Medical Terms Defined


A list of medical terms we commonly use, and their definitions.



ABR: Auditory Brainstem Response Evaluation
     See "Sedated Hearing Test."

ANC: Absolute Neutrophil Count
      Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that fights infection. source When it comes to Mason's treatment: they are measured and shown in numbers (counts). Any count less than 1,000 shows a high risk of infection for Mason. A count lower than 500 is an extremely high risk, and can result in a hospitalization.

Audiogram
     A series of tests that show the softest sounds a person can hear at different frequencies and pitches.

Blood Transfusion
     Where donated blood is added to your own blood through an IV line (Mason's went through his port) to supplement various components of your blood and boost blood levels that are low, either because your body isn't making enough or because blood has been lost during surgery, injury or disease. source

BrainStem
     The brainstem is the region of the brain that connects the cerebrum with the spinal cord. The brainstem provides the main motor and sensory innervation to the face and neck via the cranial nerves. Though small, this is an extremely important part of the brain as the nerve connections of the motor and sensory systems from the main part of the brain to the rest of the body pass through the brainstem. source 1, source 2

Cerebellum
     Located at the base of the skull, this is the part of the brain that coordinates movements and balance.

Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)
     Brain fluid.

Chemotherapy
      Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that works by interfering with the cancer call's ability to grow or reproduce. Different groups of chemotherapy drugs work in different ways to fight cancer cells and shrink tumors...Certain chemotherapy drugs may be given in a specific order depending on the type of cancer it is being used to treat.
       While chemotherapy can be quite effective in treating certain cancers, the agents do not differentiate normal healthy cells from cancer cells. Because of this, there can be many adverse side effects during treatment. source

Child Life/Child Life Specialist
     A professional who uses play therapy and develops activities to help children cope with the effects of illness and treatment. source

Clinic
     Cancer-mom speak for the Oncology/Hematology Clinic at Primary Children's.

ENT
     Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist.

Flush or Flushed
     When referring to a port, or an IV of some sort, "to flush" it is to use a sterile liquid (usually saline) to clear the tube either before, or after it has been used. Doing this will push blood, or any remaining medicines, completely through the tube.

"Fun Doctor"
     Mason's term for Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy visits.

Gray: Gy
     A unit of measurement in radiation; can be used interchangeably with rad. source

Hematocrit
     A measurement of red blood cells in the blood; often used as the basis for decisions regarding transfusions. source

Hemoglobin
     A measurement of red blood cells in the blood; often used as the basis for decisions regarding transfusions. This is a number approximately one-third of the hematocrit. source

Intubated/Intubation
     The placement of a tube into the trachea (windpipe) to assist with breathing. source

Malignant
     Tending to grow quickly and spread, causing harm to surrounding and/or distant tissue. source

Medulloblastoma
     Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant tumor of childhood...these tumors are located in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance and other complex motor functions. Read more  from the source.

MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging
      A scanning technique used in radiology to visualize detailed internal structures. The good contrast it provides between the different soft tissues of the body make it especially useful in brain, muscles, heart, and cancer, compared with other medical imaging techniques such as CT scans or X-rays. source

Neupogen
     The brand name for Filgrastim, a man-made form of a protein that stimulates the growth of white blood cells. source source

NJ Tube: Nasojejunal Tube
     A tube, used for feeding, that goes from the nose to the part of the intestines called the jejunum. source

Oncology and Oncologist
      Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with tumors. And Oncologist is a medical professional who practices Oncology. source

PCMC
     Primary Children's Medical Center

PICU
     Pediatric Intensive Care Unit

Platelets
       Platelets are irregularly-shaped, colorless bodies that are present in blood. Their sticky surface lets them, along with other substances, form clots to stop bleeding. source 
      If the number of platelets is too low, excessive bleeding can occur. However, if the number of platelets is too high, blood clots can from...which may obstruct blood vessels.... source

PNET: Primitive Neurodectodermal Tumor
      Medulloblastoma.

Poke
      Mason's term for a shot, injection, or anything that uses a needle to "poke" him.

Port/Portacath
      A portacath is a medical device consisting of a reservoir (the portal) and a tube (the catheter). The portal is implanted under the skin in the upper chest. It may appear as a bump under the skin...The catheter runs in a tunnel under the skin, going over the collar bone and then enters the large vein in the lower neck (jugular). It is completely internal, so swimming and bathing are not a problem. The septum of the portal is made of a special self-sealing silicone rubber that can be punctured many times, and can be used for many years. source

Primary's/Primary Children's
     Primary Children's Medical Center

Protocol
     A written plan that specifies exact procedures to follow (related to clinical trials and therapies for brain tumors). source

Rad
     A unit of measurement used in radiation; can be used interchangeably with a unit called the Gray (Gy). source

Radiation Oncologist
      A doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer patients, using radiation therapy as the main treatment. source

Radiation Therapy
      Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays (radiation) from a specialized machine to damage or kill cancer cells, and shrink tumors. source

Remission
     The decrease or disappearance of clinical symptoms of disease. source

Resection
     The surgical removal of a tumor.

Sedated Hearing Test (ABR)
     An ABR (Auditory Brainstem Response) test, by evaluating the hearing nerve pathways, can identify cases of sensorineural hearing loss. It is a sleep EEG hearing test which shows the softest sounds your child's ears can detect at various pitches. The ABR compares changes in brain activity to the timing of repetitive sounds to determine whether the particular intensity of sound can be heard. source

Simulation
      Treatment simulations are used to plan the geometric radiological aspects of the therapy...this process involves selecting the appropriate beam type, energy, and arrangements. source

Swallow Study
      A barium swallow study is a medical imaging procedure used the examine the upper gastrointestinal tract, which includes the esophagus and, to a lesser extent, the stomach (with Mason, they wanted to make sure he wasn't getting liquid in his lungs when he ate or drank). The patient is asked to drink liquids various of various thicknesses, all containing barium sulfate. Flouroscopy images are taken as the barium is swallowed. The barium will show up in the images, showing exactly where the liquids are going when swallowed. source

Vitals/Vital Signs
     Data acquired (usually by a nurse), including: blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and tempurature.

White Blood Cells
      Cells of the immune system involved in defending the body against both infectious disease and foreign materials. source