Glossary: C

ca-125 test

blood test to detect an elevated level of a protein antigen called CA-125, which may indicate ovarian cancer, among other disorders.


the gathering of small deposits of calcium in the breast tissue, usually found by mammography.


a hormone secreted by the thyroid gland which controls the levels of calcium and phosphorous in the blood.


mineral that gives strength to bones and teeth and has an important role in muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve function.

calcium channel blocker

a medication that lowers blood pressure.


stones or solid lumps such as gallstones.


thick, hardened areas of the skin, usually on the foot, caused by friction or pressure.

complementary & alternative medicine (CAM)

nonconventional approaches to healing, beyond tradition medicine. Complementary medicine is any form of therapy used in combination with other alternative treatments or standard/conventional medicine. Alternative medicine is used alone, without recommended standard treatment.

Campylobacter pylori

original name for the bacterium that causes ulcers; new name is Helicobacter pylori.

cancellous tissue

the sponge-like tissue inside bones.


general term for a large group of diseases (more than 100), all characterized by uncontrolled growth, invasion, and spread of abnormal cells to other parts of the body.

candidiasis (also called yeast infection)

a skin infection caused by yeast that can occur in the skin folds, navel, vagina, penis, mouth, and nail beds.


tiny blood vessels between arteries and veins that distribute oxygen-rich blood to the body.

capsular contracture

the most common complication of breast reconstruction surgery; occurs if the scar or capsule around the implant begins to tighten.


the layer of cells around an organ such as the prostate.


text display of spoken words presented on a television or a movie screen that allows a deaf or hard-of-hearing viewer to follow the dialogue and the action of a program simultaneously.


one of the three main classes of food and a source of energy. Carbohydrates are the sugars and starches found in breads, cereals, fruits, and vegetables, which, during digestion, carbohydrates are changed into a simple sugar called glucose. Glucose is stored in the liver until cells need it for energy.

carbon monoxide (CO)

a colorless, odorless gas which can be created whenever a fuel (such as wood, gasoline, coal, natural gas, or kerosee) is burning.


clusters of boils on the skin.


a substance that is known to cause cancer.


cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.


pertaining to the heart.

cardiac arrest

the stopping of heartbeat.

cardiac catheterization

a diagnostic procedure in which a tiny, hollow tube (catheter) is advanced from a vessel in the groin through the aorta into the heart in order to image the heart and blood vessels.

cardiac output

total amount of blood being pumped by the heart over a particular period of time.


the clinical study and practice of treating the heart.


a disease of the heart muscle that causes it to lose its pumping strength.

cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

an emergency method of life-saving. Artificial respirations and chest compressions are used to restart the heart and lungs.


pertaining to the heart and blood vessel (circulatory) system.


the procedure of applying electrical shock to the chest to change an abnormal heartbeat into a normal one.


someone who provides assistance, generally in the home environment, to an aging parent, spouse, other relative, or unrelated person, or to an ill or disabled person of any age. A caregiver can be a family member, friend, volunteer, or paid professional.

carotid artery

the major arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.

carpal tunnel syndrome

a condition in which the median nerve is compressed as it passes through the carpal tunnel in the wrist, a narrow confined space. Since the median nerve provides sensory and motor functions to the thumb and three middle fingers, many symptoms may result.

carpenter syndrome

a birth defect that typically includes traits such as abnormally short fingers, webbed toes, extra toes, underdeveloped jaw, highly arched palate, widely spaced eyes, and/or low-set, deformed ears. Half of patients with Carpenter syndrome also have heart defects.

cartilage, articular

a smooth material that covers bone ends of a joint to cushion the bone and allow the joint to move easily without pain.


a cast holds a broken bone in place as it heals, prevents, or decreases muscle contractures, or provides immobilization, especially after surgery. Casts immobilize the joint above and the joint below the area that is to be kept straight and without motion.


a change in the structure of the crystalline lens that causes blurred vision.




thin, flexible tube that carries fluids into or out of the body.

cavernous hemangioma

a raised, red or purple mark in the skin, made up of enlarged blood vessels.


tube that goes through the skin into the beginning of the large intestine to remove gas or feces; it is a short-term way to protect part of the colon while it heals after surgery.


beginning of the large intestine; it is connected to the lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum.

celiac disease (also called celiac sprue or gluten sensitive enteropathy)

a sensitivity to gluten, a wheat protein. Individuals with this disease must avoid gluten-containing grains, which include all forms of wheat, oats, barley, and rye.

celiac sprue

celiac disease.

cellular pathology (also called cytopathology)

the study of cellular alterations in disease.


a bacterial infection of the skin that is characterized by swelling and tenderness.

central auditory processing disorder

inability of individuals with normal hearing and intelligence to differentiate, recognize, or understand sounds.

central nervous system

the brain and the spinal cord.


an area of bleeding underneath one of the cranial bones that appears as raised lump on the baby's head.


a large structure consisting of two halves (hemispheres) located in the lower part of the brain; responsible for the coordination of movement and balance.

cerebral embolism

a brain attack that occurs when a wandering clot (embolus) or some other particle forms in a blood vessel away from the brain - usually in the heart.

cerebral hemorrhage

a type of stroke occurs when a defective artery in the brain bursts, flooding the surrounding tissue with blood.

cerebral spinal fluid analysis (also called spinal tap or lumbar puncture)

a procedure used to make an evaluation or diagnosis by examining the fluid withdrawn from the spinal column.

cerebral thrombosis

the most common type of brain attack; occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms and blocks blood flow in an artery bringing blood to part of the brain.


pertaining to blood vessels in the brain.

cerebrovascular accident

apoplexy or stroke; an impeded blood supply to the brain.

cerebrovascular occlusion

an obstruction in the blood vessel in the brain.


consists of two parts (lobes), left and right, which form the largest and most developed part of the brain; initiation and coordination of all voluntary movement take place within the cerebrum. The basal ganglia are located immediately below the cerebrum.

cervical dysplasia

condition in which cells in the cervix have undergone precancerous changes. It is detected by a Pap smear; treatment can prevent it from progressing to cervical cancer.

cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)

term used to classify the degree of precancerous change in cells of the cervix in a condition called cervical dysplasia.

cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)

the area of the spinal cord located in the neck.

cervical spine

the area of the spinal cord located in the neck.


an irritation of the cervix by a number of different organisms. Cervicitis is generally classified as either acute or chronic.


the lower, narrow part of the uterus (womb) located between the bladder and the rectum. It forms a canal that opens into the vagina, which leads to the outside of the body.

cesarean delivery (also called c-section)

surgical procedure to deliver a baby through an incision in the lower abdomen and uterus.


The Civilian Health and Medical Program for Uniformed Services.

chemical peeling

uses a chemical solution in order to improve the skin's appearance. It can reduce or eliminate fine lines under the eyes and around the mouth, correct uneven skin pigmentation, remove pre-cancerous skin growths, and soften acne or treat the scars caused by acne.

chemical peels

a procedure often used to minimize sun-damaged skin, irregular pigment, and superficial scars. The top layer of skin is removed with a chemical application to the skin. By removing the top layer, the skin regenerates, often improving the skin's appearance.chemotherapy .

chemosensory disorders

disorders or diseases of smell or taste.

chemotherapy (also systemic treatment)

drugs used to kill cancer cells.


a highly viral infectious disease, usually associated with childhood. By adulthood, more than 95 percent of Americans have had chickenpox. The disease is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Transmission occurs from person-to-person by direct contact or through the air.

child and adolescent psychiatrist

licensed physicians (M.D. or D.O.) who specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders in children and adolescents. Their medical and psychiatric training with children and adolescents prepares them to treat children and adolescents either individually, as part of and involving the family unit, and/or in a group setting. Child and adolescent psychiatrists can prescribe medications, if needed.

child safety seat

licensed physicians (M.D. or D.O.) who specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental disorders in children and adolescents. Their medical and psychiatric training with children and adolescents prepares them to treat children and adolescents either individually, as part of and involving the family unit, and/or in a group setting. Child and adolescent psychiatrists can prescribe medications, if needed.

chlamydial infection

very common sexually transmitted disease or urinary tract infection caused by a bacteria-like organism in the urethra and reproductive system


too much hydrochloric acid in the stomach.


a procedure in which dye (contrast) is deposited and the bile duct structures can be viewed by x-ray.


irritated or infected bile ducts.


surgery to remove the gallbladder.


inflammation of the gallbladder wall.

cholecystography (also called oral cholecystography or gallbladder series)

a series of x-rays are taken of the gallbladder after a special contrast dye is swallowed, making it possible to detect gallstones, cholecystitis, and other abnormalities.


hormone released in the small intestine. Causes muscles in the gallbladder and the colon to tighten and relax.


a condition characterized by gallstones present in the gallbladder itself.


an acute, infectious disease caused by the consumption of water or food contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae.


blocked bile ducts often caused by gallstones.


accumulation of dead cells in the middle ear caused by repeated middle ear infections.


a substance normally made by the body, but also found in foods from animal sources, like beef, eggs, and butter. Too much cholesterol in the body can lead to narrowing and blockage of the arteries, especially those that feed the heart and keep it healthy. High cholesterol can also cause the formation of gallstones. Ideally, blood cholesterol levels should be less than 200mg/dL.


immature cartilage-producing cells.


rapid, jerky, dance-like movement of the body.

chorionic villus sampling (CVS)

placental tissue that is sometimes retrieved for laboratory analysis. Cells from this tissue can be tested for certain genetic abnormalities and chromosomal disorders.


the thin, blood-rich membrane that covers the white of the eyeball; responsible fore supplying blood to the retina.


chromatography a laboratory test performed on a pregnant woman's urine to detect illegal drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana.


filaments of genetic material in every cell nucleus that are made up of genes and that transmit genetic information from one generation of cells to the next.


referring to a disease or disorder that usually develops slowly and lasts for a long period of time.

chronic fatigue syndrome

debilitating condition characterized by profound tiredness, regardless of bed rest.

chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

a slowly progressing cancer of the blood in which too many lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced by the bone marrow and by organs of the lymph system.

chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)

a slowly progressing cancer of the blood in which too many white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow.


thick liquid made of partially digested food and stomach juices; made in the stomach and moves into the small intestine for further digestion.

ciliary body

the part of the eye that produces aqueous humor.


the procedure of taking moving pictures to show the passage of dye through blood vessels.

circulatory system

pertaining to the heart and blood vessels, and the circulation of blood.


surgical procedure to remove the skin covering the end of the penis, called the foreskin.


a chronic problem makes it hard for the liver to remove toxins (poisonous substances) from the body. Alcohol, medications, and other substances may build up in the bloodstream and cause problems. Cirrhosis is a result of scarring and damage from other diseases, such as biliary atresia and alcoholism.


pain or fatigue in arms and legs due to poor supply of oxygen to the muscles.

cleft lip

an abnormality in which the lip does not completely form. The degree of the cleft lip can vary greatly, from mild (notching of the lip) to severe (large opening from the lip up through the nose).

cleft palate

occurs when the roof of the mouth does not completely close, leaving an opening that can extend into the nasal cavity. The cleft may involve either side of the palate. It can extend from the front of the mouth (hard palate) to the throat (soft palate). The cleft may also include the lip.

climacteric (also called perimenopause)

the transition period of time before menopause, marked by a decreased production of estrogen and progesterone, irregular menstrual periods, and transitory psychological changes.

clinical trials

organized research studies that provide clinical data aimed at finding better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, or treat diseases.

Clostridium difficile

Bacteria naturally present in the large intestine that make a substance that can cause a serious infection called pseudomembranous colitis in people taking antibiotics.

coagulation disorders

problems with either the inability for blood to clot properly, resulting in excessive bleeding, or excessive clotting leading to obstruction of veins and arteries (thrombosis).


pain around the coccyx.


snail-shaped structure in the inner ear that contains the organ of hearing.

cochlear implant

medical device that bypasses damaged structures in the inner ear and directly stimulates auditory nerve to allow some deaf individuals to learn to hear and interpret sounds and speech.


mental functions such as the ability to think, reason, and remember.

cold knife cone biopsy

a procedure in which a laser or a surgical scalpel is used to remove a piece of tissue. This procedure requires the use of general anesthesia.

cold sore

small blisters around and in the mouth caused by the herpes simplex virus.


partial or complete removal of the large bowel or colon.


a condition in an otherwise healthy baby characterized by excessive crying.


irritation of the colon.


a natural protein found in humans that forms connective tissue and provides strength, resilience, and support to the skin, ligaments, tendons, bones, and other parts of the body.

collagen injections

one type of collagen, which is derived from purified bovine (cow) collagen, is injected beneath the skin to replace the body's natural collagen that has been lost. Injectable collagen is generally used to treat wrinkles, scars, and facial lines.

collagen/fat injectable fillers (also called soft-tissue augmentation)

a plastic surgery technique used to correct wrinkles, depressions in the skin, and/or scarring.

collagenous colitis (also called soft-tissue augmentation)

type of colitis caused by an abnormal band of collagen, a thread-like protein.


large intestine.

colon polyps

small, fleshy, mushroom-shaped growths in the colon.

colonic inertia

condition of the colon when muscles do not work properly, causing constipation.

colonoscopic polypectomy

removal of tumor-like growths (polyps) using a device inserted through a colonoscope.


a procedure that allows the physician to view the entire length of the large intestine, and can often help identify abnormal growths, inflamed tissue, ulcers, and bleeding. It involves inserting a colonoscope, a long, flexible, lighted tube, in through the rectum up into the colon. The colonoscope allows the physician to see the lining of the colon, remove tissue for further examination, and possibly treat some problems that are discovered.

colony-stimulating factors

substances that stimulate the production of blood cells.



colorectal cancer

cancer that occurs in the colon (large intestine) or the rectum (the end of the large intestine).

colorectal transit study

a test to show how well food moves through the colon. The patient swallows capsules containing small markers which are visible on x-ray. The patient follows a high-fiber diet during the course of the test, and the movement of the markers through the colon is monitored with abdominal x-rays taken several times three to seven days after the capsule is swallowed.


operation that makes it possible for stool to leave the body after the rectum has been removed.


thin, white, first milk produced by the breasts during late pregnancy and for a few days after childbirth. It provides a nursing infant with essential nutrients and infection-fighting antibodies.

colposcopy (also called colposcopic biopsy)

a procedure which uses an instrument with magnifying lenses, called a colposcope, to examine the cervix for abnormalities. If abnormal tissue is found, a biopsy is usually performed.

common bile duct

tube that carries bile from the liver to the small intestine.

common bile duct obstruction

blockage of the common bile duct, often caused by gallstones.

compact tissue

the harder, outer tissue of bones.

comparative pathology

the study of disease in animals and how it compares in humans.

complementary medicine

any form of therapy used in combination with other alternative treatments or standard/conventional medicine.

complete blood count (CBC)

a measurement of size, number, and maturity of the different blood cells in a specific volume of blood.

composite resins

also know as white fillings, a composite resin is a tooth-colored plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide) that is used primarily for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.

compound fracture

the broken bone protrudes through the skin.

computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan.)

a non-invasive diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.

conductive hearing impairment

hearing loss caused by dysfunction of the outer or middle ear.

cone biopsy (also called conization)

a biopsy in which a larger cone-shaped piece of tissue is removed from the cervix by using the loop electrosurgical excision procedure or the cold knife cone biopsy procedure. The cone biopsy procedure may be used as a treatment for precancerous lesions and early cancers.


present at birth.

congenital anomaly

a health problem present at birth (not necessarily genetic).

congestive heart failure

a condition in which the heart cannot pump out all of the blood that enters it, which leads to an accumulation of blood in the vessels and fluid in the body tissues.


the membrane that lines the exposed eyeball and the inside of the eyelid.


inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye.


condition in which the stool becomes hard and dry.


tighten; narrow.

contact dermatitis

itchy rash; a result of an exposure to an allergen or an irritant.


ability to hold in a bowel movement or urine.

continent ileostomy

operation to create a pouch from part of the small intestine. Stool that collects in the pouch is removed by inserting a small tube through an opening made in the abdomen.

contractions, labor

rhythmic tightening of the muscular wall of the uterus to push the fetus down through the vagina during childbirth.


an abnormal condition of a joint caused by a loss of muscle fibers or a loss of the normal flexibility of the skin.


a bruise caused by a blow to the muscle, tendon, or ligament; caused when blood pools around the injury and discolors the skin.


a yellowish, callus growth that develops on top of the toes.


the clear, dome-shaped surface that covers the front of the eye.

corneal curvature

the shape of the front surface of the eye.

coronal suture

the joining line (suture) between the frontal and parietal bones of the skull that crosses the top of the skull from temple to temple.

coronary arteries

arteries that come from the aorta to provide blood to the heart muscle.

coronary artery bypass

a surgical procedure in which small portions of veins or arteries are taken from one part of the body and transplanted into the heart to bypass clogged coronary arteries in the heart.

coronary artery bypass graft (CAB or CABG)

surgical procedure in which a healthy blood vessel is transplanted from another part of the body into the heart to replace or bypass a diseased vessel.

coronary artery spasm

a sudden closing of an artery, which cuts off blood flow to the heart and causes symptom of angina or heart attack.

coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease)

a condition in which the coronary arteries narrow from an accumulation of plaque (atherosclerosis) and cause a decrease in blood flow.

coronary occlusion

an obstruction of one of the coronary arteries that decreases flow to the heart muscle.

coronary thrombosis

the formation of a clot in one of the arteries that carry blood to the heart muscle.


the outer layer of the cerebrum, densely packed with nerve cells.

corticosteroids (also called glucocorticoids)

potent anti-inflammatory hormones that are made naturally in the body or synthetically for use as drugs; most commonly prescribed drug of this type is prednisone.

cosmetic plastic surgery (also called aesthetic plastic surgery)

one type of plastic surgery performed to repair or reshape otherwisenormal structures of the body, primarily to improve the patient's appearance and self-esteem.


excision of a part of the skull.


pertaining to the head (skull) and face.


a condition in which the sutures (soft spots) in the skull of an infant close too early, causing problems with normal brain and skull growth. Premature closure of the sutures may also cause the pressure inside of the head to increase and the skull or facial bones to change from a normal, symmetrical appearance.


surgical opening of the skull to gain access to the intracranial structures.

creeping eruption

a skin infection caused by hookworms that is characterized by severe itching.


grinding noise or sensation within a joint.

Crohn's disease (also called regional enteritis and ileitis)

A chronic form of inflammatory bowel disease that usually affects the lower small intestine (called the ileum) or the colon, but it can affect the entire gastrointestinal tract.

Crouzon's syndrome

A birth defect characterized by abnormalities in the skull and facial bones, this syndrome often causes the skull to be short in the front and the back. Flat cheek bones and a flat nose are also typical of this disorder.


a "cap" that covers a cracked or broken tooth, unfixed by a filling, to approximate its normal size and shape.

crust (also called scab)

a formation of dried blood, pus, or other skin fluid over a break in the skin.

cryosurgery or cryoprostatectomy

freezing of the prostate through the use of liquid nitrogen probes guided by transrectal ultrasound of the prostate.


a surgical procedure in which a super-cooled probe is inserted into a part of the brain called the thalamus in order to stop tremors.


failure of one or both of the testicle(s) to move down into the scrotum.


parasite that can cause gastrointestinal infection and diarrhea.


a diarrheal infection caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium. The parasite is transmitted after drinking or swallowing contaminated food or water, including water swallowed while swimming.

cubital tunnel

a tunnel of muscle, ligament, and bone on the inside of the elbow.

cued speech

method of communication that combines speech reading with a system of handshapes placed near the mouth to help deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals differentiate words that look similar on the lips.


a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the pelvic cavity through the vaginal wall to obtain a sample of pus.


the use of warmed glass jars to create suction on certain points of the body.


insufficient oxygen in the blood; symptoms include a bluish color in the skin.

cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS)

sudden, repeated attacks of severe vomiting (especially in children), nausea, and physical exhaustion with no apparent cause.


a fluid-filled or semi-solid sac in or under the skin.

cystic duct

tube that carries bile from the gallbladder into the common bile duct and the small intestine.

cystic duct obstruction

blockage of the cystic duct, often caused by gallstones.


inflammation of the urinary bladder and ureters.


a hernia-like disorder in women that occurs when the wall between the bladder and the vagina weakens, causing the bladder to drop or sag into the vagina.


diagnostic procedure that measures bladder capacity and pressure changes as the bladder fills and empties.

cystoscopy (also called cystourethroscopy)

an examination in which a scope, a flexible tube and viewing device, is inserted through the urethra to examine the bladder and urinary tract for structural abnormalities or obstructions, such as tumors or stones.


condition that results when the urethra and its supporting tissues weaken and drop into the vagina leading to stress incontinence.

cystourethrogram (also called a voiding cystogram)

a specific x-ray that examines the urinary tract. A catheter (hollow tube) is placed in the urethra (tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) and the bladder is filled with a liquid dye. X-ray images will be taken as the bladder fills and empties. The images will show if there is any reverse flow of urine into the ureters and kidneys.


the study of individual cells.


one group of herpes viruses that infect humans and can cause a variety of clinical symptoms including deafness or hearing impairment; infection with the virus may be either before or after birth.


Chordomas are benign, slow-growing, rare tumors that are usually seen in patients 50 to 60 years old. Their most common locations are the base of the skull and the lower portion of the spine. Although these tumors are benign, they tend to invade the adjacent bone and put pressure on nearby neural tissue.

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