Glossary: P


an electronic device that is surgically implanted into the patient's heart and chest to regulate heartbeat.


an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience primarily associated with tissue damage.

pain threshold

the least experience of pain that a person can recognize.

pain tolerance level

the greatest level of pain that a person is prepared to tolerate.

palliative treatment

therapy that relieves symptoms, such as pain, but does not alter the course of the disease. Its primary purpose is to improve the quality of life.


a surgical procedure in which a part of the brain, called the globus pallidus, is lesioned in order to improve symptoms of tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia.


an imaging technique involving the visualization of color.


examination by feeling part of the body.


paralysis of a muscle or group of muscles.


long gland that lies behind the stomach; manufactures insulin and digestive enzymes.


irritation of the pancreas that can make it stop working; most often caused by gallstones or alcohol abuse.

panic disorder

characterized by chronic, repeated, and unexpected panic attacks - bouts of overwhelming fear of being in danger when there is no specific cause for the fear. In-between panic attacks, persons with panic disorder worry excessively about when and where the next attack may occur.

Pap test (Pap smear)

Test that involves microscopic examination of cells collected from the cervix, used to detect changes that may be cancer or may lead to cancer, and to show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation.

papillary stenosis

condition in which the openings of the bile ducts and pancreatic ducts narrow.

paranoid personality disorder

persons with this disorder are often cold, distant, and unable to form close, interpersonal relationships. Often overly, yet unjustifiably, suspicious of their surroundings, persons with paranoid personality disorder generally cannot see their role in conflict situations and often project their feelings of paranoia as anger onto others.


loss of movement and sensation in both legs.

parenteral nutrition (hyperalimentation or total parenteral nutrition)

a way to provide liquid food mixture through a special tube in the chest.

parietal cells

cells in the stomach wall that make hydrochloric acid.

Parkinson's disease (PD)

The most common form of parkinsonism; a slowly progressing, degenerative disease that is usually associated with the following symptoms, all of which result from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells: tremor or trembling of the arms, jaw, legs, and face; stiffness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk; bradykinesia (slowness of movement); postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination.


the name given to a group of disorders with similar features.


a skin infection around a finger or toenail.


any disease or perversion of the sense of smell, especially the subjective perception of odors that do not exist.

partial (segmental) mastectomy

surgery to remove the breast cancer and a larger portion of the normal breast tissue around the breast cancer. The surgeon may also remove the lining over the chest muscles below the tumor and some of the lymph nodes under the arm.

partial abdominoplasty

a "mini tummy tuck." This procedure is ideal for individuals who have fat deposits limited to the area below the navel.

partial colectomy

the removal of part of the large intestine.

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