Abdominal Ultrasound

Abdominal ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to produce two-dimensional images of the body's soft tissues, which are used for a variety of clinical applications, including diagnosis and guidance of treatment procedures. Ultrasound does not use ionizing radiation to produce images, and, in comparison to other diagnostic imaging modalities, it is inexpensive, safe, fast, and versatile.

Abdominal Wall Defect Repair

Abdominal wall defect repair is a surgery performed to correct one of two birth defects of the abdominal wall: gastroschisis or omphalocele. Depending on the defect treated, the procedure is also known as omphalocele repair/closure or gastroschisis repair/closure.


Also known as a tummy tuck, abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure in which excess skin and fat in the abdominal area is removed and the abdominal muscles are tightened.

Abortion, Induced

Induced abortion is the intentional termination of a pregnancy before the fetus can live independently. An abortion may be elective (based on a woman's personal choice) or therapeutic (to preserve the health or save the life of a pregnant woman).

Abscess Incision and Drainage

An abscess is an infected skin nodule containing pus. It may need to be drained via an incision (cut) if the pus does not resolve with treatment by antibiotics.


Acetaminophen is a medicine used to relieve pain and reduce fever.


An adenoidectomy is the surgical removal of the adenoids—small lumps of tissue that lie in the back of the throat behind the nose.

Admission to the Hospital

Hospital admission involves staying at a hospital for at least one night or more.


Adrenalectomy is the surgical removal of one or both adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are paired endocrine glands—one located above each kidney—that produce hormones such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, androgens, estrogens, aldosterone, and cortisol.

Adrenergic Drugs

Adrenergic amines are drugs that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system (also called the adrenergic nervous system). These compounds are also called sympathomimetic drugs.

Adult Day Care

Adult day care includes programs, services, and facilities designed to assist physically or mentally impaired adults remain in their communities. These are persons who might otherwise require institutional or long-term care and rehabilitation.

Ambulatory Surgery Centers

Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) are medical facilities that specialize in elective same-day or outpatient surgical procedures. They do not offer emergency care.


Amniocentesis is a procedure used to diagnose fetal defects in the early second trimester of pregnancy. A sample of the amniotic fluid, which surrounds a fetus in the womb, is collected through a pregnant woman's abdomen using a needle and syringe.


Amputation is the surgical removal of a limb or body part. It is performed to remove diseased tissue or relieve pain.

Anaerobic Bacteria Culture

An anaerobic bacteria culture is a method used to grow anaerobes from a clinical specimen. Obligate anaerobes are bacteria that can live only in the absence of oxygen.


The primary classes of analgesics are the narcotics, including additional agents that are chemically based on the morphine molecule but have minimal abuse potential; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including the salicylates; and acetaminophen. Other drugs, notably the tricyclic antidepressants and anti-epileptic agents such as gabapentin, have been used to relieve pain, particularly neurologic pain, but are not routinely classified as analgesics.

Analgesics, Opioid

Opioid analgesics, also known as narcotic analgesics, are pain relievers that act on the central nervous system. Like all narcotics, they may become habit-forming if used over long periods.

Anesthesia Evaluation

Anesthesia evaluation refers to the series of interviews, physical examinations, and laboratory tests that are generally used in North America and western Europe to assess the general fitness of patients scheduled for surgery and to determine the need for special precautions or additional testing. There is no universally accepted definition of anesthesia evaluation as of 2003; however, the Task Force on Preanesthesia Evaluation of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has tentatively defined it as "....the process of clinical assessment that precedes the delivery of anesthesia care for surgery and for non-surgical procedures." Anesthesia evaluation is usually discussed in the context of elective or scheduled surgical procedures rather than emergency surgery.

Anesthesia, General

General anesthesia is the induction of a balanced state of unconsciousness, accompanied by the absence of pain sensation and the paralysis of skeletal muscle over the entire body. It is induced through the administration of anesthetic drugs and is used during major surgery and other invasive surgical procedures.

Anesthesia, Local

Local, or regional, anesthesia involves the injection or application of an anesthetic drug to a specific area of the body. This is in contrast to general anesthesia, which provides anesthesia to the entire body and brain.

Anesthesiologist's Role

The anesthesiologist's role is the practice of medicine dedicated to the relief of pain and total care of the surgical patient before, during, and after surgery.


Angiography is the x-ray (radiographic) study of the blood vessels. An angiogram uses a radiopaque substance, or contrast medium, to make the blood vessels visible under x ray.


Angioplasty is a term describing a procedure used to widen vessels narrowed by stenoses or occlusions. There are various types of angioplasty.

Anterior Temporal Lobectomy

An anterior temporal lobectomy (ATL) is the complete removal of the anterior portion of the temporal lobe of the brain.

Antianxiety Drugs

Antianxiety drugs are medicines that calm and relax people with excessive anxiety, nervousness, or tension, or for short-term control of social phobia disorder or specific phobia disorder.


Antibiotics may be informally defined as the subgroup of anti-infectives derived from bacterial sources and used to treat bacterial infections.

Antibiotics, Topical

Topical antibiotics are medicines applied to the skin to kill or stop the growth of bacteria.

Anticoagulant and Antiplatelet Drugs

Anticoagulants are drugs used to prevent clot formation or to prevent a clot that has formed from enlarging. They inhibit clot formation by blocking the action of clotting factors or platelets.

Antihypertensive Drugs

All antihypertensive agents lower blood pressure, although the mechanisms of action vary greatly. Within this therapeutic class, there are several subgroups.

Antinausea Drugs

Antinausea drugs are medicines that control nausea—a feeling of sickness or queasiness in the stomach with an urge to vomit. These drugs also prevent or stop vomiting.


An antiseptic is a substance that inhibits the growth and development of microorganisms. For practical purposes, antiseptics are routinely thought of as topical agents, for application to skin, mucous membranes, and inanimate objects, although a formal definition includes agents that are used internally, such as the urinary tract antiseptics.


An antrectomy is the resection, or surgical removal, of a part of the stomach known as the antrum. The antrum is the lower third of the stomach that lies between the body of the stomach and the pyloric canal, which empties into the first part of the small intestine.

Aortic Aneurysm Repair

Aortic aneurysm repair involves the removal of a dilated (enlarged) portion of the aorta replaced by a woven or knitted Dacron graft to continue uninterrupted blood flow through the aorta and all branch vessels.

Aortic Valve Replacement

Aortic valve replacement is the insertion of a mechanical or tissue valve in place of the diseased native aortic valve.


Appendectomy is the surgical removal of the appendix. The appendix is a worm-shaped hollow pouch attached to the cecum, the beginning of the large intestine.

Arteriovenous Fistula

An arteriovenous fistula (AV fistula) is the connection of a vein and an artery, usually in the forearm, to allow access to the vascular system for hemodialysis, a procedure that performs the functions of the kidneys in people whose kidneys have failed. Connecting the vein and artery is a surgical procedure.


Arthrograpy is a procedure involving multiple x rays of a joint using a fluoroscope, a special piece of x-ray equipment that shows an immediate x-ray image. A contrast medium (in this case, a contrast iodine solution) injected into the joint area helps highlight structures of the joint.


Arthroplasty is surgery performed to relieve pain and restore range of motion by realigning or reconstructing a dysfunctional joint.

Arthroscopic Surgery

Arthroscopic surgery is a procedure that allows surgeons to visualize, diagnose, and treat joint problems. The name is derived from the Greek words arthron, joint, and skopein, to look at.

Artificial Sphincter Insertion

Artificial sphincter insertion surgery is the implantation of an artificial valve in the genitourinary tract or in the anal canal to restore continence and psychological well being to individuals with urinary or anal sphincter insufficiency that leads to severe urinary or fecal incontinence.

Aseptic Technique

Aseptic technique is a set of specific practices and procedures performed under carefully controlled conditions with the goal of minimizing contamination by pathogens.


Aspirin is a medication given to relieve pain and reduce fever. The name "aspirin" was originally a trademark, first used when the drug was introduced in Europe in 1899.

Autologous Blood Donation

Autologous blood donation is the process of donating one's own blood prior to an elective surgical or medical procedure to avoid or reduce the need for an allogeneic blood transfusion (from a volunteer blood donor).

Axillary Dissection

Axillary dissection is a surgical procedure that incises (opens) the armpit (axilla or axillary) to identify, examine, or remove lymph nodes (small glands, part of the lymphatic system, which filters cellular fluids).

Balloon Valvuloplasty

Balloon valvuloplasty, also called percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty, is a surgical procedure used to open a narrowed heart valve. The procedure is sometimes referred to as balloon enlargement of a narrowed heart valve.

Bandages and Dressings

Bandages and dressings are both used in wound management. A bandage is a piece of cloth or other material used to bind or wrap a diseased or injured part of the body.

Bankart Procedure

A Bankart procedure, also known as a Broca-Perthes-Bankart procedure, is a surgical technique for the repair of recurrent shoulder joint dislocations. In the procedure, the torn ligaments are re-attached to the proper place in the shoulder joint, with the goal of restoring normal function.


Barbiturates are medicines that act on the central nervous system. They cause drowsiness and can control seizures.

Barium Enema

A barium enema, also known as a lower GI (gastrointestinal) exam, is a test that uses x-ray examination to view the large intestine. There are two types of tests: the single-contrast technique, where barium sulfate is injected into the rectum to gain a profile view of the large intestine, and the double-contrast (or "air contrast") technique, where air and barium are inserted into the rectum.


Bedsores, also called decubitus ulcers, pressure ulcers, or pressure sores, begin as tender, inflamed patches that develop when a person's weight rests against a hard surface, exerting pressure on the skin and soft tissue over bony parts of the body. For example, skin covering a weight-bearing part of the body, such as a knee or hip, is pressed between a bone and a bed, chair, another body part, splint, or other hard object.

Biliary Stenting

A biliary stent is a plastic or metal tube that is inserted into a bile duct to relieve narrowing of the duct (also called bile duct stricture).

Bispectral Index

The bispectral index (BIS) is one of several systems used in anesthesiology as of 2003 to measure the effects of specific anesthetic drugs on the brain and to track changes in the patient's level of sedation or hypnosis. In technical terms, the bispectral index itself is a complex mathematical algorithm that allows a computer inside an anesthesia monitor to analyze data from a patient's electroencephalogram (EEG) during surgery.

Bladder Augmentation

Bladder augmentation, also known as augmentation cystoplasty, is reconstructive surgery to increase the reservoir capacity of the bladder. The procedure is very common and involves tissue grafts (anastomosis) from a section of the small intestine (ileum), stomach, or other substitutes that are attached to the urinary bladder by sewing or stapling.


Blepharoplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure that removes fat deposits, excess tissue, or muscle from the eyelids to improve the appearance of the eyes.

Blood Donation and Registry

Blood donation, also called blood banking, refers to the process of collecting, testing, preparing, and storing whole blood and blood components intended primarily for transfusion. Blood donors are typically unpaid volunteers, but they may also be paid by commercial blood donation and processing enterprises, such as independent blood banks and donor centers.

Blood Pressure Measurement

Blood pressure measurement is the non-invasive measurement of the pressure exerted by the circulating blood on the walls of the body's arteries.

Blood Salvage

Blood salvage is the recovery of a patient's own blood from the surgical site to be readministered to the patient.

Bloodless Surgery

Bloodless surgery is an approach to health care that began in the 1960s as simple avoidance of the use of transfused blood. It has grown over the last four decades, however, to include changed attitudes toward blood conservation as well as new technologies that minimize the need for transfusions during surgery.

Bone Grafting

Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that places new bone or a replacement material into spaces between or around broken bone (fractures) or in holes in bone (defects) to aid in healing.

Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy

Bone marrow aspiration, also called bone marrow sampling, is the removal by suction of the soft, spongy semisolid tissue (marrow) that fills the inside of the long and flat bones. Bone marrow biopsy, or needle core biopsy, is the removal of a small piece (about 0.75 X 0.06 in, or 2 X 0.16 cm) of intact bone marrow.

Bone Marrow Transplantation

The bone marrow—the sponge-like tissue found in the center of certain bones—contains stem cells that are the precursors of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. These blood cells are vital for normal body functions, such as oxygen transport, defense against infection and disease, and clotting.

Bone X Rays

Bone x rays are a diagnostic imaging test in which ionizing radiation passing through the bones enables an image to be produced on film.

Bowel Resection

Bowel resection is a surgical procedure in which a diseased part of the large intestine is removed. The procedure is also known as colectomy, colon removal, colon resection, or resection of part of the large intestine.

Breast Biopsy

A breast biopsy is the removal of breast tissue for examination by a pathologist. This can be accomplished surgically or by extracting, or withdrawing, tissue through a needle.

Breast Implants

Breast implantation is a surgical procedure for enlarging, or augmenting, the breast. Implants are breast-shaped pouches that are saccular in shape, made of a silicone outer shell, and filled with silicone gel or saline (salt water), are used.

Breast Reconstruction

Breast reconstruction is a series of surgical procedures performed to recreate a breast. Reconstructions are commonly begun after portions of one or both breasts are removed as a treatment for breast cancer.

Breast Reduction

Breast reduction is a surgical procedure performed to decrease the size of the breasts.


Bronchoscopy is a procedure in which a hollow, flexible tube called a bronchoscope is inserted into the airways through the nose or mouth to provide a view of the tracheobronchial tree. It can also be used to collect bronchial and/or lung secretions and to perform tissue biopsy.


A bunionectomy is a surgical procedure to excise, or remove, a bunion. A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe and is comprised of bone and soft tissue.

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization (also called heart catheterization) is a diagnostic and occasionally therapeutic procedure that allows a comprehensive examination of the heart and surrounding blood vessels. It enables the physician to take angiograms, record blood flow, calculate cardiac output and vascular resistance, perform an endomyocardial biopsy, and evaluate the heart's electrical activity.

Cardiac Marker Tests

Cardiac marker tests identify blood chemicals associated with myocardial infarction (MI), commonly known as a heart attack. The myocardium is the middle layer of the heart wall composed of heart muscle.

Cardiac Monitor

The cardiac monitor is a device that shows the electrical and pressure waveforms of the cardiovascular system for measurement and treatment. Parameters specific to respiratory function can also be measured.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, commonly called CPR, combines rescue breathing (one person breathing into another person) and chest compression in a lifesaving procedure performed when a person has stopped breathing or a person's heart has stopped beating.


Cardioversion refers to the process of restoring the heart's normal rhythm by applying a controlled electric shock to the exterior of the chest. Abnormal heart rhythms are called arrhythmias or dysrhythmias.

Carotid Endarterectomy

Carotid endarterectomy (CEA) is a surgical procedure that is performed to remove deposits of fat, called plaque, from the carotid arteries in the neck. These two main arteries, one on each side of the neck, deliver blood and oxygen to the brain.

Carpal Tunnel Release

A carpal tunnel release is a surgical procedure performed to relieve pressure on the nerve located inside the carpal tunnel, an area in the wrist that supplies nerve function to the fingers. The condition for which the release is performed is called carpal tunnel syndrome.

Catheterization, Female

Urinary catheterization is the insertion of a catheter through the urethra into the urinary bladder for withdrawal of urine. Straight catheters are used for intermittent withdrawals, while indwelling (Foley) catheters are inserted and retained in the bladder for continuous drainage of urine into a closed system.

Catheterization, Male

Urinary catheterization is the insertion of a catheter through the urethra into the urinary bladder for withdrawal of urine. Straight catheters are used for intermittent withdrawals, while indwelling (Foley) catheters are inserted and retained in the bladder for continuous drainage of urine into a closed system.


Cephalosporins are a type of antibiotic, or medicines that kill bacteria or prevent their growth.

Cerebral Aneurysm Repair

Cerebral aneurysm repair involves corrective treatment of an abnormal blood-filled sac formed by localized expansion of an artery or vein within the brain. These sacs tend to form at the juncture between a primary vessel and a branch.