Advanced Reference: In peri-operative terms, refers to insufflation of CO2 prior to laparoscopy.

Pneumothorax Quick Reference: (nu-mo-thaw-rax) When air enters the pleural cavity.

Advanced Reference: When air gets between the layers of the pleura and if the air continues to enter the cavity it could lead to a tension pneumothorax which may push the mediastinum over to one side and has the potential to be life threatening.

Polio (blade) Quick Reference: Laryngoscope with wide-angled blade popular in obstetric anaesthesia.

Advanced Reference: Valuable when patient has large chest/breasts and relatively short neck that will cause intubation difficulties as in late pregnancy. Originally designed for patients treated in iron lung ventilators due to polio.

Poliomyelitis Quick Reference: (polio-my-lite-is) Virus infection of the nervous system spread by poor hygiene, pollution of food and water or by droplet infection from the nose.

Advanced Reference: Affects the grey matter in front part of the spinal cord affecting the nerve cells responsible for stimulation muscular contraction. If any nerve cells are damaged by the infection, the corresponding muscles can no longer function normally and show signs of wasting.

Polya Quick Reference: A type of gastrectomy.

Advanced Reference: One form of partial gastrectomy, as alternative to Billroth, etc.

Polycystic Quick Reference: Characterised by the presence of many cysts. Advanced Reference: Examples are polycystic kidney, liver, ovary.

Polyethylene Quick Reference: (poly-eth-i-leen) Strong flexible synthetic resin.

Advanced Reference: Produced by the polymerisation of ethylene. Used in the production of many hospital-based products, usually single-use items.

Polyglactin Quick Reference: Suture material.

Advanced Reference: Synthetic suture material manufactured and distributed as vicryl (coated).

Polyglycolic acid Quick Reference: Suture material.

Advanced Reference: Synthetic suture manufactured under the name dexon.

Pons Quick Reference: Prominence on the ventral surface of the brain stem. Advanced Reference: It is situated between the medulla oblongata and the cerebral peduncles of the mid-brain.


Portal Quick Reference: Indicates the portal (blood) circulation.

Advanced Reference: The portal circulation supplies the liver. Receives all blood from the alimentary tract, pancreas and spleen via the portal vein and its branches which pass through the liver to become the hepatic veins.

Portal hypertension Quick Reference: A rise (chronic) in the venous pressure in the portal circulation.

Advanced Reference: The condition is usually caused by obstruction to blood flow through the liver, a major cause being cirrhosis.

Posterior Quick Reference: Indicates behind.

Advanced Reference: Opposite of anterior, indicating at the back of or behind, e.g. posterior surface of something.

Postural drainage Quick Reference: Drainage of secretions from the lungs. Advanced Reference: Involves the patient laying down, often prone and encouraged to cough up secretions from the lungs. Sometimes accompanied by massage or patting to the sides of the back intended to loosen adherent or thick secretions.

Potassium Quick Reference: Most common positively charged particle in the body.

Advanced Reference: Symbol K. One of the important electrolytes. Found mainly inside cells and plays a crucial role in nerve conduction and so muscle impulse and contraction. Normal range is 3.5-5.0 mmol/l.

Pott's fracture Quick Reference: Generally indicates fracture of the ankle. Advanced Reference: Originally used to indicate a variety of fractures involving the lower ends of the tibia and fibula in the region of the ankle.

Pouch of Douglas Quick Reference: Pouch is a pocket-like cavity. Commonly referred to in relation to gynaecology.

Advanced Reference: The lowest fold of the peritoneum between the uterus and rectum.

Povidone A polymerised form of vinylpyrrolidone, a white powder soluble in water. N

Advanced Reference: Used as a dispersing and suspending agent in <:

drugs and other agents. It is combined with iodine as a topical antiseptic. tice act

Practolol Quick Reference: Beta-blocker and anti-arrhythmic. £

Advanced Reference: Used to treat tachycardia and irregular heart § rhythms. Works by inhibiting the contractile capacity of the heart muscle. |l Administration is by slow IV injection. Available as Eraldin. a.

Precipitation Quick Reference: (pre-sip-I-tate-on) When a solution forms g> into solids. atir

Advanced Reference: Applies to drugs, etc. when sometimes mixing two together causes them to solidify or react in a similar way.


Precursor Quick Reference: A prognostic characteristic or feature of a patient's health data.

Advanced Reference: Examples are X-rays or laboratory findings that are associated with a higher or lower risk of death than average.

Prednisolone Quick Reference: Synthetic corticosteroid.

Advanced Reference: Used to treat inflammation, especially in rheumatic and allergic conditions.

Preload Quick Reference: Strength of ventricular muscle fibres at each diastole.

Advanced Reference: It is reflected by ventricular pressure and volume at that part of the cardiac cycle.

Premedication Quick Reference: Drug given before surgery.

Advanced Reference: Premed or premedication involves drug administration prior to undergoing anaesthetic and surgery. Intended to be a part of the anaesthetic by relieving anxiety, reducing secretions, reducing intra-operative drug doses and diminishing vagal reflexes. Can also involve prophylactic anti-emesis.

Pressor Quick Reference: Substance that causes a rise in BP.

Advanced Reference: A vasopressor, drug which constricts the blood vessels and raises BP.

Pressure head Quick Reference: Highest point of pressure in an irrigation or infusion.

Advanced Reference: Refers to the height of an IV infusion or irrigation, and where lies the point from which the highest pressure is exerted, i.e. within the fluid bag, giving-set, etc.

Priapism Quick Reference: Persistent erection of the penis.

Advanced Reference: The persistent erection is the result of venous thrombosis within the organ. Treatment is usually surgical involving embolectomy or venous bypass.

Prilocaine Quick Reference: Local anaesthetic (LA).

Advanced Reference: Used as an LA for many topical and minor procedures. Available as a cream, solution or for injection. Proprietary versions include citanest.

Primary Quick Reference: Indicates earliest or first.

Advanced Reference: Term used in relation to cancer and its spread. Primary being the initial site and growth of a tumour in relation to secondary, which indicates the further sites the disease could have spread to via metastasis.


Prion Quick Reference: Protein particle thought to be the cause of various infectious diseases of the nervous system such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).

Advanced Reference: The smoke plume from diathermy use was thought to be one carrier source of prions involving CJD.

Procainamide Quick Reference: A beta-blocker used as an anti-arrhythmic. Available as pronestyl.

Advanced Reference: Used to treat heartbeat irregularities especially after heart attack. Owing to its poor absorption properties, has lost popularity as an LA in favour of those that are better absorbed and are longer lasting.

Procto-colectomy Quick Reference: Removal of the entire large bowel, rectum and anal canal.

Advanced Reference: Performed via a combined abdomino-perineal approach with creation of a permanent ileostomy in the right ileac fossa.

Proctoscope Quick Reference: Instrument for examining the rectum and anal canal.

Advanced Reference: Examination carried out with a proctoscope. Related to sigmoidoscopy when the rectum and sigmoid flexure are examined with a sigmoidoscope.

Proflavine Quick Reference: Topical antibacterial cream.

Advanced Reference: A formulation of beeswax and liquid paraffin as well as an antibacterial agent, used as a topical application and dressing for minor skin infections, burns and abrasions.

Prognosis Quick Reference: To forecast.

Advanced Reference: To forecast the probable course and outcome of an illness.

Prolapse Quick Reference: The falling forward or downward of an organ.

Advanced Reference: A common area for prolapse is the uterus which becomes displaced downwards due to weakening of the muscles of the pelvic floor. Causes include childbirth and is treated surgically if necessary. Post-operative problems may involve incontinence.

Pronation Quick Reference: To turn the hand palm downwards.

Advanced Reference: It is the movement of turning the hand palm downwards or facing backwards. Prone position indicates lying face downwards.

Prone Quick Reference: Patient lying face down.

Advanced Reference: The prone position is when the patient is placed on their front face down. This is most common in spinal surgery, orthopaedics, etc.

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