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Heart & Vascular Dictionary

This Heart & Vascular Dictionary includes words related to the heart, blood vessels (vascular) and chest (thoracic) - the areas treated in the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute.

We hope this resource will help you and your family understand instructions and information about your condition, testing or treatments.

Letter A

The removal or destruction of tissue

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm
An aneurysm that occurs in the section of the aorta that runs through the abdomen (abdominal aorta).

Abdominal Aortic Ultrasound
A non-invasive imaging procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to view the structures of the abdomen and determine the presence of an aneurysm

A localized formation of pus in a cavity caused by the disintegration or displacement of tissue due to bacterial infection.

A condition where the esophagus is not able to move food into the stomach. The lower esophageal muscle stays closed during swallowing, resulting in the backup of food.

Abrupt onset that usually is severe; happens for a limited period of time.

Adjuvant Therapy
Treatment provided in addition to the primary treatment to prevent cancer recurrence.

Advance Directive
A document in which a person either states choices for medical treatment or designates someone who should make treatment choices if the person should become unable to make decisions. Most often the term refers to formal, written documents, but it can also be used to include spoken statements by the patient. Legal documents including the Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. A Living Will states what type of treatment you wish to receive in the event that you become physically or mentally unable to communicate your wishes. A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care authorizes another person to make medical decisions for you when you are unable to do so for yourself.

Aerobic Exercise
Exercise which can improve your functional ability and, in some cases, reduce symptoms of heart disease. It is repetitive in nature and involves the large muscle groups. Examples are walking, swimming, and cycling.

American Heart Association

Allograft (allogenic graft or homograft)
An organ or tissue transplanted from one individual to another of the same species, i.e. human to human.

Thin-walled, small sacs located at the ends of the smallest airways in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place.

Ambulatory Monitors
Small portable electrocardiograph machines that are able to record the heart's rhythm. Each type of monitor has unique features related to length of recording time and ability to send the recordings over the phone. They include: Holter Monitor, Loop Recorder, and Transtelephonic transmitter.

A rare autoimmune disorder characterized by the buildup of abnormal protein in tissues. Amyloidosis can be a cause of heart valve disorders and heart failure.

A condition characterized by a deficiency of red blood cells. Anemia reduces the amount of oxygen available to the body.

The abnormal dilatation (enlargement, bulging or stretching) of the wall of an artery, vein or heart caused by damage or weakness in the blood vessel wall. When aneurysms grow too large, they can rupture and the bleeding can be life threatening. In cardiac surgery, aneurysms usually apply to either the ascending, aortic arch, or descending aorta. Aneurysms that have grown too large should be replaced.

Angina (also called angina pectoris)
Discomfort or pressure, usually in the chest, caused by a temporarily inadequate blood supply to the heart muscle. Discomfort may also be felt in the neck, jaw or arms. A common symptom of coronary artery disease, angina usually occurs during periods of physical or emotional stress and is relieved by rest.

The spontaneous or drug-induced growth of new blood vessels. The growth of these vessels may help to alleviate coronary artery disease by rerouting blood flow around clogged arteries.

Angiogram / Angiography
An invasive imaging procedure that usually involves inserting a catheter into an artery leading to the heart muscle or brain and injecting a radioactive tracer into the blood stream via the catheter. This test is used to determine if there is fatty build-up or plaque in the arteries causing narrowing. Coronary angiography is also called cardiac catheterization.

An invasive procedure, during which a specially designed balloon catheter with a small balloon tip is guided to the point of narrowing in a artery. Once in place, the balloon is inflated to compress the fatty matter into the artery wall and stretch the artery open to increase blood flow through the blood vessel.

Angiotension-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors (ACE Inhibitors)
A group of drugs used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure. ACE inhibitors block a specific enzyme (ACE or angiotensin-converting enzyme) which retains salt in the kidney and can cause heart and blood pressure problems.

Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers (ARBs)
A class of medicines used to treat high blood pressure.

Ankle Transmetatarsal and Toe Tracings
A procedure used to test the arterial blood flow to the hands and feet.

A ring of tough fibrous tissue which is attached to and supports the leaflets of the heart valve.

Anomalous Coronary Artery
The normal anatomy for the coronary arteries involves their origin from the aorta at each of two separate sites. Sometimes people can be born with the origin of a coronary artery that comes from an abnormal site and this can lead to problems of coronary ischemia which can subsequently lead to heart attack. Not all coronary anomalies need surgery, but some do and the specific operation depends on which of the many varieties of coronary anomalies is present.

A drug that is used to treat abnormal heart rhythms.

A protein substance made by the body's immune system in response to a foreign substance, for example a previous transplant, blood transfusion or pregnancy. Because the antibodies attack the transplanted organ, transplant patients must take powerful immunosuppressive drugs.

Also called cholinergic blockers or "maintenance" bronchodilators. Type of medication that helps open (dilate) the bronchial tubes (airways) to help move more air easily into and out of the lungs. Anticholinergics also help clear mucus from the airways. As the airways open, the mucus moves more freely and can therefore be coughed out more easily.

Anticoagulant ("blood thinner")
A medication that prevents blood from clotting; used for people at risk for stroke or blood clots.

A foreign molecule or substance, such as a transplant, that triggers an immune response. This response may be the production of antibodies.

Antihypertensive Drug
A drug that reduces hypertension (high blood pressure).

Part of a group of vitamins (A, B, C and E) that may help to limit the cellular damage caused by free radicals. Studies suggest that certain antioxidants may protect against coronary artery disease.

Antiplatelet Medication
A medication, such as aspirin or plavix (clopidogrel), used to prevent platelets from clumping together and causing the formation of blood clots. Used for people at risk for stroke or blood clots.

Large artery leaving the heart. All blood pumped out of the left ventricle travels through the aorta on its way to other parts of the body.

Aortic Arch Replacement
The aortic arch is that segment of the aorta between the ascending and descending portions. The aortic arch provides the origin for the blood vessels to the upper part of the body, specifically the arms and head. Surgical diseases of the aortic arch can require a replacement of this large blood vessel with preservation of the vessels to the upper body. The most common diseases requiring replacement are an aneurysm of the aortic arch or an aortic dissection involving the aortic arch.

Aortic Dissection
The aorta is the main blood vessel leaving the heart and provides blood flow to the rest of the body. This blood vessel is made up of many layers. In certain circumstances, a tear develops in the middle layer, which allows blood to travel down the layer, setting up two channels - the "true" lumen or opening through the blood vessel and the new "false" lumen. Aortic dissection can be a life-threatening emergency, in some situations requiring emergency surgery to repair or replace that segment of the aorta.

Aortic Insufficiency
Aortic insufficiency refers specifically to the aortic valve, which is the valve the blood passes through as it leaves the heart and enters the aorta. When blood leaks back through the valve it is known as aortic insufficiency. Small amounts of aortic insufficiency may be inconsequential, but larger amounts require repair or replacement of the aortic valve.

Aortic Valve
The aortic valve is the last valve through which the blood passes before it enters the aorta or main blood vessel of the body. The valve prevents blood from leaking back into the left ventricle from the aorta after it has been ejected from the heart.

Aortic Valve Homograft
When replacement of an aortic valve is necessary it is possible to replace the valve with another human valve known as an aortic valve homograft. This operation involves cardiopulmonary bypass

Aortic Valve Repair
The aortic valve is the last valve in the heart through which the blood travels prior to circulating in the body. When this valve is leaking or too tight, the surgeon may be able to repair the valve rather than replace it.

Aortic Valve Replacement
When the aortic valve is diseased, it can become either stenotic (too narrow) or insufficient (leaky). In such cases, the aortic valve may need to be replaced with either a prosthetic or human valve.

An irregular heart beat

Arterial Blood Gas Test
A blood test that measures oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.

Arterial Grafting
In patients who require coronary artery bypass graft surgery, it is sometimes desirable to use arteries from other parts of the body to provide the bypass grafts. This is known as arterial grafting. The alternative is to use vein grafts for coronary bypass surgery.

Blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart to the arms, legs, head, body and organs.

X-ray of an artery after dye is injected. Patient may or may not be admitted to the hospital after the test.

Arteriosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries")
The process whereby abnormal deposits of lipids, cholesterol and plaque build up, leading to narrowing or blockage in arteries taking blood to the hand, foot head or vital organs. Also called atherosclerosis.

Ascending Aorta Replacement
The aorta is the main blood vessel that leaves the heart to provide blood flow to the rest of the body. When the ascending or first part of the aorta is diseased, it sometimes needs to be replaced. The replacement is most often done with a synthetic cloth tube.

Aspiration Pneumonia
A condition that occurs when the contents of the stomach or esophagus are breathed into the airways.

Asthma, chronic
A disease of the air passages that carry air in and out of the lungs. Asthma causes the airways to narrow, the lining of the airways to swell and the cells that line the airways to produce more mucus. These changes make breathing difficult and cause a feeling of not getting enough air into the lungs. Common symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing and excess mucus production.

Partial or complete collapse of the lung, usually due to a blockage of the air passages with fluid, mucus or infection. Symptoms include dry cough, chest pain and mild shortness of breath.

Atherectomy (DCA - Directional Coronary Atherectomy)
The DCA catheter has a hollow cylinder on the tip with an open window on one side and a balloon on the other. When the catheter is inserted into the narrowed artery, the balloon is inflated, pushing the window against the fatty matter clogging the vessel. A blade (cutter) within the cylinder rotates and shaves off any fat, which protruded into the window. The shavings are caught in a chamber within the catheter and removed. This process is repeated as needed to allow better blood flow.

Large build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances on the walls of an artery, causing narrowing. Also called plaque.

Commonly known as "hardening of the arteries." A disease in which fatty deposits accumulate on the inner walls of the arteries, causing narrowing or blockage that may result in a heart attack.

The abnormal closure or absence of an opening or passage.

The upper chambers of the heart. Atrium refers to one chamber of the heart.

Atrial Fibrillation (AF)
Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm in which many impulses begin and spread through the atria. The resulting rhythm is disorganized, rapid and irregular and the atria are not able to fully empty their contents into the ventricles.

Atrial Flutter
Atrial flutter is a regular heart rhythm in which many impulses begin and spread through the atria. The resulting rhythm is organized, but so rapid that the atria are not able to fully empty their contents into the ventricles.

Atrial Myxoma
A myxoma is a tumor of the heart. It resides in the atrial chamber and causes symptoms when its growth produces a tumor so large it obstructs blood flow through the heart chambers.

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)
The atria are the chambers of the heart in which the blood dwells prior to entering the ventricles, which are the main pumping chambers. The right and left atrial lie next to each other in the heart and there is a membranous wall or septum between the two. In some people, there can be a hole in the muscular wall or septum, known as an atrial septal defect. Tiny defects called patent foramen ovale are present in up to 30 percent of people and are of no consequence except in unusual circumstances. Moderate size to larger size defects should be corrected and may require heart surgery.

Atrioventricular (AV) Node
A center of special cells located near the center of the heart that helps to regulate the heart rhythm. Here, the electrical current slows for a moment before going on to the ventricles.

The top filling chamber of the heart. There are two atria - the left and the right, divided by a muscular wall, called the septum. The atrium contracts before the ventricle to allow optimal filling of the ventricle.

Attending or Primary Physician
The doctor who has the main responsibility for your care while you are in the hospital. There may be other doctors caring for you such as consulting doctors, resident doctors, and medical students.

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)
A regulatory structure that helps people adapt to changes in their environment. It adjusts or modifies some functions in response to stress. The ANS helps regulate blood vessels' size and blood pressure, the heart's electrical activity and ability to contract, the bronchium's diameter (and thus air flow) in the lungs, the movement and work of the stomach, intestine and salivary glands, the secretion of insulin and the urinary and sexual functions. (

Letter D

Decisional Incapacity
A condition in which a patient is unable to understand his or her choices or declare personal wishes about his or her care.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
A clot in a deep vein, usually the leg. Symptoms may include pain, swelling or no symptoms at all. If untreated, the clot could travel to the lungs.

A machine that is used to administer an electric shock to the heart in order to reestablish normal heart rhythm.

A condition in which the body does not produce or respond to insulin (a hormone produced by your body, which allows blood sugar or glucose into your body's cells for energy.

An artificial means of cleansing the blood of waste products and removing fluids from the body when the patient’s own kidneys are unable to continue this process.

The thin muscle below the lungs and heart that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen. The diaphragm is the most efficient breathing muscle.

Diaphragmatic Surgery
Surgery performed on the diaphragm. Diaphragmatic surgery may be performed to treat a hernia or any other conditions that affect the diaphragm.

The part of the heart cycle during which the myocardium relaxes and expands. During diastole, blood fills the heart chambers.

The lower number in a blood pressure reading that indicates the pressure in the heart when the muscle is relaxed (the point of least pressure).

Diastolic Pressure
The pressure of the blood in the arteries when the heart is filling. It is the lower of two blood pressure measurements, e.g., 120/80, where 80 is the diastolic pressure.

Diffusion Capacity
A measurement of how much oxygen is carried from your lungs into your bloodstream.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy
A disease of the myocardium (heart muscle) that causes the heart cavity to become stretched and enlarged, and the pumping capacity of the heart is reduced.

The increase in size of a blood vessel.

Dipyridamole Stress Test
If you are unable to exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle for a stress test, a medication, called dipyridamole (Persantine) is used instead of exercise to test the heart's blood flow.

A drug that helps the body get rid of excess water by increasing the amount of urine the body excretes.

DNR Order (Do Not Resuscitate Order)
An advanced directive that means no CPR is to be done when the heart and lungs stop.

Dobutamine Stress Echo Echocardiogram
(dobutamine echo, pharmacological echocardiogram)

A procedure that involves infusing a medication through an intravenous (IV) line, called dobutamine, while you are closely monitored. The medication stimulates your heart, to evaluate your heart and valve function at rest and with exertion, when you are unable to exercise on a treadmill or stationary cycle.
Echocardiography is an imaging procedure that creates a graphic outline of the heart's movement, valves and chambers using high-frequency sound waves that come from a hand held wand placed on your chest. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart's valves.

A person who gives an organ, tissue or blood to another person. A compatible donor is a person who has the same tissue and blood types as the person who receives the organ, tissue or blood.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
A written advance directive in which individuals name someone else (the "agent" or "proxy") to make health care decisions for them when they are unable to speak for themselves.

(neurocardiogenic syncope, POTS- postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome)

Dysfunction of the autonomic nervous syndrome. Causes symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, increased heart rate, and other symptoms. See syncope.

Difficulty swallowing.

Abnormal or precancerous cells or tissue.

Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing.

Letter G

Death of tissue due to inadequate blood supply, usually affects the extremities (hands or feet), is more likely to occur in people with atherosclerosis, vascular disease, or other conditions associated with poor blood circulation.

Physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the digestive system, such as hepatitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, and colon or rectal cancer. Gastroenterologists may perform many specialized tests, such as endoscopy, to diagnose or treat diseases. When necessary, they may consult with surgeons.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
A condition that occurs when the contents of the stomach travel back up into the esophagus. When you swallow, food passes down your throat and through your esophagus to your stomach. A valve called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) controls the passage of food from the esophagus to the stomach when you swallow. It remains tightly closed except when you swallow food. When this muscle fails to close or opens spontaneously, the acid, bile and food contents of the stomach can travel backward into the esophagus. When stomach acid enters the lower part of the esophagus, it can produce a burning sensation, commonly referred to as heartburn.

An artificial opening from the stomach to a hole (stoma) in the abdomen where a feeding tube is inserted. The feeding tube allows the delivery of nutrients directly into the small intestine, bypassing the stomach. A feeding may be needed temporarily after certain surgeries to allow recovery. See also enteral nutrition.

Gene Therapy
Gene therapy is correcting functional gene loss by delivering genes to human tissues. Often DNA viruses engineered to be safe or nonviral DNA are used to help deliver a healthy gene to the tissue cells.

Gingival Hypertrophy
Enlargement of the gums. A common side effect of the medication cyclosporine (Sandimmune), this condition is easily managed with good oral hygiene.

Blood sugar. Manufactured by the body from carbohydrates, protein, and fat, glucose is the main source of energy for all living organisms.

A transplanted tissue or organ (such as the lung or liver).

Great Vessels
The large blood vessels that enter the heart: the aorta, the pulmonary artery and vein, and the venae cavae.

Letter J

Jejunostomy Tube (J-tube)
A feeding tube that is inserted through the skin on the abdomen into the small intestine. The feeding tube allows the delivery of nutrients directly into the small intestine, bypassing the stomach. A J-tube may be needed temporarily after certain surgeries to allow recovery.

Letter P

A small electronic device is implanted under the skin and sends electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a suitable heart rate and to prevent slow heart rates.

Palliative Care
Medical treatments intended to control suffering and discomfort (such as pain medication or treatment of an infection). These treatments will not cure the patient.

A fluttering sensation in the chest that is often related to a missed heart beat or rapid heartbeat.

Panel Reactive Antibody (PRA)
The percentage of cells from a panel of donors with which a potential recipient's blood serum reacts. The more antibodies in the recipient's blood, the higher the PRA. The higher the PRA, the less chance of getting a good crossmatch.

Papillary Muscles
Small muscles that are part of the inside walls of the ventricles and attach to the chordae tendineae.

Parenteral Nutrition
A method of providing food through a tube placed in the nose, the stomach or the small intestine. A tube in the nose is called a nasogastric or nasoenteral tube. A tube that goes through the skin into the stomach is called a gastrostomy or percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG). A tube into the small intestine is called a jejunostomy or percutaneous endoscopic jejunostomy (PEJ) tube. Also called tube feeding. See also gastrostomy and jejunostomy.

Parietal Pericardium
The fibrous outer layer of the pericardium

Patency Rate
The likelihood that a vessel will remain open.

Patient Service Representative
Members of this department can address or direct questions concerning hospital policies and procedures, secure patient valuables and belongings, and provide notary service.

Pectus Excavatum
Also known as sunken or funnel chest. A congenital chest wall deformity in which several ribs and the sternum grow abnormally, producing a concave, or caved-in, appearance to the front of the chest wall.

Penile Pulse Volume Recording
A procedure that tests the blood flow to the penis.

Pericardial Cavity
The space between the epicardium and the outer layer of the pericardium. The cavity is normally filled with a small amount of clear fluid that reduces the friction between the two membranes.

Pericardial Effusion
Presence of an abnormal amount and/or type of fluid in the pericardial space.

Pericardial Space
The space between the layers of the pericardium. It contains fluid that lubricates the membrane surfaces and allows easy heart movement.

Pericardiocentesis (pericardial tap)
An invasive procedure that involves using a needle and catheter to remove fluid from the sac around the heart. The fluid may then be sent to a laboratory for tests to look for signs of infection or cancer.

An inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart, usually accompanied by fluid buildup; can cause irregular heart beat.

The sac that surrounds the heart.

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
Damage or narrowing to the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart to your arms, legs or organs.

Peripheral Intervention
An attempt to increase artery blood flow to a limb or organ by opening a narrowed area. A stent may be used to try to keep the artery open.

Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)
Damage to or blockage in the veins that carry blood from your arms and legs back to your heart

The inner lining of the abdomen.

Permanently Unconscious State
A condition of coma in which a patient is irreversibly unaware of himself and his environment, and has a total loss of higher brain functioning, resulting in no capacity to experience pain or suffering.

Persistent Vegetative State
Same as "permanently unconscious state."

A medication specialist who checks your blood levels to monitor your response to immunosuppressive medications.

Physical Therapist
An expert who can recommend exercises to help you maintain flexibility and regain your strength.

An organic compound found in plants that is believed to play a role in preventing cardiovascular or other diseases.

Deposits of fats, inflammatory cells, proteins and calcium material along the lining of arteries, caused by atherosclerosis. The plaque builds up and narrows the artery

Components of blood that aid in clotting.

Platelet Antagonist
A type of anticoagulant medication that prevents blood clotting by interfering with the activity of platelets, such as aspirin.

The thin membrane that lines the outside of the lungs and the inside of the chest cavity. The pleura acts as a lubricant to hep you breathe easily. Normally, very little fluid is present in the pleura.

Pleural Effusion
An excessive build-up of fluid between the layers of the pleura.

Pleural Mesothelioma
A rare form of cancer in which tumors form in the sac lining the chest (the pleura) or the abdomen (the peritoneum). Most people with mesothelioma have worked in jobs where they breathed asbestos. Symptoms include shortness of breath, pain in the chest, or pain or swelling in the abdomen.

Pleural Space
The cavity between the lung and the membrane that surrounds it.

Another term for minimally invasive thoracic surgery. See video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS).

Surgical removal of a lung, usually as a treatment for cancer.

A group of diseases that cause infection or inflammation (swelling) in the lungs. Pneumonia causes air sacs in the lungs to fill with pus and other fluids, making it difficult for oxygen to reach the blood. People who are otherwise healthy often recover quickly when given prompt and proper care. However, pneumonia is a serious infection that affects thousands of older people each year.

A collection of air or gas in the space surrounding the lungs.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
Also known as cardiac viability study. An imaging procedure that uses radioactive tracers to create three dimensional pictures of the tissues inside of the body and can monitor metabolic processes.

POTS - Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome
(neurocardiogenic syncope, dysautonomia)

Dysfunction of the autonomic nervous syndrome. Causes symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, increased heart rate, and other symptoms. See syncope.

Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVCs)
An irregular heartbeat in which the lower chambers of the heart (the ventricles) beat before they are supposed to.

Pre-transplant Evaluation
A series of interviews and tests for patients who are being considered for a transplant. It is the second step in the transplant evaluation process. After this evaluation, the transplant team decides if a transplant is a suitable treatment.

Pre-transplant Screening
A series of interviews and physical examinations for patients who are being considered for a transplant. Pre-transplant screening is the first step in the transplant process to discover if a patient has any condition that would immediately rule him or her out for a transplant.

Prevention - Primary
Identifying and altering risk factors to prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease (CVD) leading to heart attack or stroke. (

Prevention - Secondary
Identifying, treating and rehabilitating patients who has established heart disease (post bypass surgery, heart attack or stroke) or those at very high risk to prevent another cardiovascular or cerebrovascular event. (

Primary Pulmonary Hypertension
The pulmonary arteries are the arteries that direct the blood flow from the heart to the lungs. Some patients have high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries and this is known as pulmonary hypertension.

Medications that help strengthen the LES and make the stomach empty faster. Prokinetics may be used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and include bethanechol (Urecholine) and metoclopramide (Reglan).

A condition in which an organ or other part of the body is not in its correct position.

The prevention of disease.

A group of organic compounds composed of amino acids and rich in nitrogen, required for the growth and repair of tissue and the formation of hormones and enzymes.

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
Medications that control or eliminate acid by blocking the enzyme in the stomach that produces acid. Proton pump inhibitors may be used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and include omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), pantoprazole (Protonix), rabeprazole (Aciphex), and esomeprazole (Nexium).

A person appointed to make decisions for someone else, as in a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (also called a surrogate or agent).

Pulmonary Artery
The vessel through which the blood exits the right ventricle on its way to the lungs, where it receives oxygen.

Pulmonary Edema
An abnormal swelling of tissue in the lungs due to fluid build-up.

Pulmonary Embolism (PE)
A clot in the lungs, most often caused by a deep vein thrombosis (clot in a vein in the legs) that has broken free and traveled to the lungs. Risk of PE decreases after blood-thinners are given.

Pulmonary Function Test (PFT)
A test used to reveal lung capacity and function, and to determine the blood's capacity to transport oxygen.

Pulmonary Hypertension
A rare lung disorder in which the arteries in the lungs have become narrowed, making it difficult for blood to flow through the vessels. Pulmonary Hypertension is high blood pressure of the pulmonary arteries.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation
A program that can help a patient learn how to breathe easier and improve quality of life. It includes treatment, exercise training, education and counseling.

Pulmonic Valve (also called pulmonary valve)
The valve that lies between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery (to the lungs).

A staff physician with extensive training in lung disease who specializes in caring for people with lung diseases and breathing problems.

Pulse Rate
The number of heartbeats per minute. The resting pulse rate for an average adult is between 60 and 80 beats per minute.

Pulse Volume Recording (PVR)
A procedure that tests the arterial blood flow to the hands or feet. Often blood flow is checked after exercise.

Letter T

Rapid heart beat. A heart rate above 100 beats per minute.

Terminal Condition
An irreversible, incurable, and untreatable condition from which there can be no recovery, and death is likely to occur soon. Nursing and medical efforts are administered to provide comfort.

Thallium Exercise Stress Test (stress thallium test, perfusion scan)
A type of nuclear scanning technique that uses the radioactive substance thallium. A thallium stress test combines nuclear scanning with exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle to assess heart function and determine if there is adequate flood flow to the myocardium.

Procedure used to drain fluid from the chest, such as a pleural effusion.

Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm
Aortic aneurysms that occur in the chest area that may involve the aortic root, ascending aorta, aortic arch or descending aorta.

Thoracic Cavity
The area of the body located between the neck and diaphragm. The thoracic cavity includes the heart and lungs, esophagus, trachea, pleura (lining of the thoracic cavity) mediastinum (space behind the sternum and in between the lungs) chest wall diaphragm (thin muscle below the lungs and heart that separates the chest from the abdomen)

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
A group of distinct disorders that affect the nerves in the brachial plexus (nerves that pass into the arms from the neck) and various nerves and blood vessels between the base of the neck and axilla (armpit).

Thoracic Surgeon
A surgeon who specializes in treating problems that affect all organs in the chest (thoracic) cavity, such as cancers and diseases of the lung, esophagus, and chest wall; abnormalities of the great vessels; birth defects of the chest; and tumors in the organs contained in the chest cavity. The highly-specialized team of thoracic surgeons at Cleveland Clinic has among the largest experience in the country in diagnosing and surgically treating diseases of the lung and esophagus. Thoracic surgeons work closely with specialists from other areas, including pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, thoracic anesthesiologists and medical and radiation oncologists, to provide a collaborative approach to your diagnosis and treatment.

Thoracic Surgery
A surgical field focusing on treatments for lung cancer, tumors of the chest wall, emphysema, esophageal swallowing problems, lung transplantation, esophageal cancer and gastroesophageal reflux.

Video imaging of the chest cavity and lung performed through a 5mm-10mm (1/4 inch) camera. Thorascopy is an essential component of minimally invasive chest surgery (Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery-VATS).

Thoracotomy Surgery
A type of surgery in which an incision is made on the side of the chest between the ribs. The ribs are then spread apart so the surgeon can see inside the chest cavity.

Small video-scope used during video-assisted thoracic surgery to project images on a video screen for the surgeon to view during the procedure.

Thoracostomy, chest tube
A procedure performed to drain fluid, blood or air from the space around the lungs (pleural space).

Area of the body located between the neck and abdomen. The thorax contains the heart, lungs, esophagus and great vessels surrounded by the breastbone or sternum in front, the ribs on each side, and the spine in the back.

Also called a platelet. Component of blood that aids in clotting.

Thoracic Outlet Testing
A procedure that tests blood flow to the arms and hands in various positions. Used to rule out thoracic outlet syndrome.

Thrombolytic Medication (clot-buster drug)
Medication used during a heart attack to dissolve any clots in the coronary arteries that may be blocking blood flow.

A blood clot.

A yeast infection for which transplant patients are at risk. It can occur in the mouth or vagina.

Disease in which cancerous (malignant) cells are found in the tissues of the thymus.

Small organ located in the upper/front portion of the chest, extending from the base of the throat to the front of the heart. The cells of the thymus form a part of the body's normal immune system. Early in life, the thymus plays an important role in the development of the immune system.

Tissue Plasminogen Activator (t-PA)
A clot dissolving agent that is injected directly into a clogged artery to break up a blood clot. If used within 3 hours after the start of a stroke, brain damage may be avoided.

Tissue Typing
A test that evaluates the compatibility or closeness of tissue between the organ donor and recipient.

TPN - Total Parenteral Nutrition
A special intravenous (IV) solution providing hydration, vitamins, minerals and calories to sustain life. This IV is usually inserted into a large vein in the neck area.

Total Cholesterol
The total amount of cholesterol in the blood.

Total Lung Capacity Test
A test that measures the amount of air in the lungs after a person has breathed in as much as possible.

Also called the “windpipe.” The main airway (windpipe) supplying air to both lungs.

Tracheal Stricture
A narrowing in the trachea that restricts air flow to the lungs.

Small opening or incision made in the throat. Through the tracheostomy, a tube is placed to aid breathing for patients who may need to be supported longer than expected with mechanical ventilation. Instead of breathing through the nose and mouth, the patient then breathes through the tracheostomy or “trach.”

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
An invasive imaging procedure that creates a picture of the heart's movement, valves and chambers using high frequency sound waves that come from a small transducer passed down your throat. TEE provides clear images of the heart's movement because the transducer is close to the heart and limits interference from air in the lungs. Echo is often combined with Doppler ultrasound and color Doppler to evaluate blood flow across the heart's valves.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA, also called a mini-stroke)
A sudden onset of temporary symptoms (loss of sensation, movement, speech, mental function or vision) lasting minutes, or hours, that occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen-rich blood but, the effects wear off completely after resumption of blood-flow. It can be a warning sign for stroke. May be caused by carotid artery narrowing or blockage.

Trans-Myocardial Revascularization (TMR)
In patients with severe ischemic heart disease who are not candidates for bypass surgery, it is possible to do a procedure called trans-myocardial laser revascularization. In this procedure, an incision is made in the chest. The heart is exposed and small holes are drilled through the wall of the heart, with a laser allowing blood to flow from the inner chamber of the heart into the muscle of the heart. This procedure is still considered experimental and can be used only in a small number of patients.

Transplant Coordinator
A registered nurse who coordinates all of the events leading up to and following your transplant. The transplant coordinator helps arrange your pre-transplant tests and helps find a suitable donor.

Transplant Surgeon
The staff physician who performs the transplant surgery. The transplant surgeon follows your progress while you are in the hospital and monitors your post-transplant care after you are discharged.

Transtelephonic Monitor
A small monitor is attached to electrode leads (usually on your finger or wrist. Your heart's rhythm is transmitted over the phone line with the aid of this device to your doctor's office.

Tricuspid Valve
The tricuspid valve is the valve that separates the right atrium from the right ventricle and prevents blood from flowing back into the right atrium during contraction of the ventricle.

A fat found in the blood. Most fat found in the diet and body fat is in the form of triglycerides.

Tube Feeding (enteral feeding)
A temporary artificial method of providing food through a tube inserted into the stomach. This food is in a liquid form and contains calories, vitamins and electrolytes. Enteral feeding may be necessary when food cannot be taken by mouth.

Reviewed: 10/12

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