A

Abdomen Quick Reference: The area of the body between the chest and the pelvis.

Advanced Reference: The abdomen is separated from the chest by the diaphragm. The contents of the abdomen include the stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, liver, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, appendix, gall bladder and urinary bladder.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm Quick Reference: (an-your-ism) A ballooning or dilatation of the aorta in the abdominal region.

Advanced Reference: The aneurysm weakens the wall of the aorta and can result in the aorta rupturing with potentially fatal consequences. As the diameter of the aorta increases, the chances of rupture also increase. Men, usually over 60, are five times more likely than women to suffer this type of aneurysm. Also referred to as triple A (AAA).

Abdominal hysterectomy Quick Reference: (hist-er-ec-tommy) The surgical removal of the uterus through an incision in the abdominal wall.

Advanced Reference: The procedure involves a number of approaches depending on severity and/or spread, i.e. total, sub-total, pan, Wertheims.

Abdomino-perineal Quick Reference: Pertaining to the abdomen and perineum.

Advanced Reference: Includes the pelvic area, the female vulva and anus, and the male anus and scrotum. An abdomino-perineal resection procedure involves excision of the lower colon, rectum and anus.

Abduction Quick Reference: The opposite of adduction.

Advanced Reference: The movement of a limb away from the midline of the body. Abduction of the legs is, therefore, to spread the legs (outwards).

Aberrant Quick Reference: Pertaining to a wandering from the usual or expected pathway.

Advanced Reference: Can be applied to the heart when the electrical system does not follow the usual conduction route.

Ablation Quick Reference: Removal or destruction.

Advanced Reference: The removal or destruction of body tissue, usually by surgical means. The most common being ablation of the uterus.

Abortion Quick Reference: The loss of a pregnancy.

Advanced Reference: The premature exit of the products of conception (the foetus, foetal membranes and placenta) from the uterus. The term does not refer to why or how the pregnancy was lost. A spontaneous abortion is commonly called 'a miscarriage'.

Abruption Quick Reference: A sudden breaking off or tearing apart.

Advanced Reference: Placental abruption indicates the separation of the placenta from the normal position of the uterus during pregnancy and usually refers to the period after 20 weeks. Results in severe haemorrhage.

Abscess Quick Reference: (ab-ses) A collection of pus as the result of infection.

Advanced Reference: An abscess forms as the result of infection. The area of infection becomes isolated from the healthy tissue and in time the dead white blood cells, bacteria and fluid form pus.

Acetabulum Quick Reference: (as-e-tab-u-lum) A cup-shaped cavity on the outer side of the femur.

Advanced Reference: Indicates the socket of the hip joint in which the head of the femur moves (articulates).

Acetylcholine Quick Reference: (a-seat-al-coal-een) A neurotransmitter. Advanced Reference: Involved in the transmission of nervous impulses between nerve endings and the muscles and within the parasympathetic nervous system. Is broken down normally by cholinesterase. Muscle relaxant drugs act by competing with acetylcholine at the neuromuscu-lar junction.

Achilles tendon Quick Reference: (a-kill-ease) Tendon which runs from the calf muscle to the heel.

Advanced Reference: The achilles is responsible for drawing the foot downwards, hinging at the ankle joint. Is a weak point in certain sports and can rupture during activity and consequently requires surgical repair.

Acid-base balance Quick Reference: Indicates a balance in the production and secretion of acids and bases.

Advanced Reference: A balance provides a stable concentration of hydrogen ions in the body.

Acidosis Quick Reference: Alteration of the acid-alkali balance of blood and tissue fluid towards acidity.

Advanced Reference: In health, the slight alkalinity is held constant by the balance of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2, acid) and sodium bicarbonate

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