Page 1 of 8
Glossary – Part 1: Clinical Terms
th(last updated 24 May 2006)
A local accumulation of pus anywhere in the body. The
Abscess following are some examples of abscesses, e.g. skin,
An acute illness caused by a high dose of penetrating
radiation to most or all of the body in a short time, usually a
matter of minutes. E.g. survivors of the Hiroshima and Acute radiation syndrome Nagasaki, Chernobyl. The acute symptoms include: nausea,
vomiting, and possibly diarrhoea that occur from minutes to
days following exposure.
Accident and Emergency Departments in hospitals which deal with people who need
A&E emergency treatment because of sudden illness or injury.
Exaggerated or pathological reaction (as by sneezing,
respiratory embarrassment, itching, or skin rashes) to Allergy substances, situations, or physical states that are without
comparable effect on the average individual
is a progressive disease of the brain that is characterized
by impairment of memory and a disturbance in at least one Alzheimer's disease other thinking function (e.g. language or perception of
A localized widening (dilatation) of an artery, vein, or the
Aneurysm heart. At the area of an aneurysm, there is typically a bulge
and the wall is weakened and may rupture.
Heart disease caused by narrowing of heart blood vessels Angina pectoris (coronary arteries), which causes chest pain.
X-ray examination of blood vessels. Angiography
A procedure carried out under local anaesthesia for Angioplasty unblocking blood vessels which supply the heart. An alternative to CABG.
An immunoglobulin, a specialized immune protein, produced
because of the introduction of an antigen into the body, and Antibody which possesses the remarkable ability to combine with the
very antigen that triggered its production.
Treatment to prevent blood clots. It may be chronic (eg.
wharfarin for people with atrial fibrillation). It may be acute Anticoagulation (eg. following an MI)
Page 2 of 8
is a joint disorder, of one or more joints, featuring Arthritis inflammation that is frequently accompanied by joint pain. It
is classified as one of the rheumatic diseases
Inspection of a joint through a small incision using an Arthroscopy instrument like a telescope.
Arthroscopy The insertion of a telescope into joints to diagnose, and
sometimes treat, abnormalities.
A common disorder in which chronic inflammation of the
Asthma bronchial tubes (bronchi) makes them swell, narrowing the
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart beat which can lead to Atrial fibrillation blood clots and strokes.
Autism is a developmental disorder which normally shows before
the age of 3 years.
Bacteremia - the presence of living bacteria in the circulating blood
Is a procedure in which a small piece of body tissue is
Biopsy removed for the purpose of microscopic examination.
The calculated number of white or red blood cells (WBCs or Blood count RBCs) in a cubic millimetre of blood. Blood lipids Fats in the bloodstream, include, e.g. low/high density lipids,
Bronchoscopy A procedure to look into the windpipe and bronchial tubes.
Treatment to restore health, normal function and Cardiac rehabilitation independence following an episode of heart disease. Cataract Cloudiness/Opaqueness in the lens of the eye causing
Disorder of the blood vessels in the brain, such as thickened blood vessel walls or blocked blood vessels which means Cerebrovascular disease that the blood supply to parts of the brain fails. e.g stroke
Treatment of disease with chemicals such as cancer Chemotherapy destroying drugs.
Disease of the heart and blood vessels of the body, causing Circulatory disease problems in blood circulation.
Page 3 of 8
liver condition characterized by irreversible scarring of the
liver, comonlu caused by alcohol and viral hepatitis B and
C. Can cause yellowing of the skin (jaundice), itching, and
fatigue. Complications of cirrhosis include mental confusion,
Cirrhosis coma, fluid accumulation (ascites), internal bleeding, and
kidney failure. Treatment of cirrhosis is designed to limit any
further damage to the liver as well as complications. Liver
transplantation is becoming an important option for patients
with advanced cirrhosis.
Inflammation of the large intestine (the colon). There are
many forms of colitis, including ulcerative, Crohn's,
infectious, pseudomembranous, and spastic. symptoms -
intermittent rectal bleeding, crampy abdominal pain Colitis anddiarrhea. Long-standing ulcerative colitis increases the
risk for colon cancer. Ulcerative colitis can also be
associated with inflammation in joints, spine, skin, eyes, the
liver and its bile ducts.
A procedure for examining inside the main part of the large
Colonoscopy intestine using a flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end
introduced through the anus.
Diseases which can be transmitted from one person to Communicable disease another; often called infectious or contagious diseases. Consultant in Communicable Public Health consultant which special responsibility for Disease Control control of communicable diseases and dealing with
(CCDC) environmental hazards to health.
Heart disease caused by poor circulation of blood to the
heart muscle because the blood vessels have become
Coronary heart disease blocked. Forms - heart attack ; chest pain (angina). Also
(CHD) (atherosclerosis or called. Myocardial infarction (MI) tends to occur when a bit
ischaemic heart disease) of sclerosed artery (clot) breaks off and gets stuck in
narrowest part of vessel. This blocks oxygen to the heart
and causes an infarction (death of that tissue).
Replacement of poor blood supply to the heart by Coronary revascularisation unblocking narrowed blood vessels.
an operation where blockages in narrowed coronary arteries Coronary artery bypass (arteries that feed the heart muscle) are bypassed with new
surgery channels (similar to a detour around road works). These
new channels are pieces of your own spare arteries and
veins taken from various sites around ones body (e.g. back
of the breastbone, arm and leg).
Page 4 of 8
is the most common serious inherited (genetic) disorder. It
causes problems with breathing and the digestive system.
Lung problems are common because of thick mucous in the
respiratory system. Digestive problems are caused by Cystic fibrosis missing enzymes which absorb food. Symptoms include
strange faeces at birth, coughing, salty skin and growth
Cystoscopy The insertion of a telescope into the bladder to diagnose,
and sometimes treat, abnormalities.
Apparatus used to give a controlled electric shock to restore Defibrillator normal heartbeat if the heart has stopped beating.
an acquired, usually persistent impairment of intellectual
function, including memory problems and at least one of the
following - language impairment, visuospatial (orientation) Dementia problems, difficulties with calculations, reasoning, and
abstraction. Despite these impairments, the person remains
Dermatology Medical specialism in skin disorders.
Medical specialism/specialist in diabetes. Diabetology/Diabetologist
A genetic disease associated primarily with the maternal
age, is when the cells have 22 normal pairs (instead of 23)
of chromosomes but 3 chromosomes of the number 21.
Physical characteristics - Short stature with height and skull Downs syndrome circumference less than the normal populations, with facial,
hands features, and cardiac malformations, intestine and
some degree of intellectual underdevelopment. Emergency contraception Contraceptive medications used within 72 hrs.
Using an instrument to obtain a view of the inside of the
body. The instrument is usually a tube with a light at the Endoscopy end and a means of transmitting the image to the examiner.
Procedure to examine inside the stomach using a flexible Gastroscopy tube with a tiny camera on the end. Genitourinary Medicine Medical specialty concerned with sexually transmitted
is a pressure build up in the eye which damages the optic
Glaucoma nerve that creates blind areas in the peripheral vision. Can
lead to tunnel vision and eventually blindness. It mainly
affects older people over the age of 40.
Haematology The study of blood and blood disorders.
Page 5 of 8
is most often viral, due to infection with one of the hepatitis
Hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, and E) or another virus. The main non-
viral causes of hepatitis are alcohol and drugs.
Death of the whole or part of an organ when its blood supply
is cut off e.g. myocardial infarction is the death of heart Infarction muscle (myocardium) when a blood clot obstructs the flow of
blood to the heart muscle.
any of several acute highly contagious respiratory diseases influenza caused by three strains of virus, influenza A, B and C.
a highly variable mild to fulminant influenza typically of
domestic and wild birds which do not normally infect
humans but which may mutate and be transmitted to other Influenza, Avian vertebrates (as humans) causing epidemics -- called also
bird flu, fowl plague. characterized usually by respiratory
but sometimes by gastrointestinal, urogenital symptoms.
A hormone produced by the pancreas which is important for Insulin regulating the levels of sugar in the blood.
Ischaemic Heart Disease Another term for coronary heart disease (see CHD)
The weight of a baby at birth of less than 2,500 grams. High rates of low birth weight babies in a population indicate poor Low birth weight health overall.
A malignant tumour of the lymph nodes, which are small
Lymphoma swellings, part of the lymphatic system which conveys fluids
round the body.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer. Melanoma
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, mostly caused by exposure Mesothelioma to asbestos at work.
Methadone A drug used to treat heroin addiction.
To do with muscles and bones. Musculo-skeletal
Long-term mental or behavioural problems, including anxiety Neurotic disorders and depression.
Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is a common cancer which Non-Hodgkin lymphoma usually starts in the lymph nodes.
Are infections that have been acquired while the patient was
in hospital (they may occur during or after hospitalisation, as Nosocomial infection long as the incubation period was while patient was
hospitalised). Common are urinary, skin, but also sepsis,etc
Oncology The study and practice of treating tumours.
Page 6 of 8
The study and practice of treating tumours/specialist in Oncology/oncologist treating tumours.
are infections caused by organisms that usually do not
cause disease in a person with a healthy immune system,
but can affect people with a poorly functioning or
suppressed immune system. They need an "opportunity" to
Opportunistic infection infect a person. E.g. infections in people with HIV/AIDS,
undergoing radio/chemotherapy, high dozes of
corticosteroids. Can be bacterial (TB, syphilis,), viral(CMV,
Herpesoster), fungal(coccidiomycosis, candidiazis), potozoal
Ortho-geriatrics A branch of health care which deals with elderly people who
have bone or joint problems.
A disease in which the bones lose density of bone&calcium Osteoporosis and become weakened, fragile and susceptible to fractures. Postmenopausal women at higher risk than men.
Care which gives relief from symptoms but does not actually
cure disease, such as care given to people who are Palliative care terminally ill.
Palpitations are an awareness of your own heartbeat,
usually because the heartbeat seems irregular, or unusually Palpitations rapid, or in some other way "different" to normal. Parkinson's disease A disease of the brain in which sufferers become slower and
progressively less mobile. Per Cutaneous Coronary A non-surgical method of pushing a wire and a very small
Angioplasty balloon along blood vessels of the heart to open up parts
PTCA which have become blocked.
Disease affecting the parts of the nervous system lying
Peripheral neuropathy outside the brain and spinal chord, usually causing
weakness and numbness.
Disease of blood vessels near the surface of the body, away Peripheral vascular disease from the main veins and arteries.
a disease of the lungs that is characterized especially by
inflammation and consolidation of lung tissue, accompanied
Pneumonia by fever, chills, cough, and difficulty in breathing, and is
caused chiefly by infection, forms BRONCHOPNEUMONIA,
LOBAR PNEUMONIA, PRIMARY ATYPICAL PNEUMONIA
Most common forms are pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis.
All have high death rate. Vaccination is provided for children Pneumococcal infection under 5yrs and elderly +65yrs.
Disease of blood vessels near the surface of the body. (eg. Peripheral vascular disease fingers, toes, nose, cheeks,…)
Page 7 of 8 Treatment of the feet (chiropody). Podiatry
An agreed treatment and care process which everyone Protocol-driven chronic follows when caring for people with chronic diseases such disease management as asthma.
Pulmonary disease Disease of the lungs.
A genetic condition that appears only in individuals who
have received two copies of the bad gene, one copy from
each parent. e.g. Cystic fibrosis. Carriers have only one
copy of the gene.
e.g. If both parents are carriers, there is a 25% chance of a Recessive, autosomal child inheriting both abnormal genes and, consequently,
developing the disease. There is a 50% chance of a child
inheriting only one abnormal gene and of being a carrier,
like the parents, and there is a 25% chance of the child
inheriting both normal genes.
relating to, involving, affecting, or located in the region of the Renal kidneys (Nephric)
Revascularisation Surgery to replace or unblock diseased blood vessels. A group of bacteria that cause typhoid fever and a number
Salmonella of other illnesses, including food poisoning, gastroenteritis
and enteric fever from contaminated food products. is an infection that occurs during or after treatment of
another, already existing infection. It may result from the treatment itself or from alterations in the immune Secondary infection system.e.g. bacterial infections during/following viral ones,
e.g. bacterial tonsillitis/pneumonia following viral common
cold; yeast infections following a.b. treatment Group of streptococci that causes certain infections (as
septicaemia, pneumonia, and meningitis). Most common in
Streptococcus pneumoniae children under 5 and elderly (65+) . relevant as in
vaccination programme for children and older people; polysaccharide and conjugate vacc available. A stroke occurs when the part of the brain tissue dies as a
Stroke result of shortage in the blood supply, caused by either a
blockage of or haemorrhage (bleeding) from a blood vessel.
A procedure for examining inside part of the large intestine
(the interior of the rectum and the sigmoid colon) using a Sigmoidoscopy flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end introduced
through the anus.
A combination of signs and/or symptoms that forms a Syndrome distinct picture indicative of a particular disorder.
Page 8 of 8 Transient Ischaemic Attack Temporary disruption of blood circulation to part of the brain,
(TIA) often called a “mini stroke”.
A system of sorting patients according to their illness or
injuries so that treatment priorities can be allocated and Triage patients steered towards the most appropriate health care
A highly contagious infection caused by Mycobacterium
tuberculosis. Diagnosis may be made by skin test, which if
positive should will be followed by a chest X-ray to
determine the status (active or dormant) of the infection.
more common in people with immune system problems, Tuberculosis such as AIDS and some regions (Africa, Asia, ex- USSR) ,
than in the. Treatment -course of antibiotics for six months.
It is important to complete the entire treatment, both to
prevent reoccurrence and to prevent the development of
antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis. Urethral catheterisation of Procedure of inserting a flexible tube into the bladder of
bladder people who cannot pass urine to allow urine to drain out. Vascular To do with blood vessels.
Surgical operation to sterilise men. Vasectomy
is the entry of air into the venous system as a consequence
of trauma or iatrogenic complications (especially central Venous air embolism (VAE) venous [CV] cannulation or pressurized intravenous infusion
systems). It also can occur following various surgical