Lots more to come! Thanks for your patience while this page is under construction. - Cogerias

Please note: this is not a real medical dictionary. It is a glossary of terms used on the TV program House. I am not a doctor, and this page is not intended to give medical advice.


naloxone - a drug used to counter the effects of opioid overdose, such as with heroin or morphine. Sold under the brand name Narcan. [108]

nasal cannula - device used to deliver supplemental oxygen or airflow to a patient or person in need of respiratory help. This device consists of a plastic tube which fits behind the ears, and a set of two prongs which are placed in the nostrils, through which oxygen flows. The nasal cannula is connected to an oxygen tank, a portable oxygen generator, or a wall connection in a hospital via a flowmeter. [109]

- the urge to vomit. It can be brought by many causes including, systemic illnesses, medications, pain, and inner ear disease. When nausea and/or vomiting are persistent, or when they are accompanied by other severe symptoms such as abdominal pain, jaundice, fever, or bleeding, a physician should be consulted. [103]

neurocysticercosis - Cysticercosis is a parasitic infection that results from ingestion of eggs from the adult tapeworm, Taenia solium (T. solium).  When cysticercosis involves the central nervous system, it is called neurocysticercosis. Cysticercosis is caused by swallowing eggs from T. solium, which are found in contaminated food. Risk factors include eating pork, fruits, and vegetables contaminated with T. solium as a result of unhealthy cooking preparation. The disease can also be spread by contact with infected people or fecal matter. Brain lesions can result in seizures or symptoms similar to those of a brain tumor. [101]

neurologist - a medical doctor that specialized in the brain and nervous system. Dr. Eric Foreman is a neurologist. [101]

neurology - the branch of medical science that deals with the brain and nervous system. (Greek: neuron, nerve + -ology, study of) [101]

neuropathy - nerve damage, or nerves in an abnormal state. Peripheral neuropathy, in its most common form, causes pain and numbness in the hands and feet. [103]

neoplastic - a new or abnormal growth of benign or malignant tissue (neoplasm). [102]

nephritis - inflammation of the kidneys  

neurosyphilis -  a slowly progressive and destructive infection of the brain or spinal cord. It occurs in untreated syphilis many years after the primary infection. [102]

night terror - a sleep disorder in which a person quickly awakens from sleep in a terrified state. Night terrors, or sleep terrors, are frightening dreams that occur during deep sleep and are sometimes accompanied by screaming, crying or yelling. Patients may also run around and throw items. Nightmares usually involve a complex situation that the patient remembers after awakening. Night terrors are more primitive, involving simple things such as fire or a monster. [102]

non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) - any of a group of drugs used to treat fever, mild to moderate pain, and inflammation which do not contain steroids.

O2 sats - abbreviation for oxygen saturation of the blood. Oxygen is carried in the blood attached to haemoglobin molecules. Oxygen saturation is a measure of how much oxygen the blood is carrying as a percentage of the maximum it could carry. [105]

obesity - a condition that is characterized by excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body. [105]

occult infection - a hidden infection in which the host does now show any symptoms. [104]

oligoclonal bands - bands of immunoglobulin antibodies that are seen when a patient's blood plasma or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is analyzed by electrophoresis. In electrophoresis, a sample of fluid is placed on a gel and voltage is applied. This causes antibodies of the same size to bunch together, forming visible 'bands'. One band (monoclonal) in the cerebrospinal fluid is normal. The term oligoclonal bands refers to the presence of two or more bands and shows the presence of disease activity. [102]

Ommaya reservoir - a plastic, dome-shaped device, with a catheter attached to the underside which is implanted under the scalp to deliver drugs into the brain or cerebrospinal fluid. Named for the neurosurgeon Ayub Ommaya. [102]

oncologist - a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of tumors and cancer. (Greek: onkos, mass or tumor + ology, to study) [101]

oncology - a branch of medicine that deals with tumors and cancer. Dr. James Wilson is the head of the Oncology Department at PPTH. [101]

ophthalmologist -  a medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care.  Also called an "eye doctor." [102]

oral contraceptives - also known as birth control pills, oral contraceptives contain hormones that prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg, thus preventing pregnancy. [105]

organochlorines - a group of pesticides which ontain chlorine. [108]

organophosphate poisoning - ingestion, ihalation, or absorbtion of organophosphates. Symptoms include difficulty nausea, disorientation, difficulty breathing, bradycardia. [108]

organophosphates - the general name for esters of phosphoric acid. In health, agriculture, and government, the word "organophosphates" refers to a group of or nerve agents acting on the enzyme insecticides acetylcholinesterase. [108]

orgasm - the moment of most intense sexual pleasure. [103]

Orthomyxovirus - viruses in the family Orthomyxoviridae, which includes the viruses that cause influenza A, B, and C. [104]


pacemaker (artificial):
pacing pads - called transcutaneous or external pacing. Pads are placed on the patient's chest to deliver pulses of electric current, which stimulate the heart to contract. [108]
pacing wire - a pacemaker wire which is threaded into a vein to send electrical impulses to the heart. [108]

paddles - see defibrillator

paraneoplastic syndrome - a disease or symptom that is the consequence of the presence of cancer in the body, but is not due to the local presence of cancer cells. [107]

papovavirus - a family of several dozen viruses, including the human papillomavirus (HPV). [104]

paralysis - the loss of muscle function for one or more muscle groups. Paralysis can cause loss of feeling or loss of mobility in the affected area. Causes of paralysis include:
ALS [109]
AVM [109]

paramyxoviridae - a family of viruses which cause a variety of illnesses, including mumps and measles. This group of viruses includes RSV. [104]

parasite -  an organism that lives in, or on, and takes its nourishment from another organism, usually to the detriment of the host. A parasite cannot live independently. Parasitic infections include malaria, tapeworms, and cysticercosis. [101] [103] [107]

parvovirus B19 - a virus in the Parvoviridae family, the only member of this group known to cause disease in humans. The most common manifestation of human parvovirus B19 infections is erythema infectiosm ("Fifth Disease").  [103]

pathology - the scientific study of the nature of disease and its causes, processes, development, and consequences, or the anatomic or functional manifestations of a disease.

penicillin: one of the earliest discovered and most widely used antibiotic agents, derived from the mold Penicillium notatum. Alexander Fleming is credited with discovering the effect of the mold on a dish in which he was growing bacterteria, although several other scientists had noted it years earlier. [102]

PET scan (positron emission tomography) - an imaging test that uses a radioactive substance, called a tracer, to look for disease in the body. Unlike MRI and CT scans, which reveal the structure of and blood flow to and from organs, a PET scan shows how organs and tissues are working. The PET machine detects energy given off by the radioactive substance and changes it into 3-dimensional pictures. [107]

Physician's Desk Reference (PDR) - a medical reference book which provides information on prescription drugs. Can occasionally be flung at a doctor to wake him from a nap [104]

phosdrin - an organophosphate pesticide. [108]

Picture Arrangement - placing a series of picture cards in order to tell a story, helpful in determining brain function. [101]

postictal - following a seizure. [107]

pneumonia - a respiratory condition in which there is inflammation of the lung. Types of pneumonia include:
lobar pneumonia - an infection that only involves a single lobe, or section, of a lung. [109]

pneumonitis - a general term for inflammation of lung tissue. [105}

polysomnograph - the polygraphic recording during sleep of multiple physiologic variables related to the state and stages of sleep to assess possible biological causes of sleep disorders. [102]

porphyria - any of a rare group of genetic disorders in which that affect the nervous system, skin, or both. Each type of porphyria is due to the deficiency of one of the enzymes needed to make a substance in the body called heme. Making heme involves a series of eight different enzymes, each acting in turn. Heme is a red pigment composed of iron linked to a chemical called protoporphyrin. Heme has important functions in the body. The largest amounts of heme are in the blood and bone marrow in the form of hemoglobin within red blood cells. Hemoglobin gives blood its red color and carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. In the liver, heme is a component of proteins that have many functions, including breaking down hormones, drugs, and other chemicals and generating high-energy compounds that keep liver cells alive and functioning normally. The body makes heme mainly in the bone marrow and the liver. Each step of the process is controlled by one of eight enzymes. If any one of the enzymes is deficient, the process is disrupted. As a result, porphyrin or its precursors—chemicals formed at earlier steps of the process—may build up in body tissues and cause illness. [106]

Pralidoxime - a medication, used together with atropine, to treat poisoning caused by organic phosphorus pesticides. [108]

prednisone:  one of a class of medications called corticosteroids. It works to treat patients with low levels of corticosteroids by replacing steroids that are normally produced naturally by the body. It works to treat other conditions by reducing swelling and inflammation and by changing the way the immune system works. [101]

pregnancy - the period from conception to birth when a woman carries a developing fetus.  [107]

pressor - a drug used to raise blood pressure. [104]

protein C - a protein in blood plasma which helps regulate clotting. [106]

protein S - a protein in blood plasma which helps regulate clotting. [106]

protein markers - proteins that can be found in the body when cancer is present. They are usually found in the blood or urine. They can be products of the cancer cells themselves or of the body in response to cancer or other conditions. [101]

Pseudomonas - A pseudomonas infection is caused by a bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and may affect any part of the body. In most cases, however, pseudomonas infections strike only persons who are very ill, usually hospitalized. P. aeruginosa is a rod-shaped organism that can be found in soil, water, plants, and animals. Because it rarely causes disease in healthy persons, but infects those who are already sick or who have weakened immune systems, it is called an opportunistic pathogen. [104]

psittacosis - an infection caused by Chlamydia psittaci, a type of bacteria found in the droppings of birds. Birds spread the infection to humans, causing atypical pneumonia. Also known as parrot fever. [101]

PT (Prothrombin time) - a blood test that measures how long it takes blood to clot. A prothrombin time test can be used to check for bleeding problems. PT is also used to check whether blood thinners are working. [106]

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) - an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. Symptoms include insomnia, flashbacks to the trauma, nightmares, emotional detachment, difficulty concentrating, and night terrors. [102]

PTT (Partial thromboplastin time) - a blood test that measures the time it takes blood to clot. A prothrombin time test can be used to check for bleeding problems. [106]

pull the plug - an informal term for discontinuing artificial life support in patients with little hope of recovery. [109]

pulmonary embolism - a condition that occurs when an artery in the lung becomes blocked. In most cases, the blockage is caused by one or more blood clots that travel to the lungs from another part of the body. [106]

QRS - see EKG

rabbit fever - see tularemia

radiation therapy
- the use of a certain type of energy (called ionizing radiation) to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation therapy injures or destroys cells in the area being treated (the “target tissue”) by damaging their genetic material, making it impossible for these cells to continue to grow and divide. Although radiation damages both cancer cells and normal cells, most normal cells can recover from the effects of radiation and function properly. The goal of radiation therapy is to damage as many cancer cells as possible, while limiting harm to nearby healthy tissue. [101]

radionucleotide cisternogram - a medical imaging study which involves injecting an organic compound, tagged with a radioactive tracer, into a patient's spinal canal through a lumbar puncture to evaluate the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid. [102]

Rapid plasma reagin (RPR)a screening test for syphilis that looks for antibodies that are present in the blood of people who have the disease. [102]

rash - a change in the color or texture of the skin.  A simple rash is called dermatitis, meaning inflammation of the skin. Contact dermatitis is caused by things your skin touches, such as chemicals, latex, or poison ivy. Often, the cause of a rash can be determined from its visible characteristics and other symptoms.

Rashes mentioned:
Symptom of colchicine poisoning [103]
Scalded-skin syndrome [104]
Dermatitis [105]
Lyme disease [107]

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) - a virus of the family Paramyxoviridae. For most people, RSV produces only mild symptoms, often indistinguishable from common colds and minor illnesses, however in infants, infection can lead to serious respiratory illness.  [104]

rhabdovirus - a family of viruses which includes the rabies virus. [104]

ribavirin - an anti-viral drug which is active against a number of viruses. [104]

rotavirus - a genus of virus in the family Reoviridae. It is the leading, single cause of severe diarrhea among infants and young children. By the age of five, nearly every child in the world has been infected with rotavirus at least once. However, with each infection, immunity develops, subsequent infections are less severe, and adults are rarely affected. [104]

rubber room - slang term for a padded cell, which is a room in a psychiatric facility with padded walls to prevent violent patients from injuring themselves. [106]

rubella - a virus which causes German measles. Generally, rubella causes only mild illness with fever, rash, swollen glands, sore throat, and body aches, with no long-term effects.However may cause serious birth defects if contracted by pregnant women. [104]

RSV - see Respiratory syncytial virus

scalded-skin syndrome - a skin infection in which the skin becomes damaged and sheds, resembling a burn. Scalded skin syndrome is caused by infection with certain strains of bacteria in the Staphylococcus family. It most often affects infants and children under the age of five. [104]

schizophrenia - any of several psychotic disorders characterized by distortions of reality, disturbances of thought and language, and withdrawal from social contact. [106]

sed rate - short for sedimentation rate

sedation - the administration of drugs to soothe anxiety or agitation. [107]

sedimentation rate - a blood test which measures the speed at which red blood cells settle to the bottom of a glass tube. The presence of certain abnormal proteins in the blood can cause red blood cells to stick together and sink to the bottom more quickly. An elevated sed rate is not specific to any one disease. Possible causes include infection or inflammation. [101] [105] [107]

seizure - a seizure is a sudden change in behavior due to an excess of electrical activity in the brain. Any condition that results in abnormal electrical excitation or irritation of the brain may result in a seizure, including, but not limited to epilepsy, head trauma, stroke, very high fever (especially in infants), drug use, hypoglycemia, infection, alcohol withdrawal. Seizures can be generalized or affect only a localized area of the body, and may be "simple," with no change in consciousness, or "complex" with a change in the level of consciousness. [101] [104] [105] [107]

sepsis - the presence of bacteria or other infectious organisms or their toxins in the blood or in other tissue of the body. Sepsis is caused by bacterial infection that can originate anywhere in the body. Also known as blood poisoning or septicemia. [103]

serum antibody levels - a measurement of antibodies in blood serum. [107]

sexually transmitted disease (STD) - an illness that has a significant probability of transmission between humans or animals by means of sexual contact. Some blood-borne infections can also be sexually transmitted. [107]
STDs mentioned:
gonorrhea [102]

shunt - a hole or passage which moves, or allows movement, of fluid from one part of the body to another. [102]

side effect - a secondary and usually adverse effect of a drug or medical treatment. [107]

sinus infection (sinusitis) - an infection of the lining of the air cavities behind the nose (paranasal sinuses) and nasal passages.  A sinus infection can cause a headache or pressure in the eyes, nose, cheek area, or on one side of the head. A person with a sinus infection may also have a cough, a fever, bad breath, and nasal congestion with thick nasal secretions. Sinusitis is categorized as acute (sudden onset) or chronic (long term, the most common type). [103]

sinus rhythm - the normal, regular beating of the heart. So called because the electrical impulse originate in the heart's sinus node. [103]

sleeping sickness - any of several diseases which cause hypersomnia. See African trypanosomiasis

sludging - irregular clumps of red blood cells which thicken blood and interfere with ciruclation, especially in the capillaries. [109]

small-cell - see cancer

smallpox - an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by the Variola virus. The initial signs and symptoms of smallpox, which appear about two weeks after infection, resemble those of the flu — fever, fatigue and headache. Later, severe pus-filled blisters appear on the skin that eventually leave deep, pitted scars. Once symptoms develop, there's no effective treatment for smallpox and no known cure. Smallpox is considered to be eradicated due to a worldwide vaccination campaign. The last reported case was in 1977. [104]

smear - a test which involves smearing a sample of blood, stool, or other bodily secretions on a slide or paper card for testing. See blood smear. [103] [107]

smoking - to draw into the mouth the smoke of tobacco burning in a pipe or in the form of a cigar, cigarette, etc.; to habitually use tobacco in this manner. [106]

sputummucus and other matter brought up from the lungs, bronchi, and trachea that one may cough up and spit out or swallow. [109]

STD panel - a series of blood tests used to detect sexually transmitted diseases. Included are tests for Herpes 1 & 2, Hepatitis B & C, HIV, chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea. [103]

steroids - "Steroid" is  a generic term for any naturally-occurring chemical molecule containing certain fat-soluble organic compounds in a particular carbon atom configuration. Our bodies produce steroids constantly and we ingest them every day from the foods we eat. Most meats and some plants contain steroids.

Three common categories of steroids:

*Corticosteroids: Any of the natural or synthetic hormones associated with the adrenal cortex (the perimeter of the adrenal glands), which influences or controls key processes of the body, as carbohydrate and protein metabolism, electrolyte and water balance, and the functions of the cardiovascular system, the skeletal muscle, the kidneys, and other organs. Corticosteroids can be found in numerous medications for a wide variety of ailments.
These medications include prednisone. [101]
Cortisone cream [105]
Hydrocortisone cream [107]

*Sex steroids: a subset of sex hormones that produce sex differences or support reproduction. They include androgens, estrogens, and progestagens. These are most commonly called hormones.

*Anabolic steroids -  a class of steroids that interact with androgen receptors to increase muscle and bone synthesis. There are natural and synthetic anabolic steroids. In popular language the word "steroids" usually refers to anabolic steroids.

steroid enema - a liquid or foam containing steroids which is introduced into the colon or rectum via the anus to treat inflammation. [105]

stethoscope - an instrument used to transmit low-volume sounds such as the heartbeat (or intestinal, venous, or fetal sounds) to the ear of the listener. A stethoscope may consist of two earpieces connected by means of flexible tubing to a diaphragm placed against the skin of the patient. [105]

Stigmata - unexplained markings on a person's body that correspond to the wounds of Christ. [105]

Stockholm Syndrome - the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with, identify with, or sympathize with his or her captor The name derives from from a 1973 robbery attempt in Stockholm, Sweden, during which bank employees held hostage developed sympathetic feelings toward their captors. [103]
stroke - A stroke, or cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is disrupted, causing brain cells to die.  [101]
Types of stroke include:
embolic stroke: the blockage of an artery by a blood clot or travelling particle or debris in the arterial bloodstream originating from elsewhere. [109]

stool - solid waste passed through the rectum, also called feces. Stools consist largely of undigested foods, bacteria, mucus, and dead cells. [104]

stool sample - a small amount of fecal material which is collected for laboratory testing for diagnostic purposes. See stool [104]

Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis (SSPE) - a progressive, debilitating, and fatal brain disorder caused by infection with a mutant measles virus. Ordinarily, the measles virus does not cause brain damage, but certain mutant forms may invade the brain, causing severe illness and death. SSPE is due to the direct invasion of brain cells by the mutant measles virus, which provokes brain inflammation (swelling and irritation) that may last for years. SSPE has been reported in all parts of the world, but in western countries it is considered a rare disease. SSPE tends to occur several years after an individual has measles, even though the person seems to have fully recovered from the illness. Males are more often affected than females, and the disease generally occurs in children and adolescents. Affected individuals frequently die 1 to 2 years after being diagnosed with this condition, but some may survive for longer periods. [102]

suction - devices used to clear airways of materials that would impede breathing or cause infections, to aid in surgery, and for other purposes. [107]

sulfasalazine - a sulfa drug, a derivative of 5-ASA. Sulfasalazine is mainly used for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. [105]

superbug - an informal term for a bacterium that has become resistant to antibiotics usually used to treat it, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. [104]

surgical airway - a hole cut in the throat to facilitate breathing when the airway is obstructed. [101]

swab - implement consisting of a small piece of cotton that is used to apply medication, cleanse a wound, or obtain a specimen. [104]

Synthroid - a brand name for levothyroxine, a synthetic form of thyroxine. [109]

T3 - the hormone triiodothyronine (see thyroid). Also the test which measures blood levels of T3. [103]

T4 - the hormone thyroxine (see thyroid). Also the test which measures blood levels of T4. [103]

T9 - the ninth thoracic vertebra. [109]

tachycardia - a rapid heart rate, usually defined as greater than 100 beats per minute. See cardiac arrythmia [105]

temporal lobe - either of two lobes located on the sides of the brain. Various parts are important for the sense of hearing, for certain aspects of memory, and for emotional/affective behavior. [105]

thiamine (vitamin B1) - a vitamin of the B complex, a group of water-soluble vitamins that participate in many of the chemical reactions in the body. Thiamine helps the body cells convert carbohydrates into energy. It is also essential for the functioning of the nervous system, muscles, and heart.  A deficiency of thiamine can cause weakness, fatigue, psychosis, and nerve damage. In severe thiamine deficiency, brain damage can occur. One type is called Korsakoff syndrome. The other is Wernicke's disease. Either or both of these conditions can occur in the same person. Thiamine deficiency is most commonly found in those who abuse alcohol or have a poor diet. [101]

Thorazine - brand name for chlorpromazine, and antipsychotic medication. [106]

thyroid - a gland located in the front of the neck just below the voice box (larynx) that releases hormones that control metabolism. These hormones are thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The release of T3 and T4 is controlled by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in the brain. [103]

Thyroid-stimulating hormone test (TSH) - a laboratory test that measures the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in your blood. TSH is produced by the pituitary gland and tells the thyroid gland to make and release the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Levels of TSH are measured to evaluate thyroid function. [103]

thyrotoxicosis - a condition resulting from excessive concentrations of thyroid hormones in the body, as in hyperthyroidism. [105]

TID - Latin ter in die three times a day [105]
titera measurement of the amount or concentration of a substance in a solution. It usually refers to the amount of medicine or antibodies found in a patient's blood. Antibody titers can tell the doctor if the patient has immunity to diseases. Medication titers can tell if a person is receiving too much medication. [103]

TORCH syndrome - refers to infection of a developing fetus or newborn by any of a group of infectious agents. TORCH is an acronym meaning Toxoplasmosis, Other Agents, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus, and Herpes Simplex. Infection with any of these agents may cause a group of similar symptoms in affected newborns. These may include fever; feeding difficulties; small areas of bleeding under the skin; enlargement of the liver and spleen; jaundice; and/or other symptoms and findings [104]

tox screen - short for toxicology screen. A variety of test which checks presence of drugs or other toxic substances in blood, urine, or stomach contents. [108]

toxin - a chemical compound from one organism that is harmful to another organism. Sometimes used interchangeably with poison [107]

toxoplasmosis - a disease caused by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can produce a variety of syndromes in humans. [104]

tPA - abbreviation for tissue plasminogen activator. A thrombolytic agent or "clot-busting" drug. The drug can dissolve blood clots, which cause most heart attacks and strokes. To be effective, tPA must be administered within the first three hours of the event if given intravenously, or within six hours if administered through an arterial catheter directly to the site of blockage. [109]

tumor - an abnormal growth of body tissue. Tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). [101]

tapeworm - any of several parasites which latch on to the wall of the intestine. Sometimes the larvae migrate to other tissues and form cysts. Pork tapeworm larvae cause cysticercosis, which is called neurocysticercosis when the cysts are in the brain. [101]

transfusion - the transfer of blood or blood products from one individual to another. [107]

trauma - damage inflicted on the body or mind as the direct or indirect result of an external force or event. [102] [106]

tricuspid valve - a valve on the right side of the heart, between the right atrium and the right ventricle. [103]

trifluoperazine - an antipsychotic medication. [106]

tularemia - also known as “rabbit fever,” a disease caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Tularemia is typically found in animals, especially rodents, rabbits, and hares. Tularemia is usually a rural disease and has been reported in all U.S. states except Hawaii. Typically, people become infected through the bite of infected insects (most commonly, ticks and deerflies), by handling infected sick or dead animals, by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, or by inhaling airborne bacteria. [107]

Tylenol - a brand name for acetaminophen, called paracetamol outside North America. [103]


ultrasound - a medical imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves, which reflect off body structures. A computer receives these reflected waves and uses them to create a picture. [106]

Unasyn - the tradename for the injectable form of a combination of the common penicillin-derived antibiotic ampicillin and sulbactam, an enzyme inhibitor. Ampicillin/sulbactam is used to treat infections caused by bacteria resistant to certain a certain type of antibiotics. Sulbactam blocks the enzyme which breaks down ampicillin and thereby allows ampicillin to attack and kill the bacteria. [103]

urine -  the waste product secreted by the kidneys that in mammals is a yellow to amber-colored, slightly acid fluid discharged from the body. Examination of urine serves many diagnostic purposes.

urinary casts - tube-shaped particles made up of white blood cells, red blood cells, and kidney cells that develop in the tubules of the kidney. Casts are held together by a protein released by the kidney. The content of a cast can determine whether the urine is healthy or abnormal. [104]

vaccine - a preparation of a weakened or killed pathogen, such as a bacterium or virus, or of a portion of the pathogen's structure that upon administration stimulates antibody production or cellular immunity against the pathogen, but is incapable of causing severe infection. Also called immunization. [102]

vancomycin - a drug which is a highly effective antibiotic against some forms of bacteria. It is derived from a micro-organism found in Indonesian and Indian soil. It can have very severe side effects such as damaging the inner ear or the kidneys. [104]

varicella virus - a virus in the herpes family which causes chickenpox in children and shingles in adults. [104]

varices - plural of varix; a swollen vein. Esophageal varices develop when normal blood flow to the liver is blocked due to liver disease. The blood  backs up into smaller, more fragile blood vessels in the esophagus causing the vessels to swell. Sometimes, esophageal varices can rupture, causing a life-threatening condition. [106]

vascular - pertaining to blood vessels [105]

vasculitis -   an autoimmune condition which causes inflammation of the blood vessels. Vasculitis can affect arteries, veins and capillaries.  When blood vessels become inflamed, they can narrow, making it more difficult for blood to get through; become obstructed, so that blood can't get through, or stretch and weaken so much that it bulges form, and may burst and cause dangerous bleeding inside the body.  [101] [102] [107] [109]

ventricle - a cavity of a bodily part or organ, such as the lower chambers of the heart or the cavities of the brain. In the human heart, the right ventricle pumps deoxygenated blood to the lungs, and the left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood into the systemic circulation through the aorta for the rest of the body. [102]

ventricular fibrillation (VF or v-fib) - an erratic, disorganized firing of impulses from the ventricles. The ventricles quiver and are unable to contract or pump blood to the body. This is a medical emergency that must be treated with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation as soon as possible. See cardiac arrythmia [103]

VF - abbreviation of ventricular fibrillation

v-fib - abbreviation of ventricular fibrillation

virus - a sub-microscopic infectious agent that is unable to grow or reproduce outside a host cell. Viruses consist of two or three parts. All viruses have genes made from either DNA or RNA; all have a protein coat that protects these genes; and some have an envelope of fat that surrounds them when they are outside a cell. Viruses infect all cellular life. More than 5,000 types of virus have been identified. [103]

Visually Evoked Potential (VEP) -  a test for Optic Neuritis or other demyelinating events along the optic nerve or along the optic pathways. The test involves watching a black and white checkered pattern on a TV screen in a darkened room. The black and white squares alternate on a regular cycle which generates electrical potentials along the optic nerve and into the brain. These can be detected with electroencephalographical (EEG) sensors placed at specific sites on the top of the head. Each eye is tested independently while an eye patch is worn on the other eye.  VEPs can often provide evidence of disease when other tests, even MRI, cannot. Also called a Visually Evoked Response test (VER). [102]

Vicodin - an opioid-based painkiller available by prescription. Vicodin is a trademarked brand name for hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Long-term use can result in physical dependence and tolerance, requiring a larger dose to relieve pain. [101]

vitamin K - fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in blood clotting. Without vitamin K, blood will not clot. [106]

vomiting - the reflex act of ejecting the contents of the stomach through the mouth. [107]

VRE - abbreviation for Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus. Enterococci are a type of bacteria that have developed resistance to many antibiotics, especially vancomycin. Enterococci bacteria live in our intestines and on our skin. Enterococci bacteria become a problem when they cause infection, which cam occur anywhere in the body. Some common sites include the intestines, the urinary tract, and wounds. For some people, especially those who are weak or ill, these infections can become serious. [104]

VRSA - abbreviation for vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a very rare strain of S. aureus that has become resistant to the antibiotic vancomycin. [104]

Wegener's granulomatosis - a form of vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels) that affects the lungs, kidneys and other organs. Inflammation with granuloma formation is the classical tissue abnormality in all organs affected by Wegener's granulomatosis. Due to its end-organ damage, it is life-threatening and requires long-term immunosuppression. [109]

Wernicke's encephalopathy
- A brain disorder which involves damage to multiple nerves in both the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system (the rest of the body) due to a thiamine deficiency. [101]

West Nile Virus (WNV) - a virus is transmitted by mosquitoes.Infection with West Nile virus may not produce any signs or symptoms, or only minor ones such as a skin rash and headache. However, some people who become infected with West Nile virus develop a life-threatening illness that includes inflammation of the brain. [102]

white blood cells (leukocytes) - any of several blood cells that have no pigmentation. They help protect the body against infection in the immune response, and also play a role in inflammation and allergic reactions. Types of white blood cells are:

lymphocytes - a variety of white blood cells present in blood, lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland, gut wall and bone marrow that are part of the acquired immune system, the part of the immune system that learns to combat invading bacteria and viruses (pathogens) through exposure to them. Lymphocytes are created from stem cells in the bone marrow.
b-cell - a lymphocyte which matures in the bone marrow.
t-cell - a lymphocyte which leaves the bone marrow to mature in the thymus.  

White blood cells include neutrophils, eosinophils, macrophages, and mast cells. These cells are made by bone marrow and help the body fight infection and other diseases.

white blood cell count (WBC) - a blood test to measure the number of white blood cells (WBCs).  A low WBC count can indicate bone marrow failure (for example, due to infection, tumor, or abnormal scarring),  collagen-vascular diseases (such as lupus erythematosus), disease of the liver or spleen or exposure to radiation. A high number of WBCs may be due to anemia, infectious diseases, inflammatory disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis or allergy), leukemia, severe emotional or physical stress, or tissue damage (for example, burns). White count is done as part of a complete blood count. (CBC) [102]

Wilson's Disease - a genetic disorder in which the body accumulates excess copper. Normally, copper from the diet is filtered out by the liver and released into bile, which flows out of the body through the gastrointestinal tract. People who have Wilson disease cannot release copper from the liver at a normal rate. When the copper storage capacity of the liver is exceeded, copper is released into the bloodstream and travels to other organs, including the brain, kidneys, and eyes. An important indicator of Wilson's disease is the finding of Keyser-Fleischer rings in the eyes. [106]


x-ray - an image created by the use of x-rays. X-rays are high-energy radiation with waves shorter than those of visible light. X-rays possess the properties of penetrating most substances (to varying extents), of acting on a photographic film or plate (permitting radiography), and of causing a fluorescent screen to give off light (permitting fluoroscopy). In low doses, X-rays are used for making images that help to diagnose disease, and in high doses to treat cancer.

When x-rays pass through the body, structures that are dense (such as bone) will block most of the x-ray particles, and will appear white. Metal and contrast media (special dye used to highlight areas of the body) will also appear white. Structures containing air will be black.  Muscle, fat, and fluid will appear as shades of gray. [101].

Yersinia - a genus of bacteria. Several members of the Yersinia family cause illness in humans, including Yersinis pestis, which causes bubonic plague. [102]

zebra - a slang medical term for an obscure and unlikely diagnosis from ordinary symptoms. It derives from the aphorism "when you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras." [101]

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