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A Short Course

Glossary of Medical Terms

Abdomen Space below the chest that contains organs such as the stomach, liver, intestines, and gallbladder. The abdomen lies between the diaphragm & the pelvis.
Abdominal ) Pertaining to the abdomen.
Abdominal cavity Pertaining to the abdomen.
abnormal Pertaining to being away (AB-) from the norm; irregular.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS Suppression or deficiency of the immune response caused by exposure to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Acromegaly Enlargement of extremities as a result of thickening of the bones and soft tissues; it is caused by excessive secretion of growth hormone from the pituitary gland (after completion of puberty).
Acute Sharp, sudden, and intense for a short period of time.
Acute myocardial ischemia Sudden decrease in blood flow to heart muscle.
Adenectomy The removal of a gland.
Adenitis Inflammation of a gland
Adenocarcinoma Cancerous tumor derived from glandular cells.
Adenoidectomy Removal of the adenoids.
Adenoids Enlarged lymphatic tissue in the upper part of the throat near the nasal passageways.
Adenoma Benign tumor of glandular cells.
Adenopathy Disease of glands. Often this term refers to enlargement of lymph nodes (which are not true glands, but collections of lymphatic tissue).
Adnexa uteri Accessory structures of the uterus (ovaries and fallopian tubes).
Adrenal cortex Outermost part of the adrenal gland. The adrenal cortex secretes steroid hormones such as Glucocorticoids (cortisone).
Adrenal glands Two endocrine glands,each above a kidney. The adrenal glands produce hormones such as adrenalin (epinephrine) and hydrocortisone (cortisol).
Adrenalectomy Removal (excision) of adrenal glands.
Adrenaline Hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. It is released into the bloodstream in response to stress, such as from fear or physical injury. Also called epinephrine.
Adrenocorticotropic hormone Hormone secreted by the pituitary gland. It stimulates the adrenal gland (cortex or outer region) to secrete the hormone cortisone. Also called ACTH.
Adrenopathy Disease of Adrenal Glands.
AIDS Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
Air sacs Thin-walled sacs within the lung. Inhaled oxygen passes into the blood from the sacs, and carbon dioxide passes out from the blood into the sacs to be exhaled.
Albuminuria Albumin (protein) in the urine; it indicates a malfunction of the kidneys.
Alkaline phosphatase. An enzyme present in blood and body tissues, such as bone and liver. Elevated in diseases such as those of bone and liver. Also called alk phos.
Allergist Medical doctor specializing in identifying and treating abnormal sensitivity to substances such as pollen, dust, foods, and drugs.
Alopecia Loss of hair; baldness.
ALT Alanine transferase, an enzyme normally found in blood and tissues, especially the liver. ALT is elevated in liver disease. (Formerly called SGPT)
Alveolar Pertaining to air sac within the lung (plural: alveoli)
Alveolus An air sac within the lung (pleural: alveoli).
Alzheimer disease Deterioration of mental capacity (irreversible dementia) marked by intellectual deterioration, disorganization of personality, and difficulties in carrying out tasks of daily living.
Amenorrhea Absence of menstrual periods.
Amniocentesis Surgical puncture to remove fluid from the amnion (sac surrounding the developing fetus).
Anal Pertaining to the anus (opening of the rectum to the outside of the body).
Analgesic Medication that reduces or eliminates pain.
Analysis Separating a substance into its component parts.
Anastomosis New surgical connection between two previously unconnected bowel parts, vessels, or ducts.
Androgen Hormone that controls the development of masculine characteristics. An example is Testosterone.
Anemia Deficiency of hemoglobin and/or in number of red blood cells, which results in reduced oxygen to body cells. Literally, anemia means lacking (AN-) in blood (-EMIA).
Anemic Pertaining to anemia.
Anesthesiologist Medical doctor specializing in administering agents capable of bringing about loss of sensation and consciousness.
Anesthesiology Study of how to administer agents capable of bringing about loss of sensation and consciousness.
Aneurysm Localized widening of the wall of an artery, of a vein, or of the heart. From the Greek aneurysma meaning "widening."
Angina Sharp pain in the chest resulting from a decrease in blood supply to heart muscle. Also called angina pectoris (PECT/O means chest).
Angiography X-ray recording of blood vessels after contrast is injected.
Angioplasty Surgical repair of a blood vessel. A catheter is placed in a clogged artery and a balloon at the end is inflated to flatten the clogged material against the wall allowing more blood flow. Also called balloon angioplasty.
Angiotensin Hormone that is a powerful vasoconstrictor and raises blood pressure.
Ankylosing spondylitis Chronic inflammation of the vertebrae (backbones) with stiffening of spinal joints so that movement becomes increasingly painful.
Ankylosis Stiffening and immobility of a joint caused by injury, disease, or a surgical procedure.
Anomaly Irregularity; a deviation from the normal. A congenital anomaly (irregularity) is present at birth.
Antenatal Before birth.
Antepartum Before birth.
Anterior Located in the front (of the body or of a structure).
Antiandrogen Substance that inhibits the effects of androgens (male hormones).
Antiarrhythmic Pertaining to a drug that works against or prevents abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias).
Antibiotic Pertaining to a substance that works against germ or bacterial life.
Antibody A substance that works against (ANTI-) germs ("bodies" of infection). Antibodies are produced by white blood cells when germs (antigens) enter the bloodstream.
Anticoagulant Drug that prevents clotting (coagulation). Anticoagulants are given when there is danger of clot formation in blood vessels, as may happen after a heart attack.
Anticonvulsant Drug that prevents or relieves convulsions (involuntary muscular contractions).
Antidepressant Drug used to prevent or treat depression.
Antidiabetic Drug that prevents or relieves symptoms of diabetes.
Antiestrogen Substance that inhibits the effects of estrogens (female hormones).
Antifungal Drug that destroys or inhibits the growth of fungi (organisms such as yeasts, molds, and mushrooms).
Antigen Foreign protein (such as on a bacterium or virus) that stimulates white blood cells to make antibodies. Antigens are then destroyed by the antibodies.
Antihistamine Drug used to counteract the effects of histamine production in allergic reactions and colds.
Antihypertensive Drug that reduces high blood pressure.
Antitubercular Agent or drug used to treat tuberculosis.
Antiviral Agent that inhibits and prevents the growth and reproduction of viruses.
Anuria Lack of urine formation by the kidneys.
Anus Opening of the rectum to the surface of the body; solid wastes (feces) leave the body through the anus.
Aorta Largest artery, which leads from the lower left chamber of the heart to arteries all over the body.
Aortic stenosis Narrowing of the aorta.
Apex Pointed end of an organ.
Aphakia Absence of the lens of the eye.
Aphasia. Absence or impairment of communication through speech.
Apnea Not (A-) able to breath (-PNEA); temporary stoppage of breathing. In sleep apnea, during sleep, a person is momentarily unable to contract respiratory muscles & maintain air flow through the nose & mouth.
Appendectomy Removal of the appendix.
Appendicitis Inflammation of the appendix.
Appendix Small sac that hangs from the juncture of the small and large intestines in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen. Its function is unknown.
Areola Dark, pigmented area around the nipple of the breast.
Arrhythmia Abnormal heart rhythm.
Arteriography Process of recording (x-ray)of arteries after injecting contrast material.
Arteriole Small artery.
Arteriolitis Inflammation of small arteries (arterioles).
Arteriosclerosis Hardening of arteries. The most common form is atherosclerosis, which is hardening of arteries caused by collection of fatty, cholesterol-like deposits (plaque) in arteries.
Arteriovenous fistula An abnormal communication between an artery and a vein. It can also be created surgically to provide access for hemodialysis.
Artery Largest blood vessel. Arteries carry blood away from the heart.
Arthralgia Pain in a joint.
Arthritis Inflammation of a joint.
Arthrocentesis Surgical puncture to remove fluid from a joint.
Arthrogram X-ray record of a joint.
Arthropathy Disease of joints.
Arthroplasty Surgical repair of a joint, especially to restore mobility in osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthroscope Instrument used to examine the inside of a joint.
Arthroscopy Process of visual examination of a joint.
Arthrosis Abnormal condition of a joint.
Ascites Abnormal collection of fluid in the abdomen.
Asphyxia Deficiency of oxygen in the blood and increase in carbon dioxide in blood and tissues. Major symptom is a complete absence of breathing.
Created by: Laura Duncan