Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure in which a laparoscope, a telescope-like instrument, is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision and used to diagnose or treat various diseases. Specifically, laparoscopy may be used to diagnose and treat endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows elsewhere in the body, usually in the abdominal cavity.
A laparotomy is a large incision made into the abdomen. Exploratory laparotomy is used to visualize and examine the structures inside of the abdominal cavity.
A laryngectomy is the partial or complete surgical removal of the voice box (larynx).
Laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) is a non-reversible refractive procedure performed by ophthalmologists to correct myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism. The surgeon uses an excimer laser to cut or reshape the cornea so that light will focus properly on the retina.
Laser iridotomy is a surgical procedure that is performed on the eye to treat angle closure glaucoma, a condition of increased pressure in the front chamber (anterior chamber) that is caused by sudden (acute) or slowly progressive (chronic) blockage of the normal circulation of fluid within the eye. The block occurs at the angle of the anterior chamber that is formed by the junction of the cornea with the iris.
Laser posterior capsulotomy, or YAG laser capsulotomy, is a noninvasive procedure performed on the eye to remove the opacification (cloudiness) that develops on the posterior capsule of the lens of the eye after extraction of a cataract. This differs from the anterior capsulotomy that the surgeon makes during cataract extraction to remove a cataract and implant an intraocular lens (IOL).
Laser skin resurfacing involves the application of laser light to the skin in order to remove fine wrinkles and tighten the skin surface. It is most often used on the skin of the face.
The term laser means light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, and it uses a laser light source (laser beam) to remove tissues that are diseased or to treat blood vessels that are bleeding. Laser beams are strong beams of light produced by electrically stimulating a particular material.
Laxatives are used to treat constipation—the passage of small amounts of hard, dry stools, usually fewer than three times a week. Before recommending use of laxatives, differential diagnosis should be performed.
Leg lengthening or shortening involves a variety of surgical procedures used to correct legs of unequal lengths, a condition referred to as limb length discrepancy (LLD). LLD occurs because a leg bone grows more slowly in one leg than on the other leg.
Limb salvage surgery is a type of surgery primarily performed to remove bone and soft-tissue cancers occurring in limbs in order to avoid amputation.
Lipid tests are routinely performed on plasma, which is the liquid part of blood without the blood cells. Lipids themselves are a group of organic compounds that are greasy and cannot be dissolved in water, although they can be dissolved in alcohol.
Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty or suction-assisted lipectomy, is cosmetic surgery performed to remove unwanted deposits of fat from under the skin. The surgeon sculpts and re-contours a person's body by removing excess fat deposits that have been resistant to reduction by diet or exercise.
Lithotripsy is the use of high-energy shock waves to fragment and disintegrate kidney stones. The shock wave, created by using a high-voltage spark or an electromagnetic impulse outside of the body, is focused on the stone.
A liver biopsy is a medical procedure performed to obtain a small piece of liver tissue for diagnostic testing. The sample is examined under a microscope by a pathologist, a doctor who specializes in the effects of disease on body tissues; in this case, to detect abnormalities of the liver.
Liver function tests, or LFTs, include tests that are routinely measured in all clinical laboratories. LFTs include bilirubin, a compound formed by the breakdown of hemoglobin; ammonia, a breakdown product of protein that is normally converted into urea by the liver before being excreted by the kidneys; proteins that are made by the liver including total protein, albumin, prothrombin, and fibrinogen; cholesterol and triglycerides, which are made and excreted via the liver; and the enzymes alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH).
Liver transplantation is a surgery that removes a diseased liver and replaces it with a healthy donor liver.
A living will is a legal document in which patients instruct health-care providers about their wishes with respect to medical procedures should they become incapacitated. The living will and the durable medical power of attorney are two federally mandated parts of what is known as advanced medical directives.
A lobectomy is the removal of a lobe, or section, of the lung.
Long-term care (LTC) insurance provides for a person's care in cases of chronic illness or disability. Policies for LTC provide insurance coverage for times when an individual cannot independently manage the essential activities of daily living (ADLs).
Lumpectomy is a type of surgery for breast cancer. It is considered "breast-conserving" surgery because only the malignant tumor and a surrounding margin of normal breast tissue are removed.
Lung biopsy is a procedure for obtaining a small sample of lung tissue for examination. The tissue is usually examined under a microscope, and may be sent to a microbiological laboratory for culture.
Lung transplantation involves removal of one or both diseased lungs from a patient and the replacement of the lungs with healthy organs from a donor. Lung transplantation may refer to single, double, or even heart-lung transplantation.
Lymphadenectomy, also called lymph node dissection, is a surgical procedure in which lymph glands are removed from the body and examined for the presence of cancerous cells. A limited or modified lymphadenectomy removes only some of the lymph nodes in the area around a tumor; a total or radical lymphadenectomy removes all of the lymph nodes in the area.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a unique and versatile medical imaging diagnostic tool. Using MRI, physicians obtain highly refined images of the body's interior.
Mammography is the study of the breast using x rays. The actual test is called a mammogram.
Managed care plans are health-care delivery systems that integrate the financing and delivery of health care. Managed care organizations generally negotiate agreements with providers to offer packaged health care benefits to covered individuals.
A mastoidectomy is a surgical procedure that removes an infected portion of the mastoid bone when medical treatment is not effective.
The Maze procedure, also known as the Cox-Maze procedure, is a surgical treatment for chronic atrial fibrillation. The procedure restores the heart's normal rhythm by surgically interrupting the conduction of abnormal impulses.
Mechanical circulatory support is used to treat patients with advanced heart failure. A mechanical pump is surgically implanted to provide pulsatile or non-pulsatile flow of blood to supplement or replace the blood flow generated by the native heart.
Mechanical ventilation is the use of a mechanical device (machine) to inflate and deflate the lungs.
Meckel's diverticulectomy is a surgical procedure that isolates and removes an abnormal diverticulum (Meckel's diverticulum) or pouch, as well as surrounding tissue, in the lining of the small intestine. It is performed to remove an obstruction, adhesions, infection, or inflammation.
Mediastinoscopy is a surgical procedure that allows physicians to view areas of the mediastinum, the cavity behind the sternum (breastbone) that lies between the lungs. The organs in the mediastinum include the heart and its vessels, the lymph nodes, trachea, esophagus, and thymus.
Medicaid is a federal-state entitlement program for low-income citizens of the United States. The Medicaid program is part of Title XIX of the Social Security Act Amendment that became law in 1965.
A medical chart is a confidential document that contains detailed and comprehensive information on an individual and the care experience related to that person.
The subject of medical errors is not a new one. However, it did not come to widespread attention in the United States until the 1990s, when government-sponsored research about the problem was undertaken by two physicians, Lucian Leape and David Bates.
Medicare is a national health insurance program created and administered by the federal government in the United States to address the medical needs of older American citizens. Medicare is available to U.S.
A meningocele repair is a surgical procedure performed to repair an abnormal opening in the spinal column (called spina bifida) by draining excess fluid and closing the opening.
Mentoplasty is a term that refers to plastic surgery procedures for the chin. It comes from the Latin word mentum, which means chin, and the Greek verb plassein, which means "to form" or "to shape." Mentoplasty is also known as genioplasty or chinplasty.
Microsurgery is surgery that is performed on very small structures, such as blood vessels and nerves, with specialized instruments under a microscope.
Minimally invasive heart surgery refers to surgery performed on the beating heart to provide coronary artery bypass grafting. This technique is often referred to as MIDCAB, minimally invasive direct coronary artery bypass; or OPCAB, off-pump CABG.
Mitral valve repair is a surgical procedure used to improve the function of a stenotic (narrowed), prolapsed, or insufficient mitral valve of the heart.
Mitral valve replacement is a surgical procedure in which the diseased mitral valve of the heart is replaced by a mechanical or biological tissue valve.
A surgical procedure that removes the breast, surrounding tissue, and nearby lymph nodes that are affected by cancer.
Mohs surgery, also called Mohs micrographic surgery, is a precise surgical technique that is used to remove all parts of cancerous skin tumors, while preserving as much healthy tissue as possible.
The multiple-gated acquisition (MUGA) scan, also called a cardiac blood pool study, is a non-invasive nuclear medicine test that enables clinicians to obtain information about heart muscle activity. The scan displays the distribution of a radioactive tracer in the heart.
Skeletal muscle relaxants are drugs that relax striated muscles (those that control the skeleton). They are a separate class of drugs from the muscle relaxant drugs used during intubations and surgery to reduce the need for anesthesia and facilitate intubation.
Myelography is an x-ray examination of the spinal canal. A contrast agent is injected through a needle into the space around the spinal cord to display the spinal cord, spinal canal, and nerve roots on an x ray.
Myocardial resection is a surgical procedure in which a portion of the heart muscle is removed.
Myomectomy is the removal of fibroids (non-cancerous tumors) from the wall of the uterus. Myomectomy is the preferred treatment for symptomatic fibroids in women who want to keep their uterus.
Myringotomy is a surgical procedure in which a small incision is made in the eardrum (the tympanic membrane), usually in both ears. The English word is derived from myringa, modern Latin for drum membrane, and tome, Greek for cutting.
Necessary surgery is a term that refers both to a medical requirement for the surgery determined by a physician and to an insurance plan's inclusion of the surgery in the covered conditions. For the most part, these two ways of talking about required surgery coincide.
Needle bladder neck suspension, also known as needle suspension, or paravaginal surgery, is performed to support the hypermobile, or moveable urethra using sutures to attach it to tissues covering the pelvic floor. Of the three popular surgical procedures for urethral instability and its results in urinary stress incontinence, needle bladder neck suspension is the quickest and easiest to perform.
A nephrectomy is a surgical procedure for the removal of a kidney or section of a kidney.
Percutaneous nephrolithotomy, or PCNL, is a procedure for removing medium-sized or larger renal calculi (kidney stones) from the patient's urinary tract by means of an nephroscope passed into the kidney through a track created in the patient's back. PCNL was first performed in Sweden in 1973 as a less invasive alternative to open surgery on the kidneys.
A nephrostomy is a surgical procedure by which a tube, stent, or catheter is inserted through the skin and into the kidney.
Neurosurgery is a specialized field of surgery for the treatment of diseases or conditions of the central nervous system (CNS) and spine.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medications other than corticosteroids that relieve pain, swelling, stiffness, and inflammation.
A nursing home is a long-term care facility licensed by the state that offers 24-hour room and board and health care services, including basic and skilled nursing care, rehabilitation, and a full range of other therapies, treatments, and programs. People who live in nursing homes are referred to as residents.
Obstetric and gynecologic surgery refers to procedures that are performed to treat a variety of conditions affecting the female reproductive organs. The main structures of the reproductive system are the vagina, the uterus, the ovaries, and the fallopian tubes.
An omphalocele is a congenital defect in which internal organs such as the liver, stomach, and intestines, are on the outside of the abdomen, at the umbilical cord, instead of being located inside the body. These abdominal cavity contents are enclosed in a thin, transparent, membranous sac that is actually formed inside the umbilical cord tissue.
Unilateral oophorectomy (also called an ovariectomy) is the surgical removal of an ovary. If one ovary is removed, a woman may continue to menstruate and have children.
Open prostatectomy is a procedure for removal of an enlarged prostate gland.
An operating room (OR), also called surgery center, is the unit of a hospital where surgical procedures are performed.
Ophthalmologic surgery is a surgical procedure performed on the eye or any part of the eye.
Orchiectomy is the surgical removal of one or both testicles, or testes, in the human male. It is also called an orchidectomy, particularly in British publications.
Orchiopexy is a procedure in which a surgeon fastens an undescended testicle inside the scrotum, usually with absorbable sutures. It is done most often in male infants or very young children to correct cryptorchidism, which is the medical term for undescended testicles.
Orthopedic (sometimes spelled orthopedic) surgery is an operation performed by a medical specialist such as an orthopedist or orthopedic surgeon, who is trained to assess and treat problems that develop in the bones, joints, and ligaments of the human body.
Otoplasty refers to a group of plastic surgery procedures done to correct deformities of or disfiguring injuries to the external ear. It is the only type of plastic surgery that is performed more often in children than adults.
Outpatient surgery, also referred to as ambulatory surgery, is surgery that does not require an overnight hospital stay. Patients may go home after being released following surgery and time spent in the recovery room.
Oxygen may be classified as an element, a gas, and a drug. Oxygen therapy is the administration of oxygen at concentrations greater than that in room air to treat or prevent hypoxemia (not enough oxygen in the blood).
A pacemaker is a surgically implanted electronic device that regulates a cardiac arrhythmia.
If pain can be defined as a highly unpleasant, individualized experience of one of the body's defense mechanisms indicating an injury or problem, pain management encompasses all interventions used to understand and ease pain, and, if possible, to alleviate the cause of the pain.
Pallidotomy is the destruction of a small region of the brain, the globus pallidus internus, in order to treat some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Pancreas transplantation is a surgical procedure in which a diseased pancreas is replaced with a healthy pancreas that has been obtained from an immunologically compatible cadavear or living donor.
A pancreatectomy is the surgical removal of the pancreas. A pancreatectomy may be total, in which case the entire organ is removed, usually along with the spleen, gallbladder, common bile duct, and portions of the small intestine and stomach.
Paracentesis is a minimally invasive procedure using a needle to remove fluid from the abdomen.
Parathyroidectomy is the removal of one or more parathyroid glands. A person usually has four parathyroid glands, although the exact number may vary from three to seven.
Parotidectomy is the removal of the parotid gland, a salivary gland near the ear.
Patent urachus repair is surgery to correct a urachus (a tube that connects the fetal bladder to the umbilical cord) that fails to close after birth.
Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) is a means for the patient to self-administer analgesics (pain medications) intravenously by using a computerized pump, which introduces specific doses into an intravenous line.