Glossary of Terms and Procedures

Glossary of Terms and Procedures

During your child’s clinic visit or hospital stay you may see and hear medical words you may not know. This glossary includes abbreviations and terms you might hear from staff or see written on charts or medicine. Ask your child’s doctor or other caregivers if you need help understanding medical words.

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A disease or condition that is sudden, severe and brief (not chronic). Although CF is a chronic disease, it is often marked by acute episodes of infection or other clinical problems.

A drug that relieves pain.

Loss of feeling or awareness. ­A local anesthetic causes loss of feeling in a part of the body. A general anesthetic puts the person to sleep.

The absence or lack of oxygen supply in the body.

Stopping breathing for 20 seconds or longer; also known as an anemic episodes or anemic spells. The heart rate often slows with apnea; this is called bradycardia. The combination of apnea and bradycardia often is called an A and B spell.

Aspergillus or Aspergillus Fumigates
A fungus found in nature that can grow in the lungs.

The accidental sucking in of food particles or fluids into the lungs, or the removal of a sample of fluid and cells through a needle.

Partial or complete collapse of a previously expanded lung due to loss of air in air sacs.

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Blood gas
A blood test used to evaluate the level of oxygen, carbon dioxide and acid. This test is significant because it helps to evaluate respiratory (breathing) status.

Bradycardia (Brady)
An abnormally low heart rate.

Medicine that dilates, or opens, bronchial tubes to allow freer breathing.

Internal examination of the lungs by using an illuminated tube-like instrument (bronchoscope). The tube is inserted into the lungs through the throat, pharynx and trachea (windpipe). Allows for direct examination of the interior of the bronchial tubes.

Tightening, or contracting, of muscles surrounding and supporting bronchial tubes interfering with normal breathing and causing respiratory (breathing) distress.

Burkholderia Cetacean Complex (B. Cepacia)
A group of bacteria that can be spread among people with CF and can cause serious lung infection.

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Case manager
A patient advocate who coordinates health services and home care with the insurance company during hospitalization.

A thin tube placed within a blood vessel to administer fluids and obtain blood samples. (See: intravenous line, central venous line, peripheral venous line, PICC). A urinary catheter is a thin tube placed within the bladder for draining urine.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)
A blood test analyzing the number and type of white blood cells, the concentration of hemoglobin, the percentage of blood volume consisting of red blood cells (hematocrit) and the number of platelets.

Central Venous Line (CVL)
Also called the central venous catheter (CVD), this is a type of intravenous tube used to give fluids and medicines. The catheter is placed in a major vein of the body during surgery or by insertion through a vein in the arm, leg or head.

Charge nurse
A registered nurse (R.N.) who has general responsibility for coordinating the nursing care of all patients in a unit for a particular shift. Nursing shifts may be either eight or 12 hours.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
Supplemental oxygen, or room air, delivered under pressure though an endotracheal tube (tube that goes directly into the lungs) or small tubes or prongs that sit in the nostrils. Delivering oxygen under pressure helps keep air sacs in the lungs open and helps maintain a clear airway to the lungs. Nasal CPAP (NCPAP) is commonly used immediately after removing the endotracheal tube to treat apnea and prevent the need for an endotracheal tube and ventilator.

Slang for hematocrit, this is a test used to determine the percentage of red blood cells compared to total blood volume. It is commonly used to test for anemia.

Computed Tomography (CT) scan
A type of scan that uses X-rays to generate cross-sectional images of the head or body.

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A drop in the blood oxygen level generally detected by a pulse oximeter; often associated with apnea and bradycardia.

Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA)
An X-ray that checks bone thickness or density to diagnose bone disease.

Shortness of breath.

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Electrocardiogram (ECG)
A noninvasive and painless study in which electrodes placed on the chest record the electrical activity of the heart.

Electrolytes (lytes)
Minerals dissolved in the blood. Electrolytes analyzed routinely by blood tests include sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

Endotracheal (ETT or ET) tube
Atube placed through the mouth or nose into the throat and the trachea (windpipe). This tube provides a secure pathway through which air can be circulated to the lungs.

Process of expelling substances, such as mucus, from the lungs, often by coughing and spitting them out.

Exhalation, breathing out.

Removing the endotracheal tube (ET tube) from the windpipe.

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Failure to thrive
Not gaining weight or growing at a normal rate.

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Gavage feeding
Feeding a baby through a nasogastric (NG) tube. Also called tube feeding.

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Input and output (IO)
Refers to the amount of fluids given by oral feedings or by intravenous (IV) and the amount of fluid excreted in the urine or stools.

Infection control
Refers to policies and procedures used to minimize the risk of spreading infections, especially in hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Swelling of a body part where there is an infection or injury.

A method for administering drugs into the body via injection into a muscle.

Intravenous (IV)
A catheter (small tube) placed directly through the skin into the vein in a hand, arm, foot, leg or scalp. Nutrients, fluids and medicines can flow through this tube.

Inserting a tube into the trachea (windpipe) through the nose or mouth to allow air to reach the lungs.

Telescoping of the intestines.

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Lead wires
Wires connecting the sensors on the chest to the vital signs monitor.

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An imaging technique that uses powerful magnets and computers to produce a detailed picture of tissue.

Meconium Illeus Equivalent
Obstruction of the intestines by abnormal stool in an older infant, child or adult with CF. Obstruction may be partial or complete.

Microbiology report
Reports results of antibiotics tested on bacteria; tells whether a bacterium is sensitive, intermediate or resistant to antibiotics tested.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Bacteria common in the lungs of people with CF.

Mucous plugs
Very thick mucus in a duct or an airway that partially or completely blocks the flow of secretions or air.

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Nasal cannula
Light, flexible tube used to give supplemental oxygen, which passes through two prongs extending into the nostrils.

Nasal polyps
Small growths of swollen mucous membrane that project into the nasal passages. Common in children with CF, they are usually multiple or recurrent and can be surgically removed.

Nasogastric (NG) tube
Narrow, flexible tube inserted through the nostril, down the esophagus and into the stomach. It is used to give food or to remove air or fluid from the stomach.

NPO (nothing by mouth)
A Latin term that means no food or water by mouth.

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Orogastric (OG) tube
A tube placed from the mouth down to the stomach. It is used to give food or to remove air or fluid from the stomach.

Oximeter (pulse oximeter)
A machine that allows the hospital staff to monitor the amount of oxygen in the blood without having to obtain blood for laboratory testing.

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Parenteral nutrition (hyperalimentation)
Solution put directly into the bloodstream, giving necessary nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, salts and fat. Other names for this are hyperal, total parenteral nutrition (TPN) and intravenous feedings.

Germs that cause illness.

Peripheral arterial line
A short catheter placed into an artery at the wrist or foot for the purpose of drawing frequent blood samples and monitoring blood pressure continuously.

Peripheral intravenous line
A short catheter placed into a vein for the administration of fluids and medicines. These catheters are often placed in the hands, feet or scalp, and are intended for short-term (up to several days) use.

Percutaneously Inserted Central Catheter (PICC line)
A long, very thin catheter peripherally inserted through the skin into a vein (usually in the elbow or upper arm area) for the long-term administration of fluids and medicines.

Inflammation or infection of the lungs.

When air from the lungs leaks out into the space between the lungs and chest wall. While small leaks may cause no problems and require no treatment, larger leaks may cause serious complications, such as lung collapse, and may need to be repaired with surgery.

Referring to prevention, such as drugs, used to prevent or ward off infections.

Pulmonary exacerbation
Worsening of pulmonary symptoms such as increased cough, sputum production, chest congestion and shortness of breath during physical activity.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa (pseudomonas)
Bacteria often found in the lungs of people with CF; it is a cause of many chronic lung infections.

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Rectal prolapse
Protrusion of rectum. May occur in children with CF because of digestive complications.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
The most common cause of bronchiolitis in young children. Bronchiolitis is an infection of the bronchial tubes that causes rapid breathing, coughing, wheezing and respiratory failure, especially in the first two years of life. RSV infection and bronchiolitis is a particular risk for infants with chronic lung problems and those born prematurely. The RSV season is usually from October to March.

An abnormal sucking in of the chest during breathing, indicating that the patient is working too hard to breathe.

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Term for blood oxygen saturation.

Side effect
Any undesired actions or effects of a drug or treatment.

The hollow areas in the skull around your nose.

Inflammation of the sinuses.

Lung mucus or phlegm.

Sputum culture
Sputum is material coughed up from the lungs and spit out through the mouth. A culture of the sputum is done to find and identify the micro-organism causing an infection by placing it in a medium under conditions that allow it to grow. If a micro-organism is found, testing is done to determine which antibiotics can weaken or kill the bacteria and thus will be used to treat the infection.

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A faster than normal heart rate.

A faster than normal respiratory (breathing) rate.

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Ventilator (vent)
A machine that assists adults or children to breathe.

Thick and sticky.

Tiny organisms that can cause infections.

Vital signs monitor
A machine measuring and displaying heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure on a computer screen. If these vital signs become abnormal, an alarm usually sounds.

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To breathe with difficulty and a whistling sound.

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