Glossary L's

lumbar spine

Definition:the lower part of the spine between the lowest pair of ribs and the pelvis; made up of five vertebrae


Definition:torn or ragged wound

lactic acid

Definition:acid produced by glucose-burning cells when the cells have an insufficient supply of oxygen


Definition:surgical procedure to remove part of a vertebra to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or a nerve branching from the spinal cord

laparoscopic cholecystectomy

Definition:surgical removal of the gallbladder using a laparoscope


Definition:viewing instrument used to examine and treat disorders in the abdominal cavity; consists of a long tube with an eyepiece, a lens, and often a camera, which allows the image to be viewed on a monitor


Definition:procedure to examine the abdominal cavity using a laparoscope, usually to investigate pelvic pain or gynecologic conditions such as infertility


Definition:surgical removal of all or part of the voice box (larynx) as a treatment for cancer


Definition:inflammation of the voice box, usually caused by a viral infection; characterized by a hoarse voice


Definition:medical term for the voice box, the organ in the throat that produces voice and also prevents food from entering the airway

laser treatment

Definition:use of a laser to perform medical procedures, such as the destruction of tumors

latent infection

Definition:infection that lies dormant in the body for months or years but can reappear


Definition:pertaining to a side

low density lipoprotein (LDL)

Definition:substance which acts as a carrier for cholesterol and fats in the bloodstream; commonly referred to as bad cholesterol; high levels are a risk factor for coronary artery disease; count ranges-less than 130 is desirable, 130-159 is borderline, over 160 is high risk factor


Definition:instrument that produces a powerful beam of light that can produces intense heat at close range; used in surgical procedures to vaporize damaged cell tissue; also used to refer to the beam of light of light produced by the instrument


Definition:wire connected to a sensing device (e.g., ECG or EEG pad) and a monitor, where the information is displayed; each lead generates one line, or view, on the monitor; also used to refer to the line or view on the monitor


Definition:abnormality of structure in the body


Definition:group of bone marrow cancers in which white blood cells divide uncontrollably, affecting the production of normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets

leukocyte count

Definition:the number of white blood cells in the blood, which is used as a measure of health and possible infection


Definition:another name for a white blood cell

large intestine

Definition:the part of the digestive tract located between the small intestine and the anus


Definition:system of providing some or all of the requirements for maintaining life or health, including oxygen, nutrition, water, control of temperature and pressure, elimination of carbon dioxide and body wastes; also, sometimes used to describe the medical equipment used to provide life support


Definition:tough, elastic band of tissue that connects bones and organs in place


Definition:process of closing a blood vessel or duct by tying it off


Definition:group of fats stored in the body and used for energy


Definition:procedure to break up stones in the urinary tract using ultrasonic shock waves, so that the fragments can be easily passed from the body

liver failure

Definition:final stage of liver disease, in which liver function becomes so impaired that other areas of the body are affected, most commonly the brain


Definition:organ that produces many essential chemicals and regulates the levels of most vital substances in the blood

Living Will

Definition:type of advance directive that only becomes effective when a person becomes terminally ill, in which signer describes the kind of treatments desired in certain situations; usually includes request that if ever disabled beyond a reasonable expectation of recovery, he/she is allowed to die rather than be kept alive by artificial means


Definition:well defined, separate part of an organ


Definition:surgical removal of a lobe

loss of consciousness

Definition:total unresponsiveness, an important neurologic sign

local anesthesia

Definition:method of preventing pain by numbing a certain area of the body while the patient remains awake

local anesthetic

Definition:the medication used to numb a certain area of the body; also called numbing medicine; commonly used to mean local anesthesia


Definition:shortened term for local anesthesia or local anesthetic


Definition:spasm of the jaw muscles that prevents the mouth from opening, such as that caused by tetanus


Definition:inward curvature of the spine at the lower back, which is normal to a certain degree; abnormal as a result of certain medical conditions, being overweight or having muscle problems

licensed practical nurse (LPN)

Definition:trained health care professional licensed by state law to provide routine medical care


Definition:surgical removal of a section of breast containing cancer

lung arrest

Definition:sudden cessation of the lungs' effectiveness in taking in oxygen and giving off carbon dioxide

lung collapse

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


Definition:two organs in the chest that take in oxygen from the air and release carbon dioxide

lupus erythematosus

Definition:disorder of the immune system that causes inflammation of connective tissue

Lyme disease

Definition:disease caused by bacteria transmitted through the bite of a deer tick; characterized by fever, rash, and inflammation of the heart and joints

lymph node

Definition:small gland that is part of the immune system; contains white blood cells and antibodies and helps fight against the spread of infection


Definition:milky fluid containing white blood cells, proteins, and fats that bathes body tissues; plays an important role in absorbing fats from the intestine and in the functioning of the immune system


Definition:swollen lymph nodes

lymphatic system

Definition:network of vessels that drain lymph from the body tissues back into the bloodstream


Definition:white blood cell that is an important part of the body's immune system, helping to destroy invading microorganisms

lymphocytic leukemia

Definition:disease in which white blood cells called lymphocytes divide uncontrollably


Definition:group of cancers of the lymph nodes and spleen that can spread to other parts of the body


Definition:another name for a non-Hodgkin's sarcoma; a malignant tumor in lymphoid tissue

lipid-lowering drug

Definition:drug taken to lower the levels of specific fats called lipids in the blood in order to reduce the risk of narrowing of the arteries