Glossary C's

calcium channel blocker

Definition:drug used to treat chest pain, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat by preventing the movement of calcium into the muscle

cancer staging

Definition:method to determine how much a cancer has developed


Definition:group of diseases in which cells grow unrestrained in an organ or tissue in the body; can spread to tissues around it and destroy them or be transported through blood or lymph pathways to other parts of the body


Definition:plentiful mineral in the body and a basic component of teeth and bones; essential for cell function, muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulses, and blood clotting


Definition:depositing of calcium salts in the body, which occurs normally in teeth and bones but abnormally in injured muscles and narrowed arteries


Definition:unit of measure of the energy content in food


Definition:yeast infection caused by the fungus Candida albicans; occurs often in the vagina, also in the mouth, on moist skin, or on the penis


Definition:tiny blood vessel that connects the smallest arteries (arterioles) to the smallest veins (venules) and allows exchange of oxygen and other materials between blood cells and body tissue cells

capnography monitor

Definition:monitor that displays level of exhaled carbon dioxide


Definition:monitoring of exhaled carbon dioxide, which is a sensitive indicator of lung function; helps in adjustment of breathing machine and may provide an early warning that the lungs are not functioning properly


Definition:any of various types of cancer originating on the surface or lining of organs

cardiac arrest

Definition:sudden cessation of the heart's pumping action, possibly due to a heart attack, respiratory arrest, electrical shock, extreme cold, blood loss, drug overdose, or a severe allergic reaction

cardiac ischemia

Definition:condition in which the heart does not receive a sufficient supply of blood


Definition:pertaining to the heart

cardiogenic shock

Definition:severely dangerous condition involving decreased blood output from the heart, usually as a result of a heart attack


Definition:condition marked by enlargement of the heart, either because of a thickened heart muscle or an enlarged heart chamber; usually a result of the heart having to work harder than normal, as occurs with high blood pressure


Definition:disease of the heart muscle that results in decreased output and reduced blood flow


Definition:inflammation of the heart

cerebral cortex

Definition:outer part of the brain, where thought processes take place

carotid arteries

Definition:arteries that carry blood to the head and neck


Definition:connective tissue, softer and more flexible than bone, that is part of the skeletal system, including the joints


Definition:hard plaster or fiberglass shell that molds to a body part such as an arm and holds it in place for proper healing


Definition:disorder in which the lens of the eye becomes less transparent and in some cases milky white, making vision less clear


Definition:flexible, plastic tube inserted into the body to put in or take out fluid, measure pressure or blood flow, or to open or close blood vessels; often used interchangeably with the term line


Definition:technique in which a hollow and flexible tube (catheter) is used to drain body fluids (e.g., urine), to introduce fluids (e.g., blood, medication, nutrients) into the body, or to examine or widen a narrowed vein or artery


Definition:use of heat, an electric current, or a chemical to destroy tissue or stop bleeding


Definition:application of a chemical, hot or electric current to destroy tissue

cardiac care unit (CCU)

Definition:area of a hospital, usually specially-equipped, designated for advanced and highly specialized care and close monitoring of patients whose critical illness or injury is primarily cardiac (heart) related; also called coronary care unit


Definition:beginning of the large intestine; connected to the appendix at its lower end


Definition:basic unit that comprises all the tissues of the body and carries out all of the body's functions


Definition:skin infection caused by bacteria (usually streptococci); can lead to tissue damage and blood poisoning if untreated; characterized by fever, chills, heat, tenderness, and redness

central venous catheter

Definition:small, flexible plastic tube inserted into large vein above the heart through which blood and drugs can be given; also called central venous line, central line, or Hickman catheter


Definition:region of the brain located at the back; responsible for coordination of movement and maintaining balance

cerebral cortex

Definition:outer part of the brain, where thought processes take place

cerebrovascular disease

Definition:disease affecting any artery supplying blood to the brain; may cause blockage or rupture of a blood vessel, leading to a stroke


Definition:largest part of the brain and the site of most of its activity, including sensory and motor functions


Definition:small, round organ making up the neck of the uterus and separating it from the vagina

cystic fibrosis

Definition:inherited disorder in which fats and other nutrients are poorly absorbed into the body and the lungs are prone to infection

chest drainage device

Definition:collection device for chest drainage procedure


Definition:reatment of infections or cancer with drugs that act on disease-producing organisms or cancerous tissue; may also affect normal cells

chest compression

Definition:technique of pumping on a person's chest with one's hands, used in administering CPR

chest drainage

Definition:removal of excess fluid and/or air from the space surrounding the lung(s)

chest tube

Definition:plastic tube for the drainage of air or fluid from the space surrounding the lung(s)

congestive heart failure

Definition:inability of the heart to efficiently pump blood through the body, causing buildup of blood in the veins and of other body fluids in tissue, often associated with difficulty breathing

closed head injury

Definition:temporary or permanent damage to brain tissue, usually the result of a hard impact to the head or face; often associated with bleeding into the brain and/or brain swelling due to fluid build-up


Definition:substance, mainly sugar and starch, that is a main source of energy for the body and is found in foods such as cereals, breads, pastas, grains, and vegetables


Definition:surgical removal of the gallbladder


Definition:substance in body cells that plays a role in the production of hormones and bile salts and in the transport of fats in the bloodstream; there are two types of cholesterol-high density lipoprotein (HDL), commonly referred to as good cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL), commonly referred to as bad cholesterol


Definition:describes a disorder that continues for an extended period of time


Definition:tiny, hair-like structures on the outside of some cells, providing mobility


Definition:a kind of moving picture made from a number of contrast X-rays as the contrast material moves through the blood vessels; used to help determine if there are blockages in the blood vessels that may require opening

cirrhosis of the liver

Definition:gradual loss of liver function due to cell damage and internal scarring


Definition:cramping pain in one or both legs while walking, due to poor blood circulation to the legs


Definition:medical term for the collarbone

clinical trial

Definition:carefully monitored and planned testing of a new drug or treatment

clinical nurse specialist (CNS)

Definition:registered nurse with advanced graduate training who provides care in a range of specific areas, develops nursing care procedures and quality assurance methods, and serves as educator or clinical consultant

closed fracture

Definition:a bone break that does not break the skin

clotting factors

Definition:substance in the blood needed for blood to harden and stop a wound from bleeding


Definition:see central nervous system; also see clinical nurse specialist

central nervous system

Definition:comprised of the brain and spinal cord

carbon dioxide

Definition:colorless, odorless gas present in small amounts in the atmosphere and formed during respiration


Definition:process that plays a large role in the hardening and thickening of blood to form a clot


Definition:four fused bones that form a triangular shape at the base of the spine (also known as the tailbone)


Definition:coiled organ in the inner ear that plays a large role in hearing by picking up sound vibrations and transmitting them as electrical signals


Definition:complete or partial surgical removal of the large intestine (the colon), usually as treatment of a cancerous tumor or a narrowing and blockage of the intestine


Definition:waves of pain in the abdomen that increase in strength, disappear, and return; usually caused by a stone blocking a bile or urine passageway or an intestinal infection


Definition:inflammation of the large intestine (colon), which usually leads to abdominal pain, fever, and diarrhea with blood and mucus

colon perforation

Definition:abnormal hole in the large intestine (colon)


Definition:main part of the large intestine, between the cecum and the rectum


Definition:slender flexible tube with a lighted end to view the inside of the large intestine (colon); allows the doctor to sample small portions of tissue to diagnose problems (biopsy) and to treat some diseases


Definition:use of a colonoscope to view the inside of the large intestine (colon), sample small portions of tissue and treat some diseases


Definition:special endoscope used too perform colonoscopy


Definition:surgical procedure in which some part of the colon is cut and moved to the surface of the abdomen so that feces (stool) can be passed into a bag worn outside the body


Definition:condition in which the area of the brain involved in maintaining consciousness is affected, resulting in a state of unconsciousness in which the patient does not respond to stimulation

comfort care

Definition:treatment strategy often adopted for terminally ill patients that focuses on patient comfort above all other considerations

communicable disease

Definition:disease that can be passed from one individual to another

comminuted fracture

Definition:a crushed or shattered bone

common cold

Definition:infection caused by a virus, which results in an inflamed lining of the nose and throat; characterized by a stuffy and runny nose and, sometimes, a sore throat

compression fracture

Definition:a break in a short bone in which its soft tissue is crushed

compound fracture

Definition:a bone break that penetrates the skin


Definition:disturbance of electrical activity in the brain due to a blow to the head or neck, causing temporary altered or loss of consciousness; no structural brain injury can be demonstrated

connective tissue

Definition:strong tissue that connects and supports body structures


Definition:sense of awareness of oneself and the immediate surroundings


Definition:difficult or infrequent bowel movements of hard, dry feces (stool)


Definition:able to be transmitted from person to person


Definition:aspect of a patient's condition that makes the use of a certain drug or therapy an unwise or dangerous decision

contrast material

Definition:material sometimes given (orally, rectally or by injection) prior to X-ray procedures to help outline body structures in the resulting X-rays


Definition:damage to the skin and underlying tissue as a result of a blunt injury; a bruise


Definition:violent contraction, or series of contractions, of the voluntary muscles

chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD)

Definition:combination of the lung diseases emphysema and bronchitis, characterized by blockage of airflow in and out of the lungs

coronary angiogram

Definition:X-ray of the vascular system of the heart after injection of a contrast medium

coronary arteriogram

Definition:specific procedure in which the coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle, are briefly filled with contrast material; then a number of X-rays are taken and a kind of moving picture, called a cine, is created as the contrast material moves through the arteries; used to determine if there are blockages in the coronary arteries that may require opening; also called cardiac catheterization

coronary thrombosis

Definition:blockage of a coronary artery by a blood clot


Definition:descriptive of structures that encircle another structure (e.g., coronary arteries, which circle the heart); also commonly used to refer to a coronary thrombosis or a heart attack


Definition:synthetic drugs, which resemble hormones produced by the adrenal glands, used to replace natural hormones or to suppress the immune system and help prevent inflammation

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

Definition:form of respiratory support providing oxygen and pressure to the lungs to make it easier for patient to breathe

collapsed lung

Definition:condition in which all or part of a lung cannot expand and fill with air



cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

Definition:administration of heart compression and artificial respiration to restore circulation and breathing


Definition:the bones of the skull, which enclose the brain; also called brain case


Definition:waste product filtered from the blood by the kidneys and expelled in urine


Definition:the remains of the body after cremation; commonly called ashes

critical care unit (CCU)

Definition:area of a hospital, usually specially-equipped, designated for advanced and highly specialized care and close monitoring of patients who are critically ill or injured; also called an intensive care unit (ICU)

cerebrospinal fluid

Definition:clear, watery fluid circulating in and around the brain and spinal column, which contains glucose, proteins, and salts for nutrition

computed tomography scan

Definition:technique for producing cross-sectional images of the body


Definition:pertaining to the heart and blood vessels

cardiovascular system

Definition:heart and blood vessels that are responsible for circulating blood throughout the body


Definition:short term type of dialysis, which requires a special tube to be placed in a large vein (usually in the leg), to filter the blood; acronym for continuous venous-venous hemodialysis


Definition:artificial growth of cells, tissue, or microorganisms such as bacteria in a laboratory


Definition:lump filled with either fluid or soft material, occurring in any organ or tissue; may occur for a number of reasons but is usually harmless unless its presence disrupts organ or tissue function


Definition:surgical removal of the bladder; the bladder is often replaced with a short length of small intestine


Definition:examination of the urethra and bladder using a long, thin, fiberoptic tube


Definition:surgical placement of a drainage opening in the bladder