Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Glossary of Terms for Parents

I have defined these terms in which I hope is understandable to non-medical people. They are general to give people a starting place for understanding very technical information. If you see any errors in this section, please bring it to my attention. Also, if you see other terms anywhere in my blog, which are difficult to understand, please email me.

ALT - An enzyme produced in liver cells that leaks out into the blood when liver damage occurs.

ammonia test - measures the amount of ammonia in the blood. Most ammonia in the body forms when
protein is broken down by bacteria in the intestines. The liver normally converts ammonia into urea, which is then eliminated in urine.
Ammonia levels in the blood rise when the liver is not able to convert ammonia to urea. This may be caused by
cirrhosis or severe hepatitis.

anastomosis – describes the interconnection between blood vessels

anomaly – deviation from normal

arterial blood gases -
an arterial blood gas (ABG) test measures the acidity (pH) and the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. This test is used to check how well your lungs are able to move oxygen into the blood and remove carbon dioxide from the blood.

artery - a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body

AST - an enzyme released from liver cells. A blood test that reveals AST levels above normal may indicate liver damage.

bile duct - a duct that carries bile from the liver to the intestine. This term may refer to the hepatic, cystic or common bile duct.

biliary atresia - a
rare condition in newborn infants in which the common bile duct between the liver and the small intestine is blocked or absent, causing jaundice.

carcinoma – a new growth or malignant tumor that can occur throughout the body (eg hepatocellular carcinoma refers to liver cancer).

cardiac anomalies – congenital heart defects - abnormalities with the heart’s structure that are present at birth.

chronic- being long-lasting and recurrent or characterized by long suffering; "chronic indigestion"

congenital – means “existing at birth” or “born with something”

CT scan- computed tomography - a type of x-ray that takes cross-sections of the body (like slices). Much more precise than typical x-rays.

hepatic artery - the vessel that carries blood from the heart to the liver. The portal vein is the other main source of blood flow to the liver.

hepatic vein – in human anatomy, the hepatic veins are the blood vessels that drain de-oxygenated blood from the liver and blood cleaned by the liver (from the stomach, pancreas, small intestine and colon) into the inferior vena cava.

hepatitis – an inflammation of the liver that may be caused by several agents, including viruses, toxins, and drugs. Acute hepatitis is typically characterized by fever, jaundice, fatigue, abdominal tenderness, and elevated liver enzymes.

hyperammonemia - a metabolic disturbance characterized by an excess of ammonia in the blood.

hypoglycemia – refers to “low blood sugar.” Hypoglycemia is medically defined as a blood sugar level below a level of approximately 70.

inferior vena cava - the inferior vena cava (or IVC) is the large vein that carries de-oxygenated blood from the lower half of the body into the heart.

lactulose – a synthetic sugar used in the treatment of constipation and hepatic encephalopathy, a complication of liver disease.

liver - the largest gland in the body—located in the upper right side of the abdomen—which acts as a filter to remove toxins (harmful substances) and waste products from the blood

liver enzymes - enzymes known as aminotransferases, including aspartate (AST) and alanine (ALT), are released when the liver is damaged.

liver disease - this term applies to many diseases and disorders that cause the liver to function improperly or cease functioning.

liver transplant - a liver transplant operation removes the damaged liver and replaces it with a new healthy liver from a donor.

liver tumor or hepatic tumor - or growths on or in the
liver (medical terms pertaining to the liver often start in hepato- or hepatic from the Greek word for liver, hepar). These growths can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

malrotation - abnormal position of the kidney-Ectopic, Pelvic or Intrathoracic

oxygen saturation - saturation of hemoglobin of blood, usually 100% in fit patients at sea level, lower in ill individuals, smokers and at altitudes.

portal vein - a large vein which carries the major blood supply to the liver from the intestine. Carries nutrients resulting from digestion of food.

portosystemic shunt - (PSS), also known as a liver shunt, is a bypass of the liver by the body's circulatory system.

polysplenia - is a congenital disease manifested by multiple small accessory
Associated conditions: there are frequent associated congenital anomalies all related to deviations in the development of anatomical asymmetries in early embryonic stages. These conditions considered together are called "polysplenia syndrome".
Associated conditions include
heterotaxy syndrome, intestinal malrotation, situs inversus, biliary atresia, and the range of congenital cardiac malformations.
Although present, the multiple small spleens are ineffective; this is termed
functional asplenia.

splanchnic - relating to an internal organ in the body, especially one located in the trunk (heart, liver, intestine).

ultrasound (US) – a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function, and to assess blood flow through various vessels.

vein - a blood vessel that carries blood toward the heart.