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Medical terminology:

Cardiovascular System:

A sac or out-pouching of the walls of an artery or vein filled with blood.

A type of pain usually described as choking, squeezing, or suffocating, usually present in the
chest, throat, jaw, shoulders, arms or elbows. Most commonly associated with blockage of the
heart arteries.

A test to determine the severity and location of blocked arteries of any part of the body,
particularly the heart arteries.

Balloon technique to open the blocked arteries with balloons inserted from outside the body (see

A change in the rhythm of the heart beat. This may manifest as the heart beat being too slow, too
rapid, or irregular in rhythm.

Technique similar to balloon angioplasty, but which uses devices to remove the blocking material
from the heart arteries.

Atrial fibrillation
A type of cardiac arrhythmia during which the atria (i.e. the top chambers of the heart) beat in an
uncoordinated and disorganized fashion thus leading to a very irregular and fast rhythm.

Balloon Pump
A device inserted from outside the body and placed in the aorta temporary to reduce heart work
load during the time of threatened heart attack, balloon intervention, or heart surgery.

Blood Pressure
Pressure of the blood on the walls of the arteries of the body, this depends upon the strength of
the heart, contraction, the elasticity of the walls of the arteries, and total blood volume.

Anticoagulants ("Blood Thinners")

Drugs given by mouth or by vein to reduce the capacity of the blood to form blood clots.

A type of arrhythmia during which the heart beats in a slow rhythm.

Coronary Artery Bypass Graft surgery. First used in 1967 to "bypass" blocked heart arteries using
segments of the patients own veins or chest arteries.

Cardiac Arrest
Complete cessation of effective heart action, which progresses to death if not treated promptly.

Cardiac Catheterization
Procedure to diagnose the type and severity of heart disease measuring pressures inside heart
chambers and using X-rays to visualize heart chambers, and heart arteries.

Cardiac Rehabilitation
Supervised exercise and education after heart attack, heart surgery, or other procedures to
improve the patient's functional capacity and risk profile.

Clogged Arteries
Another term for coronary artery disease in which arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle are
partially or completely blocked by collections of cholesterol and abnormal blood cells in the artery

Congenital Heart Disease

Abnormalities of cardiac structure or function present at birth.

Electrocardiogram. A test utilized to assess heart rhythm and function by measuring the electrical
patterns present on the surface of the body.

Electrophysiology Study (EPS:

A test utilized to find out from where the cardiac arrhythmia originates within the heart and what
may be done to control or cure it. It requires percutaneous insertion (through a vein in the groin)
of the diagnostic catheters in the heart and is performed under local anesthesia.

Heart Attack/Myocardial Infarction
Caused by sudden blockage of a heart artery with blood clot leading to progressive muscle injury
over the next 6-12 hours. This is a medical emergency requiring early treatment to minimize heart

Heart Failure
The result of weakening of heart muscle from one of many causes which results in inadequate
supply of blood to the body and often build-up of fluid in the lungs.

Heart Murmur
Sounds heard through a stethoscope which are caused by turbulent flow of blood across heart
valves, often, but not always, representing congenital or acquired abnormalities of the valves.
Abnormally elevated blood pressure which can result in coronary artery disease, kidney failure,
strokes, or other complications if left untreated over many years.

Open Heart Surgery
Heart procedures such as coronary artery bypass graft surgery and valve replacement surgery,
which require incision through the chest wall, opening of the heart chambers, and usually use of
heart-lung bypass machine.

Peripheral Vascular Disease
Partial or complete blockage of the arteries supplying blood to other body organs including
extremities, kidneys, intestines, and brain. Essentially the same disease process which causes
blockage of heart arteries.

Risk Factors
Medical, genetic, environmental or other conditions which are known to increase the risk of the
development of a second disease. For example diabetes, high blood pressure and high
cholesterol are all risk factors for later development of coronary artery disease.

Sick Sinus Syndrome
A condition during which the sinus node (i.e. the natural intrinsic pacemaker of the heart),
becomes dysfunctional, thus leading to the various cardiac arrhythmias.

Stress Test
A type of non-invasive test using graded exercise or medication to increase blood pressure and
heart rate and determine the response of the patients heart.

Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

A rapid heart beat that originates in the upper chambers of the heart. Curable condition by RF
catheter ablation.

Temporary loss of consciousness that results from various medical conditions affecting the
cardiovascular or neurological system. Black-out spell that may be caused by to cardiac
arrhythmias in others.

Valve Repair
A surgical technique to reconstruct a poorly functioning heart valve.
Valve Replacement
Surgical technique to remove a poorly functioning heart valve and replace it with a mechanical

Ventricular Tachycardia (VT)

A rapid heart beat that originates in the lower chambers of the heart.

Wolff-Parkinson White (WPW) Syndrome
A congenital condition during which there is an abnormal tissue connection (accessory pathway)
between the top and the lower cardiac chambers. This may lead to supraventricular tachycardia
and atrial fibrillation. A curable condition by RF catheter ablation.

GI system:

A collection of purulent material (pus), the result of confined infection.

A disorder of esophageal function leading to difficulty swallowing.

Implies inflammation of the colon (unless accompanied by the term spastic or mucous; when it
implies an irritable colon). Can be of an infectious or non-infectious cause.

Crohn's Disease
An inflammatory disorder affecting the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, usually the small
intestine and/or large intestine, characterized by a granulomatous tissue reaction.

Inflammation of the colon adjacent to colonic diverticula, usually the result of small perforations of
the diverticula.

Difficulty transporting food from the mouth into the esophagus or esophagus into the stomach.

Describes a procedure in which an endoscope an instrument which enables the viewing of
internal organs by passage into the gastrointestinal tract through the mouth (upper endoscopy;
enteroscopy) or rectum (sigmoidoscopy; colonoscopy; ileoscopy).
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Describes the condition in which stomach contents move backwards into the esophagus.
Responsible for the symptom of heartburn and, sometimes, chest pain, palpitations, hoarseness,
sore throats, and dental problems.

The sensation of burning behind the breast bone (sternum), associated usually with reflux
(regurgitation) of gastric and/or duodenal contents into the esophagus.

Hemoccult Positive
Making reference to the reaction that stool containing blood gives on a Hemoccult card once
developing solution is added.

Hiatus Hernia
The result of upward displacement of the stomach through an opening in the diaphragm; may be
associated with chest pain or heartburn.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Small and/or large intestine damage resulting from a deprivation of arterial blood flow to the
affected organ, presenting usually with abdominal pain and rectal bleeding.

Ischemic Bowel Disease

An all encompassing term which describes a few or many symptoms affecting the gastrointestinal
tract for which no specific cause can be identified, i.e. bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain,
fullness after meals, alternating bowel habits, etc.

Black stools, often sticky, containing digested blood.

An abnormal growth affecting the GI tract lining (mucosa) which may produce no symptoms or be
associated with blood in the stool.

Ulcerative Colitis
Colonic inflammation of unknown cause.

Ear, Nose, and Throat


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American Sign Language (ASL) - Manual (hand) language with its own syntax and
grammar used primarily by people who are deaf.

anti-inflammatory drugs - drugs that reduce the symptoms and signs of inflammation.

assistive devices - technical tools and devices such as alphabet boards, text telephones, or
text-to-speech conversion software used to assist people with physical or emotional disorders
in performing certain actions, tasks, and activities.

audiologist - a healthcare professional trained to identify and measure hearing impairments

and related disorders using a variety of tests and procedures.

audiology - the study of hearing and hearing disorders.

auditory brainstem response (ABR) test - test used for hearing in infants and young
children, or to test for brain functioning in unresponsive patients.

auditory nerve - eighth cranial nerve that connects the inner ear to the brainstem.

autism - brain disorder that begins in early childhood and persists throughout adulthood;
affects three crucial areas of development: communication, social interaction, and creative or
imaginative play.

autoimmune deafness - hearing loss that may be associated with an autoimmune disease,
such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

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balance - biological system that enables individuals to know where their bodies are in the
environment and to maintain a desired position; normal balance depends on information from
the labyrinth in the inner ear, and from other senses such as sight and touch, as well as from
muscle movement.
benign - a term used to describe non-cancerous tumors which tend to grow slowly and do not

biopsy - a sample of tissue is removed and examined under a microscope.

blasts - immature blood cells.

blood- the life-maintaining fluid which is made up of plasma, red blood cells (erythrocytes),
white blood cells (leukocytes), and platelets; blood circulates through the body's heart,
arteries, veins, and capillaries; it carries away waste matter and carbon dioxide, and brings
nourishment, electrolytes, hormones, vitamins, antibodies, heat, and oxygen to the tissues.

bone marrow - the soft, spongy tissue found inside bones. It is the medium for development
and storage of about 95 percent of the body's blood cells.

bone marrow aspiration and biopsy - the marrow may be removed by aspiration or a
needle biopsy under local anesthesia. In aspiration biopsy, a fluid specimen, is removed from
the bone marrow. In a needle biopsy, marrow cells (not fluid) are removed. These methods
are often used together.

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cancer - cancer is not just one disease but rather a group of diseases. All forms of cancer
cause cells in the body to change and grow out of control. Most types of cancer cells form a
lump or mass called a tumor. The tumor can invade and destroy healthy tissue.

cancer care team - the group of healthcare professionals who work together to find, treat,
and care for people with cancer.

cancer cell - a cell that divides and multiplies uncontrollably and has the potential to spread
throughout the body, crowding out normal cells and tissue.

carcinogen - an agent (chemical, physical, or viral) that causes cancer. Examples include
tobacco smoke and asbestos.

chemotherapy - a medicine that can help fight cancer.

chromosome - structures in our cells that carry genes, the basic units of heredity. Humans
have 23 pairs of chromosomes, one member of each pair inherited from the mother, the other
from the father. Each chromosome can contain hundreds or thousands of individual genes.

chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) - a slowly progressing cancer of the blood in which
too many white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow.

clinical trial - a research study that compares many children from around the world with the
same type of cancer and evaluates their treatment, side effects, and survival.

cochlea - snail-shaped structure in the inner ear that contains the organ of hearing.

cochlear implant - medical device that bypasses damaged structures in the inner ear and
directly stimulates auditory nerve to allow some deaf individuals to learn to hear and interpret
sounds and speech.
complete blood count (CBC) - a measurement of size, number, and maturity of different
blood cells in a specific volume of blood.

complementary therapy - therapies used in addition to standard therapy.

computed tomography scan (Also called a CT or CAT scan.) - a diagnostic imaging

procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-
sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan
shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.

conductive hearing impairment - hearing loss caused by dysfunction of the outer or middle

congenital - present at birth.

constrict - tighten; narrow.

cytomegalovirus (CMV) - one group of herpes viruses that infect humans and can cause a
variety of clinical symptoms including deafness or hearing impairment; infection with the virus
may be either before or after birth.

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decibel - unit that measures the intensity or loudness of sound.

dizziness - physical unsteadiness, imbalance, and lightheadedness associated with balance

and other disorders.

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ear infection - presence and growth of bacteria or viruses in the ear.

ear wax - yellow secretion from glands in the outer ear (cerumen) that keeps the skin of the
ear dry and protected from infection.

edema - swelling due to buildup of fluid.

endolymph - fluid in the labyrinth (the organ of balance located in the inner ear).

eustachian tube -a canal that links the middle ear with the throat area. The eustachian tube
helps to keep the pressure between the outer ear and the middle ear the same. Having the
same pressure allows for the proper transfer of sound waves. The eustachian tube is lined with
mucous, just like the inside of the nose and throat.

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grade - the grade of a cancer reflects how abnormal it looks under the microscope. There are
several grading systems for different types of cancer.

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hair cells - sensory cells of the inner ear, which are topped with hair-like structures
(stereocilia), which transform the mechanical energy of sound waves into nerve impulses.

hearing - series of events in which sound waves in the air are converted to electrical signals
and are then sent as nerve impulses to the brain where they are interpreted.

hearing aid - electronic device that brings amplified sound to the ear.

hearing disorder - disruption in the normal hearing process; sound waves are not converted
to electrical signals and nerve impulses are not transmitted to the brain to be interpreted.

hemoglobin - a type of protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to the tissues of the

herpes virus - a virus which can affect the skin and central nervous system.

hoarseness - abnormally rough or harsh-sounding voice caused by vocal abuse and other

Hodgkin's lymphoma - a type of lymphoma, a cancer in the lymphatic system; Hodgkin's

disease causes the cells in the lymphatic system to abnormally reproduce, eventually making
the body less able to fight infection. Steady enlargement of lymph glands, spleen, and other
lymphatic tissue occurs.

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inflammation - redness, swelling, heat, and pain in a tissue due to chemical or physical
injury, infection, or allergic reaction.

inner ear - part of the ear that contains both the organ of hearing (cochlea) and the organ of
balance (labyrinth).

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labyrinth - organ of balance located in the inner ear. The labyrinth consists of three
semicircular canals and the vestibule.

language - system for communicating ideas and feelings using sounds, gestures, signs, or

language disorders - problems with verbal communication and the ability to use or
understand the symbol system for interpersonal communication.

laryngitis - inflammation and swelling of the lining of the larynx that usually leads to a hoarse
voice, or loss of voice.

larynx (Also called the voice box.) - a cylindrical grouping of cartilage, muscles, and soft
tissue which contains the vocal cords. The vocal cords are the upper opening into the windpipe
(trachea), the passageway to the lungs.

lymph - part of the lymphatic system; a thin, clear fluid that circulates through the lymphatic
vessels and carries blood cells that fight infection and disease.

lymph nodes - part of the lymphatic system; bean-shaped organs, found in the underarm,
groin, neck, and abdomen, that act as filters for the lymph fluid as it passes through them.

lymph vessels - part of the lymphatic system; thin tubes that carry lymph fluid throughout
the body.

lymphangiogram (LAG) - an imaging study that can detect cancer cells or abnormalities in
the lymphatic system and structures. It involves a dye being injected to the lymph system.

lymphatic system - part of the immune system; includes lymph, ducts, organs, lymph
vessels, lymphocytes, and lymph nodes, whose function is to produce and carry white blood
cells to fight disease and infection.

lymphocytes - part of the lymphatic system; white blood cells that fight infection and

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malignant - a term used to describe cancerous tumors which tend to grow rapidly, can invade
and destroy nearby normal tissues, and can spread.

mastoid - back portion of the temporal bone behind the ear.

medical oncologist - a physician who is specially trained to diagnose and treat cancer with
chemotherapy and other medications.

meningitis - inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that envelop the brain and the
spinal cord; may cause hearing loss or deafness.
metastasis - the spread of tumor cell in other areas of the body.

middle ear - part of the ear that includes the eardrum and three tiny bones of the middle ear,
ending at the round window that leads to the inner ear.

myringotomy - surgical procedure to remove infection from the mastoid bone.

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nasal polyp - a small rounded piece of the lining of the nose that can extend into the
passages of the nose.

noise-induced hearing loss - hearing loss that is caused either by a one-time or repeated
exposure to very loud sound or sounds at various loudness levels over an extended period of

non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - a type of lymphoma, a cancer in the lymphatic system; causes

the cells in the lymphatic system to abnormally reproduce, eventually causing tumors to grow.
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cells can also spread to other organs.

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oncologist - a physician with special training in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

oncology - the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

oncology clinical nurse specialist - a registered nurse with a Master's degree in oncology
nursing who specializes in the care of cancer patients.

oncology social worker - a health professional with a Master's degree in social work who is
an expert in coordinating and providing non-medical care to patients.

otitis externa - inflammation of the outer part of the ear extending to the auditory canal.

otitis media - inflammation of the middle ear caused by infection.

otoacoustic emissions - low-intensity sounds produced by the inner ear that can be quickly
measured with a sensitive microphone placed in the ear canal.

otolaryngologist - a physician who specializes in diseases of the ears, nose, throat, and head
and neck.

otologist - a physician who specializes in diseases of the ear.

outer ear - external portion of the ear, consisting of the pinna, or auricle, and the ear canal.

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pain specialist - oncologists, neurologists, anesthesiologists, neurosurgeons, and other
physicians, nurses, or pharmacists who are experts in pain. A team of healthcare professionals
may also be available to address issues of pain control.

pathologist - a physician who specializes in diagnosis and classification of diseases by

laboratory tests such as examination of tissue and cells under a microscope. The pathologist
determines whether a tumor is benign or cancerous and, if cancerous, the exact cell type and

pediatric oncologist - a physician who specializes in cancers of children.

pediatrician - a physician who specializes in the care of children.

pharynx - back of the throat.

phonology - study of speech sounds.

posterior - referring to the back part of a structure.

primary site - the place where cancer begins. Primary cancer is named after the organ in
which it starts. For example, cancer that starts in the kidney is always kidney cancer even if it
spreads (metastasizes) to other organs such as bones or lungs.

prognosis - a prediction of the course of disease; the outlook for the cure of the patient.

protocol - a formal outline or plan, such as a description of what treatments a patient will
receive and exactly when each should be given.

purulent - having or making pus.

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radiation oncologist - a physician who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.

radiation therapist - a professional specially trained to operate equipment that delivers

radiation therapy.

radiation therapy - treatment with high-energy rays (such as x-rays) to kill or shrink cancer
cells. The radiation may come from outside of the body (external radiation) or from radioactive
materials placed directly in the tumor (internal or implant radiation).

radiologist - a physician with special training in diagnosing diseases by interpreting x-rays

and other types of imaging studies, for example, CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging.

round window - membrane separating the middle ear and inner ear.

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sensorineural hearing loss - hearing loss caused by damage to the sensory cells and/or
nerve fibers of the inner ear.

sign language - language of hand shapes, facial expressions, and movements used as a form
of communication.

smell - to perceive odor or scent through stimuli affecting the olfactory nerves.

sound vocalization - ability to produce voice.

speech - making definite vocal sounds that form words to express thoughts and ideas.

speech disorder - defect or abnormality that prevents an individual from communicating by

means of spoken words.

speech-language pathologist - a health professional trained to evaluate and treat people

who have voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorders, including hearing impairment, that
affect their ability to communicate.

staging - the process of determining whether cancer has spread and, if so, how far. There is
more than one system for staging.

stuttering - frequent repetition of words or parts of words that disrupts the smooth flow of

sudden deafness - loss of hearing that occurs quickly from causes such as explosion, a viral
infection, or the use of some drugs.

suppurative - something that makes pus.

syphilis - a disease usually transmitted by sexual contact, that can cause serious injury to an
unborn baby.

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taste - sensation produced by a stimulus applied to the gustatory nerve endings in the
tongue; the four tastes are salt, sour, sweet, and bitter; some say there is a fifth taste
described as savory.

taste buds - groups of cells located on the tongue that enable one to recognize different

throat culture - a procedure that involves taking a swab of the back of the throat and
monitoring it in the laboratory to determine the type of organism causing an infection.

throat disorders - disorders or diseases of the larynx (voice box) or esophagus.

tongue - large muscle on the floor of the mouth that manipulates food for chewing and
swallowing; the main organ of taste, and assists in forming speech sounds.
toxoplasmosis - an infectious disease caused by a parasite that can be harmful to an unborn

transillumination - a method of examination by the passage of light through tissues to assist

in diagnosis. The light transmission changes with different tissues.

tumor - an abnormal lump or mass of tissue. Tumors can be benign (not cancerous) or
malignant (cancerous).

tympanic membrane (Also called eardrum.) - a thin membrane that in the middle ear that
carries sound vibrations to the inner ear.

tympanoplasty - surgical repair of the eardrum (tympanic membrane) or bones of the middle

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ultrasound (Also called sonography.) - a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-
frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and
organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function, and to assess blood
flow through various vessels.

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vestibule - bony cavity of the inner ear.

vocal cords (vocal folds) - muscularized folds of mucous membrane that extend from the
larynx (voice box) wall; enclosed in elastic vocal ligament and muscle that control the tension
and rate of vibration of the cords as air passes through them.

voice - sound produced by air passing out through the larynx and upper respiratory tract.

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x-ray - a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce
images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.

Ophthalmology Glossary
In younger people, under age 40, the lens is adjusted by the ciliary muscles to focus
clearly for near as well as far vision. With age the lens is less able to change,
eventually requiring reading glasses or bifocals for close work.

Characterized by a lack of color vision with poor visual acuity, nystagmus, and
sensitivity to sunlight. No treatment is available except, for example, sunglasses for
the sensitivity to light.

Age Related Macular Degeneration

The most common form of macular degeneration is Age-related Macular
Degeneration (ARMD). It is believed that one contributing factor of ARMD is
excessive light exposure over a person’s lifetime. Limiting excessive light exposure
(e.g., wearing sunglasses and a hat outside) and a diet rich in antioxidants as well as
zinc may prevent or retard the development of ARMD. In general, the lighter a
person’s complexion the greater the risk of ARMD.

A hereditary condition in which darker pigment fails to form in the eye, hair and skin.
In ocular albinism, visual acuity ranges from 20/40 to 20/200 (legal blindness), the
eyes may dance (nystagmus) and the person is very sensitive to sunlight. No
treatment is available, except dark sunglasses for the photophobia.

Commonly known as Lazy eye. A loss of vision in a young child due to the eye not
being used. The eye is normal but the brain tends to suppress or ignore the image
received by the amblyopic eye. The most common causes include a muscle
imbalance, a focusing problem, or a problem such as a cataract or corneal scar.
Sometimes both eyes can be affected.

Angioid Streaks
Fragmentation of Bruch’s membrane due to the degeneration of the elastic layers
and development of subretinal fibrovascular tissue. Sometimes does not cause vision
problems; however, can cause a reduction of visual acuity leading to legal blindness.
Often associated with another disease such as sickle cell disease and certain

A hereditary eye problem in which the iris, the colored part of the eye, is absent.
There is poor vision, sensitivity to sunlight, nystagmus, and a tendency to develop

A difference in the size of the two pupils. It is present in about 5% of normal
children. The most serious cause of an acquired Anisocoria follows a head injury with
some brain or nerve damage; a disease such as a tumor also causes it.

A difference in the focusing power of the two eyes. One of the major causes of
amblyopia; the brain is not able to clearly focus both eyes simultaneously. This is a
"hidden" cause of amblyopia and very difficult to detect without an eye exam.

An absence of the lens in the eye. The lens is removed during a cataract operation.
The natural lens may be replace with an artificial lens during the cataract operation.

An irregular curvature of either the cornea (front of the eye) or the lens. If either
structure is shaped more like a football rather than a basketball, light is not sharply
focused on the retina. This results in blurry vision for both distance and near.

Decay or wasting away. Dying.

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Best’s disease
Also called Vitelliform macular dystrophy. Causes atrophy of the RPE and
photoreceptors in the macula. Late in the disease there is a loss of visual acuity to
legal blindness and a blind spot in central vision. No treatment is available.

An inflammation of the eyelids or lid margins. It is often caused by an infection. A
chronic form produces a scaling or crusting of the lid margins. This is treatable by an
eye doctor.
Legal blindness is defined as: 1) visual acuity of 20/200 (only being able to see the
big E on the eye chart) or less in the best eye even with the eyes corrected by
glasses or contact lenses; or, 2) The peripheral visual field is reduced to 20 degrees
of visual angle or less. Twenty degrees of visual angle is about the size of a one foot
ruler held at arms length.

Bright Red Spots

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CAM Treatment
CAM is an abbreviation for Cambridge (England) where a new therapy for amblyopia
was proposed that used rotating gratings (series of black and white bars). Patients
would view the rotating gratings while they performed various drawing tasks on top
of the rotating gratings. Research has shown, however, that CAM treatment is not
effective at improving visual acuity in amblyopic children.

Carbidopa is a peripheral decarboxylase inhibitor. Dopa decarboxylase is an enzyme
that converts levodopa into dopamine - a major neurotransmitter and neuromodular
of cellular function. Carbidopa is sometimes used to prevent the peripheral
conversion of levodopa into dopamine in peripheral sites such as the gut, thus
allowing more levodopa to reach the brain where it can have therapeutic effects.

An opacity or haziness of the lens of the eye. A cataract is noticed particularly at
night when oncoming headlights produce glare disability or/and discomfort. It may or
may not reduce the vision depending on size, density and location. If a cataract
reduces visual acuity significantly, an Ophthalmologist can replace the defective lens
with an artificial lens.

In the eyelid there are a number of glands that produce lubricants for the cornea and
eyelid. A Chalazion occurs when a gland become plugged, enlarged, or infected. The
lid looks like it has a lump about the size of a small pea. Occasionally it occurs as a
thickness within the lid. Warm compresses help some disappear; others require
surgical removal by an Ophthalmologist.

Atrophy or decay of the choroid, choriocapillaris and Bruch’s membrane of the eye,
leading to a severe loss of vision. Usually progresses to light perception by 50 years
of age. Leads to night blindness tunnel vision and reduced visual acuity. No
treatment available.

An inflammation of the back of the eye involving the choroid and retina. It may be
due to a number of different diseases, which affect the body such as toxoplasmosis,
histoplasmosis, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis and syphilis.

This is the vascular coat between the sclera and the retina, which furnishes blood
and nutrition to the outer layer of the retina.

An inflammation of the back of the eye involving the choroid and retina. It may be
due to a number of different diseases, which affect the body such as toxoplasmosis,
histoplasmosis, sarcoidosis, tuberculosis and syphilis.

A congenital (born with) problem with the eye that is related to a maldevelopment or
underdevelopment of a part of the eye. It may involve the eyelid, or interior part of
the eye (involving the choroid and occasionally the optic nerve). No treatment is

One of the two light receiving retinal cells (the other is the rod) that is responsible
for daylight vision (e.g., color vision, high visual acuity, bright light vision). The area
of the retina that provides central or reading vision, known as the fovea, contains
only cones.

Cone Dystrophy
Also sometimes referred to as cone degeneration. The cones of the eye degenerate
over time leading to visual acuity between 20/50 and 20/200 – legal blindness.
There may be a progressive vision loss, abnormal color vision and photophobia. No
treatment is available, except for dark sunglasses for the photophobia. Patients with
cone dystrophies and cone degenerations benefit for rehabilitation services.

Cone Rod Degeneration

Also called cone-rod dystrophy. Leads to a loss of visual acuity between 20/25 to
20/400 – legal blindness. First there is a loss of cone photoreceptors followed by a
loss of rod photoreceptors. Visual fields may be restricted, abnormal color vision and
photophobia. No treatment is available.

An inflammation of the thin transparent tissue layer within the eye containing blood
vessels. The conjunctiva covers the outer surface of the eyeball, starting at the
limbus (edge of the cornea) and extends backward to form a recess under each lid
before coming forward and covering the inside surface of each eyelid. It contains
mucous secreting cells that allow the eye to move smoothly in various directions. It
also helps lubricate the cornea during blinking. A contagious and treatable condition.

The front part of the eye that acts as a window for the entrance of light rays. It is
attached to the other outer coat of the eye, the sclera; the white part of the eye. The
cornea provides a significant amount of focusing power for the eye (the rest is
provided by the lens). Because it has many nerve fibers, an injury or foreign body
causes significant pain and discomfort.

Cortical Blindness
A person with cortical blindness will have normal eyes and normal optic nerves but,
nevertheless, will not be able to see. The cause of the blindness is with the cortex or
surface of the brain that contains 32 or more sites for visual information processing.
More recently, the preferred term for such individuals is cortical visual impairment,
because many people will not be totally blind but will exhibit unusual visual losses;
for example, they may be blind to stationary objects but be able to see moving

The surface of the brain. The word cortex is derived from the Greek name meaning
"bark" (like tree bark). The visual cortex contains 32 or more areas devoted to visual
information processing. Two major cortical pathways are the "What" and the "Where"
visual pathways, that are devoted to what an object is and where an object is.

Cover Test
A test for a muscle imbalance. While the person is looking at a distant object, one
eye is covered and then uncovered (cover-uncover). This is repeated on the other
eye. Finally it is performed on both eyes, covering one then the other (alternate-
cover). If one or both eyes shift during this test, there is a problem with alignment of
the eyes. The misalignment with the eyes often cannot be seen with both eyes

Cupping of the Optic Disc

A depression of the optic nerve where the optic nerve leaves the eye. In glaucoma,
the cup may be enlarged indicating damage to the nerves leading from the eye to
the brain.

A paralysis of the ciliary muscles following the instillation of eye drops. This produces
a loss of accommodation or focusing ability. With the lens relaxed, a better estimate
of the refractive error is possible in most cases. Most cycloplegic eye drops also
dilate the pupil. Cycloplegia may last from a few hours to several days, depending on
certain factors such as skin color – the lighter the longer.

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Degenerative Myopia
Pathologic progressive myopia. Causes RPE and choriocapillaris atrophy and
photoreceptor degeneration. Leads to reduced visual acuity, night blindness and
retinal detachment, the latter requires retinal surgery.

Dermoid Cyst
A congenital (born with) tumor present in infancy as a yellowish swelling on the
surface of the eye. It may enlarge during puberty. The dermoid cyst can be
surgically removed by an ophthalmologist.

Detached Retina
A condition in which the retina separates from another layer of cells in the back of
the eye, resulting in a decrease in nutrition and visual function. It may be due to a
hemorrhage, trauma, tumor, vascular malformation or from traction of the vitreous
to which it is attached. Sometimes, people with high myopia will develop a retinal
detachment, which requires emergency surgery.

Diabetic Retinopathy
Pathologic changes in the back of the eye, retina, caused by diabetes. Background
type is characterized by ongoing microaneurysms, retinal hemorrhages and swelling
of the central part of the eye, known as the macula. The proliferate type involves the
growth of abnormal blood vessels in the retina and optic disk, blood leaking into the
jelly part of the eye, known as the vitreous, and detachment of the retina.

The unit used to measure the amount of refractive or focusing power of the eye. It
also refers to the strength of lens required to provide clear vision. In general, the
higher the refractive error, as measured in diopters, the worse the eye.

Commonly known as double vision. In children, diplopia is often associated with a
muscle imbalance such as esotropia. A refractive error may also cause enough
blurring that a person sees two objects.

Dominant Progressive Foveal Dystrophy

Dominant Stargardt’s disease. A degeneration of the RPE and photoreceptors of the
eye. Slowly progressive, leading to legal blindness later in life. Usually starts in the
20s to 40s. Results in decreased visual acuity, central scotoma and defective color
vision. There is no treatment.

Amorphous, sub RPE material; probably the remains of the RPE as a result of
atrophy. Associated, sometimes with aging and with ARMD. There may be no
symptoms present in the early stages and may lead to a reduction in visual acuity
later in life.

A learning problem in which a person has difficulty with letter or word recognition.
Children often are of normal or above normal intelligence; however, they have
difficulty reading and sometimes naming pictures of objects. More recent evidence
suggests that dyslexia is a decoding problem based on phonemes – the basic
language components. This is a higher cortical processing problem and NOT a vision
or eye problem, per se.

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Electroretinogram (ERG)
A test that measures the functional integrity of the retina, including the rod and cone
photoreceptors. Usually involves the use of dilating drops in the eye and use of a
contact lens electrode.

Electrooculogram (EOG)
A test of the functional integrity of the Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE) – a layer of
cells next to the retina of the eye. The EOG involves electrodes attached to the inner
and outer corners of the eye and the patient is required to look back-and-forth
between two small lights in a large white globe (ganzfeld) with bright lights on and

An inflammation involving the internal parts of the eye – i.e., choroid, retina, ciliary
body and iris. A very serious condition sometimes seen after an injury to the eye by
a foreign object. Vision is severely threatened. Large doses of cortisone and
antibiotics are often needed. May lead to the removal of the eye. Must be treated by
an eye doctor ASAP.

An operation in which the whole eye and the front part of the optic nerve are
removed. It is usually performed when the eye contains a tumor or is blind and very

A tendency for an eye to turn inward a little bit. It occurs under certain conditions
such as fatigue. An esophoria is sometimes uncovered by the cover test.

Commonly known as "crossed eyes". One eye is constantly turned inward toward the
nose. In children, esotropia may lead to suppression of the visual signals from the
eye to the brain and lead to amblyopia and decreased depth perception. In adults
with previously straight eyes (for example after head trauma), esotropia causes
constant double vision.

A tendency for an eye to turn outward a little bit. Occurs sometimes under certain
conditions such as fatigue, bright sun light or prolonged use of the eyes.

An abnormal protrusion of the eyeball often caused by thyroid disease or a tumor
behind the eye. Medical treatment is necessary.

Sometimes called "Wall Eyes". One eye is constantly turned outward. A child may
have an exophoria which progresses to a stage where the eye is straight one minute
and turned-out the next (as when daydreaming or in bright sunlight). This is called
intermittent exotropia. May need surgical correction.

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Also called hyperopia. A refractive error in which the light rays entering the eye are
focused behind the retina. With moderate degrees of farsightedness, accommodation
can compensate so that glasses are not required. In later life everyone loses the
ability to accommodate (presbyopia) and reading glasses become necessary.
Children, up to about the age of 8 years, are often farsighted.

Small condensations of cells in the vitreous body, the fluid in the eye, which cast
shadows on the back of the eye, known as the retina. This is normally associated
with aging. Floaters may indicate a more serious problem such as a retinal
detachment. If you suddenly see a lot of floaters, please see your eye doctor.

Fluorescein Angiography
Fluorescein Angiography is a diagnostic test used to assess pathology that affects the
retina, choroid and/or iris of the eye. Fluorescein angiography is used to assess the
blood flow of the eye and abnormal states are referred to as either hyperfluorescence
or hypofluorescence relative to the normal amount of fluorescence. Fluorescein
angiography involves an intravenous injection of sodium Fluorescein ( a dye) into the
antecubical vein ( a vein in the arm) and then photographs are taken of the eye as
the dye enters and leaves the blood system of the eye. The doctor will evaluate
prefilling ( i.e., what the retina and choroid look like before the dye enters the eye),
transit ( i.e., first passage of dye through the retina and choroid), recirculation (i.e.,
fluoroscien has become equally distributed throughout the eye and then starts to
circulate through again) and later phase ( i.e., as the fluoroscien is eliminated from
the body by the kidneys). The test lasts about 30 minutes. Nausea and vomiting are
the most common side effects, occurring in about 5% or less of patients. Severe side
effects ( e.g., anaphylaxis, death) have been reported but are very rare.

A central portion of the retina and macula that contains only cones. The fovea is the
only part of the eye that is capable of 20/20 or better vision.

The back part of the eye that can be seen with an instrument called an
ophthalmoscope. Visible features include the retina with its blood vessels, the optic
nerve and choroid. The fundus surrounds the fovea, that part of the eye used for

Fundus Flavimaculatus
See Stargardt’s disease.

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An abnormal condition in which the pressure within the eye is elevated to the point
where the visual cells and nerves are affected. Glaucoma is major cause of vision
loss and blindness. Medicines and surgery are needed to control the elevated
pressure. African Americans are at increased risk for glaucoma. Glaucoma often will
lead to a loss of side vision before central vision is affected. Often the patient will not
notice the loss of vision until it is too late for treatment.

The examination of the internal angle between the iris and cornea. This is
accomplished by placing a contact lens over the cornea. It is vital in all cases of
suspected glaucoma.

Gyrate Atrophy
Diffuse total choroid vascular atrophy of the eye. Leads to night blindness, tunnel
vision, cataracts and reduced visual acuity. Patients are usually myopic. Treatment
involves pyridoxine; arginine free diet to reduce ornithinemia. Poor prognosis and
usually leads to legal blindness by the age of 40 years.

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A loss of one-half of the field of vision; for example, all of the right side of vision is
gone. This is sometimes seen in older people with vascular problems, in certain types
of brain tumors or after head trauma.

Commonly known as farsightedness. Most children are hyperopic and see things in
the distance better than very close things.

A tendency for one eye to drift upward. A vertical type of muscle imbalance between
the eyes.
A muscle imbalance in which one eye is straight and the other is turned upward.

Blood in the aqueous fluid - front part of the eye, often caused by an injury. Patient
should seek immediate medical attention since a hyphema may lead to glaucoma
and permanent loss of vision.

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An inflammation of the iris and ciliary body. It may be due to a disease within the
eye or occur as a reaction to an injury or disease elsewhere in the body.

The colored part of the eye with a hole (pupil) in the center. It regulates the amount
of light entering the eye – the dimmer the lighting the more light the iris lets into the
eye by widening the pupil.

An inflammation of the iris.

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An inflammation of the cornea often caused by a virus or bacteria. Scarring and loss
of vision may result.

An inherited disease where the cornea becomes progressively shaped like a cone.
Wearing a contact lens may slow the progression of the disease. Corneal transplant
surgery may be required.

A corneal transplant.

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Lacrimal Gland
The tear gland located under the upper eyelid at the outer corner of the eye. The
fluid it secretes cleans and provides moisture for the cornea. It is responsible for
tearing during emotional stimulation or following corneal irritation by a foreign body
or chemical.

Lacrimal Sac
The tear sac located on the side of the nose adjacent to the inner corner of the eye.
Tears normally drain from the eye into the tear duct and then through the sac, finally
leaving by a drain which enters the nose. The tear sac remains filled with tears when
an infant has a blocked tear duct. An infection of the tear sac is called a

LASIK (Laser in-Situ Keratomileusis) combines the precision of the excimer laser
delivery system with the benefits of Lamellar Keratoplasty (LK) which has been
proven to treat a wide range of refractive errors. Using the accuracy and precision of
the excimer laser, LASIK changes the shape of the cornea to improve the way light is
focused or "refracted" by the eye. First, a thin corneal flap is created, as an
instrument called a microkeratome glides across the cornea. Then, in just seconds,
ultraviolet light and high energy pulses from the excimer laser reshape the internal
cornea with accuracy up to 0.25 microns. By adjusting the pattern of the laser beam,
it is possible to treat high levels of nearsightedness and moderate amounts of
farsightedness and astigmatism.

Lazy Eye
A term often used instead of amblyopia. A loss of visual function, usually measured
by visual acuity, in one or both eyes that cannot be explained by identifiable
causes(s) such as a cataract or retinal disease. An eye that turns in (esotropia) or
out (exotropia) may have a certain degree of central visual loss (amblyopia). A lazy
eye is often treated by placing a patch over the stronger eye and forcing use of the
lazy eye. The earlier the detection of the lazy eye the better for recovery of central
vision with patching. If left untreated, after the age of about 8 or 9 years, patching
therapy is no longer effective and the child will have a permanent loss of vision and
loss of binocular vision and depth perception.

Leber’s Disease (Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis)

A severe form of rod-cone degeneration present at birth. Infant’s have very poor
visual acuity, photophobia and nystagmus. Infant’s with Leber’s will often constantly
rub their eyes with their fists and poke their eyes with their fingers and thumb. No
treatment is available.

The lens of the eye is like an adjustable lens of a camera and focuses light rays on to
the retina for sharp images. A condition called presbyopia occurs when the lens is no
longer able to adjust for objects at different distances.

Lens capsule
The lens capsule is a membrane that surrounds the lens of the eye. In cataract
surgery, the lens is usually replaced with an intraocular lens but the lens capsule
remains in the eye.

Levodopa is a precursor for the neurotransmitter/neuromodular dopamine. Levodopa
is usually referred to as "L-dopa" and is often used to treat older adults with
Parkinson's disease. Through enzymatic action of Dopa Decarboxylase, levodopa is
converted into dopamine. However, levodopa can be converted to dopamine in
peripheral sites such as the gut and then will not be able to cross the blood-brain
barrier for central therapeutic effects. To prevent peripheral conversion of levodopa
to dopamine, a peripheral decarboxylase inhibitor, such as carbidopa, is combined
with levodopa to increase the amount of levodopa into the brain where it is then
converted to dopamine. Carbidopa cannot cross the blood-brain barrier.

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A specialized part of the retina containing mostly cones. The macula is used for all
detailed visual tasks. The center of the macula is called the fovea. If a disease
process harms or destroys the macula, vision is usually reduced to 20/200 (legal

Macular Degeneration
A degeneration or loss of the macula of the eye, usually hereditary. The most
common form of macular degeneration is Age-related Macular Degeneration (ARMD).
It is believed that one contributing factor for ARMD is excessive light exposure over a
person’s lifetime. Limiting excessive light exposure (e.g., wearing sunglasses and a
hat outside) and a diet rich in antioxidants as well as zinc may prevent or retard the
development of ARMD. In general, the lighter a person’s complexion the greater the
risk of ARMD. See Recent breakthroughs.

A congenital problem in which the eye(s) is (are) smaller than normal. Vision is often
reduced because other problems present within such an eye. No treatment is

A drug that dilates the pupil (see cycloplegia). Sometimes used to treat amblyopia,
particularly if the child will not wear an eye patch over the stronger eye.

Commonly known as nearsightedness. A refractive error in which the light rays focus
in front of the retina producing blurry distance vision. External optical correction
(glasses or contact lenses) are required for clear distance vision. It is now believed
that myopia is partly hereditary; you’re more likely to become myopic if your parents
are myopic. Also, near work can lead to a further worsening of the myopia. If the
myopia is greater than 6 diopters, a condition known as high myopia, the possibility
of retinal detachment is increased.

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A rapid involuntary movement of the eyes. Sometimes referred to as "dancing eyes".
The most common form of nystagmus is horizontal, but vertical and rotary
nystagmus is also seen. In children, it is often congenital and associated with
reduced visual acuity. Nystagmus in infants and children may be associated with
other problems, such as optic nerve hypoplasia or a retinal degeneration. In adults,
it may signify a serious problem within the brain, such as a tumor. Nystagmus can
also occur after a brain injury.

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(OD) Ocular Dexter
Right eye

(OS) Oculus Sinister

Left eye

(OU) Oculus Uterque

Both eyes

A physician (MD) who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of eye problems and
diseases. The ophthalmologist works with the use of glasses, contact lenses, eye
medication and surgery.

Optic Atrophy
A disease of the optic nerve in which the nerve fibers carrying the electrical impulses
from the eye to the brain start to die off. In such cases the optic nerve has a pale or
whitish appearance compared to the normal pink color. Optic atrophy is associated
with poor reading vision and often the cause of legal blindness. May be associated
with a serious medical condition and requires further medical examination to
determine the cause of the atrophy. Not reversible.

Optic Disc
The visible part of the optic nerve inside the eye. The axons of the ganglion cells of
the inner retina make-up the optic nerve.

A technician who fits a person for glasses. He/she does not test for glasses. Some
opticians also fit contact lenses.

Optic Nerve
Composed of nerve fibers that carry visual information from the retina to the brain.
Optic nerve damage causes a loss of vision.

Optic Nerve Hypoplasia

A small and underdeveloped optic nerve. Optic nerve hypoplasia is one of the leading
causes of vision loss and blindness in infants and children. Optic nerve hypoplasia
occurs in the early stages of fetal development, when the eyes are forming. The
optic nerve never fully develops or, once developed, dies-off and reduces in size for
unknown reasons. Recent evidence suggests that ganglion cell axons, that make-up
the optic nerve, are not able to grow through the optic nerve head because certain
chemical messengers are not present for directional growth from the eye to the
brain. Optic nerve hypoplasia is variable, and can result in only minor vision
problems to complete blindness. Usually, if the infant has nystagmus the optic nerve
hypoplasia is more severe and vision is very much reduced. If the infant does not
have nystagmus, the likelihood for significant vision loss in less. All infants with optic
nerve hypoplasia should have a CT scan or MRI to look for midline brain defects that
can result in body growth problems. If the infant does not have nystagmus, the
chance of midline brain defects is small. If the infant has nystagmus, the chance of
midline defects is greater. Some infants have optic nerve hypoplasia in one eye only.
If only in one eye, the chance of midline defects is very small and the doctor may
chose not to do a CT scan or MRI, depending on other factors. There is no treatment
or cure for optic nerve hypoplasia.

Optic Neuritis
An inflammation of the optic nerve usually with some loss of sight (may be
temporary). It may signify a more serious neurological condition. A leading cause of
optic neuritis is multiple sclerosis (MS).

Optometrist (OD)
A licensed non-physician educated to detect eye problems with special emphasis on
correcting refractive errors. Depending on training, an Optometrist may use
diagnostic and therapeutic medicines. An Optometrist does not perform surgery.

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Peripheral Vision
Also called "side vision". That part of vision that detects objects outside of where we
are directly focusing our eyes. When we look directly at something we are using the
fovea - that part of our retina where there is a high density of cone photoreceptors
and thus allows for detailed vision. The fovea is part of the macula - that part of our
retina with mostly cone photoreceptors and used for day time vision. Outside of the
macula is what is typically referred to as peripheral vision, and peripheral vision is
dominated by the rod photoreceptors. Peripheral vision is used mainly for detecting
objects and in directing where we should fixate our fovea or central vision. Peripheral
vision is used mostly during the night. Without peripheral vision, we would have
"tunnel vision". If a person has a significant loss of peripheral vision the person
would be legally blind. See legal blindness.

Severe discomfort to bright lights. Usually a symptom of eye disease, such as
glaucoma, in an infant or retinal disease in a child or adult. Sometimes treated with
dark sunglasses.

The normal decrease in focusing power (accommodation) of the eye which occurs
with aging. It begins about age twelve but becomes most noticeable to the average
farsighted person after age forty. Bifocals or reading glasses are required for clear
near vision.

PRK stands for Photo Refractive Keratectomy which is a form of refractive surgery to
correct a refractive error such as myopia. A laser is used to remove a front layer of
cells of the cornea to change the refractive state of the eye so that glasses are no
longer needed. Complications include under or over correction of the refractive error
and glare problems, particularly at night with oncoming head lights. If serious
infection occurs, blindness might result.

A child's eyes appear to be out-of-alignment, and usually one eye appears to turn in.
In infants this appearance is especially noticeable when there is excessive skin on
either side of the nose that covers the inner corner of each eye. As the child looks to
one side, part of the eye disappears under this skin and looks crossed. This condition
is common in Asian - Americans.

A triangular membrane with blood vessels which grows from the sclera toward the
occasionally onto the cornea. It occurs more often on the nasal side of the eye. It is
more common in dusty and windy climates. Surgery is often necessary.

A drooping of the upper eyelid. In children it is usually a congenital problem. It rarely
causes amblyopia. Most children simply hold their heads back if the droop is severe.
Surgery, the only treatment, is usually suggested prior to starting school when the
appearance is cosmetically unacceptable.

A circular opening in the center of the iris. The size of the pupil changes according to
the amount of light present. It is small in sunlight and large in a dark room.

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In order for an eye to see clearly, the light rays must come to a perfect focus when
they reach the fovea. The bending of the light rays is called refraction. Each eye has
its own characteristic refractive error. An instrument (retinoscope) is used to
determine this error. The examination is called refracting the eye. From the
refraction, the examiner learns the strength of lens necessary to provide the clearest
vision for each eye.

The inner lining of the back of the eye that contains the visual cells (rods and cones).
The function of the retina and visual cells is to convert light rays into electrical
impulses that are transmitted to the brain by way of the optic nerve.

Retinal Detachment
A retinal detachment occurs when the retina, that part of the eye that contains the
photoreceptors, detaches from the underlying layers of cells, called the choroid. A
retinal detachment my be the result of injury to the eye such as blunt trauma
(remember Sugar Ray, the boxer) or it may result from other things like high myopia
or age-related macular degeneration. In certain diseases, retinal breaks and tears
occur and these may lead to a retinal detachment. Early warning signs include bright
dots or lights or some of your side vision may appear dark. A retinal detachment
may be treatable if detected early, so see your Ophthalmologist.

Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP)

A hereditary degeneration of the retina which leads to a severe loss of vision, usually
legal blindness. Progressive symptoms include night blindness, loss of side vision
leading to tunnel vision and decreased central vision and visual acuity. Visual acuity
may be compromised early by the formation of cataracts, requiring cataract surgery.
There are three main forms of RP based on heredity: dominant, X-linked and
recessive. In the dominant form, about 50% of all family members have the disease.
In the X-linked form, RP skips every other generation because females are carriers
and males get the RP. In the recessive form, there is no family history or only
sporadic occurrences of the disease. If one member of the family (e.g., older son) is
diagnosed with recessive RP there is a 25% chance that the other brothers and
sisters, with the same mother and father, have the disease. About 1 in every 3600
people have RP. A possible treatment to slow down the progression of the disease is
the use of vitamin A palmitate (15,000 IUs/day). However, Vitamin A therapy for RP
is controversial and women of childbearing age must NOT get pregnant while on
vitamin A because of an association with birth defects.

The most common cancer in the eye occurring in early childhood. A parent or doctor
may first suspect a problem by detecting whiteness in the normally dark pupil.
Occasionally it leads to a wandering eye (strabismus). It does not spread from one
eye to the other but about 25% have a tumor in each eye. Immediate medical
treatment is necessary. Sometimes the eye(s) must be removed to prevent
spreading of the tumor into the brain.

Retrobulbar Neuritis
An inflammation of the optic nerve. It causes a loss in vision. It is sometimes
indicative of a neurological disease.

Rod Cone Dystrophy

A number of retina diseases in which the rod photoreceptors first start to degenerate
followed by the cone photoreceptors. Other parts of the retina and RPE are also
adversely affected. Symptoms include loss of side vision and night blindness followed
by the loss of central vision. RP is the most common form of rod-cone degeneration.
Some forms occur at birth while other forms may start much later in life. Generally
very poor prognosis.

The rods are the visual cells of the retina that are important for night vision and
peripheral vision. The rods are the first affected in rod-cone degenerations such as

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The sclera is the white part of the eye. The clear cornea is the front extension of the

An absence of vision in part of the visual field. It is present in such conditions as
glaucoma, or in more serious diseases within the brain. Often detected by a visual
field test.

Snellen Chart
The familiar eye chart with larger letters at the top and smaller ones at the bottom.
It is used for measuring central vision.

An abnormal bulging of the cornea or sclera. It is usually a congenital problem.

Also known as depth perception. The separation between the eyes provides for
slightly different views of an object by each eye. The brain for the purpose of telling
the location of an object in 3D space uses this difference in views between the eyes
or disparity.

Misaligned eyes. See exotropia, esotropia and hyperopia.

Stargardt’s Disease
Also called Juvenile macular degeneration. Early in the course of the disease the
retina may look normal to the eye doctor. Later in the disease process, there is a
total loss of the RPE and photoreceptors in the macula. Disease progression is rapid
leading to a central scotoma, reduced central vision leading to legal blindness and
some loss of color vision by the age of 20 years. Patients sometime become
photophobic. No treatment is available. Also see dominant progressive foveal

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Tear Duct
Part of the drainage system for the tears. The dilated part of the tear duct is called
the lacrimal sac. An obstruction along the tear duct in infancy will cause a watery or
draining eye. A warm compress is sometimes used to open a blocked tear duct. A
tear duct probing surgery may be necessary to relieve the blockage.

An instrument used to measure the pressure within the eye. This is one of several
factors used in diagnosis of glaucoma. The results may also be used to follow the
response of treatment to this disease.

The inward turning of an eyelash. If it scratches the cornea, there is discomfort
similar to a foreign body sensation.

A viral infection of the cornea and conjunctiva which may produce scarring and
impaired vision.

Tunnel Vision
A reduced visual field in which the eyes only see straight ahead (no peripheral
vision). It may be due to certain eye diseases, such as glaucoma or RP.

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Usher’s Syndrome
Characterized by a severe sensori-neural hearing loss at birth and followed by the
development of RP. Usher’s syndrome is the leading cause of deaf-blindness. Occurs
in about 1 in 33,000 births. However, in the deaf population about 1 in 50 have
Usher’s syndrome. No treatment is available, but see RP.

Uveal Tract
The entire vascular coat of the eye composed of the iris, ciliary body, and choroid.

Inflammation of the uveal tract. It may be anterior involving the iris and ciliary body
(iridocyclitis), or posterior involving the choroid (choroiditis).

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Visual Evoked Potential (VEP)
See Visual Evoked Response.

Visual Evoked Response (VER)

The VER is a test of the function of the visual pathways from the retina, along the
optic nerve and optic tract to the early parts of the visual centers of the brain.
Usually, EEG electrodes are placed on the head and the patient is required to view a
flashing light and an alternating pattern (e.g., stripes or checks) on a TV. The VER is
a diagnostic test for such things as Multiple Sclerosis, optic neuritis, optic
neuropathies, cortical visual impairment and certain types of brain tumors. The
pattern VER can also provide an objective estimate of a patient's visual acuity, even
if the patient is nonverbal (e.g., too young, comatose or mentally impaired).

Visual Suppression
This occurs when the brain ignores the visual image being transmitted from one eye.
It is not voluntary. In the younger child it is associated with strabismus and
amblyopia. An eye that is misaligned or is out of focus is likely to be suppressed by
the child.

Vision Therapy
Vision Therapy is a term that refers to a mixture of so-called "therapies" that employ
eye movement tasks, eye-hand coordination tasks, 3D tasks, etc., which purportedly
improve everything from golf games to dyslexia to reading problems in children and
adults. The vast majority of these claims are unsubstantiated. Vision therapy is
usually not covered by insurance. Warning: before signing-up for Vision therapy, ask
the provided to support his or her claims with scientific evidence that has been
published in a peer reviewed scientific journal. Be skeptical of therapies that seem to
good to be true - Caveat emptor.

The transparent, solid, gelatinous material which fills the interior of the eye behind
the lens. It allows the eye to maintain its shape.

Pathology Glossary
Last updated on 9/11/97

A glossary of terms associated with the medical specialty of Pathology.

Alphabetical Index:
Back to "Doc Talk" page.
A-, an- (prefix)
e.g. aplasia - without or lack of formation.
a localized collection of pus in a cavity formed by the disintegration of
inflammation of the skin of the extremities, particularly of the paws or feet.
e.g. lethal acrodermatitis - an inherited autosomal recessive disease in
bull terriers relating to zinc metabolism.
Adeno- (prefix)
e.g. adenitis - inflammation of a gland.
a malignant tumor of epithelial cells arranged in glandular patterns.
a benign epithelial tumor in which the cells form glandular structures or are
derived from glandular epithelium.
absence, failure of formation or imperfect development of any part.
in reference to a melanoma, amelanotic refers to a melanoma that
contains little or no pigment.
Anis-, aniso- (prefix)
unequal; dissimilar.
e.g. anisokaryosis - inequality in the size of the nuclei of cells.
-angio (suffix)
e.g. lymphangitis - inflammation of a lymph vessel.
Ante- (prefix)
before in time or space.
e.g. ante mortem - before death.
Anti- (prefix)
against; counteracting.
e.g. antitoxin - an antibody to a toxin.
Defective development or congenital absence of an organ or tissue.
Arthr(o)- (prefix)
joint; articulation.
e.g. arthrolith - a calculous deposit within a joint.
Atresia (adj. atretic)
closed; absence of a normal opening or normally patent lumen
a wasting of tissues, organs or the entire body; caused by death and
resorption of cells, diminished cellular proliferation, pressure, ischemia,
malnutrition, decreased function or hormonal changes.
Auto- (prefix)
e.g. autolysis - self-dissolution; the post-mortem enzymatic degradation
of cells.
the armpit.
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affecting both sides.
shaped like a bunch of grapes.
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a group of neoplastic diseases in which there is a transformation of normal
cells into malignant cells. The cells proliferate in an abnormal way
resulting in a malignant, cellular tumor. See also Metastatic.
having a consistency like that of cottage cheese.
inflammation of a mucous membrane with free discharge.
-cele (suffix)
tumor; herniation.
e.g. meningocoele - hernial protrusion of meninges.
a diffuse inflammatory process within solid tissues characterized by
edema, redness, pain and interference with function. Cellulitis often occurs
in the loose tissues beneath the skin, but may also occur in mucous
membranes and in muscle bundles surounding organs.
-centesis (suffix)
e.g. thoracentesis - puncture of the pleural cavity.
Chol- (prefix)
e.g. cholelith - gallstone; bile stone.
exsisting at birth.
referring to certain mental or physical traits or peculiarities, malformations,
diseases, which may be either hereditary or due to some influence
occuring during gestation even up to the moment of birth. See also
affecting or pertaining to the opposite side.
having a ripple-like distortion.
a bluish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes due to an
excessive concentration of reduced (deoxygenated) hemoglobin in the
an abnormal sac filled with gas, fluid, or semi-solid material that is lined by
a membrane.
Cyst(o)- (prefix)
e.g. cystitis - inflammation of the urinary bladder.
Cyt(o)- (prefix)
e.g. cytomegaly - marked enlargement of cells.
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Derma-, dermat(o)- (prefix)
e.g. dermatitis - inflammation of the skin.
Dia- (prefix)
through; between; ss.
e.g. diarrhea - fecal matter flowing through the bowel.
not definitely localized or limited; spread widely through a tissue or
Diphtheritic membrane
a thin coating on the surface of an epithelial lined organ (e.g. intestine)
that is composed of necrotic cellular debris, inflammatory cells and fibrin.
Dys- (prefix)
difficult; bad; abnormal.
e.g. dysplasia - abnormal formation.
e.g. dyspnea - shortness of breath; difficulty breathing.
defective embryonic development.
abnormal tissue development.
displacement. See also Malposition.
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-ectasis (suffix)
to stretch; dilate.
e.g. bronchiectasis - dilatation of bronchi. The noun form is ectasia
-ectomy (suffix)
e.g. cholecystectomy - excision of the gallbladder.
A purplish patch caused by extravasation of blood into the tissues differing
from petechiae only in size. See also Petechia and Purpura.
an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the cavities and intercellular spaces
of the body.
Em-, en-, in- (prefix)
e.g. encyst - to enclose in a cyst or sac.
a clot, usually part or all of a thrombus, carried by a larger vessel and
forced into a smaller vessel, thus obstructing blood flow. See also
Embolism and Thromboembolism.
the sudden blocking of an artery by a clot of material (embolus). The
process of the formation of an embolus.
-emesis (suffix)
e.g. hematemesis - vomiting blood.
-emia (suffix)
e.g. lipidemia - excess lipid in the blood.
Endo- (prefix)
e.g. endocardium - the inner lining of the heart.
e.g. endometrium - the mucous membrane lining of the uterus.
Enter(o)- (prefix)
e.g. enteritis - inflammation of the intestine.
Epi- (prefix)
upon; over.
e.g. epibulbar - situated upon the eyeball.
the inner layer of the serous pericardium which is in contact with the heart.
having a shallow or superficial ulceration.
the causative agent in a lesion.
Ex(o)- (prefix)
out of; away from; outside of.
e.g. exophytic - projecting out from a surface.
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a filamentous protein formed from the precursor fibrinogen by the enzyme
an abnormal, tube-like passage from a hollow organ to the surface, or
from one organ to another.
e.g. esophageal fistula - a communication between the esophagus and
some portion of the respiratory tract.
having downy or flaky shreds.
breaks apart or crumbles easily.
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inflammation of the lining of the stomach and intestine.
e.g. spermatogenesis - formation of sperm.
a focal collection of activated macrophages.
composed of granulomas.
Grey matter
the grey nervous tissue of the brain and spinal cord consisting of the cell
bodies and dendrites of nerve cells rather than the myelinated axons.
lumpy or clotted.
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Hema-, hemato, haemo- (british)- (prefix)
e.g. hematocrit - the volume percentage of erythrocytes in whole blood.
Hemangio- (prefix)
blood vessel.
e.g. hemangiosarcoma - malignant tumor of a blood vessel.
a localized collection of extravasated blood, usually clotted.
transmitted from parent to offspring; derived from ancestry. See also
Hetero- (prefix)
e.g. heterocellular - composed of more than one type of cell.
a large, phagocytic cell of the reticuloendothelial system; a macrophage.
a common neoplasm of young dogs composed of round histiocytic cells,
thought to be Langerhan's cells. Most tumors spontaneously regress.
Homeo-, homo- (prefix)
similar; same.
e.g. homeotypical - resembling the normal or usual type.
Hydro-, hygro- (prefix)
water; fluid.
e.g. hydronephrosis - distension of the renal pelvis and calices with
distension of the ureter with fluid due to obstruction. Hydroureter is often
accompanied by hydronephrosis if the obstruction is in the bladder trigone
or more distal.
Hyper- (prefix)
above and beyond; excessive.
e.g. hyperacidity - excessive acidity.
e.g. hyperchromasia - excessive pigmentation
presence of an increased amount of blood in a part or an organ.
an increase in the size of a cell, tissue or organ usually as a physiologic
response to a stimulus.
underdevelopment of a tissue or organ usually due to a decrease in the
number of cells.
abnormally decreased tonicity, tension or strength; ocular hypotony refers
to low intraocular pressure.
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-iasis (suffix)
a process, especially a morbid one.
e.g. amebiasis - the state of being infected with amebae.
occurring without known cause.
atretic; closed.
abnormally hard.
a localized area of ischemic necrosis produced by the occlusion of the
blood vessels - either arterial supply or venous drainage.
Infra- (prefix)
e.g. infraorbital - beneath the eye.
Inter- (prefix)
e.g. intercellular - between two cells.
Intra- (prefix)
e.g. intracellular - within cells.
affecting or pertaining to the same side.
a local deficiency of blood due in part to functional constriction or actual
mechanical obstruction of a blood vessel.
-itis (suffix)
e.g. appendicitis - inflammation of the appendix.
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Leio- (prefix)
e.g. leiomyoma - a benign tumor of smooth muscle cells.
an alteration or abnormality in a tissue or cell; a pathological change.
Leuc-, leuk- (prefix)
e.g. leukocyte - a white blood cell.
e.g. leukopenia - reduction in the number of leukocytes in the blood.
inflammation of the white matter of the brain.
Lip(o)- (prefix)
fat; lipid.
e.g. lipoma - a benign tumor of fat cells.
Lith- (prefix)
e.g. lithotomy - removal of a stone.
dilation of the lymphatic vessels; may be congenital or acquired.
a neoplastic disorder of lymphocytes.
-lysis (suffix)
to dissolve.
e.g. autolysis - self-dissolution.
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-malacia (suffix)
e.g. osteomalacia - softening of the bone.
Macro- (prefix)
e.g. macrophage - a large, mononuclear, phagocytic blood cell.
having the properties of anaplasia, invasiveness and metastasis; Tending
to become progressively worse and to result in death. See also Cancer.
faulty or abnormal position of a part of the body. See also Dystopia.
Mega- (prefix)
e.g. megakaryocyte - the giant cell of the bone marrow that has a greatly
lobulated nucleus and gives rise to blood platelets.
-megaly (suffix)
great, large.
e.g. splenomegaly - enlargement of the spleen.
Melan- (prefix)
e.g. melanin - black pigment of the hair, skin, ciliary body, choroid, retina,
and certain nerve cells.
the three membranes covering the brain and spinal cord - the dura mater,
arachnoid, and pia mater.
Meningo- (prefix)
membrane; meninges.
e.g. meningoencephalitis - inflammation of the brain and its meninges.
the layer of flat cells lining the body cavity of the embryo; in the adult, it
forms the simple squamous epithelium that covers the true serous
membranes of the body. Mesothelium is derived from mesoderm.
a tumor that has transfered from one organ (or part) to another not directly
connected to it. See also Cancer.
Micro- (prefix)
e.g. microhepatia - a small liver.
Morphologic diagnosis
the interpretation of the abnormalities in terms of severity, time, lesion and
anatomic site. For example: severe, chronic, glomerulonephritis.
(adj.) relating to or resembling mucus.
(n.) the glandular, free slime of the mucous membranes.
My-, myo- (prefix)
e.g. leiomyosarcoma - a malignant tumor of smooth muscle cells.
the lipid substance forming a sheath around the axons of certain nerve
Myx- (prefix)
e.g. myxedema - mucinous edema (swelling).
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Necr- (prefix)
e.g. necrosis - the morphologic changes indicative of cell death, indicated
by characteristic nuclear and cytoplasmic changes.
examination of a body after death.
Nephr- (prefix)
e.g. nephrectomy - surgical removal of the kidney.
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-oid (suffix)
like, resembling.
e.g. leukemoid - like leukemia.
Oligo- (prefix)
few; scanty.
e.g. oligochromemia - deficiency of hemoglobin in the blood.
-ologous (suffix)
relating to.
e.g. homologous - of similar structure.
-oma (suffix)
e.g. osteoma - tumor of bone.
-opathy (suffix)
e.g. nephropathy - any disease of the kidney.
-orrhea (suffix)
flow; discharge.
e.g. leukorrhea - white discharge.
-oscopy (suffix)
e.g. endoscopy - to view the inside, specifically: the intestine.
-osis (suffix)
a process, especially a morbid one.
e.g. diverticulosis - involvement with diverticula.
Osteo- (prefix)
e.g. osteomyelitis - inflammation of bone.
resembling bone.
-ostomy (suffix)
e.g. gastrostomy - creation of an artificial gastric fistula.
-otomy (suffix)
e.g. cholecystotomy - incision into the gallbladder.
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a rare, multifactorial inflammatory condition involving subcutaneous fat.
a layer of membrane.
having small nipple-shaped projections.
the common wart; a benign tumor derived from epithelium. They are
caused by papillomaviruses.
a small circumscribed, solid, elevated lesion of the skin.
Para- (prefix)
e.g. para-aortic - beside the aorta.
e.g. parauterine - beside the uterus.
the essential or functional elements of an organ.
open, exposed or unobstructed.
e.g. patent ductus arteriosus - an abnormal persistence after birth of an
open lumen in the ductus arteriosus, between the pulmonary artery and
the aorta.
the sequence of events that leads to a disease or morbid process. It may
be, for example, hormonal, chemical, infectious, genetic or traumatic in
the science and study of disease, especially the causes and development
of abnormal conditions both gross and microscopic.
elevated, as on a stem (peduncle).
-penia (suffix)
e.g. thrombocytopenia - decrease in blood platelets.
Peri- (prefix)
e.g. peribronchial - around the bronchus.
the fibroserous sac enclosing the heart and the roots of the great vessels
of the heart. It is composed of a fibrous external layer and a serous inner
a pinpoint, non-raised, purplish-red spot caused by intradermal or
subcutaneous hemorrhage. Plural is petechiae. These are tell-tale
symptoms of Ebola and Lassa Fevers.
Peyer's Patches
ovoid, elevated patches of closely packed lymphoid follicles in the mucosa
and submucosa of the small intestine. Also called aggregated lymphoid
-phage (suffix)
eat; devour.
e.g. macrophage - a cell which devours (phagocytoses).
Phago- (prefix)
eat; devour.
e.g. phagocyte - any cell that ingests foreign material, other cells or
(pheo=dusky) (chromo=color) (cyt=cell) (oma=tumor)
a small tumor of chromaffin cells, usually of the adrenal medulla, but
occasionally of the chromaffin tissue of sympathetic paraganglia.
Functional tumors secrete catecholamines.
Phleb- (prefix)
e.g. phlebitis - inflammation of the vein.
the projecting part of the ear; also known as the auricle.
-plasia (suffix)
to form.
e.g. hyperplasia - an increase in the number of cells in a tissue or organ,
usually as a physiologic response to a stimulus.
-pnea (suffix)
e.g. dyspnea - labored or difficult breathing.
a spheroidal mass that protrudes upwards or outwards from a normal
surface. Polyps may be hyperplastic, inflammatory, or neoplastic.
e.g. pedunculated polyp - a polyp attached by a thin stalk (peduncle).
e.g. sessile polyp - a polyp with a broad base (sessile).
Resembling a polyp.
a hemorraghic disease characterized by extravasation of blood into the
tissues producing spontaneous ecchymoses and petechiae.

a protein-rich liquid inflammation product comprised of leukocytes, a thin
fluid and cellular debris.
a prediction of the outcome of the pathological process or disease.
-ptosis (suffix)
e.g. ptosis - drooping, specifically: of the eyelid.
Pyo- (prefix)
e.g. pyometra - an accumulation of pus within the uterus.
e.g. pyogranuloma - an infiltration of polymorphonuclear cells into an
area of chronic inflammation characterized by mononuclear cells,
macrophages, lymphocytes and even plasma cells.
Pyelonephritis (nephropyelitis)
inflammation of the kidney and renal pelvis often by ascending bacterial
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shaped like a kidney.
having the ability to return to an original shape after having been
compressed or deformed.
-rhage, -rrhage, -rrhagia (suffix)
e.g. hemorrhage - discharge of blood.
-rrhea (suffix)
abnormal or excessive flow.
e.g. steatorrhea - excessive lipid in the feces.
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the hydrolysis of a fat by alkali with the formation of a soap and glycerol.
Sclero- (prefix)
e.g. scleroma - a hardened patch of skin or mucous membrane.
any serous membrane.
Serous Membrane
the membrane lining the walls of the body cavities and enclosing the
contained organs. It is a mesothelium lying upon a connective tissue layer
and secretes a watery serous fluid.
having a wavy border.
having a saw-like edge.
attached by a broad base.
-stasis (suffix)
standing still.
e.g. hemostasis - arrest of blood circulation.
Stea- (prefix)
e.g. steatorrhea - excessive lipid in the feces.
a stricture of any canal.
Stoma- (prefix)
e.g. stomatology - the study of the mouth and its diseases.
inflammation of the mucosa of the mouth.
containing pus.
a temporary loss of consciousness due to insufficient cerebral blood flow;
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the lesion created by a thromboembolus.
a clot of material that breaks free from a primary site, is transported in the
bloodstream and becomes lodged and adhered at a secondary site.
-trophy (suffix)
e.g. dystrophy - defective or faulty nutrition.
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having a local defect or excavation of the epithelium of an organ or tissue
through the basement membrane.
marked by depressed spots resembling the umbilicus.
the scar marking the site of entry of the umbilical cord into the fetus.
affecting only one side.
-uria (suffix)
e.g. proteinuria - protein in the urine.
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a wart.
rough; wart-like.
thick, coagulated; sticky or gummy.
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White matter
the white nervous tissue of the brain and spinal cord consisting of the
conducting, myelinated fibers.
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Xantho- (prefix)
e.g. xanthoma - a yellow tumor.

Condell Home Medical Equipment Glossary

Liquid Oxygen

Therapy for patients who are not receiving enough oxygen. Several pieces of
equipment are used to deliver the necessary oxygen: a reservoir stores the
oxygen, a flowmeter monitors the level of oxygen that is administered and a
connecting tube delivers the oxygen from the reservoir to the mask or device
placed on the patient's head to breathe in the oxygen.

No electricity or motor is required to power this device, but the tanks must be
filled by service technicians as needed. Portable versions of liquid oxygen
therapy are also available to allow patients greater independence and self-


These devices blow medicated air into the patient's lungs through a mask or a
mouthpiece. Advances in technology have allowed machines to provide medicine
to the patient's lungs with greater efficiency and speed. Condell Home Medical
Equipment offers standard and portable versions of several nebulizers according
to the patient's needs.

CPAP Continuous Positive Airway Pressure / Bi-Level Machines and


One of the most common sleep disorders is sleep apnea - a disorder that causes
a person's airway to close several times during one night's sleep. For those with
sleep apnea, relief usually comes with continuous positive airway pressure
(CPAP). In this therapy, a steady stream of pressurized air flows through a tube
connected to a plastic facemask. The airflow prevents the collapse of airway
tissues during sleep by automatically applying the pressure for inhaling and

Bi-level machines and equipment is a less forceful method where the patient
initiates the rate and level of oxygen taken into the system.

Continuous Passive Motion Machines

Used for post-surgery patients, these motorized machines move the arms and
legs to keep patients mobile and their joints strong. After surgery, pain caused by
movement prevents patients from keeping active and can cause joints to stiffen
and develop scar tissue. Further immobility can limit the range of motion,
requiring months of physical therapy to repair. Even though these machines
move the joints without the use of the patient's muscles, this therapy has been
known to significantly accelerate recovery time and decrease pain.

Phototherapy for Newborns

Used to treat neonatal jaundice, this therapy delivers therapeutic light to

the baby through a lightweight blanket. A mat within the blanket delivers
high-intensity light to lower the infant's bilirubin level.

List of Terms


Words and Word parts pertaining to

o head
o neck
o chest, thorax
n/o or celi/o abdomen
abdominal wall
lumbar region, lower back
or peritone/o peritoneum
extremity, end
o arm
or chir/o hand
r pod/o foot
o finger, toe
or peri- around
in, within
upon, over
under, below
or para- near, beside
behind, backward
a finger or toe (adj. digital)
rium the epigastric region
the base or body of a hollow organ;
the area of an organ farthest from its
ondrium the hypochondriac region (left or
the central opening within a tube or
a passage or opening
the opening of a cavity
mouth; any body opening
a wall dividing two cavities
a cavity, as within a bone
r a circular muscle that regulates an


Common Medical Abbreviations
This is a large document, it may take a few minutes to load.


Medical Abbreviations:

abdominal aortic A-a

AAA alveolar to arterial gradient
aneurysm gradient

acute abdominal
AAS ABD abdomen

ABG arterial blood gas AC before eating

advanced cardiac life

ACLS ACTH adrenocorticotropic hormone

ADH anti-diuretic hormone ad lib as much as needed

atrial fibrillation or
AF AFB acid-fast bacilli

AFP alpha-fetoprotein A /G albumin/globulin ratio

AI aortic insufficiency Top AKA above the knee amputation

acute lymphocytic
ALL amb ambulate

acute myelogenous
AML ANA antinuclear antibody

AOB alcohol on breath AODM adult onset diabetes mellitus

anteroposterior or acute respiratory distress

abdominal - perineal syndrome

ARF acute renal failure AS aortic stenosis

atherosclerotic cardiovascular
ASAP as soon as possible ASCVD

ASD atrial septal defect ASHD atherosclerotic heart disease

AV atrioventricular A-V arteriovenous

A-VO2 arteriovenous oxygen BBB bundle branch block

branched chain amino

BCAA BE barium enema

basal energy
Common Medical Abbreviations
This is a large document, it may take a few minutes to load.

Medical Abbreviations:

juvenile onset
JODM Top JVD jugular venous distention
diabetes mellitus

KOR keep open rate KUB kidneys, ureters, bladder

KVO keep vein open L left

left axis deviation or

LAD left anterior Top LAE left atrial enlargement

left atrial pressure or leukocyte

LAHB left anterior hemiblock LAP
alkaline phosphatase

left bundle branch

LBBB LDH lactate dehydrogenase

LE lupus erythematosus LIH left inguinal hernia

LLL left lower lobe LMP last menstrual period

last normal menstrual loss of consciousness or level

period of consciousness

LP lumbar puncture LPN licensed practical nurse

LUL left upper lobe

LV left ventricle
LUQ left upper quadrant

left ventricular end

LVEDP LVH left ventricular hypertrophy
diastolic pressure

MAO monoamine oxidase Top MAP mean arterial pressure

medical antishock
MAST MBT maternal blood type

mean cell hemoglobin

MCH mean cell hemoglobin MCHC
myocardial infarction or mitral
MCV mean cell volume MI

mL milliliter MLE midline episiotomy

maximal mid
MMEF mmol millimole
expiratory flow

measles, mumps,
MMR MRI magnetic resonance imaging

methicillin resistant multiple sclerosis or mitral

staph aureus stenosis, or morphine sulfate

MSSA MVA motor vehicle accident
staph aureus

MVI multivitamin injection MVV maximum voluntary ventilation

NAD no active disease Top NAS no added salt

nerve conduction no evidence of recurrent

velocity disease

ng nanogram NG nasogastric

NIDDM dependent diabetes NKA no known allergies

no known drug
NKDA NMR nuclear magnetic resonance

NPO nothing by mouth NRM no regular medications

non-steroidal anti-
NSAID NSR normal sinus rhythm
inflammatory drugs

NT nasotracheal Top OB obstetrics

OCG oral cholecystogram OD overdose or right eye

OM otitis media OOB out of bed

OPV oral polio vaccine OR operating room

OS left eye OU both eyes

P para Top PA posteroanterior

premature atrial
PAC PAO2 alveolar oxygen

peripheral arterial
PaO2 PAP pulmonary artery pressure
oxygen content
paroxysymal atrial percussion and postural
tachycardia drainage

pulmonary capillary wedge

PC after eating PCWP

patent ductus
PDA PDR physicians desk reference

pulmonary embolus,
positive end expiratory
PE or physical exam or PEEP
pleural effusion

pulmonary function
PFT pg picogram

pulmonic insufficiency
PI PKU phenylketonuria

previous medical
PMH PMI point of maximal impulse

PMN PND paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea
leukocyte (neutrophil)

PO by mouth POD post-op day

postprandial or pulsus
PP Top PPD purified protein derivative

PR by rectum PRBC packed red blood cells

PRN as needed PS pulmonic stenosis

prothrombin time, or
PT Pt patient
physical therapy

PTCA transluminal coronary PTH parathyroid hormone

PTHC transhepatic PTT partial thromboplastin time

premature ventricular
PUD peptic ulcer disease PVC

peripheral vascular
PVD Top q every

qd every day qh every hour

q4h, every 4 hours, every

qid four times a day
q6h.... 6 hours etc.
QNS quantity not sufficient qod every other day

Qs/Qt shunt fraction Qt total cardiac output

rheumatoid arthritis or right

R right Top RA

right atrial axis

RAD RAE right atrial enlargement

RAP right atrial pressure RBBB right bundle branch block

RBC red blood cell RBP retinol-binding protein

recommended daily
RDA RDW red cell distribution width

RIA radioimmunoassay RIH right inguinal hernia

RLL right lower lobe Top RLQ right lower quadrant

RML right middle lobe RNA ribonucleic acid

R/O rule out ROM range of motion

ROS review of systems RPG retrograde pyelogram

regular rate and

RRR RT respiratory or radiation therapy

RTA renal tubular acidosis RTC return to clinic

RU resin uptake RUG retrograde urethogram

RUL right upper lobe RUQ right upper quadrant

RV residual volume RVH right ventricular hyperthrophy

Rx treatment Top s without | ss = one-half

SA sinoatrial SAA synthetic amino acid

S&E sugar and acetone SBE subacute bacterial endocarditis

small bowel follow

SBFT SBS short bowel syndrome

SCr serum creatinine SEM systolic ejection murmur

SG Swan-Ganz SGA small for gestational age

serum gamma-
serum glutamic- oxaloacetic
SGGT glutamyl Top SGOT
serum glutamic- syndrome of inappropriate
pyruvic transaminase antidiuretic hormone

synchronous intermittent
sig write on label SIMV
mandatory ventilation

sl sublingual SLE systemic lupus erythematous

subjective, Objective,
SMO slips made out SOAP
Assessment, Plan

SOB shortness of breath SQ subcutaneous

STAT immediately SVD spontaneous vaginal delivery

Sx symptoms Top T&C type and cross

total abdominal
TAH T&H type and hold

TB tuberculosis TBG total binding globulin

Td TIA transient ischemic attack

total iron binding

TIBC tid three times a day

tetanus immune
TIG TKO to keep open

TLC total lung capacity TMJ temporo mandibular joint

too numerous to
TNTC TO telephone order

trivalent oral polio

TOPV Top TPN total parenteral nutrition

thyroid stimulating
TSH TT thrombin time

TTP thrombocytopenic TU tuberculin units

TUR TURBT TUR bladder tumors

TURP TV tidal volume
resection of prostate

total vaginal
TVH tw twice a week

Tx treatment, transplant Top UA urinalysis

UAC uric acid ud as directed

UGI upper gastrointestinal URI upper respiratory infection

US ultrasound UTI urinary tract infection

UUN urinary urea nitrogen Top VC vital capacity

VCUG VMA vanillymadelic acid

VO verbal or voice order V/Q ventilation - perfusion

VSS vital signs stable WB whole blood

white blood cell or

WBC WD well developed

WF white female WM white male

WN well nourished Top WNL within normal limits

WPW Wolf-Parkinson-White XRT X-ray therapy

yo years old ZE Zollinger-Ellison

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amenorrhea - absence or cessation of menstrual periods.

amenorrhea, primary - from the beginning and lifelong; menstruation never begins at puberty.

amenorrhea, secondary - due to some physical cause and usually of later onset; a condition in
which menstrual periods which were at one time normal and regular become increasing abnormal
and irregular or absent.
anovulation - failure of the ovaries to produce or release mature eggs.

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benign - cell growth that is not cancerous, does not invade nearby tissue, or spread to other
parts of the body.

biological therapy (Also called immunotherapy, biotherapy, or biological response

modifier therapy.) - uses the body's immune system, either directly or indirectly, to fight cancer
or to lessen side effects that may be caused by some cancer treatments.

biopsy - removal of sample of tissue via a hollow needle or scalpel.

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cancer - abnormal cells that divide without control, which can invade nearby tissues or spread
through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body.

carcinogen - a substance that is known to cause cancer.

cervicitis - an irritation of the cervix by a number of different organisms. Cervicitis is generally

classified as either acute or chronic.

cervix - the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb) located between the bladder and the rectum.
It forms a canal that opens into the vagina, which leads to the outside of the body.

chemotherapy - treatment to destroy cancer cells with drugs.

chlamydial infection - very common sexually transmitted disease or urinary tract infection
caused by a bacteria-like organism in the urethra and reproductive system.

climacteric (Also called perimenopause.) - the transition period of time before menopause,
marked by a decreased production of estrogen and progesterone, irregular menstrual periods,
and transitory psychological changes.

clinical trials - organized research studies that provide clinical data aimed at finding better ways
to prevent, detect, diagnose, or treat diseases.

cold knife cone biopsy - a procedure in which a laser or a surgical scalpel is used to remove a
piece of tissue. This procedure requires the use of general anesthesia.

colony-stimulating factors - substances that stimulate the production of blood cells.

colposcopy (Also called colposcopic biopsy.) - a procedure which uses an instrument with
magnifying lenses, called a colposcope, to examine the cervix for abnormalities. If abnormal
tissue is found, a biopsy is usually performed.
computed tomography (Also called CT or CAT scan.) - a non-invasive procedure that takes
cross-sectional images of the brain or other internal organs; to detect any abnormalities that may
not show up on an ordinary x-ray. The CT scan may indicate enlarged lymph nodes - a possible
sign of a spreading cancer or of an infection.

cone biopsy (Also called conization.) - a biopsy in which a larger cone-shaped piece of tissue
is removed from the cervix by using the loop electrosurgical excision procedure or the cold knife
cone biopsy procedure. The cone biopsy procedure may be used as a treatment for
precancerous lesions and early cancers.

cryosurgery - use of liquid nitrogen, or a probe that is very cold, to freeze and kill cancer cells.

culdocentesis - a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the pelvic cavity through the
vaginal wall to obtain a sample of pus.

cyst - a fluid-filled or semi-solid sac in or under the skin.

cystitis - inflammation of the urinary bladder and ureters.

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dilation and curettage (Also called D & C.) - a minor operation in which the cervix is dilated
(expanded) so that the cervical canal and uterine lining can be scraped with a curette (spoon-
shaped instrument).

dysmenorrhea - pain or discomfort experienced just before or during a menstrual period.

dysmenorrhea, primary - from the beginning and usually lifelong; severe and frequent menstrual
cramping caused by uterine contractions.

dysmenorrhea, secondary - due to some physical cause and usually of later onset; painful
menstrual periods caused by another medical condition present in the body (i.e., pelvic
inflammatory disease, endometriosis).

dyspareunia - pain in the vagina or pelvis experienced during sexual intercourse.

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ectopic pregnancy (Also called tubal pregnancy.) - pregnancy that develops outside the
uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes.

endocervical curettage (ECC) - a procedure which uses a narrow instrument called a curette to
scrape the lining of the endocervical canal. This type of biopsy is usually completed along with
the colposcopic biopsy.

endometrial ablation - a procedure to destroy the lining of the uterus (endometrium).

endometrial biopsy - a procedure in which a sample of tissue is obtained through a tube which
is inserted into the uterus.

endometrial hyperplasia - abnormal thickening of the endometrium caused by excessive cell


endometrial implants - fragments of endometrium that relocate outside of the uterus, such as in
the muscular wall of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, or intestine.

endometrial resection - a procedure to remove the lining of the uterus (endometrium).

endometriosis - condition in which tissue resembling that of the endometrium grows outside the
uterus, on or near the ovaries or fallopian tubes, or in other areas of the pelvic cavity.

endometrium - mucous membrane lining of the inner surface of the uterus that grows during
each menstrual cycle and is shed in menstrual blood.

endoscopy - use of a very flexible tube with a lens or camera (and a light on the end), which is
connected to a computer screen, allowing the physician to see inside the hollow organs, such as
the uterus. Biopsy samples can be taken through the tube.

estrogen - a group of hormones secreted by the ovaries which affect many aspects of the female
body, including a woman's menstrual cycle and normal sexual and reproductive development.

estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) - use of the female hormone estrogen to replace that
which the body no longer produces naturally after medical or surgical menopause.

excisional - cutting away cancerous tissue with a scalpel or other instruments to completely
remove it and possibly some surrounding tissue. There are many types of excisional surgeries,
each named for the particular area of the body in which they are performed, or the particular
purpose for which they are performed.

expectant management (Also called expectant therapy.) - "watchful waiting" or close

monitoring of a disease by a physician instead of immediate treatment.

extragenital - outside of, away from, unrelated to the genital organs.

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fallopian tubes - two thin tubes that extend from each side of the uterus, toward the ovaries, as a
passageway for eggs and sperm.

fecal occult blood test - test to check for hidden blood in stool.

fertile - able to become pregnant.

fibroids - noncancerous growths in, on, or within the walls of the uterus.
fibroid embolization - a new experimental technique which involves identifying which arteries
are supplying blood to the fibroids and then blocking off these arteries, which cuts off the fibroids
blood supply and causes them to shrink. Physicians are still evaluating the long-term implications
of this procedure on fertility and regrowth of the fibroid.

follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) - hormone secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain that
stimulates the growth and maturation of eggs in females and sperm in males, and sex hormone
production in both males and females.

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genital herpes - a sexually transmitted disease caused by the herpes simplex virus.

genital warts - a sexually transmitted disease caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

genitals - external sex organs.

grading - a process for classifying cancer cells to determine the growth rate of the tumor. The
cancer cells are measured by how closely they look like normal cells.

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hormone replacement therapy (HRT) - use of the female hormones estrogen and progestin (a
synthetic form of progesterone) to replace those hormones the body no longer produces after

hormone therapy - treatment of cancer by removing, blocking, or adding hormones.

hormones - chemical substances created by the body that control numerous body functions.

human papillomaviruses (HPVs) - a group of viruses that can cause warts. Some HPVs are
sexually transmitted and cause wart-like growths on the genitals. HPV is associated with some
types of cancer.

hyperplasia - an abnormal increase in the number of cells in a tissue or an organ (i.e., cervix or
the lining of the uterus).

hysterectomy - surgery to remove the uterus.

hysterosalpingography - x-ray examination of the uterus and fallopian tubes that uses dye and
is often performed to rule out tubal obstruction.

hysteroscopy - visual examination of the canal of the cervix and the interior of the uterus using a
viewing instrument (hysteroscope) inserted through the vagina.
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imaging - tests or evaluation procedures that produce pictures of areas inside the body.

immune system - group of organs, antibodies, and cells that defends the body against infection
or disease.

immunotherapy (Also called biological therapy.) - treatment that uses the body's natural
defenses to fight cancer.

infertility - not being able to produce children.

interferon - a biological response modifier that stimulates the growth of certain disease-fighting
blood cells in the immune system.

interleukin-2 - a biological response modifier that stimulates the growth of certain blood cells in
the immune system that can fight cancer.

invasive cancer - cancer that begins in one area and then spreads deeper into the tissues of that

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labia - the folds of skin at the opening of the vagina (and other organs).

laparoscopic lymph node sampling - lymph nodes are removed through a viewing tube called
a laparoscope, which is inserted through a small incision in the abdomen.

laparoscopy - use of a viewing tube with a lens or camera (and a light on the end), which is
inserted through a small incision in the abdomen to examine the contents of the abdomen and
remove tissue samples.

laparotomy - a surgical procedure that involves an incision from the upper to lower abdomen;
often used when making a diagnosis by less invasive tests is difficult.
loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) - a procedure which uses an electric wire loop
to obtain a piece of tissue.

luteinizing hormone (LH) - hormone secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain that stimulates
the growth and maturation of eggs in females and sperm in males.

lymph nodes (Also called lymph glands.) - small organs located in the channels of the
lymphatic system which store special cells to trap bacteria or cancer cells traveling through the
body in lymph. Clusters of lymph nodes are found in the underarms, groin, neck, chest, and

lymphatic system - tissues and organs, including bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and lymph
nodes, that produce, store, and carry white blood cells to fight infection and disease.

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magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a non-invasive procedure that produces a two-

dimensional view of an internal organ or structure, especially the brain and spinal cord. The MRI
may show abnormal nodules in bones or lymph nodes - a sign that cancer may be spreading.

malignant - cancerous cells are present.

mammogram - x-ray of the breast tissue.

menarche - a young woman's first menstrual period.

menopause - end of menstruation; commonly used to refer to the period ending the female
reproductive phase of life.

menorrhagia - the most common type of abnormal uterine bleeding (also called dysfunctional
uterine bleeding) characterized by heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding. In some cases,
bleeding may be so severe and relentless that daily activities become interrupted.

menses - menstrual flow.

menstruation - a cyclical process of the endometrium shedding its lining, along with discharge
from the cervix and vagina, from the vaginal opening. This process results from the mature egg
cell (ovum) not being fertilized by a sperm cell as it travels from one of the ovaries down a
fallopian tube to the uterus, in the process called ovulation.

metastasis - spread of cancer from one part of the body to another.

metrorrhagia - any irregular, acyclical nonmenstrual bleeding from the uterus; bleeding between
menstrual periods.

monoclonal antibodies - substances that can locate and bind to cancer cells wherever they are
in the body.
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obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) - physicians who specialize in general women's medical

care, diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the female reproductive system, and care of
pregnant women.

oligomenorrhea - infrequent or light menstrual cycles.

oncologist - physician who specializes in treating cancer.

oophorectomy - surgery to remove one or both ovaries.

ovaries - two female reproductive organs located in the pelvis.

ovulation - release of a mature egg from an ovary.

ovum - a mature egg cell released during ovulation from an ovary.

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Pap test (Also called Pap smear.) - Test that involves microscopic examination of cells
collected from the cervix, used to detect changes that may be cancer or may lead to cancer, and
to show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation.

pathologist - physician who identifies diseases by studying cells and tissues under a

pelvic examination - an internal examination of the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes,
bladder, and rectum.

pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) - inflammation of the pelvic organs caused by a type of

pelvic lymph node dissection - removal of some lymph nodes from the pelvis.

pelvis - a basin-shaped structure that supports the spinal column and contains the sacrum,
coccyx, and hip bones (ilium, pubis, and ischium).

perimenopause (Also called climacteric.) - the transition period of time before menopause,
marked by a decreased production of estrogen and progesterone, irregular menstrual periods,
and transitory psychological changes.
perineal - related to the perineum.

perineum - area between the anus and the sex organs.

peripheral stem cell support - procedure to replace blood-forming cells destroyed by cancer
treatment. Stem cells in the blood that are similar to cells in the bone marrow are removed from
the patient's blood before treatment and given back to the patient after treatment.

placenta - organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy; links the blood supplies of a
pregnant woman to the fetus to provide nutrients and remove waste products.

polymenorrhea - too frequent menstruation.

polyps - a growth that projects from the lining of mucous membrane, such as the intestine.

postmenopausal bleeding - any bleeding that occurs more than 6 months after the last normal
menstrual period at menopause.

premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) - a much more severe form of the collective
symptoms known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is
considered a severe and chronic medical condition that requires attention and treatment.

premenstrual syndrome (PMS) - a group of physical and emotional symptoms that some
women experience during their menstrual cycle. Although the symptoms usually cease with onset
of the menstrual period, in some women, symptoms may last through and after their menstrual

progesterone - female hormone.

progestin - synthetic form of the female sex hormone progesterone.

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radiation therapy (Also called radiotherapy.) - treatment with high-energy rays (such as x-rays
or gamma rays) to kill cancer cells; may be by external radiation or by internal radiation from
radioactive materials placed directly in or near the tumor.

radionuclide scan - an imaging scan in which a small amount of radioactive substance is

injected into the vein. A machine measures levels of radioactivity in certain organs, thereby
detecting any abnormal areas or tumors.

rectum - lower end of the large intestine, leading to the anus.

recur - to occur again; reappearance of cancer cells at the same site or in another location.
risk factor - activity or factor that may increase the chance of developing a disease.

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salpingectomy - surgical removal of one or both fallopian tubes.

salpingo-oophorectomy - surgery to remove the fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Schiller test - a diagnostic test in which the cervix is coated with an iodine solution to detect the
presence of abnormal cells.

sexually transmitted disease (STD) - infection spread through sexual intercourse and other
intimate sexual contact.

screening - checking for disease when there are no symptoms.

stage - the extent of a cancer, whether the disease has spread from the original site to other
parts of the body.

surgery - operation to remove or repair a part of the body, or to find out if disease is present.

systemic treatment - treatment using substances that travel through the bloodstream and reach
cancer cells all over the body.

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tamoxifen - an anticancer drug used in hormone therapy to block the effects of estrogen.

tissue - group or layer of cells that together perform specific functions.

total hysterectomy - the removal of the uterus, including the cervix; the fallopian tubes and the
ovaries remain.

total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy - the entire uterus, fallopian tubes,
and the ovaries are surgically removed.

transvaginal ultrasound (Also called ultrasonography.) - an ultrasound test using a small

instrument, called a transducer, that is placed in the vagina.

trichomoniasis - very common type of vaginitis caused by a single-celled organism usually

transmitted during sexual contact.

tumor - abnormal mass of tissue that results from excessive cell division; may be benign (not
cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
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ultrasound - an imaging technique that uses sound waves to produce an image on a monitor of
the abdominal organs, such as the uterus, liver, and kidneys.

urethra - narrow channel through which urine passes from the bladder out of the body.

urethritis - infection limited to the urethra.

uterus - also called the womb, the uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in a woman's
lower abdomen, between the bladder and the rectum.

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vagina (Also called the birth canal.) - the passageway through which fluid passes out of the
body during menstrual periods. The vagina connects the cervix (the opening of the womb, or
uterus) and the vulva (the external genitalia).

vaginal atrophy - often a symptom of menopause; the drying and thinning of the tissues of the
vagina and urethra. This can lead to dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse) as well as
vaginitis, cystitis, and urinary tract infections.

vaginal hysterectomy - the uterus is removed through the vaginal opening.

vaginitis - inflammation, redness, or swelling of the vaginal tissues; usually resulting from a
bacterial infection.

vaginitis, atrophic - a form of noninfectious vaginitis which usually results from a decrease in
hormones because of menopause, surgical removal of the ovaries, radiation therapy, or even
after childbirth - particularly in breastfeeding women. Lack of estrogen dries and thins the vaginal
tissue, and may also cause spotting.

vaginitis, bacterial - very common vaginal infection characterized by symptoms such as

increased vaginal discharge or itching, burning, or redness in the genital area.

vaginitis, noninfectious - a type of vaginitis that usually refers to vaginal irritation without an
infection being present. Most often, the infection is caused by an allergic reaction to, or irritation
from, vaginal sprays, douches, or spermicidal products. It may also be caused by sensitivity to
perfumed soaps, detergents, or fabric softeners.

vaginitis, viral - very common vaginal infection, often sexually transmitted, that is caused by one
of many different types of viruses (i.e., herpes simplex virus, human papillomavirus).

vulva - external, visible part of the female genital area.

vulvitis - an inflammation of the vulva, the soft folds of skin outside the vagina. This is not a
condition but rather a symptom that results from a host of diseases, infections, injuries, allergies,
and other irritants.

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white blood cells - cells that help the body fight infection and disease.

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x-ray - electromagnetic energy used to produce images of bones and internal organs onto film.

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yeast infection (Also called Candida.) - one type of vaginitis caused by the Candida fungus
characterized by itching, burning, or redness of the vaginal area.

Cancer Surgery Information

Useful Surgery Terms Additional Surgery
The following terms may be useful: Useful Terms
Pathology Reports
• Biopsy is the removal of a piece of Post-Surgical Care
tissue from an organ or other part of the body
for microscopic examination to confirm or establish a diagnosis,
estimate prognosis, or follow the course of a disease.
• Curative surgery is the removal of the entire tumor. Even
after curative surgery, you may still be given chemotherapy or
radiation to kill micro-metastases. Micro-metastases are cancer cells
that may still be in the body but cannot be detected by current
• Cryosurgery involves the use of liquid nitrogen or a very cold
probe to freeze cancer cells.
• Debulking surgery is when the entire cancer cannot be
removed without serious damage to the body so the surgeon takes out
only that portion of the tumor that can be removed safely. The rest of
the tumor may be killed with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
• Electrosurgery uses an electrical current to destroy cancer
• Laser surgery is surgery in which a beam of light is used
instead of a scalpel.
• Mohs surgery is the removal of skin cancer by shaving off one
layer at a time. The dermatologist (skin doctor) looks at each layer
under a microscope. When the layers look normal (no cancer) the
surgeon stops removing skin.
• Prophylactic surgery is surgery used to prevent cancer when
there is a good chance that a particular body tissue will become
cancerous in the future.
• Palliative surgery is a type of surgery that does not treat the
underlying disease but is done to control symptoms of cancer, such as
• Restorative or reconstructive surgery is commonly called
plastic surgery. This type of surgery restores the function and
appearance of an area after a previous surgery.

• Staging surgery is surgery used to determine the extent of

the cancer, or how large it is and how much it has spread throughout
the body. This is very important, as it will determine the course of

Diabetes is common, and more than 2 million people in the UK are known to have the condition (statistics supplied by Diabetes UK).
However, at least one million people are believed to have diabetes but don't realise it. More than three-quarters of those with diabetes have
what is now called 'type 2 diabetes mellitus'. This used to be known as 'non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM)' or 'maturity-onset
diabetes mellitus'. The remainder have 'type 1 diabetes mellitus', which used to be known as 'insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus'.

Types of diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes:

• In type 1, the body's unable to produce any insulin. This usually starts in childhood or young adulthood. It's treated with diet
control and insulin injections. Type 1 diabetes used to be called 'insulin-dependent diabetes'.
• In type 2 diabetes, not enough insulin is produced or the insulin that is made doesn't work properly. This tends to affect people
as they get older, and usually appears after the age of 40. It used to be known as 'maturity-onset diabetes' or 'non-insulin
dependent diabetes (NIDDM)'.

Normal blood sugar control

In the body, glucose is converted into energy. This glucose comes ready-made in sweet foods such as sweets and cakes, or from starchy
foods such as potatoes, pasta or bread when they're digested. The liver is also able to manufacture glucose.

Under normal circumstances the hormone insulin, which is made by the pancreas, carefully regulates how much glucose is in the blood.
Insulin stimulates cells to absorb enough glucose from the blood for the energy, or fuel, that they need. Insulin also stimulates the liver to
absorb and store any glucose that's left over. After a meal the amount of glucose in the blood rises, and this triggers the release of insulin.
When blood glucose levels fall, during exercise for example, insulin levels fall too. A second hormone manufactured by the pancreas is
called glucagon. It stimulates the liver to release glucose when it's needed, and this raises the level of glucose in the blood.

Insulin is manufactured and stored in the pancreas, which is a thin gland about 15cm (6in) long that lies crosswise behind the stomach. It's
often described as being two glands in one, since in addition to making insulin it also produces enzymes that are vital for digestion of food.
These include lipase, which helps to digest fat, and amylase that helps to digest starchy foods. It also releases 'bicarbonate of soda' to
neutralise any stomach acid that may otherwise damage the lining of the gut.