Glossary try the best to avoid the use of medical terms that could make it more difficult to understand the information on this website. Still, there are a number of terms that can't be avoided and that are useful to know because they are so often used by the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals with whom you might speak. The list below includes the terms used on for which we have provided definitions.

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Term Definition

Membranes that cover the abdominal cavity and the outside of abdominal organs

Peripheral nervous system

All parts of the nervous system except the brain and spinal cord


Sac-like membrane that surrounds the heart and the base of the blood vessels that lead into it


A physician who diagnoses and characterizes disease by examining a patient’s tissues, blood, and other body fluids. Pathologists work in two broad areas:

Anatomic pathology is the examination of the physical appearance and microscopic structure of tissues. Anatomic pathologists look at biopsies and organs removed at surgery (surgical pathology) as well as cells that are collected from brushings or body fluids (cytology). They also perform autopsies to investigate the cause of death (autopsy pathology).

Clinical pathology deals with the measurement of chemical constituents of blood and other body fluids (clinical chemistry), analysis of blood cells (hematology), identification of microorganisms (microbiology), and the collection, preparation and use of blood for transfusion (transfusion medicine). Clinical pathologists direct the laboratories that perform these tests and provide consultation to other doctors on the significance of test results.




Organism that causes disease

Paroxysmal choreoathetosis

A condition characterized by involuntary, intermittent, and irregular movements of facial muscles and limbs


1) Of or pertaining to the cells that line a cavity, such as the chest or abdomen;

2) A specialized cell in the stomach that makes acid to help in food digestion, as well as intrinsic factor, which is needed to absorb vitamin B12


numbness, tingling, or prickling; an alteration in sensation


Administration of a substance (e.g., a drug) by injection (under or through the skin) or intravenously but not through the digestive system (not enterally)


One of the four major groups of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites) that may live freely in nature, live on another organism without harming it, or live at the expense of the host organism


Any of a genus (Paramecium) of ciliate chiefly freshwater protozoans that have an elongate body rounded at the anterior end and an oblique funnel-shaped buccal groove bearing the mouth at the extremity.


tumor that releases excess hormones called catecholamines (e.g., dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine and their metabolites, such as metanephrines) and usually occurs somewhere in the abdomen but outside the adrenal glands


An epidemic that occurs over a wide geographic area (across continents)


Pale skin color