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Glossary

 
 
 
 

Abdomen: That portion of the body that lies between the thorax and the pelvis. Top

Abdominal: Having to do with the abdomen, which is the part of the body between the chest and the hips that contains the pancreas, stomach, intestines, liver, gallbladder, and other organs. Top

Abdominal Pain:  Sensation of discomfort, distress, or agony in the abdominal region. Top

Abscess: Accumulation of purulent material in tissues, organs, or circumscribed spaces, usually associated with signs of infection. Top

Anorexia: Lack or loss of appetite for food. Top

Antibody:  A type of protein made by certain white blood cells in response to a foreign substance (antigen).  Each antibody can bind to only a specific antigen.  The purpose of this binding is to help destroy the antigen.  Antibodies can work in several ways, depending on the nature of the antigen.  Some antibodies destroy antigens directly.  Others make it easier for white blood cells to destroy the antigen. Top

Appendectomy:  An operation to remove the appendix. Top

Appendicitis:  An acute inflammation of the vermiform appendix. Top

Bacteria: Unicellular prokaryotic microorganisms which generally possess rigid cell walls, multiply by cell division, and exhibit three principal forms:  round or coccal, rodlike or bacillary, and spiral or spirochetal. Top

Blood Cell Count:  A count of the number of leukocytes and erythrocytes per unit volume in a sample of venous blood.  A complete blood count (CBC) also includes measurement of the hemoglobin, hematocrit, and erythrocytes indices. Top

Bowel: The long tube-shaped organ in the abdomen that completes the process of digestion.  There is both a small and a large bowel.  Also called the intestine. Top

Cecum: The beginning of the large intestine.  The cecum is connected to the lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum.  Top 

Colitis: Inflammation of the colon. Top

Computed Tomography: CT scan.  A series of detailed cross-sectional pictures of organs and tissues inside the body; the pictures are created by a computer linked to an x-ray machine.  Also called computerized tomography and computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan.  CT scans depict anatomy, such as the swelling of an organ, and result from differences in density of body tissues.  Top

Diagnostic Imaging:  Any visual display of structural or functional patterns of organs or tissues for diagnostic evaluation.  It includes measuring physiologic and metabolic responses to physical and chemical stimuli, as well as ultramicroscopy. Top

Diagnostic Procedure: A method used to identify a disease. Top

Diaphragm: The musculofibrous partition that separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity.  Contraction of the diaphragm increases the volume of the thoracic cavity aiding inspiration. Top

Diarrhea: Passage of excessively liquid or excessively frequent stools. Top

Digestion:  The process of breakdown of food for metabolism and use by the body. Top

Digestive System: The organs that take in food and turn it into products that the body can use to stay healthy.  Waste products the body cannot use leave the body through bowel movements.  The digestive system includes the salivary glands, mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, small and large intestines, and rectum. Top

Digestive Tract:  The organs through which food passes when food is eaten.  These organs are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestines, and rectum. Top

Diverticulitis: Inflammation of a diverticulum or diverticula. Top

Diverticulum: A pathological condition manifested as a pouch or sac opening from a tubular or sacular organ. Top

Ectopic Pregnancy:  The pregnancy occurring elsewhere than in the cavity of the uterus. Top

Emergency Medicine:  A branch of medicine concerned with an individual’s resuscitation, transportation and care from the point of injury or beginning of illness through the hospital or other emergency treatment facility. Top

Endoscope: A thin, lighted tube used to look at tissues inside the body. Top

Endoscopic: A technique where a lateral-view endoscope is passed orally to the duodenum for visualization of the ampulla of Vater. Top

Equivocal: Having a doubtful meaning; susceptibleto varying interpretations; ambiguous. Top

Equivocal Appendicitis: When the symptoms presented are not clear-cut, or they are contradictory.  Many appendicitis symptoms are common with other causes of abdominal pain.  Top

Feces: The excrement discharged from the intestines, consisting of bacteria, cells exfoliated from the intestines, secretions, chiefly of the liver, and a small amount of food residue. Top

Gamma Camera: The basic computerized radiation detection instrument used to produce a nuclear medicine image. Top

Ileum: The lower end of the small intestine. Top

Inflammation:  A pathological process characterized by injury or destruction of tissues caused by a variety of cytologic and chemical reactions.  It is usually manifested by typical signs of pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Top

Inflammatory Bowel Disease:  A general term that refers to the inflammation of the colon and rectum.  Inflammatory bowel disease includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Top

In Vitro: Outside the body. Top

In Vitro Nuclear Medicine Procedure: A test in which blood is drawn from a patient, mixed with a radiopharmaceutical in a test tube, and then re-injected into the patient prior to the scan.  Top

In Vivo: Inside the body. Top

In Vivo Nuclear Medicine Procedure: Trace amounts of a radiopharmaceutical are injected directly into a patient prior to the scan. Top

Irritable Bowel Syndrome:  A disorder that comes and goes.  Nerves that control the muscles in the GI tract are too active.  The GI tract becomes sensitive to food, stool, gas, and stress.  Causes abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation or diarrhea.  Also called spastic colon or mucous colitis. Top

Laparoscopy: Examination, therapy or surgery of the abdomen’s interior by means of a laparoscope. Top

Laparotomy: A surgical incision made in the wall of the abdomen. Top

Large Intestine: The part of the intestine that goes from the cecum to the rectum.  The large intestine absorbs water from stool and changes it from a liquid to a solid form.  The large intestine is 5 feet long and includes the appendix, cecum, colon and rectum.  Also called colon. Top

Leukocyte: All the white cells of the blood and their precursors (myeloid cell series, lymphoid cell series) but commonly used to indicate granulocytes exclusive of lymphocytes. Top

Leukocyte Count: A count of the number of white blood cells per unit volume in venousblood.  A differential leukocyte count measures the relative numbers of the different types of white cells. Top

Leukocytes:  White blood cells.  These include granular leukocytes (basophils, eosinophils, and neutrophils) as well as non-granular leukocytes (lymphocytes and monocytes). Top

Lymphatic:  The tissues and organs, including the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes, that produce and store cells that fight infection and disease. Top

Lymphatic System: The tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infection and other diseases.  This system includes the bone marrow, spleen, thymus, lymph nodes and a network of thin tubes that carry lymph and white blood cells.  These tubes branch, like blood vessels, into all the tissues of the body. Top

Lymphoid:  Referring to lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.  Also refers to tissue in which lymphocytes develop. Top

Mesentery:  A layer of the peritoneum, which attaches the abdominal viscera to the abdominal wall and conveys their blood vessels and nerves. Top

Monoclonal: An antibody produced by culturing a single type of cell.  It therefore consists of a single species of immunoglobulin molecules. Top

Mucosa A mucous membrane, or tunica mucosa. Top

Neutrophils:  A leukocyte (white blood cell) produced in the bone marrow that circulates in the blood stream.  Neutrophils move out of blood vessels into infected tissue in order to attack a foreign substance (bacteria).  Normally a serious bacterial infection causes the body to produce an increased number of neutrophils, resulting in a higher white blood cell count.  Neutrophils perform their function partially through phagocytosis, a process by which they “eat” other cells and foreign substances.  The pus in an abscess is made up of mostly neutrophils. Top

Nuclear Medicine Scan: The images produced as a result of a nuclear medicine procedure, in which a patient is injected with a radioactive tracer, then placed under a gamma camera which produces images showing the location in the body of the radioactive material. Top

Peritoneal: Having to do with the peritoneum (the tissue that lines the abdominal wall and covers most of the organs in the abdomen). Top

Peritoneal Cavity:  The space enclosed by the peritoneum.  It is divided into two portions, the greater sac and the lesser sac or omental bursa, which lies behind the stomach.  The two sacs are connected by the foramen of Winslow, or epiploic foramen. Top

Peritoneum:  Endothelial lining of the abdominal cavity, the parietal peritoneum covering the inside of the abdominal wall and the visceral peritoneum covering the bowel, the mesentery, and certain of the organs.  The portion that covers the bowel becomes the serosal layer of the bowel wall. Top

Peritonitis: Inflammation of the peritoneum; a condition marked by serum, fibrin, cells, and pus oozing out into the peritoneum.  It is often accompanied by abdominal pain and tenderness, constipation, vomiting, and moderate fever. Top

Radiography: Examination of any part of the body for diagnostic purposes by means of roentgen rays, recording the image on a sensitized surface (such as photographic film). Top

Radiolabeled: Any compound that has been joined or “tagged” with a radioactive substance. Top

Radiology:  A specialty concerned with the use of x-ray and other forms of radiant energy in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Top

Radiopharmaceutical:  Also referred to as a radioactive tracer or radionuclide.  The basic radioactively tagged compound necessary to produce a nuclear medicine image. Top

Receptor:  A molecule inside or on the surface of a cell that binds to a specific substance and causes a specific physiologic effect in the cell. Top

Scans: Pictures of structures inside the body.  Scans often used in diagnosing, staging, and monitoring disease include liver scans, bone scans, and computed tomography (CT) or computerized axial tomography (CAT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.  In liver scanning and bone scanning, radioactive substances that are injected into the bloodstream collect in these organs.  A scanner that detects the radiation, called a gamma camera, is used to create pictures.  In CT scanning, an x-ray machine linked to a computer is used to produce detailed pictures of organs inside the body.  MRI scans use a large magnet connected to a computer to create pictures of areas inside the body. Top

Small Intestine:  The part of the digestive tract that is located between the stomach and the large intestine. Top

Sonogram:  A computer picture of areas inside the body created by bouncing sound waves off organs and other tissues.  Also called ultrasonogram or ultrasound. Top

Subcutaneous: Beneath the skin. Top

Technetium:   One of the first artificially produced elements and a radioactive fission product of uranium.  Technetium has the atomic symbol Tc, atomic number 43, and atomic weight 98.91.  The meta-stable state of Tc-99, whose symbol is Tc-99m, is used extensively as an imaging agent in nuclear medicine due to its very desirable half-life (6 hours) and single gamma ray energy (140 keV). Top

Torsion: A twisting or rotation of a bodily part or member on its axis. Top

Ultrasonography: The visualization of deep structures of the body by recording the reflections of echoes of pulses of ultrasonic waves directed into the tissues.  Use of ultrasound for imaging or diagnostic purposes employs frequencies ranging from 1.6 to 10 megahertz. Top

Urinalysis: Examination of urine by chemical, physical, or microscopic means.  Routine urinalysis usually includes performing chemical screening tests, determining specific gravity, observing any unusual color or odor, screening for bacteriuria, and examining the sediment microscopically. Top

White Blood Cell: A type of cell in the immune system that helps the body fight infection and disease.  White blood cells include lymphocytes, granulocytes, macrophages, and others. Top
 

Did you know? Half of the 700,000 cases of suspected appendicitis in the U.S. each year lack the usual symptoms of fever and pain in the lower right abdomen.