Glossary: B

the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream.
biological system that enables individuals to know where their bodies are in the environment and to maintain a desired position; normal balance depends on information from the labyrinth in the inner ear, and from other senses such as sight and touch, as well as from muscle movement.
balance disorder
disruption in the labyrinth, the inner ear organ that controls the balance system allowing individuals to know where their bodies are in the environment.

balloon urethroplasty
a thin tube with a balloon is inserted into the opening of the penis and guided to the narrowed portion of the urethra, where the balloon is inflated to widen the urethra and ease the flow of urine.

a metallic chemical (chalky liquid) used to coat the inside of the organs so that they will show up on an x-ray.

barium beefsteak meal
during this test, the patient eats a meal containing barium, allowing the radiologist to watch the stomach as it digests the meal. The amount of time it takes for the barium meal to be digested and leave the stomach gives the physician an idea of how well the stomach is working and helps to detect emptying problems that may not show up on the liquid barium x-ray.

barium enema (Also called lower GI, or gastrointestinal, series.)
a procedure that examines the rectum, the large intestine, and the lower part of the small intestine. A fluid called barium (a metallic, chemical, chalky, liquid used to coat the inside of organs so that they will show up on an x-ray) is given into the rectum as an enema. An x-ray of the abdomen shows strictures (narrowed areas), obstructions (blockages), and other problems.

barium enema x-ray

lower gastrointestinal (GI) series.

barium swallow

upper gastrointestinal (GI) series.

barium x-rays
a type of diagnostic x-ray in which barium is used to diagnose abnormalities of the digestive tract. Barium enema, barium small-bowel enema, and barium swallow are types of barium x-rays.


injury to the middle ear caused by a reduction of air pressure.

basal body temperature

temperature of a person's body taken first thing in the morning after several hours of sleep and before any activity, including getting out of bed or talking; often charted to determine the time of ovulation.

basal cell carcinoma

the most common form of skin cancer; characterized by small, shiny, raised bumps on the skin that may bleed.

basal cells
type of cells that are found in the outer layer of skin. Basal cells are responsible for producing the squamous cells in the skin.

basal ganglia
several large clusters of nerve cells, including the striatum and the substantia nigra, deep in the brain below the cerebral hemispheres.

basal metabolic rate (BMR)
a measurement of energy required to keep the body functioning at rest. Measured in calories, metabolic rates increase with exertion, stress, fear, and illness.


bottom portion of lower lobes, located just above the diaphragm.

bed sores
ulcers that occur on areas of the skin that are under pressure from lying in bed, sitting in wheelchairs, wearing a cast, or being immobile for a long period of time.

belching (Also called burping.)

noisy release of gas from the stomach through the mouth.

Bell's palsy
An unexplained episode of facial muscle weakness or paralysis that begins suddenly and steadily worsens.


non-cancerous; mild disease, cell growth or condition that is not life threatening.

benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
balance disorder that results in a sudden onset of dizziness, spinning, or vertigo that occurs when suddenly moving the head from one position to another.

benign prostatic hyperplasia (Also called BPH or benign prostatic hypertrophy.)

an enlargement of the prostate caused by disease or inflammation. It is not cancer, but its symptoms are often similar to those of prostate cancer.

benign tumor

an abnormal growth that is not cancer and does not spread to other areas of the body.


to be in a sad or lonely state due to a loss or death.

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