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The descriptions are of commonly encountered terms and conditions. They include text entries but not all items from the tables. Infective diseases are not included, but see appendix 4 for their classification


Abscess – localized collection of pus. The site is added (sometimes with a prefix): subphrenic, subungual, subcutaneous (under the diaphragm, nail, skin); intrahepatic (in the liver), para/perinephric (around the kidney); retrocecal, retroperitoneal (behind the cecum, peritoneum)

Acanthocytosis – crenated red cells on a blood film

Acanthosis nigricans – skin pigmentation, often associated with malignancy

Accommodation – the process of focusing an image onto the retina, through ciliary muscle contraction

Accommodation reflex – changes in the pupil size that occur on changing between distant and near vision

Achalasia – failure of muscle relaxation, usually with reference to the esphagogastric junction

Achondroplasia – hereditary disorder of epiphyseal ossification, resulting in dwarfism

Acidosis – reduction of normal tissue pH (usually measured in the serum)

Acquired immunodeficiency disease (AIDS) – viral infection producing a defect in cell-mediated immunity

Acromegaly – clinical syndrome due to increased growth hormone

Acute – sudden onset; also used to define severe and to differentiate an acute inflammatory response to certain bacteria from the chronic inflammatory granuloma produced by others

Addison’s disease – clinical syndrome due to adrenal cortical insufficiency

Adenoids – enlargement of the lymphatic tissue in the roof of the nasopharynx

Adhesions – sticking together of two normally separate parts, e.g. loops of gut, visceral and parietal, pleura and pericardium

Agenesis – failure of development

Ageusia – loss of taste

Agnosia – inability to interpret a sensation, e.g. visual

Agraphia – inability to write

Alexia – inability to read aloud

Allen’s test – test of hand blood flow

Allergy – body’s reaction to foreign material (the substance may not be identified)

Alveolitis – inflammation of the alveoli

Amnesia – loss of memory

Amniocentesis – withdrawal of amniotic fluid

Anacrotic – abnormal pulse wave, with an additional notch on the ascending limb

Anaphylaxis – acute hypersensitivity to a foreign substance, such as a protein, drug or mismatched transfusion, giving rise to a state of shock

Anarthria – inability to articulate Anatomy – study of body form

Anemia – reduction of circulating red cells, hemoglobin or packed red cell volume

Anencephaly – congenital absence of the brain

Anesthesia – loss of sensation, local or general

Auscultation – listening to sounds produced by the body, usually through a stethoscope

Aneurysm – localized dilatation of a blood vessel, usually an artery

Angina – chest pain from myocardial ischemia

Angioma – benign tumor of blood or lymphatic vessels

Ankylosis – fusion of parts, usually a joint

Anosmia – loss of smell

Aortic incompetence – see incompetence

Apgar score – scoring system of physical activity in the newly born

Aphasia – inability to speak; may be partial, as in nominal (loss of names), jargon (senseless speech)

Aphthous – small idiopathic mouth ulcer Apnea – cessation of breathing

Apraxia – impaired voluntary control of an otherwise intact motor function

Arteriovenous malformation/fistula – abnormal communication between arteries and veins, may be congenital/acquired (including surgically produced)

Arthritis – inflammation of a joint, usually qualified by the type, e.g. osteoarthritis – wear and tear of cartilage covering the articular surface; rheumatoid arthritis – a chronic inflammation involving cartilage and soft tissues

Ascites – collection of intraperitoneal serous fluid (table 6; page 301)

Asystole – cardiac rest

Ataxia – loss of control of voluntary movement

Atelectasis – collapsed, non-aerated lung, usually due to a blocked bronchus, but may be congenital

Atheroma/atheromatous/arteriosclerosis – arterial occlusive disease Athetosis/athetoid – abnormal involuntary movement

Atresia – congenital failure to open, or pathological closure, of a lumen, e.g. gut or vessel

Atrial septal defect (ASD) – abnormal opening between the two atrial cavities of the heart

Atrophy – wasting of a tissue, as in malnutrition or muscle denervation Audiometry – test of hearing

Autopsy – postmortem examination of a body to determine or confirm the cause of death






Babinski response – extensor plantar response; occurs in pyramidal tract disease, on stroking the lateral aspect of the sole of the foot there is spontaneous dorsiflexion of the great toe, with “fanning” of the toes

Bacteriology – study of bacteria

Balanitis – inflammation of the glans penis and prepuce

Balotting – feeling an object bouncing within a fluid collection, e.g. on tapping of fetal head or an abdominal mass within ascites

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – malignant skin lesion

Baus lines – transverse ridges in a nail, indicating periods of defective growth

Benign – non-malignant tumor; a disease with mild characteristics or with a good prognosis

Biopsy – tissue sample taken from known or suspected disease for classification

Bjerrum screen – black screen with a central white target, used for mapping the visual fields

Blood dyscrasia – disorder of the blood

Borborygmi – rumbling or gurgling sounds made by passage of flatus through the intestines

Bovine cough – cattle-like cough due to vocal cord paralysis, secondary to recurrent laryngeal nerve damage

Bradycardia – slowing of the heart

Bronchiectasis – bronchial dilatation with infection

Bronchitis – inflammation of bronchial mucosa

Bronchoscopy – examination of the bronchial tree with a bronchoscope

Bruising – bleeding into tissues

Bruit – abnormal sound heard with a stethoscope over a large (usually narrowed) artery

Bryant’s triangle – anatomical marking made in the supine position, by dropping a vertical line from the anterior superior iliac spine to a horizontal line through the greater trochanter; used to detect shortening of the femoral neck

Bulbar palsy – paralysis from damage to the cranial nerve nuclei in the brain stem

Bursa – cushioning synovial lined cavity over or between pressure points

Carcinoma – malignant epithelial tumors, characterized by invasion and metastasis

Caries – tooth decay

Cataract – opacity of the lens and/or its capsule Celiac – malabsorption disease of gut

Chalasion – see meibomian cyst

Cheyne-Stokes respiration – rythmical alternation of rapid and absent periods of respiration, due to damage to the respiratory centre: usually a preterminal state

Cholecystitis – inflammation of the gall bladder

Chorea – neurological disorder, characterized by irregular involuntary (choreiform) movements of the limbs and face

Chronic – persistent, e.g. pain, discharge or infection. In the latter, the term has a specific pathological meaning, with production of a granuloma

Circumcision – surgical removal of the prepuce of the glans penis

Cirrhosis – chronic perilobular fibrosis of the connective tissue of the liver

Cleft Lip – congenital malformation of the upper lip, due to failure of fusion of the maxillary and frontonasal processes; frequently associated with cleft palate

Clonus – increased reflex activity, characterized by repetitive muscular contraction induced by stretch: usually occurring with upper motor neuron lesions

Cachexia – extreme general state of ill-health, with malnutrition, wasting, anemia and muscle weakness

Clubbing – digital disorder, usually of the fingers, characterised by longitudinal and lateral curving of the nails, and bulbous endings: occurring in a number of conditions, including congenital cardiac, chronic pulmonary and inflammatory bowel disease

Cesarian section – delivery of the fetus through a uterine incision Calcemia – calcium level in the body: hyper- (excess) or hypo- (reduced)

Calculus – an abnormal concretion, usually of inorganic matter; occurring in reservoir organs and ducts

Coarctation of the aorta – congenital narrowing of the aorta

Campbell de Morgan spots – small red hemangiomas, usually on the trunk, having no pathological significance

Colic – painful powerful contractions of a muscular tube, usually due to obstruction of the intestine, ureter or biliary tree

Cannula – hollow tube placed within or introduced into a cavity or vessel, for withdrawal or delivery of fluid

Colonoscopy – examination of the colon with a colonoscope Coma – unrousable state of consciousness

Congenital defect – developmental abnormality, present at birth

Caput medusa – periumbilical network of veins, secondary to hepatic venous obstruction (portal hypertension)

Coning – compression of the brain through the tentorium cerebelli or the foramen magnum, secondary to raised intracranial pressure – usually a terminal event. NB it can be precipitated by lumbar puncture

Conjunctivitis – inflammation of the conjunctiv

Consensual – reflex excitement of a part, in response to stimulation of another, as with a contralateral pupil response to light

Consolidation – conversion into a firm mass, as occurs in the lung in pneumonia

Contracture – deformity, usually due to muscle shortening. This may be permanent, when fibrosis is present, or temporary if in respose to a stimulus such as anasthesia or cold

Contralateral – occurring on the opposite side of the bod

CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Craniotomy – operation on the skull

Crepitus – irregular noise or palpable feeling on moving abnormal tissues, as with a fractured bone, osteoarthritic joints, inflamed tendons or gas in tissues

Cricothyroidotomy – opening into the trachea through the cricothyroid membrane, usually undertaken as an emergency for an obstructed airway

Crohn’s disease – inflammatory bowel disease

Cryptorchid – bilateral absence of testes within the scrotum, due to non-descent or congenital absence

Cushing’s disease – clinical syndrome due to hypersecretion of adrenal cortical hormones, in response to a local abnormality, an extrinsic stimulus, or from an ectopic site

CVP – central venous pressure

Cyanosis – blue discolouration of the skin and mucous membranes due to an abnormal amount of reduced hemoglobin, usually due to pulmonary or cardiac disease

Cyst – retained collection of fluid, from a variety of sources, e.g. exocrine and endocrine glands, congenital rests (dermoid, thyroglossal), degenerative, e.g. pancreatitis and parasitic (hydatid)

Cystocele – bladder bulging into the vagina, usually a complication of vaginal childbirth

Dacrocystitis – inflammation of the lacrimal apparatus

Decussation – crossing, usually referring to a neural pathway

Dehydration – reduced body fluid due to low intake or loss

Demyelination – removal or destruction of the myelin of nerve tissue

De Quervain’s synovitis – inflammation of the tendons on the lateral

Diabetes insipidus – clinical syndrome due to the lack of antidiuretic hormone

Diabetes mellitus – clinical syndrome due to the lack of, or of an abnormal response to, insulin

Diastole – period of the cardiac cycle from the closure of the aortic and pulmonary valves to the beginning of the next ventricular contraction

Discharge – leaking of fluid from the body through a normal (e.g. nose or anus) or an abnormal opening (e.g. an ulcer or fistula)

Dislocation – loss of the normal proximity of structures, usually the bones of a joint

Divarication – separating or stretching, as between the rectus abdominus muscles

Diverticulum – pouch or cul-de-sac from a hollow organ or duct

Douglas (pouch of) – rectouterine/rectovescical peritoneal pouch, palpable on rectal examination

Dupuytren’s contracture – thickening and contraction of the palmer fascia, causing a digital flexion deformity, usually of the ring and little finger

DVT – deep vein thrombosis

Dysdiadochokinesis – impared voluntary movement of cerebellar origin

Dyskinesia – impairment of voluntary movement

Dacrocystitis – inflammation of the lacrimal apparatus

Decussation – crossing, usually referring to a neural pathway Dehydration – reduced body fluid due to low intake or loss Demyelination – removal or destruction of the myelin of nerve tissue

Dyspareunia – difficulty or pain on intercourse

Diarrhea – increased frequency and/or quantity, and looseness of stool (but document precisely the patient’s description)

Diplopia – double vision

Down’s syndrome – clinical syndrome of genetic origin

Dysarthria – difficulty in articulation

Dysfunction – general term for impaired activity of an organ or part

Dysmenorrhea – pain occurring at or about the time of menstuation

Dyspepsia – general term covering symptoms from the upper alimentary tract

Dysphagia – difficulty or pain on swallowing

Dysphasia – difficulty in speaking

Dyspnea – difficulty or discomfort in breathing; paroxysmal nocturna dyspnea – dyspnea occurring when supine, usually secondary to left heart failure

Dysuria – pain or difficulty in passing urine



Ectropion – eversion of the edge of an eyelid

Ectopic – inappropriately sited tissues or organs, as with an ectopic pregnancy

Esophagoscopy – examination of the esophagus through an esophagoscope

Eczema – non-contagious inflammatory disease of the skin

Exophthalmos – prominence or protrusion of the eyeball

Expansile – expanding, usually an aneurysm or pulsatile vascular mass

Edema – excess of tissue fluid

Effusion – fluid collection, such as in a joint or pleural cavity

Egophony – sound of speech through a pleural effusion: like the bleat of a goat

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome – inherited disorder of elastic tissue, producing laxity of tissues

Electrocardiogram (ECG) – a record of the electrical activity of heart muscle

Embolism – sudden blocking of a blood vessel, usually an artery, by blood clot, clumps of bacteria or other foreign marerial transported in the circulation

Emphysema – dilatation of pulmonary alveoli

Empyema – pus in the pleural cavity

Encephalitis – inflammation of the brain

Endocarditis – inflammation of the endocardium, usually involving the valve cusps

Endometriosis – ectopic endometrium, usually within the pelvis or abdominal wall

Enophthalmos – recession of the eyeball into the orbit

Entropion – inversion of the edge of an eyelid

Epididymo-orchitis – inflammation of the epididymis and the testis

Epilepsy – cerebral disorder producing excessive and disordered discharge of cerebral neurons, resulting in paroxysmal recurrent movements, often with tongue biting and incontinence, and usually accompanied by unconsciousness – the epileptic fit

Epistaxis – bleeding from the nose

Epispadius – congenital malformation of the urethra, opening on the dorsal aspect of the penis

Erythema – redness of the skin due to hyperemia

Erythema ab igne – pigmented reticular cutaneous discoloration, due to exposure to heat; often on the shins from sitting in front of a fire, or on the abdomen, from a hot water bottle, applied for pain relief

Esophagoscopy – examination of the esophagus through an esophagoscope

Exophthalmos – prominence or protrusion of the eyeball

Expansile – expanding, usually an aneurysm or pulsatile vascular mass

Failure – end stage loss of function of an organ, e.g. cardiac, pulmonary, hepatic or renal failure

Fallot’s tetralogy – congenital cardiac anomaly, the classical four abnormalities are pulmonary artery stenosis; ventricular septal defect; an overriding aorta and an enlarged right ventricle

Fasciculation – involuntary ripple-like twitching of voluntary muscles Fatigue – tiredness and lethargy that usually accompany cardiac failure Feculent – like feces

Fibrillation – spontaneous independent contraction of the auricular or ventricular cardiac muscle; spontaneous contraction of recently denervated skeletal muscle

Fibroid – resembling fibrous tissue; smooth muscle tumor (fibroma) commonly of the uterus

Fibrosis – abnormal production of fibrous (scar) tissue, often interfering with function

Fissure – deep groove, may be normal, e.g. in the brain, but may be a breach of a normal lining, e.g. the longitudinal ulcer of an anal fissure

Fistula – an abnormal connection between epithelial/endothelial surfaces, e.g. anal (from anal canal to external skin), between two loops of gut or arteriovenous

Fit – see epilepsy

Forceps – gripping instrument used in surgery; obstetric forceps applied to the fetal head to facilitate delivery 

Fracture – discontinuity of a structure usually a broken bone

Froment’s sign – use of flexion of the interphalangeal joint of the thumb to grip, when the adductor pollicis is paralyzed

Galactorrhea – excessive lactation or milk discharge outside the normal period of lactation

Gallstone – concretion within the biliary tree

Gangrene – death and anerobic putrefaction of ischemic tissue

Gas gangrene – infection with gas producing organisms, notably Clostridium perfringens, but also anaerobic staphylococci and streptococci; a potentially lethal condition

Gastroduodenoscopy – endoscopic inspection of the stomach and duodenum

Gastroenteritis – inflammation of the stomach and intestine Gibbus – prominent hump/lump on the back

Glands of Montgomery – prominent sebaceous glands of the areola of the breast; they enlarge in pregnancy

Glasgow coma scale (GCS) – system of assessing cerebral damage Glaucoma – increased intraocular pressure

Glossitis – inflammation of the tongue

Goiter – enlargement of the thyroid gland

Granuloma – small tumor produced by the chronic cellular response to certain infections and other agents, such as tuberculosis and foreign bodies

Graphesthesia – the ability to recognize letters or figures traced on the skin by blunt pressure

Guarding – voluntary contraction of abdominal wall muscles in response to painful palpation

Hemianopia – loss of half of the visual field, of one or both eyes, e.g. homonymous hemianopia – to one side (nasal of one eye and temporal of the other), seen in unilateral cortical lesions; bitemporal hemianopia – due to lesions of the optic chiasm

Hemochromatosis – deposition of iron throughout the body, due to metabolic defect or excess transfusion

Hemodialysis – removal of waste products from the body by an external devise, in patients with renal failure

Hemoglobinopathy – abnormal hemoglobin

Hemolysis – release of hemoglobin from damaged red cells

Hemoptysis – coughing of bright red blood from the lungs, bronchi or trachea

Hemorrhage – bleeding; the escape of blood from any part of the vascular system; splinter hemorrhage – linear hemorrhage under the nails, seen in bacterial endocarditis

Hepatitis – inflammation of the liver

Hepatoma – tumor originating in the hepatic parenchyma

Hernia – protrusion of the contents of a cavity through its wall

Halitosis – fetid or offensive breath

Hickman line – external catheter devise for long term venous access, often passed into the subclavian or internal jugular veins

Hashimoto’s disease – chronic thyroiditis associated with autoimmune antibodies to thyroxin

Hodgkin’s disease – tumor of lymphatic tissue

Heart block – condition in which the transmission of impulses from the sinuatrial node through the atria, atrioventricular node and bundle of His, to the ventricles, is delayed or interrupted

Horner’s syndrome – damage of the cervical sympathetic chain producing: enophthalmos, meiosis, ptosis, with narrowing of the palpebral fissure, facial flushing, loss of sweating and stuffiness of the nose, on the side of the lesion

Heberden’s nodes – bony phalangeal nodules of osteoarthritis Hemangioma – benign tumor of blood vessels

Hemarthrosis – bloody joint effusion

Hematoma – discreet collection of blood in the body following a bleed Hematuria – blood in the urine

Howell-Jolly bodies – spherical, eccentrically placed granules or nuclear remnants in red blood corpuscles, usually in hemolytic or toxic anemia, and after splenectomy

Hemiplegia – paralysis of one side of the body

Hemorrhoid (pile) – swelling at the anal margin

Hemothorax – collection of blood in the pleural cavity

Hepatocellular dysfunction – abnormal liver function

Hepatosplenomegaly – enlarged condition of the liver and spleen

Hydradenitis – inflammation of the sweat glands

Hydrocele – circumscribed collection of fluid, usually in the tunica vaginalis of the testis

Hydrocephalus – abnormal increase of cerebrospinal fluid within the skull

Hydronephrosis – obstructed dilated renal pelvis filled with urine

Hypospadius – congenital malformation of the urethra, opening onto the ventral aspect of the penis

Hydrosalpinx – obstructed dilated uterine tube filled with clear fluid

Hyper/hypo – abnormal increase/low level (e.g. cholesterol, sodium, calcium, glucose)

Hypothyroidism – clinical syndrome, due to thyroid hormone insufficiency

Hyperdynamic – abnormally great muscular or nervous activity; extreme functional energy

Hypotonia – reduced tension in a body structure, such as in arteries, muscles and the eye

Hyperemia – excess of blood in any part of the body; reactive hyperemia – increased blood flow after temporary ischemia

Hypoxemia/hypoxia – insufficient oxygen to maintain normal tissue respiration

Hyperesthesia – excessive sensitiveness of the skin, due to local causes or to peripheral nerve damage

Hyperhidrosis – excess sweating

Hyperkalemia – high body potassium level

Hyperkeratinization – horny thickening of epithelium, particularly of the palms and soles; characteristic of chronic arsenical poisoning and vitamin A deficiency

Hyperkinesia – abnormally powerful movement, as in muscular spasm

Hyperparathyroidism – abnormally increased activity of the parathyroid glands due to a neoplasm or to hyperplasia

Hyperpnea – increased rate/depth of respiration

Hypertension – high arterial blood pressure usually in the systemic circulation. It may also be in the pulmonary arteries, secondary to lung disease, and in the portal venous system, due to liver disease

Hypertonia – excessive tension, as in arteries, muscle or intraocular

Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM) – congenital overgrowth of cardiac muscle, particularly affecting the left ventricle and interventricular septum

Hypertrophic pulmonary osteoarthropathy – proliferative periostitis at the distal end of long bones, particularly of the wrist and ankle, always associated with gross clubbing, and usually indicative of carcinoma of the bronchus

Hypertrophy – an increase in the size of the cells of a tissue; ventricular hypertrophy – enlargement of heart muscle

Hypocarbia – low carbon dioxide on blood gas analysis Hypoglycemia – low blood sugar concentration

Hypokalemia – low body potassium Hyporeflexia – reduced reflex action

Hypospadius – congenital malformation of the urethra, opening onto the ventral aspect of the penis

Hypothyroidism – clinical syndrome, due to thyroid hormone insufficiency

Hypotonia – reduced tension in a body structure, such as in arteries, muscles and the eye

Hypoxemia/hypoxia – insufficient oxygen to maintain normal tissue respiration

Iatrogenic – disorder produced by therapy Idiopathic – disease of unknown cause

Ileus (paralytic) – obstructed gut (non-motile)

Impaction – forceful driving of one structure into another, such as broken bones, a misdirected tooth or feces into a poorly evacuating rectum

Imperforate anus – congenital defect of anal canal development Impotence – inability to perform the sexual act

Incompetence – regurgitation through a defective valve, e.g. related to the heart or varicose veins

Infarct – area of dead tissue, with or without hemorrhage, produced by obstruction of an end-artery

Infection – invasion of the body by pathogenic organisms, and their subsequent multiplication

Inflammation – body’s response to cellular damage, whether this be physical or chemical injury, bacterial invasion or other disease

Innervation – nerve supply

Intermittent claudication – skeletal muscle pain on exercise, due to inadequate blood supply

Intracranial pressure – pressure within the skull: if there is free circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid and the patient is recumbent, this is the same as the pressure measured by lumbar puncture

Intubation – passage of a therapeutic tube; this is usually through an existing anatomical pathway, such as the trachea or urethra

Intussusception – invagination of a loop of proximal into distal bowel

Ipsilateraloccurring on the same side of the

Ischemia – insufficient blood supply to a part to sustain its normal function

Ishihara chart – multi-colored dotted charts, designed to identify color- blind subjects

Jaundice – clinical syndrome of excessive circulating bile pigments, giving rise to yellow discoloration of the sclera, skin and mucous membranes

Kernig sign – reflex contraction of neck muscles in meningitis Ketosis – excessive ketones within the body

Klinefelters syndrome – congenital chromosomal defect of gonadal hormone production

Koilonychia – spoon shaped nails related to certain forms of anemia

Koplik spots – whitish-blue specks on the oral mucous membrane in measles

Korotkoff – sounds heard on release of a cuff when measuring blood pressure

Kussmaul breathing – rapid breathing of diabetic coma

Kyphosis – spinal curvature in which the concavity of the curve is in a forward direction, generally seen in the thoracic region

Laparoscopy – inspection of the contents of the peritoneal cavity by means of a laparoscope

Laparotomy – inspection of the peritoneal contents through an exploratory abdominal incision

Left bundle branch block – see heart block

Lesion – non-specific term for a pathological abnormality

Leukemia – disease of the white blood cells

Leukonychia – white spots on a nail

Leukoplakia – thickened white patches on mucous membranes, the lesions are chronic inflammatory but have malignant potential

Lichen planus – disorder of skin and mucous membranes, producing patchy discoloration

Lordosis – spinal curvature in which the convexity of the curve is in a forward direction, generally found in the lumbar region

Lymphadenitis – inflammation of lymph nodes

Lymphadenopathy – enlargement of lymph nodes

Lymphedema – excess tissue fluid, due to failure of lymphatic drainage

Lymphoma – tumor of lymphatic tissue

Macrognathia – abnormal enlargement of the jaw

Malabsorption – defective absorption of fluids and other nutrients from the gut

Malgaigne’s bulge – muscular bulge along the line of the inguinal canal, due to tissue laxity rather than an underlying hernia

Malignant – life threatening pathological process, usually characterized by invasion and metastasis

Malnutrition – insufficient nutriment, due to inadequate intake or failed absorption

Mammography – soft tissue radiographic technique for examining the breasts

Marfan’s syndrome – congenital hereditary disorder of mesodermal tissue, its features include tall stature, increased span, long thin digits, subluxation of the lens and arterial dissection

Mass – non-specific term of a collection of cells or tissues, usually implies a palpable or visible abnormality

McMurray test – test to demonstrate damage to the knee menisci Meconium – gut content of the newly born

Meconium ileus – bowel obstruction of the newborn, due to inspisated meconium

Mediastinoscopy – examination of the mediastinum by means of an endoscope inserted suprasternally

Mediterranean disease (thalassemia) – a congenital hemoglobin abnormality

Meiosis – process of cell division with reduction of diploid status

Menarche – onset of the menses

Menopause – cessation of the menses

Menorrhagia – excessive and/or prolonged menstrual bleeding

Mesothelioma – malignancy of pleura, pericardium and peritoneum, due to exposure to asbestos

Metastasis – spread of malignant disease from its primary site to distant parts of the body, by way of natural passages, blood vessels, lymphatics or by direct continuity.

Methemoglobin – congenital hemoglobin abnormality, when part of the iron molecule is in the oxidized ferric form and unavailable for oxygen transport

MI (myocardial infarction) – death of a segment of heart muscle due to ischemia

Microcephalus – small sized head

Microcytosis – small red blood cells

Micrognathia – undersized jaw, usually applied to the mandible

Mikulicz’s syndrome – symmetrical enlargement of the lacrimal and salivary glands

Mitral incompetence – see incompetence

Mole/nevus – congenital benign pigmented skin lesion; hydatidiform mole – abnormal intrauterine fetal development, producing a polycystic mass of chorionic villi

Motor neuron disease – progressive degeneration of motor neurons Mucocele – mucus filled cyst, e.g. in the mouth or the gall bladder Mucoid – of the nature of mucus

Methemoglobin – congenital hemoglobin abnormality, when part of the iron molecule is in the oxidized ferric form and unavailable for oxygen transport

MI (myocardial infarction) – death of a segment of heart muscle due to ischemia

Microcephalus – small sized head

Microcytosis – small red blood cells

Micrognathia – undersized jaw, usually applied to the mandible

Mikulicz’s syndrome – symmetrical enlargement of the lacrimal and salivary glands

Mitral incompetence – see incompetence

Mole/nevus – congenital benign pigmented skin lesion; hydatidiform mole – abnormal intrauterine fetal development, producing a polycystic mass of chorionic villi

Motor neuron disease – progressive degeneration of motor neurons Mucocele – mucus filled cyst, e.g. in the mouth or the gall bladder Mucoid – of the nature of mucus

Mucopurulent – containing mucus and pus

Mucus – viscous secretion of mucus membranes

Multiple myeloma – tumor arising from the bone marrow

Multiple sclerosis – demyelinating disease of the brain and spinal cord

Murmur – sound related to blood flow and heard on auscultation, usually indicating an abnormality of heart valve origin. A machinery (continuous) murmur may be heard over arteriovenous malformations. Other blood vessel sounds are usually referred to as bruits

Murphy’s sign – subcostal tenderness elicited on inspiration, in patients with cholecystitis

Myasthenia gravis – disorder of the motor end-plate, giving rise to abnormal muscle fatigability

Myelocele – see spina bifida

Myelodysplasia – imperfect development of any part of the spinal cord

Myelopathy – impaired function of striated muscle

Myocardial infarct (MI) – death of a segment of heart muscle due to ischemia

Myotonia – abnormality of muscle relaxation after effort

Myxedema – a clinical syndrome, due to reduced thyroid hormone

Nausea – feeling of sickness with the desire to vomit

Nelaton’s line – line joining the anterior superior iliac spine and the ischial tuberosity on radiograph

Neoplasia – generic term for a new growth, whether benign or malignant

Nephritis – inflammation of the kidney; may be congenital or acquired

Nephrotic syndrome – degenerative renal disease

Neuritis – inflammation of a nerve

Neuroma – non-specific term for a benign neural tumor, or a painful post-traumatic mass of disorganized regenerating nerve endings

Neuron – functional unit of the nervous system: upper motor neuron – passing from the cortex to the spinal cord; lower motor neuron – from the spinal cord to the muscle

Nevus (strawberry) – congenital benign pigmented cutaneous lesion of vascular origin

Nevi (spider) – acquired cutaneous capillary dilatation, with central spot and radiating capillaries, often seen in hepatic failure

Neuropathy – altered neuronal function

Niemann-Pick disease – abnormality of reticuloendothelium Nocturia – getting up at night to pass urine

Nodule – a small aggregation of cells

Nystagmus – congenital or acquired involuntary eye movement, particularly in horizontal plane, usually related to labyrinthine or cerebellar disease

Orthopnea – breathlessness on lying flat

Osler’s nodes – painful digital nodules of infective endocarditis Osteomalacia – decalcification of the bones

Osteomalacia – decalcification of the bones

Osteitis fibrosa cystica – generalized rarefaction of bone, with cyst formation and fibrous replacement, due to excess parathormone production

Osteoarthritis – degenerative joint disease associated with wear, tear and aging

Osteochondroma – benign tumor of bone and cartilage

Osteomyelitis – bone infection

Osteoporosis – rarefaction of bone

Otitis – inflammation of the external (externa) or middle (media) ear

Paget’s disease – of the nipple: periareolar, eczematous skin changes related to an underlying carcinoma; of bone (osteitis deformans): inflammatory disorder producing bowing of long bones and skull thickening

Palpitations – awareness of the heart-beat, often because of increased force, rate or irregularity

Pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas

Pancost syndrome – apical lung tumor, producing a Horner’s syndrome and damage to the T1 root of the brachial plexus

Papilledema – edema of the optic disc, observed on ophthalmoscopy

Paracentesis – sampling or removing abnormal peritoneal fluid, usually through a wide bore needle

Paresthesia – abnormal somatic sensation, usually numbness or tingling

Paralysis – weakness of neural or neuromuscular origin

Paralytic ileus – see ileus

Paraphimosis – constriction ring of the prepuce, proximal to the glans penis

Parkinson’s disease – chronic neurological disease producing muscle weakness, rigidity and tremor (parkinsonism)

Paronychia – infection around the nail

Patent ductus arteriosus – persistence of fetal communication between the aorta and the left pulmonary artery

Pathological – disease state

Pathology – study of disease

Peau d’orange – obstructive edema, producing dimpling of the skin, typically in infiltrating carcinoma of the breast

Pectus carinatum – pigeon chest

Pectus excavatum – depressed anterior chest wall

Percussion – process of striking the surface of the body to hear and feel the underlying resonant effects

Perforation – hole through the full thickness of a tissue, such as the gut wall

Pericardial rub – noise produced by movement of inflamed layers of pericardium

Pericardial tamponade – compression of the heart by fluid within the pericardial cavity

Pericarditis – inflammation of the pericardium

Perimetry – use of a perimeter to measure visual fields

Peristalsis – wave like contraction of a hollow organ

Peritoneal rub – noise produced by movement of inflamed layers of peritoneum

Peritonism – abdominal tenderness associated with peritonitis. Guarding is usually present, as may be percussion rebound (pain on percussing the abdomen)

Peritonitis – inflammation of the peritoneum

Perseveration – a repetitive activity without an appropriate exciting stimulus

Perthe’s – disease of the neck of the femur; test of lower limb deep vein patency

Phaeochromocytoma – tumor of the adrenal medulla

Philadelphia Chromosome – usually found in bone marrow cells of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia

Phimosis – narrowing of the preputial orifice, preventing retraction of the foreskin and, in its extreme, the passage of urine

Pile – see hemorrhoid

Pleurisy – inflammation of the pleura

Pneumonia – inflammation of the lung

Pneumoperitoneum – gas within the peritoneal cavity

Pneumothorax – gas within the pleural cavity

Polycystic – multiple cysts, may be congenital or acquired, e.g. kidney, ovary, pancreas

Polycythemia – increase in the number of circulating red blood cells usually associated with an increase in hemoglobin, packed red cell volume and blood viscosity

Polyhydramnios – excessive amniotic fluid

Polyp – pedunculated epithelial tumor

Polypectomy – removal of a polyp

Polyuria – increased urine excretion

Priapism – persistent penile erection

Primary biliary cirrhosis – imflammation of the bile ducts, producing fibrosis and destruction, with associated jaundice

Procidentia – complete prolapse, e.g. uterus or rectum

Proctoscopy – examination of the anal canal and lower rectum by means of a proctoscope

Prolapse – bulging of a lax wall, e.g. vagina into the rectum, or of cardiac valves, e.g. mitral valve

Proptosis – bulging of eyeball

Pruritus – itching (table 11, page 339)

Pseudobulbar palsy – upper motor neuron paralysis of the cranial nerve nuclei, in the brain stem. This indicates bilateral cerebral lesions, as the lower cranial nerve nuclei are bilaterally innervated

Pseudocyst – fluid collection lined by diseased tissue of varied origin

Ptosis – prolapse or dropping of an organ, such as the upper eyelid

Pulsatile – beating with the pulse (see also expansile)

Pulsus paradoxus – pulse becoming less pronounced with inspiration rather than expiration

Purulent – containing pus

Pyemia – pus forming organism in the blood stream

Pyo– purulent infection of an organ

Pyonephrosis – obstructed dilated renal pelvis filled with pus

Pyosalpinx – obstructed dilated uterine tube filled with pus

Pyrexia – raised temperature

Râles – fine pulmonary added sounds

Ramsay Hunt syndrome – herpes zoster infection of the geniculate ganglion

Rash – cutaneous eruption

Rebound – reflex response to withdrawal of a stimulus, e.g. sudden pain on withdrawal of the hand in deep palpation of a painful abdomen

Rectocele – prolapse of the rectum into the vagin

Reflex – involuntary response to a stimulus, e.g. knee extension to a patellar tap

Reflux – back flow, e.g. through an incompetent gastroesophageal junction, or through valve-less lower limb veins

Regurgitation – reversal of flow, as with swallowed food into the mouth or through incompetent cardiac valves

Resuscitation – restoration of life or consciousness, in the apparently dead or collapsed patient

Retention – retaining substances in the body that are normally excreted Retinopathy – disorder of the retina

Rhabdomyoma – tumor of striated muscle; rhabdomyosarcoma, malignant form

Rheumatic fever – infection accompanied by abnormalities of cardiac valves

Rheumatism – non-specific term applied to pain of musculoskeletal origin

Rheumatoid nodules – aggregations of cells and tissues, situated in various soft tissues of the body, often over bony prominences

Riedel’s lobe – a congential anomalous lobe of the liver, projecting downwards from the right side anteriorly

Right bundle branch block – see heart block Rigidity – state of stiffness and inflexibility Rinne’s test – auditory test

Romberg’s sign – with the feet together the patient closes their eyes: swaying or falling is indicative of sensory ataxia, due to loss of position sense in the lower limbs; rombergism – exhibiting a positive Romberg’s sign

Ronchi – coarse pulmonary added sounds

Rub – audible movement of inflamed surfaces, e.g. pericardium, pleura

Salpingitis – inflammation of the uterine tubes

Sarcoid – systematic inflammatory disease, characterized by non- caseating granulomas

Sarcoma – malignancy of non-epithelial tissue

Scar – connective-tissue replacement of mesodermal or ectodermal tissue that has been destroyed by injury or other disease

Scoliosis – lateral curvature of the spine Scotoma – loss of part of the visual field

Secondary – see matastasis

Seminoma – malignancy of the testis

Septal defect – hole in the interatrial or interventricular septum, or both

Septicaemia – severe infective state, in which the blood stream is invaded by large numbers of bacteria

Sickle cell – hereditary abnormality of hemoglobin

Sigmoidoscopy – inspection of the rectum and pelvic colon with a sig- moidoscope

Sinus – infected tract communicating with the skin, or the lumen of a hollow viscus

Sinus arrhythmia – irregularity of heart rhythm, caused by changes in vagal stimulation of the sinuatrial node during respiration

Sinus rhythm – normal heart rhythm, due to conduction of impulses from the sinuatrial node to the atrioventricular node, through the atrial muscle, and thence the conducting system

Sister Joseph’s nodule – umbilical metastasis

Sjogren’s syndrome – syndrome characterized by deficient secretion of the lacrimal, salivary or other glands, giving rise to keratoconjunctivitis sicca, dry tongue and hoarse voice

Snellen chart – test of visual acuity

Spasm – sudden, powerful, involuntary contraction of muscle

Spastic hemiplegia – hemiplegia with increased muscle tone

Spasticity – persistent muscle contraction, producing stiffness and rigidity, or loss of controlled movement, usually following an upper motor neuron lesion

Speculum – instrument for the inspection of a tube or passage

Spherocytosis – abnormal thick, almost spherical, red blood cells (spherocytes)

Sphincterotomy – incision of a sphincter

Spider nevus – small red, cutaneous vascular dilatation from which capillaries radiate, and resemble a spider

Spina bifida – imperfect development of the spinal cord and vertebral covering

Splitting – of the heart sounds: due to asynchronous closure of the mitral and tricuspid, and the pulmonary and aortic valves

Splenomegaly – enlarged spleen

Splinter hemorrhages – longitudinal hemorrhagic subungual streaks usually due to bacterial endocarditis

Spondylolisthesis – subluxation of the lower lumbar vertebrae on the sacrum

Sputum – material expelled from the respiratory passages by coughing or clearing the throat

Squint – condition in which one eye deviates from the point of fixation

Status epilepticus – recurrent epileptic fits without any periods of recovery or regain of consciousness

Steatorrhea – excessive fat in the stool, as in celiac disease

Stenosis – narrowing of an orifice or a lumen, as with a cardiac valve, an atheromatous artery, or benign and malignant lesions of the gut

Stereognosis – ability to recognize the shape and character of an object by means of touch

Stoma – opening, such as a colostomy on the abdominal wall

Strangulated hernia – gut ischemia due to constriction of the lumen and blood vessels at the neck of a hernial sac

Stricture (stenosis) – narrowing of a lumen, e.g. gut or duct, may be congenital or acquired

Stridor – harsh respiratory sounds due to an obstructed airway

Stroke – sudden paralysis, due to cerebral damage; stroke volume – blood ejected by a contraction of the left ventricle

Stye – inflamed eyelid sebaceous cyst

Subluxation – partial dislocation

Subungual – beneath a nail

Sulfhemoglobin – abnormal hemoglobin produced by hydrogen sulphide

Suppuration – production or exudation of pus

Syncope – transient loss of consciousness, as with a faint, but may also accompany cardiac disease

Synovitis – inflammation of the synovial membrane, of a joint or tendon sheath

Systolic – relating to cardiac systole

Tachycardia – rapid beating of the heart

Tachypnea – rapid respiration

Talipes – congenital deformity of the foot

Tamponade – pathological compression of an organ, e.g. the heart from a pericardial effusion

Target cell – abnormal red blood cell, with a ringed appearance on staining, assocated with certain types of anemia and postsplenectomy

Telangiectasia – dilated capillaries, often multiple forming an angiomatous mass: hereditary telangiectasia (Rendu-Osler-Weber disease) there is often a secondary anemia, due to recurrent mucosal bleeding in the gut

Tenesmus – painful, often unsuccessful attempts at defecation or urination

Tenosynovitis – inflammation of a tendon sheath

Teratoma – congenital embryonic cell malignancy of the testis or ovary

Thalassemia – hereditary anemia, due to a hemoglobin abnormality

Thomas’ test – test for fixed hip flexion

Thoracotomy – surgical exposure of the thorax

Thrill – palpable vibration of abnormal blood flow, such as through a diseased heart valve or arteriovenous malformation

Thrombembolic disease – passage of blood clot through the circulation

Thrombosis – intravascular coagulation

Thyrotoxicosis – clinical syndrome, due to an overactive thyroid gland

Tic – uncontrolled local repetative movement, commonly affecting the face

Tinel’s sign – tingling sensation on percussion of a regenerating nerve ending

Tinnitus – subjective noise in the ear

Tone – tension in normal muscle; altered by neuromuscular disorders

Tophi – sodium biurate deposits in gout, often subcutaneous on the ear

Torsion – twisting, usually of the stalk of a structure, e.g. of a cyst, ovary or testis

Tracheostomy – opening in the trachea, usually to relieve an obstructed airway

Traction – act of pulling

Tremor – rhythmic, involuntary, purposeless, oscillating movement, resulting from the alternate contraction and relaxation of opposing muscle groups

Trendelenburg sign – dipping of the contralateral side of the pelvis when standing on an abnormal hip; Trendelenburg gait – spastic gait

Trendelenburg test – a tourniquet test for determining the competency of superficial veins of the lower leg

Tricuspid incompetence – see incompetence

Trigger finger – nodule in a long flexor tendon in the palm, clicking through a concomitant stricture of its sheath

Trophic changes – wasting of tissues, due to ischemia or denervation

Tumor – swelling

Turgor – increased tissue tension, usually due to edema

Turner’s syndrome – congenital genetic abnormality affecting gonadal development

Tympanitic – hyper-resonant

Ulcer/ulceration – discontinuity of epithelial surface

Ulcerative colitis – inflammatory bowel disease, characterised by ulceration with passage of blood and mucus, and variable systemic effects

Uremia – terminal stage of renal failure, with retention of waste products

Urethritis – inflammation of the urethra

Urinalysis – analysis of urine

Valgus – displacement away from the midline, the distal portion projecting laterally, as with hallux valgus

Valsalva maneuver – forcible exhalation against a closed airway, used to produce vagal stimulation

Valvotomy – operation of splitting a stenosis, as with a diseased heart valve

Varicocele – abnormal plexus of varicose veins of the pampiniform plexus around the spermatic cord

Varicose veins – dilated thin tortuous superficial veins, usually of the lower limb

Varix (saphena) – tortuous dilated vein segment (at the saphenous opening)

Varus – displacement towards the midline, the proximal portion projecting laterally, as with bow legs (genu varus)

Venereal – sexually transmitted

Venepuncture – puncture of a vein to withdraw blood, or introduce fluids or drugs

Ventricular septal defect – abnormal opening between the ventricular cavities of the heart

Vertigo – giddiness, a sense of instability, often with a sense of rotation

Virology – study of viruses

Viscus – internal organ

Vocal fremitus – palpable chest wall vibration produced by speech

Vocal resonance – sounds heard over the chest while a patient is talking, when markedly increased it is termed bronchophony

Volvulus – torsion of a loop of gut

Vomiting – oral evacuation of gastric contents

Warts – cutaneous circumscribed lesions, usually of viral origin, e.g. on hands, soles (verruca); perianal – of venereal origin

Weber’s test – auditory test

Wegener’s granuloma – destructive granulomatous disease of soft tissue

Whispering pectoriloquy – prominence of whispering over diseased lung, heard through a stethoscope

Wilson’s disease – degenerative cerebral disease due to abnormal copper metabolism

Xanthoma (xanthelasma) – yellowish-brown cutaneous nodules, frequently periorbital, and usually associated with raised lipids

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome – association of peptic ulceration with a secreting pancreatic adenoma