Assessment terms

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abdominal cavity

ab·dom·i·nal cav·i·ty

/abˈdämənl ˈkavitē/

Noun

Also known as the abdomen, this cavity is separated from the thoracic cavity by the diaphragm. It contains the stomach, liver, spleen, gallbladder and parts of the pancreas, as well as the small and large intestines.

abrasion

a·bra·sion

/əˈbrāZHən/

Noun

An open injury caused by rubbing or scraping of the skin. While the bleeding from this injury may be minimal, abrasions can still cause problems for the patient. Because sensory receptors are damaged, abrasions can be extremely painful. The loss of the epidermis and parts of the dermal layer exposes the patient to potential infection. This is especially true if large areas of the skin are damaged

absent

ab·sent

/ˈabsənt/

Adjective

Used to describe when a provider hears no breath sounds upon auscultating the lungs

adenosine triphosphate

a·den·o·sine tri·phos·phate

/əˈdenəˌsēn trī'fŏs'fāt'/

Noun

Oxygen and glucose are absorbed by cells, and interact with each other to produce the fuel known as adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.

adrenal gland

ad·re·nal gland

/əˈdrēnl gland/

Noun

The adrenal glands are part of the endocrine system, located above the kidneys. The right adrenal gland is triangular shaped, while the left adrenal gland is semilunar shaped. They are chiefly responsible for secreting the hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine in response to stress.

afferent spinal nerve

af·fer·ent spi·nal nerve

/ˈaf(ə)rənt ˈspīnl nərv/

Noun

Afferent spinal nerves move information from the body to the brain for processing.

alveolus

al·ve·o·lus

/alˈvēələs/

Noun

These small pockets of the alveolar ducts and sacs and terminal bronchioles through whose walls the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen takes place between the alveolar air and capillary blood. The bronchioles divide and become smaller until they terminate in the air sacs, known as alveoli. Each alveolus is surrounded by capillaries; like a capillary wall, the alveolar wall is also one cell thin. This allows gases like oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass through easily. Hundreds of millions of alveoli make up the bulk of the lungs.

anatomic position

an·a·tom·ic po·si·tion

/ˌanəˈtämik pəˈziSHən/

Noun

The position used as a reference in describing the relation of body parts to one another: standing erect, facing forward, with arms at the sides and palms turned forward.

anisocoria

an·i·so·co·ri·a

/an ahy 'suh kawr 'ee uh/

Noun

Unequal puils

antecubital

an·te·cu·bi·tal

/ān'tē kyōō'bĭ tl/

Adjective

The inner elbow of the arm

anterior

an·te·ri·or

/anˈti(ə)rēər/

Adjective

Also known as the ventral side, this anatomy term is used to refer to the front of the body.

appendicular portion

ap·pen·dic·u·lar por·tion

/apənˈdikyələr ˈpôrSHən/

Noun

Anatomically, the body is divided into two portions: axial and appendicular. The appendicular portion includes the upper and lower limbs.

arachnoid mater

a·rach·noid ma·ter

/əˈrakˌnoid ˈmātər/

Noun

The arachnoid mater is the fine, delicate membrane in the middle of the three layers of membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

artery

ar·ter·y

/ˈärtərē/

Noun

Arteries have the ability to stretch under a wave of blood, and “snap” back, much like an elastic band, to help move blood through the arterial side of the vasculature. Arteries divide and subdivide, becoming arterioles and ending in capillary beds whose walls are one cell thin.

atrium

a·tri·um

/ˈātrēəm/

Noun

Either of the two upper chambers of the heart that squeeze blood into the lower chambers (ventricles). The right atrium receives deoxygenated blood, whereas the left atrium receives oxygenated blood.

audible sound

au·di·ble sound

/ˈôdəbəl sound/

Noun

A sound that you detect without special equipment, such as stridor or snoring.

auditory canal

au·di·to·ry ca·nal

/ˈôdiˌtôrē kəˈnal/

Noun

The auditory canal extends from the middle ear to the throat. It is needed in order to maintain proper atmospheric pressure inside the middle ear which allows normal hearing to occur. Infections can cause this tube to clog, causing partial hearing loss and pain.

auricle

au·ri·cle

/ˈôrikəl/

Noun

The most notable part of the outer ear is the auricle, which is shaped to channel sound into the external auditory canal.

auscultate

au·scul·tate

/aw skuh l teyt/

Verb

The act of listening to lung sounds for the presence of uneven breath sounds, wheezing, or crackles.

auscultated sound

aus·cul·tat·ed sound

/aws″kul-ta´ted sound/

Noun

A sound that requires the use of a stethoscope, a listening device that amplifies these normally very quiet sounds. Examples of auscultated sounds include lung sounds and Korotkoff sounds associated with taking a blood pressure.

AVPU scale

AV·PU scale

/äv po͞o,po͝o skāl/

Noun

An acronym for a scale used during the primary assessment to quickly identify the patient’s level of consciousness by determining how a patient responds to some form of stimulus. AVPU stands for alert, verbal, pain and unresponsive. If a patient is responding spontaneously, they are an "A" on the AVPU. If they are responsive to verbal stimuli, they are a "V" on the scale. If they respond to painful stimulus, such as squeezing of the trapezius muscle, applying supraorbital or mandibular pressure, or providing a sternal rub, they are a "P." If they are unresponsive to any stimulus, they are a "U."

axial portion

ax·i·al por·tion

/ˈaksēəl ˈpôrSHən/

Noun

Anatomically, the body is divided into two portions: axial and appendicular. The axial portion includes the head, neck and trunk. Within the axial portion, there are several cavities: cranial, vertebral, thoracic, abdominal, pelvic, and retroperitoneal.

baseline

base·line

/ˈbāsˌlīn/

Noun

The set of vital signs that indicates a starting set for comparison

bilateral

bi·lat·er·al

/bīˈlatərəl/

Adjective

An anatomy term used to refer to paired structures, one on each side of the midline.

bile

bile

/bīl/

Noun

An alkaline digestive fluid that is secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder.

bladder

blad·der

/ˈbladər/

Noun

The urinary bladder is a hollow organ located within the pelvis, that expands as it collects urine from the kidneys. The urine is stored there until excretion.

blood

blood

/bləd/

Noun

Blood consists mostly of water containing nutrients, wastes, and specialized blood cells. Blood travels through the vascular system, carrying oxygen toward and carbon dioxide away from the tissues of the body.

bone

bone

/bōn/

Noun

The functional unit of the skeletal system is the bone cell. Bones appear to have a wide variety of sizes and shapes; however they are similar in composition. All bones are made up of a combination of live cells embedded in a matrix of collagen and mineral salts (such as calcium). Collagen provides the primary strength of the bone and is somewhat resilient, allowing for flexibility. The salts cause the bone to be hard, making it difficult to crush.

bony orbit

bon·y or·bit

/ˈbōnē ˈôrbit/

Noun

Surrounding the eye, it forms the eye socket and protects the eye. Its shape is supported by a clear, jelly -like substance called vitreous humor.

brain

brain

/brān/

Noun

In addition to being the seat of consciousness, the brain is also responsible for coordinating and controlling nearly all of the body’s processes, from processing incoming sensory information, making both conscious and unconscious decisions, to executing commands to respond to the sensory stimulus. Brain cells do not have the capacity to operate anaerobically, and will rapidly die without oxygen.

brainstem

brain·stem

/ˈbrānˌstem/

Noun

The brainstem is located deep inside the brain, and resembles more of the spinal cord than it does the cerebrum or cerebellum. It controls most of the major autonomic functions of the body, including heart rate, breathing rate and the contraction and relaxation of the vasculature.

bronchiole

bron·chi·ole

/ˈbräNGkēˌōl/

Noun

The bronchi continue to divide again and again into numerous bronchioles. Each of these bronchioles can expand or constrict depending upon the needs of the body for air exchange as well as reacting to certain substances. For example, pollen can cause the bronchioles to abnormally constrict in a patient with asthma, making it very difficult to breathe.

bronchus

bron·chus

/ˈbräNGkəs/

Noun

Either of the two main airway branches that begin at the trachea before dividing into the left and right bronchi, which enter the lungs. The bronchi continue to divide again and again into numerous bronchioles.

capillary

cap·il·lar·y

/ˈkapəˌlerē/

Noun

Any of the very thin-walled blood vessels that form a network between the smallest arterioles and tributaries.

cardiac muscle

car·di·ac mus·cle

/ˈkärdēˌak ˈməsəl/

Noun

Cardiac muscle has both the properties of skeletal and smooth muscle, and is found only in the heart. Its unique properties allow the heart to contract continuously without prolonged rest.

cartilage

car·ti·lage

/ˈkärtl-ij/

Noun

Not as dense as bone, cartilage has greater flexibility and serves several functions. It provides shape to structures such as the nose and ears; protects and provides a smooth surface between bones to allow for painless movement; and connects bones of the ribcage in a very flexible yet strong way.

cell

cell

/sel/

Noun

Many molecules and compounds that are organized to sustain life.

central nervous system

cen·tral nerv·ous sys·tem

/ˈsentrəl ˈnərvəs ˈsistəm/

Noun

The central nervous system is the division of the nervous system that involves the brain and spinal cord.

central vision

cen·tral vi·sion

/ˈsentrəl ˈviZHən/

Noun

Also called direct vision, central vision allows for viewing of fine, sharp, straight-ahead quality details.

cerebellum

cer·e·bel·lum

/ˌserəˈbeləm/

Noun

The cerebellum is the area of the brain that is located in the inferior ventral side of the brain. It is responsible for coordinating sensory input and motor responses that control movement and posture.

cerebrum

ce·re·brum

/səˈrēbrəm/

Noun

The cerebrum is the area of the brain that comprises most of the mass, folding upon itself multiple times in order to increase the amount of surface area that can fit inside the skull. It is also responsible for so-called “higher order” processes, such as making conscious thought and storing information as memories, which it then uses to make decisions (called reasoning).

chief complaint

chief com·plaint

/CHēf kəmˈplānt/

Noun

The chief complaint is stated in the patient’s words. It is his description about what bothers him the most. It can be documented using quotation marks, especially if it is out of the ordinary. For example, if the patient fell off a ladder, his chief complaint might be “my back hurts” or “I can’t feel my legs” (as opposed to “fall from a ladder”).

chyme

chyme

/kīm/

Noun

As food in the stomach is broken down through chemical reactions, it becomes more liquid in nature, forming a substance called chyme. The stomach churns the chyme using peristaltic motions, and eventually pushes the chyme into the small intestines through the pyloric valve.

cilia

cil·i·a

/ˈsilēə/

Noun

Microscopic structures resembling hairs that occur in large numbers on cell surfaces, whose rhythmic motion causes movement of the cell or surrounding medium.

clot

clot

/klät/

Noun

A collection of coagulating agents that causes bleeding to stop. A web forms when platelets stick to each other and the wall of a damaged area of skin. This web catches red blood cells, blood proteins, and white blood cells that are passing through. A clot is quickly formed, causing bleeding to stop. After the damage tissues repairs itself, the clot dissolves, leaving behind the new, healthy vessel.

clubbing

club·bing

/'kləbiNG/

Noun

Clubbing is a condition of chronic swelling of the fingertips, which can be due to long-term hypoxia (low oxygen levels).

cochlea

coch·le·a

/ˈkōklēə/

Noun

Located in the inner ear, the spiral cavity of the cochlea contains the nerve endings that are responsible for translating the auditory signal that is sent to the brain.

compliant

com·pli·ant

/kəmˈplīənt/

Adjective

Stretchy

conjugate

con·ju·gate

/ˈkänjəˌgāt/

Adjective

When both eyes are pointed in the same direction

contralateral

con·tra·lat·er·al

/ˌkäntrəˈlatərəl/

Adjective

An anatomy term used to refer to structures on the opposite side of the midline.

control center

con·trol cen·ter

/kənˈtrōl ˈsentər/

Noun

The control center receives information from receptors, compares that to what should be happening, and decides whether or not to make a change. If change is required, an effector will take action. For example, if skin receptors report a rise in heat, the control center will compare that with what it knows to be a safe temperature. If it is too hot, the control center will activate an effector, like a muscle to move the body part away from the heat source.

cornea

cor·ne·a

/ˈkôrnēə/

Noun

The clear opening that allows light to enter the eye is the cornea.

cranial cavity

cra·ni·al cav·i·ty

/ˈkrānēəl ˈkavitē/

Noun

The space inside the skull, which contains the brain.

cranial vault

cra·ni·al vault

/ˈkrānēəl vôlt/

Noun

The space inside the skull occupied by the brain.

cyanotic

cy a·not ic

/sahy uh not ik/

Adjective

Skin color that is blue due to a lack of perfusion.

deep

deep

/dēp/

Adjective

An anatomy term used to indicate that a part is toward the inside of the body.

demographic information

dem·o·graph·ic in·for·ma·tion

/ˌdeməˈgrafik ˌinfərˈmāSHən/

Noun

Factors such as the age, sex, and weight of a patient, that can provide you with clues and insight about their current situation. They may also help you determine the proper treatment and transport options for your patient.

dermis

der·mis

/ˈdərmis/

Noun

The layer of skin below the epidermis is the dermis; a layer of live cells that is flexible. The dermis contains blood vessels, sweat glands and hair follicles. Melanin is also found in the dermis and contains the pigment that we see as skin color.

diabetes

di·a·be·tes

/ˌdīəˈbētēz/

Noun

A condition in which there are elevated levels of glucose in the blood, due to the body's inability to produce enough insulin.

diaphoretic

di·a·pho·ret·ic

/ˌdīəfəˈretik/

Adjective

To be sweaty

diaphragm

di·a·phragm

/ˈdīəˌfram/

Noun

The diaphragm is the muscle that divides the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity. When stimulated by the brain, the diaphragm contracts, increasing the size of the thoracic cavity. This results in a small but significant negative pressure inside the chest, which causes air to rush into the lungs. At the end of this inhalation phase, the brain signals the diaphragm to stop contracting. As the muscle relaxes, the now positive pressure in the chest pushes air out of the lungs.

digestive system

di·ges·tive sys·tem

/diˈjestiv ˈsistəm/

Noun

The digestive system consists of the organs and glands that perform the mechanical and chemical processes necessary to break food down into particles small and simple enough to be absorbed into the body.

diminished

di·min·ished

/diˈminiSHt/

Adjective

Used to describe unusually quiet breath sounds

disconjugate

dis·con·ju·gate

/dis kon'jū gāt/

Adjective

When the eyes are not pointed in the same direction

distal

dis·tal

/ˈdistl/

Adjective

An anatomy term used to refer to a part further from a specific area than another.

distended

dis·tend·ed

/disˈtendəd/

Adjective

When the abdomen is unusually large, often from being filled with air or liquid, such as blood

dura mater

du·ra ma·ter

/ˈd(y)o͝orə ˈmātər/

Noun

The dura mater is the outermost and toughest of the three layers of membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

ear

ear

/i(ə)r/

Noun

The ear is the organ responsible for detecting sound, as well as a sense of balance. It is made of three sections, the outer, middle and inner.

effector

ef·fec·tor

/iˈfektər/

Noun

If a control center decides a change needs to be made due to the information it has received from the receptors, an effector will be activated. An effector may be a gland or a muscle.

efferent spinal nerve

ef·fer·ent spi·nal nerve

/ˈefərənt ˈspīnl nərv/

Noun

Efferent spinal nerves move information from the brain to the body.

ejaculation

e·jac·u·la·tion

/iˌjakyəˈlāSHən/

Noun

The release of semen through the urethra of the penis.

endocrine system

en·do·crine sys·tem

/ˈendəkrin ˈsistəm/

Noun

The endocrine system uses a series of chemicals called hormones to create a level of coordination and control that is slower in response than the nervous system, but longer in duration. These hormones interact with receptors on target organs, which triggers an action.

epidermis

ep·i·der·mis

/ˌepiˈdərmis/

Noun

The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin, and is comprised of dead cells that are constantly rubbed off.

eupnea

eup·ne·a

/ūp-ne´ah/

Noun

Breathing at a normal rate

exhalation

ex·ha·la·tion

/ˌeks(h)əˈlāSHən/

Noun

During exhalation, the thoracic cavity decreases in size causing the air in the lungs to be pushed out.

expiratory

ex·pir·a·to·ry

/ex·pir·a·to·ry/

Adjective

One of two phases of normal breathing, this is the act of breathing oit. Visual signs include chest fal.

extension

ex·ten·sion

/ikˈstenSHən/

Noun

An abnormal reflex that causes the arms and legs to bend outward when stimulated.

external auditory canal

ex·ter·nal au·di·to·ry ca·nal

/ikˈstərnl ˈôdiˌtôrē kəˈnal/

Noun

The external auditory canal channels sound from the outer ear to the tympanic membrane. Wax and hairs found inside the canal helps to keep large particles from entering deep into the ear.

eye

eye

/ī/

Noun

The eye is a round sphere about 2.5 centimeters in diameter. A jelly-like fluid inside helps it keep its shape, and a series of muscles control its movement within the eye socket. Information perceived by each eye is sent through the optic nerve to the brain, where it is compiled in order to give us three-dimensional vision.

eyelid

eye·lid

/ˈīˌlid/

Noun

The eyelid covers the surface of the anterior eye, protecting it from dust and other particles.

face

face

/fās/

Noun

The front of the head from the forehead to the chin. It is divided into functional thirds. The upper one-third is made up of the lower portion of the frontal bone, supraorbital ridge, nasal glabellar region, and frontal sinuses. The middle third (midface) includes the orbits, nasal bone, zygomatic bones, maxillary sinuses, temporal bones, and basal bone of the maxilla. The basal bone of the mandible and the teeth-bearing bones of the maxilla and mandible compose the lower third of the face.

fallopian tube

fal·lo·pi·an tube

/fəˈlōpēən ˌt(y)o͞ob/

Noun

Once an egg is released from the ovary (ovulation) it travels down toward the uterus through a fallopian or uterine tube. If sperm is present in the fallopian tube, fertilization may occur and cell division begins.

feces

fe·ces

/ˈfēsēz/

Noun

After food is digested, the nutrients are slowly absorbed by the small intestine into the bloodstream. Leftover products such as cellulose are left behind, eventually coalescing into feces. Water is reabsorbed in the large intestines, leaving behind solid fecal matter that is excreted out of the rectum through the anus.

feedback mechanism

feed·back mech·an·ism

/ˈfēdˌbak ˈmekəˌnizəm/

Noun

If the body senses that something is happening that takes it out of homeostasis, it will perform an action that brings it back into balance. These actions take the form of Feedback Mechanisms. Negative Feedback Mechanisms attempt to bring the body back into homeostasis (like shivering in the cold in order to create heat), while Positive Feedback Mechanisms purposefully take the body out of homeostasis temporarily for a specific purpose (like raising the body temperature in order to kill a viral infection).

fertilization

fer·til·i·za·tion

/ˌfərtl-iˈzāSHən/

Noun

Human fertilization occurs when the male sperm joins with the female egg, resulting in a fertilized egg (otherwise known as a zygote).

flexion

flex·ion

/ˈflekSHən/

Noun

An abnormal reflex that causes the arms and legs to bend inward when stimulated.

flushed

flushed

/fləSHt/

Adjective

Skin color that is red due to hyperperfusion

frontal

fron·tal

/ˈfrəntl/

Adjective

This imaginary plane travels vertically through the body, cutting it into the front and back sections. A frontal plane is also known as a coronal plane.

general impression

gen·er·al im·pres·sion

/ˈjen(ə)rəl imˈpreSHən/

Noun

The initial contact with the patient in which the provider gets an overview of the patient’s general appearance and level of distress

gestation

ges·ta·tion

/jeˈstāSHən/

Noun

The period of time during which development takes place within the uterus, between conception and birth.

Glasgow Coma Scale

Glas·gow co·ma scale

/ˈglas kō ˈkōmə skāl/

Noun

A method of evaluating level of consciousness that checks for the patient’s ability to respond appropriately with her environment. Using the Glasgow Coma Scale, or GCS, the provider assigns the patient a score for their resonsiveness to visual, verbal and physical stimuli. Three points, one for each of the three categories, is the minimum. Fourteen is the highest. The scale is below. Eye Opening Eyes open spontaneously: 4 points Eyes open after being spoken to: 3 points Eyes open after painful stimulus applied: 2 points Eyes remain closed regardless of stimulus: 1 point Verbal Response Disoriented, confused when questioned: 4 points Provides inappropriate answers when questioned or with painful stimulus: 3 points Mumbles or makes incomprehensible sounds when questioned or with painful stimulus: 2 points Makes no sounds, even with painful stimulus : 1 point Motor Response Obeys simple commands: 6 points Localizes to painful stimulus: 5 points Withdraws from painful stimulus: 4 points Flexion with painful stimulus: 3 points Extension with painful stimulus: 2 points No response to painful stimulus: 1 point

glucagon

glu·ca·gon

/ˈglo͞okəˌgän/

Noun

Produced by the pancreas, glucagon is a hormone that raises blood glucose levels (creating the opposite effect of insulin, which lowers blood glucose levels). The pancreas will release glucagon when blood sugar levels are too low.

glucometer

glu·com·e·ter

/glū-kom'ĕ-tĕr/

Noun

A device used to measure blood sugar

glycogen

gly·co·gen

/ˈglīkəjən/

Noun

When the body does not need glucose for energy, it converts it to a polysaccharide called glycogen, which it then stores in the muscles and liver for later use. Glycogen is easily converted back to glucose when needed for energy use.

hair

hair

/he(ə)r/

Noun

Hair is a fine, threadlike substance growing from the skin on virtually all parts of the body. In most mammals, hair serves to conserve heat. Humans have too little hair to serve that purpose, with the notable exception of the head, where there is little fat to insulate the area.

heart

heart

/härt/

Noun

The heart is a four-chambered pump that can be organized in two different ways. On one hand, the upper chambers, called the atria, squeeze blood into the lower chambers, known as the ventricles. By doing so, the heart ensures that the ventricles are filled with blood before they contract. On the other hand, the right side of the heart is designed to pump blood into the pulmonary circulation, or the part of the vasculature that leads to and away from the lungs. The left side of the heart pumps blood returning from the pulmonary circulation out to the rest of the body.

history taking

his·to·ry tak·ing

/ˈhist(ə)rē ˈtākiNG/

Verb

The part of the assessment when the provider uses a specific line of questioning to identify as much information as possible about the chief complaint as quickly as they can

homeostasis

ho·me·o·sta·sis

/ˌhōmēəˈstāsis/

Noun

Refers to the condition of balance within the body that is reached by cells and organ systems working together to maintain the proper function of various systems (heartbeat, blood pressure, body temperature, etc.).

hyperglycemia

hy·per·gly·ce·mi·a

/ˌhīpərglīˈsēmēə/

Noun

Readings of blood glucose above 120 micrograms per deciliter, or mcg/dcl

hypoglycemia

hy·po·gly·ce·mi·a

/ˌhīpōglīˈsēmēə/

Noun

Readings of blood glucose below 80 micrograms per deciliter, or mcg/dcl

incus

in·cus

/ˈiNGkəs/

Noun

The middle ear is filled with air and contains several structures, including the incus - a small anvil-shaped bone that transmits vibrations between the malleus and stapes.

inferior

in·fe·ri·or

/inˈfi(ə)rēər/

Adjective

An anatomy term used to indicate a part below another, or moving toward the feet.

inhalation

in·ha·la·tion

/ˌinhəˈlāSHən/

Noun

The respiratory system draws in air from the atmosphere through an expansion of the thoracic cavity, known as inhalation.

inner ear

in·ner ear

/ˈinər 'i(ə)r/

Noun

The inner ear is filled with fluid, as well as the actual receptors for sound signals. It also contains the cochlea, and three semi-circular canals that create the sense of balance.

inspection

in·spec·tion

/inˈspekSHən/

Noun

Using sight to identify findings during a physical examination

inspiratory

in·spir·a·to·ry

/inˈspīrəˌtôrē/

Adjective

One of two phases of normal breathing, this is the act of breathing in. Visual signs include chest rise.

insulin

in·su·lin

/ˈinsələn/

Noun

Produced by the pancreas, insulin helps glucose (the main nutrient for building ATP) cross into the cells. It also encourages extra glucose to convert to glycogen that can be stored by muscles and the liver for later use. Lack of insulin causes a form of diabetes.

integumentary system

in·teg·u·ment·a·ry sys·tem

/integyə'mənte(ə)rēˈ sistəm/

Noun

The integumentary system is designed to protect the body from outside harm. Derived from the Latin word integere or “to cover”, it is the most visible system, consisting of the skin, hair, and nails.

intercostal

in·ter·cos·tal

/ˌintərˈkästəl/

Adjective

The intercostal muscles are located between the ribs. As they contract, they pull the rib cage up, increasing the size of the thoracic cavity and allowing the lungs to fill with air.

involuntary contraction

in·vol·un·tar·y con·trac·tion

/inˈvälənˌterē kənˈtrakSHən/

Noun

A type of muscle contraction during which movement is automatic, due to the brain signaling the muscle in response to a stimulus.

ipsilateral

ip·si·lat·er·al

/ˌipsəˈlatərəl/

Adjective

An anatomy term used to refer to structures on the same side of the midline.

iris

i·ris

/ˈīris/

Noun

The flat, colored part of the eye that sits directly behind the cornea is called the iris. In the center of the iris is the pupil - an adjustable circular opening that regulates the amount of light that is allowed to pass through to the retina.

isometric contraction

i·so·met·ric con·trac·tion

/ˌīsəˈmetrik kənˈtrakSHən/

Noun

During an isometric contraction, force is generated without changing the length of the muscle. For example, the leg muscles keep the body upright while standing.

isotonic contraction

i·so·ton·ic con·trac·tion

/ˌīsəˈtänik kənˈtrakSHən/

Noun

During an isotonic contraction, force is generated by changing the length of the muscle. There are two types of isotonic contractions: concentric (muscles shorten while generating force) or eccentric (muscles lengthen while generating force).

kidney

kid·ney

/ˈkidnē/

Noun

Each of the two kidneys is well supplied with blood vessels, which allows them to filter the bloodstream and remove just enough water, salts, and waste to maintain homeostasis. The two kidneys are located in the retroperitoneal space -- one on each side of the spinal column and around the upper lumbar region.

kinematics

kin·e·mat·ics

/ˌkinəˈmatiks/

Noun

Kinematics refers to the relationship of kinetic energy to the injuries sustained by a patient. Simply stated, a person is injured when energy is transferred somehow from an external event into the body. For example, a car crashing into a wall causes the patient to crash into the steering wheel and dashboard.

Korotkoff sounds

Ko·rot·koff sounds

/kə-rŏt'kôf sounds/

Noun

The sounds made when blood streams pass the sphygmomanometer.

lacrimal gland

lac·ri·mal

/ˈlakrəməl/

Noun

The lacrimal gland secretes tears that lubricate the surface of the eyeball. The tears also contain enzymes that reduce the opportunity for infection.

larynx

lar·ynx

/ˈlariNGks,/

Noun

Composed primarily of cartilage, the larynx is the organ in the upper airway that protects the airway from food, fluid, and secretions during eating, drinking, and swallowing. It also contains the vocal chords and is responsible for the production of sound and speech.

lateral

lat·er·al

/ˈlatərəl/

Adjective

An anatomy term used to refer to a part further from the midline than another.

laterally recumbent

lat·er·al·y re·cum·bent

/lat er uhl ee ri kuhm buhnt/

Adjective

The position of lying on the side

lens

lens

/lenz/

Noun

The doubly convex area of the eye, located behind the iris, that shapes light so it can be received by the retina.

ligament

lig·a·ment

/ˈligəmənt/

Noun

Ligaments attach bones together by adhering to the processes. They are very elastic bands that allow for movement in joints like the elbow and knee. However, the movement is limited. Pushing a ligament beyond its capacity to stretch will result in a tear or a sprain injury.

liver

liv·er

/ˈlivər/

Noun

The liver is the largest internal organ. Made of hepatic cells, it is located in the right upper abdominal quadrant, partially protected by the right lower ribs. It is highly vascularized, meaning that it is well-supplied with blood vessels. The liver has many functions: it acts as a filter and detoxifies many of the substances that we put into our bodies, such as medications and ethanol (drinking alcohol); it produces many substances that are needed to create building blocks for the body’s use; it stores a variety of vitamins and glycogen. Additionally, it serves as an aid to digestion, manufacturing bile that is stored in the gallbladder.

lymph node

lymph node

/limf nōd/

Noun

Lymph nodes, located in the neck and other parts of the body, manufacture various cells called lymphocytes to help mount an immune defense against bacterial and viral infections.

lymphatic system

lym·phat·ic sys·tem

/limˈfatik ˈsistəm/

Noun

The lymphatic system drains fluid from certain tissue and is involved with transporting anti-infection cells and substances throughout the body.

lymphocyte

lym·pho·cyte

/ˈlimfəˌsīt/

Noun

A type of white blood cell, manufactured by the lymph nodes, that is part of the immune defense against bacterial and viral infections.

malleus

mal·le·us

/ˈmalēəs/

Noun

The middle ear is filled with air and contains several structures, including the malleus - a small bone that transmits vibrations of the eardrum to the incus.

mammary glands

mam·ma·ry glands

/ˈmamərē glandz/

Noun

The milk-secreting glands that are located in a female's breast tissue, and are responsible for the production of milk for a newborn infant.

marrow

mar·row

/ˈmarō/

Noun

Many bones are hollow - especially the long bones of the arms and legs, and flat bones of the pelvis. Blood cells are formed here in the soft, fatty substance of the marrow region, and salts are also stored for later use.

mechanism of injury

mech·an·ism of in·ju·ry

/ˈmekəˌnizəm əv ˈinjərē/

Noun

Mechanism of injury refers to the way in which a patient was injured. By gaining information about the mechanism of injury, you may be able to predict the potential for and/or degree of injury that has been caused.

medial

me·di·al

/ˈmēdēəl/

Adjective

An anatomy term used to refer to a part closer to the midline than another.

medical identification

med·i·cal i·den·ti·fi·ca·tion

/ˈmedikəl īˌdentəfiˈkāSHən/

Noun

Medical identification can provide critical details about a patient’s medical history. Types of medical identification vary, from bracelets, to necklaces, to cards found in a wallet or purse.

melanin

mel·a·nin

/ˈmelənin/

Noun

Melanin is found in the dermis layer of the skin, and contains the pigment that we see as skin color.

mental status

men·tal sta·tus

/ˈmen(t)l ˈstādəs/

Noun

The intellectual, emotional, psychological, and personality degree of competence shown by a person

midaxillary

mid·ax·il·lary

/midˈaksəˌlerē/

Adjective

The line that runs parallel to midline, but on the side of the body, through the armpit (axilla).

midclavicular

mid·cla·vic·u·lar

/midklaˈvikyələr/

Adjective

The imaginary line that runs parallel to the midline, but in the middle of the clavicle.

middle ear

mid·dle ear

/ˈmidl 'i(ə)r/

Noun

The middle ear is filled with air and contains several structures, including the three small bones that transfer vibrations from the tympanic membrane to the inner ear.

midline

mid·line

/ˈmidˌlīn/

Noun

The body can be divided into a left and right half using an imaginary line. This line is appropriately called the midline.

midscapular

mid·scap·u·lar

/midˈskapyələr/

Adjective

Similar to the midclavicular line, this imaginary line runs parallel to the midline, but in the middle of the back of the clavicle.

muscle

mus·cle

/ˈməsəl/

Noun

Muscles are comprised of tissue that is arranged so that, when stimulated will contract or tighten. Muscles are organized into three broad types: skeletal, smooth, and cardiac.

muscular system

mus·cu·lar sys·tem

/ˈməskyələr ˈsistəm/

Noun

The muscular system is the major source of heart production for the body. It is also responsible for movement and position, and provides some protection for organs underneath it. The functional unit of the muscular system is the muscle cell.

nasal cavity

na·sal

/ˈnāzəl/

Noun

The nasal cavity is filled with blood vessels, mucous and little hairs called cilia. Air passing through the nasal cavity begins to warm, humidify, and is partially cleaned as it passes through the pharynx and larynx.

neck

neck

/nek/

Noun

The structure that connects the head and trunk. It contains the cervical spine, carotid arteries, jugular veins, esophagus, larynx, and thyroid cartilage.

nervous system

nerv·ous sys·tem

/ˈnərvəs ˈsistəm/

Noun

The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and sensory organs. It uses electrochemical signals to rapidly transmit information back and forth from all areas of the body. Some signals carry information from sense organs; others carry directions to tissues that execute an action - like a muscle contraction of gland secretion.

noninvasive blood pressure device

non·in·va·sive blood pres·sure de·vice

/ˌnäninˈvāsiv bləd ˈpreSHər diˈvīs/

Noun

A device that uses a mechanical pump to measure for the patient blood pressure

olfactory receptor

ol·fac·to·ry re·cep·tor

/älˈfakt(ə)rē riˈseptər/

Noun

Olfactory receptors are located high in the nasal cavity and detect different airborne molecules that are interpreted in the brain as odor.

optic nerve

op·tic nerve

/ˈäptik nərv/

Noun

The retina sends information through the optic nerve to the brain, where the information is interpreted into an image.

organ

or·gan

/ˈôrgən/

Noun

A very complex structure formed of different tissues with specialized functions.

organelle

or·gan·elle

/ˌôrgəˈnel/

Noun

A cell may contain organelles that are designed to serve specific functions. Each organelle is constructed of a variety of large molecules such as lipids, proteins and carbohydrates.

orientation

o·ri·en·ta·tion

/ˌôrēənˈtāSHən/

Noun

The patient's ability to know what is happening around him.

orthostatic vital sign

or·tho·stat·ic vi·tal sign

/ˌôrTHəˈstatik ˈvīdl sīn/

Noun

A series of blood pressures and pulses taken when the patient is lying down and standing.

outer ear

out·er ear

/ˈoutər 'i(ə)r/

Noun

The outer ear is the visible portion of the ear that collects sound waves, which are directed through the auricle into the external auditory canal.

ovary

o·va·ry

/ˈōv(ə)rē/

Noun

The two ovaries are solid organs that are located in the posterior area of the female pelvic cavity. Ovaries contain all of the potential egg cells at birth, but do not begin to release them for possible fertilization until puberty.

palpate

pal·pate

/ˈpalˌpāt/

Verb

Using your hands to feel or palpate for a variety of conditions by applying mild to moderate pressure to specific areas of the body can detect abnormalities such as tenderness (pain upon palpation), deformity or swelling. Your hands will also detect skin temperature and condition, such as diaphoresis.

pancreas

pan·cre·as

/ˈpaNGkrēəs/

Noun

The pancreas is part of the endocrine system, located behind the stomach. It secretes digestive enzymes into the intestines, and is also responsible for producing insulin.

pancreatic juice

pan·cre·at·ic juice

/ˌpaNGkrēˈatik,ˌpan-/

Noun

A mixture of enzymes secreted by the pancreas that is designed to digest carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and nucleic acids.

paraplegia

par·a·ple·gi·a

/ˌparəˈplēj(ē)ə/

Noun

Paraplegia is a condition caused by damage to the spinal cord, that results in paralysis of the legs and lower body.

parasympathetic nervous system

par·a·sym·pa·thet·ic nerv·ous sys·tem

ˌ/parəˌsimpəˈTHetik ˈnərvəs ˈsistəm/

Noun

The parasympathetic nervous system can be thought of as a “brake” to the sympathetic system “accelerator”. Another term for the parasympathetic system is the “feed and breed” response system, which helps to describe its function. When activated, the body slows down, focusing its attention to building reserves by encouraging digestion and rest. The body also uses the parasympathetic response system to initiate the sexual responses necessary for intercourse and ultimately, reproduction.

parathyroid

par·a·thy·roid

/ˌparəˈTHīˌroid/

Noun

The parathyroid is part of the endocrine system, located next to the thyroid in the neck. It secretes hormones that regulate calcium levels.

paresthesia

par·es·the·si·a

/ˌparəsˈTHēZH(ē)ə/

Noun

Paresthesia is a condition caused by damage to the spinal cord, that can result in loss of sensation or a tingling/pricking feeling. Colloquially called "pins and needles."

parietal discomfort

pa·ri·e·tal dis·com·fort

/pəˈrīəd(ə)l disˈkəmfərtl/

Noun

Pain caused by irritation of the lining of the abdominal cavity. Most parietal discomfort is described as sharp, constant and can be increased by movement due to deep breathing, coughing or stretching.

patency

pa·ten·cy

/ˈpatn-sē,ˈpātn-/

Noun

How well air passes from the outside environment into the lower airways. Under normal conditions, there should be no obstructions impeding airflow; therefore little or no sounds should be heard with normal ventilations.

pelvic cavity

pel·vic cav·i·ty

/ˈpelvik ˈkavitē/

Noun

The space bounded by the bones of the pelvis, which contains the urinary bladder, the last portion of the large intestines, and internal reproductive organs.

perfusion

per·fu·sion

/pər'fyo̅o̅′zhən/

Noun

Perfusion is how the body supplies the tissues with nutrients and oxygen and removes toxins and wastes. Venous blood containing various products returns from the cells and passes through various organs such as the kidney and lungs. Waste products as well as excess amounts of water and carbon dioxide are removed from the blood stream. The blood eventually returns to the heart where it is sent to the lungs to pick up a new load of oxygen for transport back to the cells. This continuous loop of pickup and drop off is known as perfusion. Adequate tissue perfusion occurs as a result of an adequately pumping heart, a vascular system that is intact, and enough blood volume within the blood vessels.

peripheral nerve

pe·riph·er·al nerve

/pəˈrifərəl nərv/

Noun

As the spinal nerves leave the spinal column, they branch out and connect to a web of peripheral nerves that send and receive information throughout the remainder of the body.

peripheral nervous system

pe·riph·er·al nerv·ous sys·tem

/pəˈrifərəl ˈnərvəs ˈsistəm/

Noun

The peripheral nervous system is the division of the nervous system that contains the nerves that leave the brain/spinal cord and connect to the rest of the body.

peripheral vision

pe·riph·er·al vi·sion

/pəˈrifərəl ˈviZHən/

Noun

A part of vision that occurs outside the very center of gaze.

PERRL

PERRL

/pərl/

Noun

An approved abbreviation for written documentation that describes your findings when evaluating a patient's eyes. PERRL stands for "Pupils that are Equal, Round and Reactive to Light." An alternative acronym is PEARL, which stands for "Pupils that are Equal And Reactive to Light."

pharynx

phar·ynx

/ˈfariNGks/

Noun

The cavity located behind the nose and mouth that connects them to the esophagus.

phonation

pho·na·tion

/fōˈnāSHən/

Noun

Ability to speak

pia mater

pi·a ma·ter

/ˈpīə ˈmātər/

Noun

The pia mater is the innermost and most delicate of the three layers of membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

pituitary gland

pi·tu·i·tar·y gland

/pəˈt(y)o͞oəˌterē gland/

Noun

The major part of the endocrine system, the pituitary gland is located in the brain. It controls growth and development, as well as the function of the other endocrine glands.

platelet

plate·let

/ˈplāt-lit/

Noun

A specialized cell in the blood that triggers a series of actions that causes the blood to form a clot. Platelets are found in large numbers in the blood, and initiate the clotting process when the body needs to heal damaged tissue.

posterior

pos·te·ri·or

/päˈsti(ə)rēər/

Adjective

Also known as the dorsal side, this anatomy term is used to refer to the back of the body.

posturing

pos·tur·ing

/ˈpäsCHər iNG/

Noun

An abnormal response of the body when it detects pain

primary assessment

pri·ma·ry as·sess·ment

/prīˌmerē əˈsesmənt/

Noun

Evaluation of the airway, breathing and circulation of a patient.

proximal

prox·i·mal

/ˈpräksəməl/

Adjective

An anatomy term used to refer to a part closer to a specific area than another.

pulmonary circulation

pul·mo·nar·y cir·cu·la·tion

/ˈpo͝olməˌnerē ˌsərkyəˈlāSHən/

Noun

The part of the cardiovascular system that carries deoxygenated blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs, and returns oxygenated blood to the left side of the heart.

pupil

pu·pil

/ˈpyo͞opəl/

Noun

The pupil is located in the center of the iris, and is the adjustable circular opening that regulates the amount of light allowed to pass through to the retina.

reagent strip

re·a·gent strip

/rēˈājənt strip/

Noun

A material in a glucometer that contains certain chemicals that react with glucose

reassessment

re·as·sess·ment

/rē əˈsesmənt/

Noun

Evaluation of a patient after completion of the primary and secondary assessments

receptor

re·cep·tor

/riˈseptər/

Noun

A receptor senses what is happening in the environment and sends information through some type of pathway to a control center. For example, skin receptors sense stimuli like temperature and pressure, and respond by sending signals to the brain.

red blood cell

red blood cell

/red bləd sel/

Noun

Red blood cells contain the pigment hemoglobin, which gives blood its red color, and is designed to carry oxygen. Each cell is shaped in a biconcave disc, and does not have a nucleus.

reproductive system

re·pro·duc·tive sys·tem

/ˌrēprəˈdəktiv ˈsistəm/

Noun

The body’s reproductive system is responsible for producing offspring, so that there is continuity of itself. At the basic functional level, the coding for the body is found in specialized proteins called genes, assembled together to make the genetic code. Humans do not reproduce by themselves; there must be a method of intermingling the genetic code of one male and one female human.

respiratory system

res·pi·ra·to·ry sys·tem

/ˈrespərəˌtôrē ˈsistəm/

Noun

The respiratory system is involved in the process of respiration in the body. It consists of the organs and structures necessary for the intake and exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

retina

ret·i·na

/ˈretn-ə/

Noun

The retina is the layer at the back of the eyeball that receives light (through the pupil). The retina sends information through the optic nerve to the brain, where it is interpreted into an image.

retroperitoneal space

ret·ro·per·i·to·ne·al cav·i·ty

/ˌretrōˌperətnˈēəl ˈkavitē/

Noun

The area behind the abdominal cavity, which contains the kidneys and part of the pancreas.

sagittal

sag·it·tal

/ˈsajitl/

Adjective

This imaginary plane travels vertically through the body, cutting it into the right and left sides. Specifically, the midsagittal plane divides the body into two equal halves. A sagittal plane is also known as a lateral plane.

SAMPLE

sam·ple

/ˈsampəl

Noun

The SAMPLE history includes Signs and symptoms Allergies, particularly to medications that may be used in treatment Medications (prescription and non-prescription drugs) Past medical and surgical history, specifically significant medical or surgical issues Last meal, because the risk of aspiration during intubation or surgery are greater if the patient has recently eaten Events leading up to the injury

scalp

scalp

/skalp/

Noun

The skin that covers the skull. It consists of five layers of tissue that protect the skull and absorb some of the energy during a traumatic event. The tissue of the scalp is filled with blood vessels and may bleed profusely even when it receives a superficial laceration.

sclera

scle·ra

/ˈskli(ə)rə/

Noun

The white area of the visible part of the eye is called the sclera.

secondary assessment

se·con·da·ry as·sess·ment

/sekənˌderē əˈsesmənt/

Noun

Evaluation of a patient, including history taking, vital signs and physical examination

semen

se·men

/ˈsēmən/

Noun

Sperm is mixed with a milky fluid containing nutrients that combine to make semen, which is deposited into the female’s vagina during intercourse.

shock position

shock po·si·tion

/SHäk pəˈziSHən/

Noun

A position of lying the patient supine or in a lateral recumbent position, and raising the legs 12 inches or more above the level of the heart

sign

sign

/sīn/

Noun

During the history taking process, signs are gathered by performing a physical exam. They are objective findings that you can determine through sight, touch, sound, or smell.

skeletal muscle

skel·e·tal mus·cle

/ˈskelətl ˈməsəl/

Noun

The striated skeletal muscles are directly connected to the skeleton, and make up the majority of the body's muscle tissue. Under normal circumstances, they are controlled voluntarily as they move the limbs and other parts of the body.

skeletal system

skel·e·tal sys·tem

/ˈskelətl ˈsistəm/

Noun

The skeletal system consists of bones, cartilage, and ligaments. It provides a supportive framework for the body’s organs and other tissues. Certain sections of the skeleton, such as the rib cage, also provide protection from forces that can cause injury.

skin

skin

/skin/

Noun

The skin is the largest and heaviest organ of the body, covering every square inch of its surface. While it appears to be one single coat of tissue, it is actually organized into several layers: epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous (hypodermis). The skin has several functions. It protects against physical trauma and infection. It helps us to retain moisture in our body. It contains many of our sensing abilities, such as pain, heat, cold and vibration. It retains heat. It’s even part of our communication system; the skin changes shape when we smile or frown, and reddens when we are embarrassed or ashamed.

smell

smell

/smel/

Noun

A sense used during the assessment. A patient may emit certain odors that can you can smell. For example, a diabetic patient with very high blood sugar levels may have a sweet, acetone-like smell on his breath. Blood mixed in feces has an unmistakable odor

smooth muscle

smooth mus·cle

/smo͞oT͟H ˈməsəl/

Noun

Smooth muscles surround various organs and the vasculature to help with automatic functions, such as peristalsis (the movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract) or blood flow through the arteries.

sniffing position

snif·fing po·si·tion

/snifiNG pəˈziSH(ə)n/

Noun

A position of patient placement that provides neutral alignment of the cervical spine by placing padding under the child’s shoulders to bring the shoulders into horizontal alignment with the external auditory meatus

sperm

sperm

/spərm/

Noun

A male germ cell found in semen, which penetrates the female egg in order to fertilize it. Sperm consist of an egg-shaped head containing a nucleus, a long mid-section, and a tail used for movement.

sphincter

sphinc·ter

/ˈsfiNGktər/

Noun

A sphincter is a ring of muscle that surrounds and, through constriction, controls an opening in the body. One example is the urethral sphincter that retains urine in the bladder. As the bladder approaches its maximum size, receptors deliver signals to the brain, indicating that it needs to be relieved. This is interpreted as the need to urinate. The sphincter then relaxes, causing micturition (urination) to occur.

sphygmomanometer

sphyg·mo·ma·nom·e·ter

/ˌsfigmōməˈnämitər/

Noun

A tool for measuring blood pressure, also called a blood pressure cuff

spinal cord

spi·nal cord

/ˈspīnl kôrd/

Noun

The spinal cord originates at the brainstem. It is protected by a series of vertebrae. Nearly each vertebrae has a space located in its center. Like a series of donuts, the vertebrae are stacked one atop another, creating a spinal column that houses and protects the spinal cord.

stapes

sta·pes

/ˈstāpēz/

Noun

The middle ear is filled with air and contains several structures, including the incus - a small stirrup-shaped bone that transmits vibrations from the incus to the inner ear.

stoma

sto·ma

/ˈstōmə/

Noun

A surgical opening in the neck

subcutaneous emphysema

sub·cu·ta·ne·ous em·phy·se·ma

/ˌsəbkyo͞oˈtānēəs ˌemfəˈsēmə/

Noun

Air leaking into the tissue creates this palpable sensation, which feels like popping small bubble wrap under your fingers.

subcutaneous layer

sub·cu·ta·ne·ous lay·er

/ˌsəbkyo͞oˈtānēəs ˈlāər/

Noun

Beneath the dermis, this layer of skin is made of mostly fat cells. In addition to providing addition protection against blunt forces, this layer helps to insulate the body against heat loss as well as control water loss through evaporation.

subjective finding

sub·jec·tive find·ing

/səbˈjektiv ˈfīndiNG/

Noun

A complete picture of the patient’s condition provided by the focused history

superficial

su·per·fi·cial

/ˌso͞opərˈfiSHəl/

Adjective

An anatomy term used to indicate that a part is toward the surface of the body.

superior

su·pe·ri·or

/səˈpi(ə)rēər/

Adjective

An anatomy term used to indicate a part above another, or moving toward the head.

supine

su·pine

/soo pahyn/

Adjective

The position of lying flat on the back

sympathetic nervous system

sym·pa·thet·ic nerv·ous sys·tem

/ˌsimpəˈTHetik ˈnərvəs ˈsistəm/

Noun

The sympathetic nervous system causes the commonly-called “fight or flight” response - where heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and blood is channeled away from nonessential organs and into the deep skeletal muscles; all in preparation to respond to some form of stress.

symptom

symp·tom

/ˈsim(p)təm/

Noun

During the history taking process, symptoms are communicated by a patient describing how they feel. They are subjective findings that you may not be able to determine on your own.

taste bud

taste bud

/tāst bəd/

Noun

Taste buds are the nerve endings located on the tongue, inner walls of the mouth, and the pharynx that provide the sense of taste.

tears

tears

/te(ə)rz/

Noun

Secreted by the lacrimal gland, tears are the lubricant for the surface of the eyeball. They also contain enzymes which reduce the opportunity for infection.

teeth

teeth

/tēTH/

Noun

The set of enamel-coated bony structures rooted in the jaws, that are used for biting and chewing. As food enters the mouth, the teeth close and open repeatedly to physically break down the food.

tendon

ten·don

/ˈtendən/

Noun

Muscles attach to bone with tissue known as tendons. This allows groups of muscles to move bones when they contract. Like ligaments, tendons can be overstretched or torn if pushed too far.

testes

tes·tes

/ˈtestēz/

Noun

The male reproductive organs are centered around the two testes (or testicles). The testicles are located externally, in the scrotum. Sperm is produced in the testes and stored there until ejaculation occurs.

thoracic cavity

tho·rac·ic cav·i·ty

/THəˈrasik ˈkavitē/

Noun

The space in the chest, which contains the heart, lungs, and large blood vessels.

thyroid

thy·roid

/ˈTHīˌroid/

Noun

Also called the thyroid cartilage or Adam's apple, the thyroid is part of the endocrine system, located in the neck. It secretes hormones that control the rate of metabolism.

tongue

tongue

/təNG/

Noun

The tongue is the movable, muscular organ in the mouth that aids in chewing, swallowing, and speech.

transverse

trans·verse

/transˈvərs,tranz-/

Adjective

This imaginary plane travels horizontally through the body, cutting it into the top and bottom sections. A transverse plane is also known as an axial plane.

trending

trend·ing

/trend ING/

Noun

Tracking changes in vital signs and comparing one set of findings against another to interpret the results.

tympanic membrane

tym·pan·ic mem·brane

/timˈpanik ˈmemˌbrān/

Noun

Also known as the eardrum, the tympanic membrane is located between the outer and middle ear. It vibrates in response to sound waves and transmits the resulting mechanical vibrations to the structures of the middle ear.

urethra

u·re·thra

/yo͝oˈrēTHrə/

Noun

The tube through which urine travels from the bladder to exit the body. In males, semen is also discharged through the urethra.

urinary system

u·ri·nar·y sys·tem

/ˈyo͝orəˌnerē ˈsistəm/

Noun

The urinary system filters specific wastes out of the bloodstream by removing water and excreting it as urine.

urine

u·rine

/ˈyo͝orən/

Noun

Urine is the liquid waste matter that is produced as the kidneys work; the urine leaves the kidneys through tubes called ureters, and is collected in the urinary bladder before leaving the body through the urethra.

uterus

u·ter·us

/ˈyo͞otərəs/

Noun

The hollow, expandable organ in the female reproductive system in which the fertilized egg implants, and the embryo develops.

vas deferens

vas de·fe·rens

/ˌvas ˈdefərənz,-ˌrenz/

Noun

The duct through which sperm travel from the testicles to the urethra.

vasculature

vas·cu·la·ture

/ˈvaskyələˌCHo͝or/

Noun

Arteries, veins, and capillaries comprise the vascular system.

vasculature

vas·cu·la·ture

/ˈvaskyələˌCHo͝or/

Noun

The heart pumps blood through the body using a complex series of arteries, veins and capillaries, known as vasculature.

vein

vein

/vān/

Noun

Any of the tubes in the vascular system that carry, in most cases, deoxygenated blood from the body to the heart. Additionally, valves inside the veins direct the blood flow in one direction, even when standing.

vertebral cavity

ver·te·bral cav·i·ty

/ˈvərtəbrəl ˈkavitē/

Noun

The space in the vertebrae, which contains the spinal cord.

vertebral disc

ver·te·bral disc

/ˈvərtəbrəl disk/

Noun

Elastic tissue called vertebral discs separate one vertebrae from another, and act as shock absorbers for when we walk, run or jump.

visceral pain receptor

vis·cer·al pain re·cep·tor

/ˈvis(ə)rəl pān riˈseptər/

Noun

Visceral pain receptors are located deep in the body, and are not as precise as the pain receptors in the skin. Visceral pain sometimes appears to actually involve a location not related to the actual source - for example, pain originating from the heart may appear to travel to an arm, jaw, or back.

vision

vi·sion

/ˈviZHən/

Noun

The faculty of processing information received by the eyes. There are two main types of vision: central and peripheral.

vital signs

vi·tal signs

/ˈvīdl sīn/

Noun

A set of biological markers that includes the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.

voluntary contraction

vol·un·tar·y con·trac·tion

/ˈvälənˌterē kənˈtrakSHən/

Noun

A type of muscle contraction during which movement is consciously controlled.

white blood cell

white blood cell

/(h)wīt bləd sel/

Noun

White blood cells are colorless, and bring infection-fighting chemicals to sites of foreign substance and disease. There are several types of white blood cells, all ameboid with a nucleus, including lymphocytes, granulocytes, monocytes, and macrophages.