small amounts, by the ovaries
theophylline bronchodilator drug, taken orally, that widens the airways in the lungs; used to prevent apnea and to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
thrombocytopenia decreased number of platelets in the blood
thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) hormone that stimulates hormonal secretion of the thyroid gland; thyrotropin
TIA See transient ischemic attack.

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tibialis posterior dysfunction condition in which the tibialis posterior muscle and tendon weaken and tear often, causing muscle imbalance
tibialis posterior muscle in the leg that condenses to become a tendon in the foot; contributes to the arch of the foot and works with the Achilles tendon to allow people to stand on their toes with their heels off the ground
tinnitus ringing in the ears or head noises
tinea fungal infection of the skin, hair, or nails caused by one of several types of fungi
titration process of determining the proper concentration of a dissolved substance needed to produce a desired effect; in positive airway pressure, the proper amount of air pressure needed to prevent airway collapse (occlusion)
torticollis involuntary turning of the neck to one side, seen in disorders of the basal ganglia
toxoplasmosis common parasitic disease that presents as swollen "glands" (enlarged lymph nodes); when disease occurs in immunosuppressed people, it may cause encephalitis or brain abscesses
trabecular meshwork connective tissue between the anterior chamber of the eye and the venous sinus; aqueous humor filters through the fibers into the bloodstream
transesophageal echo (TEE) diagnostic procedure in which a transducer is passed down into the esophagus to a location behind the heart, where sound waves are sent and delivered to image the heart
transient ischemic attack (TIA) neurological symptoms that result from transient interruption of blood flow to the brain
transient urinary incontinence temporary episodes of urinary incontinence that are alleviated after the cause of the episode is identified and treated, such as a bladder infection
transurethral needle ablation (TUNA) destruction of prostate tissue with thermal energy that is passed through a needle
transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) common treatment for benign prostate hypertrophy, in which the inside of the prostate (urethra) is cored out to make the passage of urine easier
tremor uncontrollable shaking
trigeminal neuralgia disorder of the fifth cranial nerve that causes episodes of intense, stabbing, electric shock-like pain in the areas of the face where the nerve is distributed - jaw, lips, eyes, nose, scalp, and forehead
tuberous sclerosis genetic disorder that causes benign tumors to form in many different organs, but primarily in the brain, eyes, heart, kidney, skin, and lungs
tumor abnormal mass of tissue that results from excessive cell division, either benign or malignant; large and deep solid growth of skin or subcutaneous fat

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ulcer area of skin loss involving the whole thickness of the skin, caused by infection, trauma, or cell death
ultrasonic lithotripsy use of high-frequency ultrasound waves to destroy kidney stones gradually, which are then passed naturally by the patient or removed by grasping forceps
underactive bladder bladder contraction of inadequate magnitude and/or duration that prohibits the bladder from emptying normally; See also overflow incontinence.
unilateral appearing on one side of the body
ureteroscopy flexible, fiberoptic instrument resembling a long, thin telescope that is inserted through the urethra and bladder up to the ureter for observation and often for retrieval of kidney stones
urethral caruncle benign urethral lesions that are most common in women after menopause
urge or urinary urgency strong desire to void
urge urinary incontinence involuntary loss of urine associated with a sudden and strong urge to void
urinalysis group of physical and chemical tests done on a sample of urine to check for various disorders, including those of the kidneys and urinary tract
urinary incontinence (UI) involuntary loss of urine sufficient enough to be a problem
urinary marker substance (e.g., protein, antigen) that is detected through urine testing and used to diagnose conditions of the urinary tract, such as bladder cancer
urinary tract infections (UTIs) infections caused by bacteria that invade the urinary system and multiply, leading to an infection
urodynamic tests diagnostic tests to examine the bladder and urethral sphincter function
urogynecology medical specialty focused on the diagnosis and treatment of women with pelvic floor disorders, such as urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and prolapse
uterovaginal prolapse condition in which the uterus and vaginal walls prolapse into the vagina

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vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) thinning of the vaginal tissues and decreased vaginal lubrication resulting in inflammation and/or irritation; often caused by low estrogen levels
vaportrode type of cautery electrode that vaporizes prostatic tissue in order to expand the prostatic channel and make urination easier
varicocele embolization outpatient procedure in which the varicocele is closed off (occluded) by means of a balloon catheter (flexible tube with a tiny detachable balloon), steel coil, and/or sclerosing (vessel-hardening) solution
varicocelectomy cutting away of a varicocele
vascular related to blood vessels
vas deferens tubes that connect the epididymes to the prostate gland
vasectomy reversal See vasovasostomy.
vasoepididymostomy microsurgery that uses a microscopic camera and very small operative tools to remove blockage in the epididymis and to reattach the epididymis to the vas deferens
vasovasostomy reconnection of the severed ends of the vas deferens, which restores the flow of sperm through the vas deferens; vasectomy reversal
ventricles right and left lower chambers of the heart
VER (visual evoked responses) measures function of the central nervous system, including the pathway from optic tract
vertebrae (s., vertebra) bones that make up the spinal column
vertebral arteries paired arteries located behind the carotid areries that supply the back of the brain and the brainstem
vertigo dizziness or imbalance of equilibrium that usually causes a spinning sensation
vesica (mesh) sling procedure See sling procedures.
vesicle small, sharply circumscribed, elevated, fluid-filled bumps in the skin measuring less than 0.5 centimeters; small blisters
vestibular system parts of the nervous system that control equilibrium and balance and that coordinate head and eye movement
vitiligo minimal or widespread appearance of white patches on otherwise normal skin due to loss of pigment
vitreous body chamber located between the lens and the retina
vitreous humor transparent, colorless, gelatinous mass that fills the vitreous body
warfarin drug used to prevent blood clots
wheals solid, distinct elevations in the skin formed by localized swelling, ranging in color from white to dark pink; welts
white matter lipid-rich myelinated portion of the brain and spinal cord
Wilson's disease rare genetic disorder that causes progressive liver, neurologic, and psychiatric disorders that are - if untreated - always fatal
xerosis dry skin
yeast infection common vaginal infection caused by the fungus Candida albicans
zonules small fibers that change the shape of the eye's lens for accommodation

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