Library

A

Acute: used to describe a disorder or symptom that comes on suddenly and needs urgent treatment.

AIDS: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome – the result of a virus transmitted in sexual fluids and blood.

Ambulatory: referring to patients who are able to walk to appointments etc.

Angiography: special type of x-ray used to look at blood flow.

ARF: acute renal failure, occurs in previously normal kidneys following events such as crush injuries, heart failure or infection, and is usually reversible.

B

Bariatric surgery: Surgery for weight loss, such as gastric bypass surgery or gastric band.

Biopsy: A sample of cells or tissue is removed from the body and tested to help exclude or establish a diagnosis such as cancer.

Brachytherapy: A cancer treatment whereby radioactive material is inserted directly into the tumour.

Bronchoscopy: Examination of the airways using a bronchoscope (a flexible or rigid tube with a small camera and light at the end).

C

Cancer: the general term used to describe a tumour which could be in many different parts of the body.

CAPD: Continuous Ambulatory Peritoneal Dialysis, where a fluid exchange lasting 30 – 40 minutes is carried out via the peritoneal cavity (abdomen) three or four times a day.

Cardiac: to do with the heart.

Cardiac arrest: heart failure.

Carotid: relating to the two main arteries carrying blood to the head and neck.

Catheter: A flexible tube that is inserted into the body to remove or introduce fluids. Catheters also have other uses, for example to widen obstructed blood vessels.

CHD: Coronary Heart Disease: a general term to describe diseases of the heart.

Chemotherapy: the use of chemicals to destroy cancer cells or slow down cancer growth.

Community care: health or social care and treatment outside of hospital. It can take place in clinics, non-acute hospitals or in people’s homes.

Consultant: a senior doctor who takes full responsibility for the clinical care of patients. Most head a team of junior doctors.

D

DNA: Deoxyribonucleic acid. The hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms.

Dermatology: medical treatments concerned with the skin and skin conditions.

Dialysis: purification or filtering of the blood to remove harmful elements when kidneys, which normally perform this function, have failed.

E

Elective: used to describe operations, procedures or treatments that are planned rather than carried out in an emergency.

Electrocardiograms: A test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of the heart.

Electroencephalogram (EEG): A test to record the electrical activity of the brain – used for diagnosis and monitoring of certain conditions that affect the brain.

Embolisation: the formation of a blood clot, an air bubble, a fatty deposit or other object obstructing a blood vessel.

Endoscopy: the insertion of a tube-shaped instrument called an endoscope into a body cavity, to investigate or treat various medical problems.

ENT: stands for ear, nose and throat, and relates to their treatment.

Epidemiology: The study of patterns of health and disease in populations.

Epidural: This is the injection of local anaesthetic or other pain-relieving medicines into a space that surrounds your spinal cord. It temporarily numbs your nerves.

F

Fistula: the joining of an artery and a vein, usually in the arm, as a suitable, permanent access point for haemodialysis (haemodialysis is the removal of waste products or poisons from the blood using dialysis).

G

Genetics: The branch of science that deals with how you inherit physical and behavioural characteristics, including medical conditions.

Genomics: A discipline in genetics that looks at the function and structure of genomes (the complete set of DNA within a single cell of an organism).

GUM: Genito Urinary Medicine: usually used as the name of a clinic treating sexually transmitted diseases.

Gynaecology: healthcare that focuses on women’s reproductive systems.

H

Haemodialysis: A method of removing waste products from the blood using a dialyser or artificial kidney.

Harvesting veins: Removal of healthy veins to be used elsewhere in the body

Heart murmurs: Abnormal sounds caused by turbulent blood flow within the heart.

Hypertension: Abnormally high blood pressure.

I

In vitro: Techniques conducted in a laboratory setting, where a glass dish or test tube is used for observations made outside the body. A well-known example is in vitro-fertilisation, where sperm and egg are fertilised outside the body.

Intensive care: The care of seriously ill people.

Intercalated degree: This involves taking a year out of your medical or dental degree to study for an additional degree. Your course will be one year longer, but you will end up with two degrees, one in medicine or dentistry and another degree, eg BSc or BMedSci. Consult individual medical and dental schools to find out if intercalation is possible, and at what stage this can be done.

Intubate: The insertion of a tube into a part of the body, often a breathing tube into the trachea (breathing passages). This enables mechanical ventilation, for example during surgery or as an emergency procedure.L

L

Laryngeal: Pertaining to the larynx.

LINAC: Linear accelerator, which is a device used for external beam radiation treatments for patients with cancer.

Lipid disorders: Metabolic disorders that result in abnormal amounts of fatty substances that are insoluble in water (lipids) which may lead to serious illnesses.

Lumbar puncture: The insertion of a hollow needle into the spinal canal, to inject drugs or other substances or to withdraw cerebrospinal fluid.

M

MIU: Minor Injuries Unit: a somewhat misleading name because a minor injuries unit can treat the results of most accidents and emergencies.

MRI: Magnetic resonance imaging: scanners used primarily to detect cancer.

Neonatal: to do with newborn babies, up to the age of four weeks.

N

Neoplasm: any abnormal new growth of tissue or tumour.

Nephrology: the early detection and diagnosis of renal (kidney) disease and the long-term management of its complications.

Neurology: study and treatment of nerve systems.

O

Oedema: A build up of fluid in the body, causing the affected tissue to become swollen.

Oncology: The branch of medicine that deals with the study and treatment of tumours, particularly cancerous tumours.

Orthoses: Devices worn in shoes either to change the way the foot works while walking or to provide support. They are used to help pain outside the foot such as in the ankle, knee, hip or back.

X

X-ray: part of a group of technologies collectively known as radiology. Used to produce images from inside the human body.

V

Vascular: to do with the ateries and veins carrying blood around the body.

U

Ultrasound: A procedure that uses high frequency sound waves to produce images of body structures. Can also be used to provide treatment or assist with the healing process.

Urology: Medical treatment that concerns the urinary system.

Urticaria: A raised, itchy rash on the skin. Also known as hives, welts or nettle rash.

T

Telemedicine: the use of communication systems, such as television screens, to help provide diagnosis and medical advice when the patient doctor are not in the same place.

Teletherapy: see radiotherapy

Tertiary care: the third and highly specialised stage of treatment, usually provided in a hospital centre which may not be local. See also primary care and secondary care.

Thrombolysis: the dissolving of a blood clot.

Trauma: the effect on the body of a wound or violent impact.

Triage: a system which sorts medical cases in order of urgency to determine how quickly patients receive treatment, for instance in accident and emergency departments.

S

Secondary care: the second stage of treatment when you are ill and usually provided by a hospital. See also primary care and tertiary care.

Sepsis: Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs.

Sickle cell disease: A serious inherited blood disorder where the red blood cells develop abnormally.

Spinal block: This is a alternative to general anaesthesia when the surgical site is located on the lower extremities, perineum (eg, surgery on the genitalia or anus), or lower abdominal area.

Stroke: Caused when there is interruption of the blood supply to the brain, which is often the result of a blood clot in a cerebral (brain) artery (ischaemic stroke). It may also be caused by the rupturing of a blood vessel in or near the brain (haemorrhagic stroke).

Suture:  A stitch or series of stitches used to close a wound.

R

Radiology: the use of Xrays and radioactive substances for diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Radiotherapy: the use of high-energy radio-waves to destroy or shrink cancer tumours. Also known as teletherapy.

Renal: to do with the kidneys

Rotas: working schedules for groups of clinicians, making sure expertise is available 24 hours and 7 days a week.

P

Paracentesis: Puncture of the wall of a body cavity by a hollow needle in order to draw off excess fluid or to obtain diagnostic material (eg abdomen or chest).

Parenteral: The administration of drugs or other fluids into the body by any route except via the gastrointestinal tract (for example by intravenous or intramuscular injection or infusion).

Parenteral nutrition: The provision of carbohydrate, fat and proteins via intravenous administration (feeding).

Perioperative: The time before and after an operation.

Pharmacists: people who are qualified to dispense medicines on prescription and advise people about over-the-counter medical products.

Primary Care: the first stage of treatment when you are ill and usually provided by your GP or at a community clinic – see also secondary care and tertiary care.

Pulmonary: to do with the lungs.

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