Glossary: E

E. coli O157:H7 (Also called E. coli. or Escherichia coli.)

Species of bacteria found in the intestines of man and healthy cattle; often the cause of urinary tract infections, diarrhea in infants, and wound infections.

ear infection

presence and growth of bacteria or viruses in the ear.

ear wax

yellow secretion from glands in the outer ear (cerumen) that keeps the skin of the ear dry and protected from infection.

ear wax

abnormal eating behaviors.


a procedure that evaluates the structure and function of the heart by using sound waves recorded on an electronic sensor that produce a moving picture of the heart and heart valves.


a serious, life-threatening condition in late pregnancy in which very high blood pressure can cause a woman to have seizures.

ectopic pregnancy (also called tubal pregnancy)

pregnancy that develops outside the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes.


turning outward of an edge; generally refers to a rare condition of the eyelid in which the lining of the eyelid is exposed.

eczema (also called atopic dermatitis)

a skin disorder that is characterized by itching, scaling, thickening of the skin, and is usually located on the face, elbows, knees, and arms.


estimated due date.


swelling due to the buildup of fluid.

ejection fraction

the measurement of the blood pumped out of the ventricles.

elder care

a relatively new and growing area of health care concerned with providing medical and other services for the rapidly growing, aging population (most often persons 65 and older).

elective surgery

an operation the patient chooses to have done, which may not be essential to continuation of quality of life. (See also optional surgery.)

electric and magnetic fields

refers to the electric and magnetic fields which surround both big power lines that distribute power and the smaller but closer electric lines in homes and appliances.

electrical burns

burns due to contact with an electrical current.

electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)

a test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), and detects heart muscle damage.


uses a combination of chemotherapy and electrical pulses to treat cancer.


electrosurgery which helps harden tissue.

electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

a procedure causing a brief convulsion by passing an electric current through the brain; used to treat some mental disorders.

electrodermal activity (EDA)

measures changes in perspiration rate.


electrosurgery which destroys tissue.

electrodiagnostic tests (electromyography and nerve conduction velocity)

studies that evaluate and diagnose disorders of the muscles and motor neurons. Electrodes are inserted into the muscle, or placed on the skin overlying a muscle or muscle group, and electrical activity and muscle response are recorded.

electroencephalogram (EEG)

a procedure that records the brain's continuous electrical activity by means of electrodes attached to the scalp.


chemicals such as salts and minerals needed for various functions in the body.

electromyogram (EMG )

a test to evaluate nerve and muscle function.

electrophysiological study (EPS)

a cardiac catheterization to study electrical current in patients who have arrhythmias.


surgery which uses electrical instruments.


the insertion of a substance through a catheter into a blood vessel to stop hemorrhaging, or excessive bleeding.


a "wandering" blood clot.


the fetus is first called an embryo during the first eight weeks after conception.

emergency surgery

an operation performed immediately as a result of a urgent medical condition. (See also urgent surgery.)

emerging infectious diseases

commonly defined as diseases that have newly appeared in a population, and/or diseases that have existed in the past, but are rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range. Emerging diseases include: AIDS, Lyme disease, Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli), hantavirus, and others. Re-emerging diseases include: malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, pertussis, influenza, and others.


an inflammation caused by a viral infection. While specific viruses may vary and exposure occurs through insect bites, food or drink, or skin contact, travelers are most at risk from insect bites.


accidental passage of a bowel movement.


the surgical removal of plaque or blood clots in an artery.


a disease caused by the health conditions constantly present within a community. It usually describes an infection that is transmitted directly or indirectly between humans and is occurring at the usual expected rate.


a bacterial infections of the heart lining.


the membrane that covers the inside surface of the heart.

endocervical curettage (ECC)

a procedure which uses a narrow instrument called a curette to scrape the lining of the endocervical canal. This type of biopsy is usually completed along with the colposcopic biopsy.


also called a pulp specialist, a endodontist has undergone specialized training in performing root canal therapy.


fluid in the labyrinth - the organ of balance located in the inner ear.

endometrial ablation

a procedure to destroy the lining of the uterus (endometrium).

endometrial biopsy

a procedure in which a sample of tissue is obtained through a tube which is inserted into the uterus.

endometrial hyperplasia

abnormal thickening of the endometrium caused by excessive cell growth.

endometrial implants

fragments of endometrium that relocate outside of the uterus, such as in the muscular wall of the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, or intestine, and bleed monthly just as endometrium does in the uterus.

endometrial resection

a procedure to remove the lining of the uterus (endometrium).


condition in which tissue resembling that of the endometrium grows outside the uterus, on or near the ovaries or fallopian tubes, or in other areas of the pelvic cavity.


mucous membrane lining of the inner surface of the uterus that grows during each menstrual cycle and is shed in menstrual blood.


biochemical substances made by the body that may help reduce the level of pain.


small, flexible tube with a light and a lens on the end used to look inside an organ or cavity such as the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, colon, or rectum.

endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

a procedure that allows the physician to diagnose and treat problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas. The procedure combines x-ray and the use of an endoscope.


procedure that uses an endoscope to diagnose or treat a condition.


the delicate lining, only one cell thick, of the organs of circulation.


liquid put into the rectum to clear out the bowel.

enlarged heart

a condition of the heart in which it is abnormally larger than normal.

enteral nutrition (also called tube feeding)

a way to provide food through a tube placed in the nose, the stomach, or the small intestine. A tube in the nose is called a nasogastric or nasoantral tube. A tube that goes through the skin into the stomach is called a gastrostomy or percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG). A tube into the small intestine is called a jejunostomy or percutaneous endoscopic jejunostomy (PEJ) tube.


irritation of the small intestine.


condition caused by weakened muscles in the pelvis in which a portion of the intestines bulges into the top of the vagina.


examination of the small intestine with an endoscope.


ostomy, or opening, into the intestine through the abdominal wall.


involuntary discharge of urine usually during sleep at night; bedwetting beyond the age when bladder control should have been establish.

environmental medicine

the healthcare specialty concerned with human illnesses or dysfunctions that result from environmental factors.

enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)

blood test used to detect Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Also used to diagnose an ulcer.

eosinophilic gastroenteritis

infection and swelling of the lining of the stomach, small intestine, or large intestine.


the membrane that covers the outside of the heart.


a disease that spreads rapidly through a demographic segment of the human population, such as everyone in a given geographic area, or a similar population segment. Also refers to a disease whose incidence is beyond what is expected.


the study of the spread, control, and prevention of disease in a group of persons.


the outermost layer of skin.

epidural anesthesia

method of pain relief used during surgery or childbirth in which an anesthetic is injected into a small area surrounding the spinal cord (the epidural space) to block pain nerve impulses from the lower half of the body.

epilepsy (also called seizure disorder)

a brain disorder involving recurrent seizures.


one of two chemicals (the other is norepinephrine) released by the adrenal gland that increases the speed and force of heart beats. It dilates the airways to improve breathing and narrows blood vessels in the skin and intestine so that an increased flow of blood reaches the muscles and allows them to cope with the demands of exercise.


an incision through the vaginal wall and the perineum (the area between the thighs, extending from the anus to the vaginal opening) to help deliver the fetus.

epithelial cells

one of many kinds of cells that form the epithelium, secrete substances, and absorb nutrients.


a specialized type of tissue that normally lines the surfaces and cavities of the body.

erectile dysfunction (also called impotence)

the inability to achieve an erection, and/or dissatisfaction with the size, rigidity, and/or duration of erections.


the science of obtaining a correct match between the human body, work-related tasks, and work tools.




a bacterial skin infection that usually affects the arms, legs, or face, characterized by shiny, red areas, small blisters, and swollen lymph nodes.

erythema multiforme

a skin condition characterized by symmetrical, red, raised skin areas all over the body.

erythema nodosum

a skin condition characterized by red bumps that usually appear on the shins.


a skin infection of the top layer of skin characterized by irregular pink patches that turn to brown scales.

erythrocyte sedimentation rate (also called ESR or sed rate)

a measurement of how quickly red blood cells fall to the bottom of a test tube. When swelling and inflammation are present, the blood's proteins clump together and become heavier than normal. Thus, when measured, they fall and settle faster at the bottom of the test tube. Generally, the faster the blood cells fall, the more severe the inflammation.


a red patch of mucous membrane inside the mouth; one cause of oral cancer.

esophageal atresia

during pregnancy, the baby's esophagus does not develop properly, and ends before reaching the stomach. Food cannot pass from the mouth into the stomach.

esophageal manometry

this test helps determine the strength of the muscles in the esophagus. It is useful in evaluating gastroesophageal reflux and swallowing abnormalities. A small tube is guided into the nostril, then passed into the throat, and finally into the esophagus. The pressure the esophageal muscles produce at rest is then measured.

esophageal pH monitoring

a test to measure the amount of acid in the esophagus.

esophageal spasms

muscle cramps in the esophagus that cause pain in the chest.

esophageal stricture

narrowing of the esophagus often caused by acid flowing back from the stomach.

esophageal ulcer

sore in the esophagus caused by long-term inflammation or damage from the residue of medications.

esophageal varices

stretched veins in the esophagus that occur when the liver is not working properly.


irritation of the esophagus, usually caused by acid that flows up from the stomach.

esophagogastroduodenoscopy (also called EGD or upper endoscopy)

a procedure that allows the physician to examine the inside of the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. A thin, flexible, lighted tube, called an endoscope, is guided into the mouth and throat, then into the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum. The endoscope allows the physician to view the inside of this area of the body, as well as to insert instruments through a scope for the removal of a sample of tissue for biopsy (if necessary).


the muscular canal that runs from the voice box to the stomach.


a group of hormones secreted by the ovaries which affect many aspects of the female body, including a woman's menstrual cycle and normal sexual and reproductive development.

estrogen replacement therapy (ERT)

use of the female hormone estrogen to replace that which the body no longer produces naturally after medical or surgical menopause.


a feeling of well-being or elation; may be drug-related.

evoked potentials

procedures that record the brain's electrical response to visual, auditory, and sensory stimuli.


a rash.


cutting away tissue with a scalpel or other instruments to completely remove it and possibly some surrounding tissue. There are many types of excisional surgeries, each named for the particular area of the body in which they are performed, or the particular purpose for which they are performed.

excisional biopsy

surgery to remove tissue for examination.


an area of the skin covered by a crust, or scab, usually caused by scratching.


to get rid of waste from the body.

expander/implant breast reconstruction

the use of an expander to create a breast mound, followed by the placement with a permanently filled breast implant.

expectant management (also called expectant therapy)

"watchful waiting" or close monitoring of a disease by a physician instead of immediate treatment.


exhaling; giving off carbon dioxide.

extensor muscle

any muscle that causes the straightening of a limb or other part.

external urethral sphincter muscle

a voluntary and involuntary ring-like band of muscle fibers that you voluntarily contract when you want to stop urinating.

extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL)

use of a machine to send shock waves directly to the kidney stone to break a large stone into smaller stones that will pass through the urinary system.


outside of, away from, unrelated to the genital organs.

extrahepatic biliary tree

bile ducts located outside the liver.

extrapyramidal system

system consisting of nerve cells, nerve tracts, and pathways that connects the cerebral cortex, basal ganglia, thalamus, cerebellum, reticular formation, and spinal neurons that is concerned with the regulation of reflex movements such as balance and walking.

extrinsic asthma

asthma that is triggered by an allergic reaction, usually to something that is inhaled.

Zenker's diverticulum

Pouches in the esophagus from increased pressure in and around the esophagus.

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