Patient Confidentiality

Confidentiality is the right of an individual to have personal, identifiable medical information kept private. Such information should be available only to the physician of record and other health care and insurance personnel as necessary.

Patient Rights

Patient rights encompass legal and ethical issues in the provider-patient relationship, including a person's right to privacy, the right to quality medical care without prejudice, the right to make informed decisions about care and treatment options, and the right to refuse treatment.

Pectus Excavatum Repair

Pectus excavatum repair, also called "funnel chest repair" or "chest deformity repair," is a type of surgery performed to correct pectus excavatum, a deformity of the front of the chest wall with depression of the breast-bone (sternum) and rib (costal) cartilages. It is sometimes associaated with Marfan or Poland syndromes.

Pediatric Concerns

Pediatric concerns refers to those issues that are unique to the care of children when surgery and hospitalization are involved.

Pediatric Surgery

Pediatric surgery is a specialized field of surgery for the treatment of conditions that can be surgically corrected in a baby, child, or adolescent.

Pelvic Ultrasound

Pelvic ultrasound is a procedure in which high-frequency sound waves create images of the pelvic organs. The sound waves are projected into the pelvis, and measure how they reflect—or echo—back from the different tissues.

Penile Prostheses

Penile prostheses are semi-rigid or inflatable devices that are implanted into penises to alleviate impotence.


A procedure performed with a needle to remove fluid for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes from the tissue covering the heart (pericardial sac).

Peripheral Endarterectomy

A peripheral endarterectomy is the surgical removal of fatty deposits, called plaque, from the walls of arteries other than those of the heart and brain. The surgery is performed when plaque blocks an artery and obstructs the flow of blood and oxygen to other parts of the body, most commonly the legs but also the arms, kidneys, or intestines.

Peripheral Vascular Bypass Surgery

A peripheral vascular bypass, also called a lower extremity bypass, is the surgical rerouting of blood flow around an obstructed artery that supplies blood to the legs and feet. This surgery is performed when the buildup of fatty deposits (plaque) in an artery has blocked the normal flow of blood that carries oxygen and nutrients to the lower extremities.

Peritoneovenous Shunt

A peritoneovenous shunt refers to the surgical insertion of a shunting tube to achieve the continuous emptying of ascitic fluid into the venous system.

Phacoemulsification for Cataracts

Phacoemulsification cataract surgery is a procedure in which an ultrasonic device is used to break up and then remove a cloudy lens, or cataract, from the eye to improve vision. The insertion of an intraocular lens (IOL) usually immediately follows phacoemulsification.


A pharyngectomy is the total or partial surgical removal of the pharynx, the cavity at the back of the mouth that opens into the esophagus at its lower end. The pharynx is cone-shaped, has an average length of about 3 in (76 mm), and is lined with mucous membrane.


Phlebography is an x ray test that provides an image of the leg veins after a contrast dye is injected into a vein in the patient's foot.


Phlebotomy is the act of drawing or removing blood from the circulatory system through a cut (incision) or puncture in order to obtain a sample for analysis and diagnosis. Phlebotomy is also done as part of the patient's treatment for certain blood disorders.

Photocoagulation Therapy

Photocoagulation therapy is a method of treating detachments (tears) of the retina (the layer of light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye) with an argon laser. The high-intensity beam of light from the laser is converted into heat, which forces protein molecules in the affected tissue to condense and seal the tear.

Photorefractive Keratectomy (PRK)

Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) is a noninvasive refractive surgery in which the surgeon uses an excimer laser to reshape the cornea of the eye by removing the epithelium, the gel-like outer layer of the cornea.

Physical Examination

A physical examination is the evaluation of a body to determine its state of health. The techniques of inspection include palpation (feeling with the hands and/or fingers), percussion (tapping with the fingers), auscultation (listening), and smell.

Planning a Hospital Stay

Planning a hospital stay includes determining what hospitals or facilities are covered by the patient's insurance plan, evaluating the credentials of the health care providers and hospital, gathering information about the hospital, including services offered, scheduling the hospital stay, completing pre-admission testing, receiving and following all of the appropriate pre-admission instructions, registering at the hospital upon arrival, as well as completing an informed consent form.

Plastic, Reconstructive, and Cosmetic Surgery

Plastic, reconstructive, and cosmetic surgery refers to a variety of operations performed in order to repair or restore body parts to look normal, or to change a body part to look better. These types of surgery are highly specialized.


Pneumonectomy is the medical term for the surgical removal of a lung.

Portal Vein Bypass

Portal vein bypass surgery diverts blood from the portal vein into another vein. It is performed when pressure in the portal vein is so high that it causes internal bleeding from blood vessels in the esophagus.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a non-invasive scanning technique that utilizes small amounts of radioactive positrons (positively charged particles) to visualize body function and metabolism.

Post-Surgical Pain

Post-surgical pain is a complex response to tissue trauma during surgery that stimulates hypersensitivity of the central nervous system. The result is pain in areas not directly affected by the surgical procedure.

Postoperative Care

Postoperative care is the management of a patient after surgery. This includes care given during the immediate postoperative period, both in the operating room and postanesthesia care unit (PACU), as well as during the days following surgery.

Power of Attorney

Power of attorney, also known as durable medical power of attorney, is a legal mechanism that empowers a designated person to make medical decisions for a patient should the patient be unable to make the decisions due to incapacitation.

Preoperative Care

Preoperative care is the preparation and management of a patient prior to surgery. It includes both physical and psychological preparation.

Preparing for Surgery

Preparing for a planned surgery (also called elective surgery) includes selecting a surgery center and surgeon to perform the procedure, scheduling the surgery, undergoing pre-surgical testing, meeting with health care professionals and the surgical team, receiving education about the procedure, receiving and following all of the appropriate preoperative instructions, and signing a consent form.

Presurgical Testing

Presurgical or preoperative testing is the preparation and management of a patient before surgery.

Private Insurance Plans

Private insurance plans include all forms of health insurance that are not funded by the government.

Prophylaxis, Antibiotic

A prophylaxis is a measure taken to maintain health and prevent the spread of disease. Antibiotic prophylaxis is the focus of this article and refers to the use of antibiotics to prevent infections.

Pulse Oximeter

The pulse oximeter is a photoelectric instrument for measuring oxygen saturation of blood.


Pyloroplasty is a surgical procedure in which the pylorus valve at the lower portion of the stomach is cut and resutured, relaxing and widening its muscular opening (pyloric sphincter) into the duodenum (first part of the small intestine). Pyloroplasty is a treatment for patients at high risk for gastric or peptic ulcer disease (PUD).


Quadrantectomy is a surgical procedure in which a "quadrant" (approximately one-fourth) of the breast, including tissue surrounding a cancerous tumor, is removed. It is also called a partial or segmental mastectomy.

Radical Neck Dissection

Radical neck dissection is a surgical operation used to remove cancerous tissue in the head and neck.

Recovery at Home

Recovery at home after surgery may require certain dietary and environmental restrictions, recommended rest and limitations to physical activities, and other dos and don'ts as recommended by a physician or surgeon.

Recovery Room

The recovery room, also called a post-anesthesia care unit (PACU), is a space a patient is taken to after surgery to safely regain consciousness from anesthesia and receive appropriate post-operative care.

Rectal Prolapse Repair

Rectal prolapse repair surgery treats a condition in which the rectum falls, or prolapses, from its normal anatomical position because of a weakening in the surrounding supporting tissues.

Rectal Resection

A rectal resection is the surgical removal of a portion of the rectum.

Red Blood Cell Indices

Red blood cell (RBC) indices are calculations derived from the complete blood count that aid in the diagnosis and classification of anemia.


Reoperation is a term used by surgeons for the duplication of a surgical procedure. Repeating surgery may involve surgery at the same site, at another site for the same condition, or to repair a feature from a previous surgery.

Retinal Cryopexy

Retinal cryopexy, also called retinal cryotherapy, is a procedure that uses intense cold to induce a chorioretinal scar and to destroy retinal or choroidal tissue.

Retropubic Suspension

Retropubic suspension refers to the surgical procedures used to correct incontinence by supporting and stabilizing the bladder and urethra. The Burch procedure, also known as retropubic urethropexy procedure or Burch colosuspension, and Marshall-Marchetti-Krantz procedure (MMK) are the two primary surgeries for treating stress incontinence.


The term rhinoplasty means "nose molding" or "nose forming." It refers to a procedure in plastic surgery in which the structure of the nose is changed. The change can be made by adding or removing bone or cartilage, grafting tissue from another part of the body, or implanting synthetic material to alter the shape of the nose.


Rhizotomy is the cutting of nerve roots as they enter the spinal cord.

Robot-Assisted Surgery

Robot-assisted surgery involves the use of a robot under the direction and guidance of a surgeon.

Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is a dental procedure in which the diseased or damaged pulp (central core) of a tooth is removed and the inside areas (the pulp chamber and root canals) are filled and sealed.

Rotator Cuff Repair

Rotator cuff surgery is the repair of inflammation or tears of the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder. There are four tendons in the rotator cuff, and these tendons are attached individually to the following muscles: teres minor, subscapularis, infraspinatus, and the supraspinatus.

Sacral Nerve Stimulation

Sacral nerve stimulation, also known as sacral neuromodulation, is a procedure in which the sacral nerve at the base of the spine is stimulated by a mild electrical current from an implanted device. It is done to improve functioning of the urinary tract, to relieve pain related to urination, and to control fecal incontinence.


Unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is the surgical removal of a fallopian tube and an ovary. If both sets of fallopian tubes and ovaries are removed, the procedure is called a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.


A salpingostomy is a surgical incision into a fallopian tube. This procedure may be done to repair a damaged tube or to remove an ectopic pregnancy (one that occurs outside of the uterus).

Scar Revision Surgery

Scar revision surgery refers to a group of procedures that are done to partially remove scar tissue following surgery or injury, or to make the scar(s) less noticeable. The specific procedure that is performed depends on the type of scar; its cause, location, and size; and the characteristics of the patient's skin.

Scleral Buckling

Scleral buckling is a surgical procedure in which a piece of silicone plastic or sponge is sewn onto the sclera at the site of a retinal tear to push the sclera toward the retinal tear. The buckle holds the retina against the sclera until scarring seals the tear.


A sclerostomy is a procedure in which the surgeon makes a small opening in the outer covering of the eye-ball to reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) in patients with open-angle glaucoma. It is classified as a type of glaucoma filtering surgery.

Sclerotherapy for Esophageal Varices

Sclerotherapy for esophageal varices, also called endoscopic sclerotherapy, is a treatment for esophageal bleeding that involves the use of an endoscope and the injection of a sclerosing solution into veins.

Sclerotherapy for Varicose Veins

Sclerotherapy, which takes its name from a Greek word meaning "hardening," is a method of treating enlarged veins by injecting an irritating chemical called a sclerosing agent into the vein. The chemical causes the vein to become inflamed, which leads to the formation of fibrous tissue and closing of the lumen, or central channel of the vein.

Scopolamine Patch

A scopolamine patch (Transdermal Scop or Transderm-V) is an adhesive medication patch that is applied to the skin behind the ear. The patch is treated with the belladonna alkaloid scopolamine, an anticholinergic drug that is a central nervous system depressant and an antiemetic.

Second-Look Surgery

Second-look surgery is performed after a procedure or course of treatment to determine if the patient is free of disease. If disease is found, additional procedures may or may not be performed at the time of second-look surgery.

Second Opinion

A second opinion is the process of seeking an evaluation by another doctor or surgeon to confirm the diagnosis and treatment plan of a primary physician, or to offer an alternative diagnosis and/or treatment approach.

Sedation, Conscious

Conscious sedation, produced by the administration of certain medications, is an altered level of consciousness that still allows a patient to respond to physical stimulation and verbal commands, and to maintain an unassisted airway.


Segmentectomy is the excision (removal) of a portion of any organ or gland. The procedure has several variations and many names, including segmental resection, wide excision, lumpectomy, tumorectomy, quadrantectomy, and partial mastectomy.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is a minimally invasive procedure in which a lymph node near the site of a cancerous tumor is first identified as a sentinel node and then removed for microscopic analysis. SLNB was developed by researchers in several different cancer centers following the discovery that the human lymphatic system can be mapped with radioactive dyes, and that the lymph node(s) closest to a tumor serve to filter and trap cancer cells.


Septoplasty is a surgical procedure to correct the shape of the septum of the nose. The goal of this procedure is to correct defects or deformities of the septum.

Sex Reassignment Surgery

Also known as sex change or gender reassignment surgery, sex reassignment surgery is a procedure that changes genital organs from one gender to another.

Shoulder Joint Replacement

Shoulder joint replacement surgery is performed to replace a shoulder joint with artificial components (prostheses) when the joint is severely damaged by such degenerative joint diseases as arthritis, or in complex cases of upper arm bone fracture.

Shoulder Resection Arthroplasty

Shoulder resection arthroplasty is surgery performed to repair a shoulder acromioclavicular (AC) joint. The procedure is most commonly recommended for AC joint problems resulting from osteoarthritis or injury.


Sigmoidoscopy is a diagnostic and screening procedure in which a rigid or flexible tube with a camera on the end (a sigmoidoscope) is inserted into the anus to examine the rectum and lower colon (bowel) for bowel disease, cancer, precancerous conditions, or causes of bleeding or pain.

Simple Mastectomy

Simple mastectomy is the surgical removal of one or both breasts. The adjacent lymph nodes and chest muscles are left intact.

Skin Grafting

Skin grafting is a surgical procedure in which skin or a skin substitute is placed over a burn or non-healing wound.

Skull X Rays

Skull x rays are performed to examine the nose, sinuses, and facial bones. These studies may also be referred to as sinus x rays.

Sling Procedure

The sling procedure, or suburethral sling procedure, refers to a particular kind of surgery using ancillary material to aid in closure of the urethral sphincter function of the bladder. It is performed as a treatment of severe urinary incontinence.

Small Bowel Resection

A small bowel resection is the surgical removal of one or more segments of the small intestine.

Smoking Cessation

Smoking cessation means "to quit smoking," or "withdrawal from nicotine." Because smoking is highly addictive, quitting the habit often involves irritability, headache, mood swings, and cravings associated with the sudden cessation or reduction of tobacco use by a nicotine-dependent individual.

Snoring Surgery

Snoring is defined as noisy or rough breathing during sleep, caused by vibration of loose tissue in the upper airway. Surgical treatments for snoring include several different techniques for removing tissue from the back of the patient's throat, reshaping the nasal passages or jaw, or preventing the tongue from blocking the airway during sleep.


The sphygmomanometer is designed to monitor blood pressure by measuring the force of the blood in the heart where the pressure is greatest. This occurs during the contraction of the ventricles, when blood is pumped from the heart to the rest of the body (systolic pressure).

Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion is a procedure that promotes the fusing, or growing together, of two or more vertebrae in the spine.

Spinal Instrumentation

Spinal instrumentation is a method of keeping the spine rigid after spinal fusion surgery by surgically attaching hooks, rods, and wire to the spine in a way that redistributes the stresses on the bones and keeps them in proper alignment while the bones of the spine fuse.

Spirometry Tests

Spirometry is the measurement of air flow into and out of the lungs.


A splenectomy is the total or partial surgical removal of the spleen, an organ that is part of the lymphatic system.


Stapedectomy is a surgical procedure in which the innermost bone (stapes) of the three bones (the stapes, the incus, and the malleus) of the middle ear is removed, and replaced with a small plastic tube surrounding a short length of stainless steel wire (a prosthesis). The operation was first performed in the United States in 1956.