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Glossary
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Calcification the depositing of calcium salts in the body, which occurs normally in teeth and bones but abnormally in injured muscles and narrowed arteries
Calcitonin a hormone made in the thyroid gland that controls calcium levels in the blood by slowing the loss of calcium from bones; used to treat hypercalcemia (excess calcium in the blood)
Calcium a plentiful mineral in the body and the basic component of teeth and bones; essential for cell function, muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulses, and blood clotting
Calcium channel blocker a drug used to treat chest pain, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat by preventing the movement of calcium into the muscle
Callus a thickened area of skin due to consistent pressure or friction, or the area around a bone break where new bone is formed
Calorie a unit that is used to measure the energy content in food
Canal a tunnel-like passage
Cancer a group of diseases in which cells grow unrestrained in an organ or tissue in the body; can spread to tissues around it and destroy them or be transported through blood or lymph pathways to other parts of the body
Cancer staging a method to determine how much a cancer has developed
Candidiasis a yeast infection caused by the fungus Candida albicans; occurs most often in the vagina, but also in the mouth, on moist skin, or on the penis
Canker sore small, painful sore that usually occurs on the inside of the lip or cheek, or sometimes under the tongue; caused by bacteria, irritation of the area, stress, or allergies
Capillary a tiny blood vessel that connects the smallest arteries to the smallest veins and allows exchange of oxygen and other materials between blood cells and body tissue cells
Carbohydrate a substance, mainly sugar and starch, that is a main source of energy for the body and is found in sources such as cereals, breads, pastas, grains, and vegetables
Carbon dioxide a colorless, odorless gas present in small amounts in the atmosphere and formed during respiration
Carcinogen anything that can cause cancer
Carcinoma a cancer that occurs on the surface or lining of an organ
Cardiac arrest the sudden cessation of the heart's pumping action, possibly due to a heart attack, respiratory arrest, electrical shock, extreme cold, blood loss, drug overdose, or a severe allergic reaction
Cardiogenic shock a severely dangerous condition involving decreased blood output from the heart, usually as a result of a heart attack
Cardiomegaly a condition marked by enlargement of the heart, either because of a thickened heart muscle or an enlarged heart chamber; usually a result of the heart having to work harder than normal, as occurs with high blood pressure
Cardiomyopathy a disease of the heart muscle that results in decreased output and reduced blood flow
Cardiopulmonary
resuscitation
the administration of heart compression and artificial respiration to restore circulation and breathing
Cardiovascular
system
the heart and blood vessels that are responsible for circulating blood throughout the body
Carditis inflammation of the heart
Carotene an orange pigment present in colored plants such as carrots that is converted by the body to the essential nutrient vitamin A
Carotid arteries four main arteries that carry blood to the head and neck
Carpal bones eight bones that together make the wrist
Carpal tunnel syndrome a condition in which pressure on the median nerve in the wrist causes soreness, tingling, and numbness in the thumb and index and middle fingers
Cartilage a connective tissue (softer than bone) that is part of the skeletal system, including the joints
Cast a hard plaster or fiberglass shell that molds to a body part such as an arm and holds it in place for proper healing
Cataract a disorder in which the lens of the eye becomes less transparent and in some cases a milky white, making vision less clear
Catheter a hollow, flexible tube inserted into the body to put in or take out fluid, or to open up or close blood vessels
Catheterization a technique in which a hollow, flexible tube is used to drain body fluids (such as urine), to introduce fluids into the body, or to examine or widen a narrowed vein or artery
CAT scanning see Computed tomography scanning
Cat-scratch fever an illness transmitted to humans through a cat's bite or scratch, which is thought to be caused by an unidentified bacteria; characterized by a swollen lymph node or blister near the bite or scratch, fever, rash, and headache; most commonly occurring in children
Cauliflower ear a deformed ear caused by repeated injury
Cauterization the use of heat, an electric current, or a chemical to destroy tissue or stop bleeding
Cecum the beginning of the large intestine, which is connected to the appendix at its lower end
Cell the tiny structures that make up all the tissues of the body and carry out all of its functions
Cellulitis a skin infection caused by bacteria (usually streptococci); can lead to tissue damage and blood poisoning if untreated; characterized by fever, chills, heat, tenderness, and redness
Central nervous
system
the brain and spinal cord
Cerebellum a region of the brain located at the back; responsible for coordination of movement and maintaining balance
Cerebral palsy a group of disorders of movement and posture resulting from damage to the brain early in a child's development; causes muscle weakness, difficulty coordinating voluntary movements, and sometimes complete loss of motion
Cerebrospinal
fluid
a clear, watery fluid circulating in and around the brain and spinal column, which contains glucose, proteins, and salts for nutrition
Cerebrovascular
disease
a disease affecting any artery supplying blood to the brain; may cause blockage or rupture of a blood vessel, leading to a stroke
Cerebrum the largest part of the brain and the site of most of its activity, including sensory and motor functions
Cervical cap a small rubber cup that is placed tightly over the cervix to prevent pregnancy
Cervical
dysplasia
changes that occur in the cells on the surface of the cervix that usually precede the stages of cancer
Cervical
incompetence
a weakness of the neck of the uterus, which can lead to spontaneous abortion due to an inability to support the weight of the fetus
Cervical smear a procedure in which cells are scraped off of the cervix and examined to detect changes that might precede the stages of cancer; also called a Pap smear
Cervicitis inflammation of the cervix
Cervix a small, round organ making up the neck of the uterus and separating it from the vagina
Cesarean section an operation performed to remove a fetus by cutting into the uterus, usually through the abdominal wall
Chancre a painless sore that has a thick, rubbery base and a defined edge; usually occurs on the genitals after the contraction of the sexually transmitted disease syphilis
Chemotherapy the treatment of infections or cancer with drugs that act on disease-producing organisms or cancerous tissue; may also affect normal cells
Chickenpox a contagious disease that causes a rash and a fever; most commonly occurs during childhood
Chlamydia microorganisms that cause several human infections and can be transmitted sexually
Cholecystectomy the surgical removal of the gallbladder
Cholera a bacterial infection of the small intestine that causes severe watery diarrhea, dehydration, and possibly death
Cholesterol a substance in body cells that plays a role in the production of hormones and bile salts and in the transport of fats in the bloodstream
Chondritis inflammation of cartilage
Chondroma a noncancerous tumor that occurs in cartilage
Chondromalacia
patellae
painful damage to the cartilage behind the kneecap
Chondrosarcoma a cancerous cartilage tumor that develops inside of bone or on its surface
Chorionic villus
sampling
a method of diagnosing fetal defects in which a small amount of tissue is taken from the placenta and analyzed for abnormalities
Choroiditis inflammation of the blood vessels behind the retina that line the back of the eye
Chromosome
analysis
examination of a person's chromosomes either to determine if that person has an abnormality or to investigate one
Chronic describes a disorder that continues for a long period of time
Chronic
obstructive
lung disease
a combination of the lung diseases emphysema and bronchitis, characterized by blockage of airflow in and out of the lungs
Cilia tiny, hairlike structures on the outside of some cells, providing mobility
Circumcision the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis
Cirrhosis of the
liver
gradual loss of liver function due to cell damage and internal scarring
Claudication a cramping pain in one or both legs while walking, which can cause limping
Claustrophobia fear of being confined in an enclosed or crowded space
Clavicle the medical term for the collarbone
Cleft lip a birth defect in which the upper lip is split vertically, extending into one or both nostrils
Cleft palate a birth defect in which the roof of the mouth is split, extending from behind the teeth to the nasal cavity; often occurs with other birth defects such as cleft lip and partial deafness
Clinical trial carefully monitored and planned testing of a new drug or treatment
Clitoris a small female organ located near the opening of the vagina that swells when sexually aroused
Clone an exact copy of a gene, cell, or organism
Closed fracture a bone break that does not break the skin
Clotting factor a substance in the blood that is needed for blood to harden and stop a wound from bleeding
Clubfoot a genetic disorder in which the foot is twisted and misshapen
Cluster
headache
severe pain that occurs suddenly and affects one side of the head, including the face and neck
CNS see Central nervous system
Coagulation a process that plays a large role in the hardening and thickening of blood to form a clot
Cocarcinogen a substance that does not cause cancer by itself, but increases the effect of a substance that does cause cancer
Coccyx four fused bones that form a triangular shape at the base of the spine (also known as the tailbone)
Cochlea a coiled organ in the inner ear that plays a large role in hearing by picking up sound vibrations and transmitting them as electrical signals
Coitus sexual intercourse
Cold sore a small blister anywhere around the mouth that is caused by the herpes simplex virus
Colectomy the complete or partial surgical removal of the large intestine (the colon), usually as treatment of a cancerous tumor or a narrowing and blockage of the intestine
Colic waves of pain in the abdomen that increase in strength, disappear, and return; usually caused by a stone blocking a bile or urine passageway or an intestinal infection
Colitis inflammation of the large intestine (the colon), which usually leads to abdominal pain, fever, and diarrhea with blood and mucus
Collapsed lung a condition in which all or part of a lung cannot expand and fill with air
Colon the main part of the large intestine, between the cecum and the rectum
Colonoscopy investigation of the inside of the colon using a long, flexible fiberoptic tube
Color blindness any vision disorder in which the person sees colors abnormally, has trouble distinguishing between them, or cannot see them at all
Colostomy a surgical procedure in which some part of the colon is cut and moved to the surface of the abdomen so that feces can be passed into a bag worn outside of the body
Coma a condition in which the area of the brain involved in maintaining consciousness is somehow affected, resulting in a state of unconsciousness in which the patient does not respond to stimulation
Comminuted
fracture
a crushed or shattered bone
Common cold an infection caused by a virus, which results in an inflamed lining of the nose and throat; characterized by a stuffy and runny nose and, sometimes, a sore throat
Communicable
disease
a disease that can be passed from one individual to another
Compound
fracture
a bone break that breaks the skin
Compression
fracture
a break in a short bone in which its soft tissue is crushed
Computed
tomography
scanning
a technique for producing cross-sectional images of the body in which X-rays are passed through the body at different angles and analyzed by a computer; also called CT scanning or CAT scanning
Concussion disturbance of electrical activity in the brain due to a blow to the head or neck, causing temporary loss of consciousness
Congenital present or existing at the time of birth
Congestive heart
failure
inability of the heart to efficiently pump blood through the body, causing buildup of blood in the veins and of other body fluids in tissue
Conjunctiva the clear membrane covering the white of the eye and the inside of the eyelid that produces a fluid that lubricates the cornea and eyelid
Conjunctivitis inflammation of the conjunctiva; commonly called pinkeye
Connective tissue strong tissue that connects and supports body structures
Constipation difficult or infrequent bowel movements of hard, dry feces
Contraindication an aspect of a patient's condition that makes the use of a certain drug or therapy an unwise or dangerous decision
Contusion damage to the skin and underlying tissue as a result of a blunt injury; a bruise
Corn a thickened callus on the foot that is caused by an improperly fitting shoe
Cornea the clear, dome-shaped front portion of the eye's outer covering
Coronary describes structures that encircle another structure (such as the coronary arteries, which circle the heart); commonly used to refer to a coronary thrombosis or a heart attack
Coronary arteries the arteries that branch off from the aorta and supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle
Coronary artery
bypass surgery
an operation in which a piece of vein or artery is used to bypass a blockage in a coronary artery; performed to prevent myocardial infarction and relieve angina pectoris
Coronary heart
disease
disorders that restrict the blood supply to the heart, including atherosclerosis
Coronary
thrombosis
the blockage of a coronary artery by a blood clot
Corpuscle a tiny, rounded structure in the body, such as a red or white blood cell
Corticosteroids synthetic drugs that are used to replace natural hormones or to suppress the immune system and help prevent inflammation
CPR see Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Creatinine a waste product that is filtered from the blood by the kidneys and expelled in urine
Croup a usually mild and temporary condition common in children under the age of 4 in which the walls of the airways become inflamed and narrow, resulting in wheezing and coughing
Cruciate
ligaments
two ligaments in the knee that cross each other and help stabilize the knee joint
CT scanning a procedure that uses X-rays and computers to create cross-sectional images of the body to diagnose and monitor disease
Culture the artificial growth of cells, tissue, or microorganisms such as bacteria in a laboratory
Curettage the use of a sharp, spoonlike instrument (a curet) to scrape away tissue that is abnormal or to obtain a sample that can be analyzed
CVS see Chorionic villus sampling
Cyanosis a bluish discoloration of the skin, caused by low levels of oxygen in the blood
Cyst a lump filled with either fluid or soft material, occurring in any organ or tissue; may occur for a number of reasons but is usually harmless unless its presence disrupts organ or tissue function
Cystectomy surgical removal of the bladder; the bladder is often replaced with a short length of small intestine
Cystic fibrosis an inherited disorder in which the lungs are prone to infection, and fats and other nutrients cannot be absorbed into the body
Cystoscopy examination of the urethra and bladder using a long, thin, fiberoptic tube
Cystostomy the surgical placement of a drainage opening in the bladder

 

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