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  » Medical Terms Glossary
Patients will find this glossary of medical terms very useful to explain complicated medical terminology.

Click on a letter to view the corresponding section of the glossary:

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Cachexia
Malnutrition and wasting due to illness.
Cafe-au-lait spots
Light coffee-colored birthmarks sometimes found on babies' arms, legs and bodies.
Caffeine
A stimulant found naturally in coffee, tea, chocolate and cocoa; may be added to soft drinks or other food products.
Calcitonin
A hormone secreted by the thyroid that lowers blood calcium. Used in the treatment of hypercalcemia.
Calcium
A mineral found in the teeth, bones, and other body tissues.
Calculi
Are stones or solid masses such as kidney stones.
Calisthenics
Systematic, rhythmic bodily exercises performed usually without equipment.
Callus
A part of skin that becomes thick and hard from rubbing or pressure. Tight shoes can cause calluses.
Calorie
Energy comes from food we eat. Fat products produces higher energy than protein or carbohydrate.
Cancer
Abnormal growth of cells, forming malignant tumors that can develop in various parts of the body.
Candidiasis
Caused by the fungus that is normal inhabitant of gastrointestinal tract. Candidisis occurs with changes in the organ or body.
Capillary
The smallest blood vessels of the body connecting the smallest arteries to the smallest veins.
Caput saccedaneum
Swelling of the baby's scalp during labor.
Carbohydrate
Compounds composed of starches or sugars found primarily in breads, cereals, fruits and vegetables.
Carcinogen
A substance or agent that causes cancer.
Carcinoid tumor
A type of tumor arising in the intestines or bronchi (airways of the lung). The tumor typically produces serotonin that may cause flushing, low blood pressure and diarrhea.
Cardiac arrest
Sudden stopping of blood circulation by cessation of the heartbeat.
Cardiac catheterization
A procedure in which a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel and guided into the heart to measure the blood flow and evaluate any structural defects.
Cardiac cycle
Period from the beginning of one heartbeat to the beginning of the next.
Cardiomyopathy
Disease of the heart muscle that impairs the heart contraction.
Cardiopulmonary bypass
A machine functions as the heart and lungs during heart surgery.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitaton
Technique to restore the function of the heart and lungs of an unconscious person.
Cardiologist
A doctor who takes care of patients with heart disease; a heart specialist.
Cardiovascular
Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.
Cardioversion
Electrical shock applied to the chest wall to change an abnormal heartbeat to normal.
Caries
Decay of tooth or bone.
Carrier
One who carries an infectious agent or genetic defect in the absence of symptoms.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A nerve disorder affecting the hand caused by a pinched nerve.
Cartilage
A tissue that covers the ends of bones causing low-friction.
Cataract
Clouding of the lens of the eye.
Catheter
A small flexible tube that carries fluids into or out of the body.
Cecum
The beginning of the large intestine. It is connected the ileum and called the ascending colon.
Cerebrovascular disease
Pertaining to the blood vessels of the brain.
Cervical cap
A rubber cap that fits tightly over the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the uterus.
Cervical incompetence
Cervix begins to dilate in the middle of pregnancy causing miscarriage or preterm labor.
Cesarean birth
Baby is delivered through an incision in the abdominal wall or uterus.
Chancre
A painless sore on the skin or mucous membranes usually caused by syphilis.
Charcot Foot
A foot complication associated with diabetic neuropathy that results in destruction of joints and
Chemotherapy
Treatment with anticancer drugs.
Cheyne-Stokes respiration
A breathing pattern with varying depth of respiration and brief periods of apnea
Chloasma
A mild darkening of the facial skin often on cheek.
Cholecystectomy
An operation to remove the gallbladder.
Cholecystitis
An irritated gallbladder.
Cholelithiasis
Gallstones in the gallbladder.
Cholesterol
A fat-like substance found in blood, muscle, liver, brain, and other tissues of body that results from either dietary intake or synthesis of body.
Chronic
Present over a long period of time.
Chyme
A thick liquid of partially digested food and stomach juices found in the stomach.
Circulation
The flow of blood through the heart and blood vessels of the body. Circumcision Removal of the foreskin from the penis.
Cirrhosis
A chronic liver condition caused by scar tissue and cell damage.
Claudication
Pain in the calf muscles with exercise, caused by poor blood circulation.
Cluster headaches
Intensely painful headaches-occurring suddenly and lasting between 30 and 45 minutes. They begin as minor pain around one eye and eventually spread to that side of the face.
Colectomy
An operation to remove all or part of the colon.
Colic
Attacks of abdominal pain, caused by muscle spasms in the intestines.
Colitis
Irritation of the colon.
Colon
Large intestine
Colonoscopy
A test to look into the rectum and colon with a long, flexible, narrow tube with a light and tiny lens on the end.
Colon polyps
Small, fleshy, mushroom-shaped growths in the colon.
Colorectal Cancer
Cancer that occurs in the colon (large intestine) or the rectum (the end of the large intestine).
Colostomy
An operation that bypasses stool to the rectum. A temporary colostomy may be done to let the rectum heal from injury or other surgery.
Common Bile Duct Obstruction
A blockage of the common bile duct, often caused by gallstones.
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
An x-ray that produces three-dimensional pictures of the body.
Congenital defects
Conditions present at birth.
Congestive heart failure
Heart failure caused by loss of pumping power by the heart, resulting in fluids collecting in the body.
Constipation
Stool becomes hard and dry.
Continence
The ability to hold in a bowel movement or urine.
Continuous Infusion
The slow introduction of a fluid into a vein or artery over a period of time.
Contraindication
A condition that makes a treatment not helpful or even harmful.
Coronary arteries
Arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle itself.
Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery
An operation that restores the blood supply by bypassing blocked or narrowed coronary arteries.
Coronary artery disease
Narrowing or blockage of one or more of the coronary arteries resulting in decreased blood supply to the heart.
Corticosteroids
Hormones produced by the cortex of the adrenal glands. The synthetic hormones are used as medications.
Creatinine
A chemical found in the blood and passed in the urine. If the creatinine level increases in the blood, this may indicate decreased kidney function.
Crohn's Disease
A chronic disease that results in inflammation of the digestive tract, especially the small intestine. Also called regional enteritis and ileitis.
Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS)
Sudden, repeated attacks of severe vomiting (especially in children), nausea, and physical exhaustion with no apparent cause. Can last from a few hours to 10 days. The episodes begin and end suddenly. Synonym: abdominal migraine.
Cytotoxic
Destructive to cells