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Glossary of Transplant Terms

Understanding organ transplant terms

If you're looking into organ transplantation or organ donation for the first time, you're likely to come across words and terms you don't recognize or understand. This glossary of transplant terms from our online health library can help you find your way.


ablation - elimination or removal. Ablation also refers to a procedure that eliminates extra electrical pathways within the heart that cause fast or irregular heart rhythms.

acute - severe; sharp; begins quickly.

allograft - tissue or organ transplanted between genetically non-identical individuals of the same species (i.e., human to human).

analgesic - any drug intended to alleviate pain.

anastomosis - a surgical connection, often between two blood vessels.

anemia - a blood disorder caused by a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells).

anesthesia - the loss of feeling or sensation as a result of medications or gases. General anesthesia causes loss of consciousness. Local or regional anesthesia numbs only a certain area.

anesthesiologist - a physician who specializes in administering medications or other agents that prevent or relieve pain, especially during surgery.

aneurysm - a thin, weakened area in a blood vessel or area of the heart.

angiography - an x-ray study that uses dye injected into arteries to study blood circulation.

angioplasty - a non-surgical procedure for treating narrowed arteries.

antibiotic - a medication used to treat infection.

anticoagulant - a medication that keeps blood from clotting.

antigen - a substance that can trigger an immune response, such as a transplant, causing the production of antibodies, a part of the body's defense mechanism.

antihypertensive - a medication that lowers blood pressure.

aorta - the largest artery in the body and the primary blood vessel which carries oxygenated blood out of the heart to the rest of the body.

aortic stenosis - narrowing of the opening of the aortic valve (the valve that regulates blood flow from the left ventricle into the aorta).

aortic valve - the valve that regulates blood flow from the heart into the aorta.

apheresis - a procedure in which a patient's own blood is removed, particular fluid and cellular elements are extracted from the blood, then returned to the patient.

arrhythmia (Also called dysrhythmia.) - a fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat.

artery - a blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood away from the heart to the body.

ascites - fluid that fills the abdomen when the liver is not functioning properly.

atrial fibrillation - a very fast and irregular beating of the atria (the upper two chambers of the heart).

atrioventricular block - an interruption of the electrical signal between the atria and the ventricles.


balloon angioplasty - a procedure is usually done in the cardiac catheterization laboratory that uses a catheter (tube) with a balloon in the tip to open up a narrowed valve or blood vessel.

barium - a liquid used to coat the inside of organs so they will show up on an x-ray.

benign - non-cancerous.

bilateral - affecting both sides.

bile - a digestive fluid made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder that helps digest fats.

bile ducts - tubes that take bile from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine to aid in digestion.

biliary atresia - a condition in which bile ducts do not have normal openings, preventing bile from leaving the liver. This causes jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes) and liver damage known as cirrhosis. Biliary atresia is a birth defect.

bilirubin - a normal substance produced when red blood cells break down and are excreted by the liver. Bilirubin gives bile its yellow-green color. Too much bilirubin in the blood causes jaundice.

biopsy - a procedure in which tissue samples are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the body for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

bladder - a triangle-shaped, hollow organ located in the lower abdomen that holds urine.

blood - the life-maintaining fluid which is made up of plasma, red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes), and platelets; blood circulates through the body's heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries; it carries away waste matter and carbon dioxide and brings nourishment, electrolytes, hormones, vitamins, antibodies, heat, and oxygen to the tissues.

blood banking - the process that takes place in the laboratory to ensure that the donated blood or blood products are safe, before they are used in blood transfusions and other medical procedures. Blood banking includes typing and cross matching the blood for transfusion and testing for infectious diseases.

blood clot - a thick, gelled mass of blood.

blood plasma - the fluid part of blood that contains nutrients, glucose, proteins, minerals, enzymes, and other substances.

blood pressure - pressure of blood against the walls of a blood vessel or heart chamber.

blood pressure cuff - a device usually placed around the upper portion of the arm to measure blood pressure.

bowel - small and large intestine.

bradycardia - abnormally slow heartbeat.

bronchoscopy - a fiberoptic, flexible tube is passed through the mouth into the bronchi to locate tumors or blockages, and to gather samples of tissue and/or fluid.

bundle-branch block - a condition in which the heart's electrical system is unable to normally conduct the electrical signal.


calcium channel blocker - a medication that lowers blood pressure.

cancer cell - a cell that divides and multiplies uncontrollably and has the potential to spread throughout the body, crowding out normal cells and tissue.

capillaries - tiny blood vessels between arteries and veins that distribute oxygen-rich blood to the body.

carbohydrates - one of three main types of foods, along with proteins and fats; found in breads, cereals, grains, fruits, and vegetables; changes into a simple sugar called glucose during digestion; provides the body with a source of energy.

cardiac arrest - the stopping of the heartbeat.

cardiac catheterization - a diagnostic procedure in which a tiny, hollow tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery or vein in order to evaluate the heart and blood vessels.

cardiologist - a physician who specializes in the medical evaluation and treatment of heart diseases.

cardiology - the clinical study and practice of treating the heart.

cardiomyopathy - a disease of the heart muscle that causes it to lose its pumping strength.

cardiovascular (CV) - pertaining to the heart and blood vessel (circulatory) system.

cardioversion - the procedure of applying electrical shock to the chest to change an abnormal heartbeat into a normal one.

carotid artery - the major arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.

catheter - a flexible tube used to drain fluid from or inject fluid into the body. The most common catheters are the Foley catheter, used to drain urine from the bladder, and intravenous (IV) catheters inserted into veins to administer fluids.

chemotherapy - a medication that can help fight cancer.

cholangiography - x-rays of the bile ducts.

cholesterol - a substance normally made by the body, but also found in foods from animal sources, like beef, eggs, and butter. Too much cholesterol in the body can lead to narrowing and blockage of the arteries, especially those that feed the heart and keep it healthy. High cholesterol can also cause the formation of gallstones. Ideally, blood cholesterol levels should be less than 200mg/dL.

chronic - referring to a disease or disorder that usually develops slowly and lasts for a long period of time.

circulatory system - pertaining to the heart and blood vessels and the circulation of blood.

cirrhosis - a chronic problem that makes it hard for the liver to remove toxins (poisonous substances) from the body. Alcohol, medications, and other substances may build up in the bloodstream and cause problems. Cirrhosis is a result of scarring and damage from other diseases, such as biliary atresia and alcoholism.

clotting - the sealing of a blood vessel with coagulated blood.

colon - the large intestine.

colonoscopy - a test using a long, flexible tube with a light and camera lens at the end, which examines the large intestine.

common bile duct - a tube that moves bile from the liver to the small intestine.

complete blood count (CBC) - a measurement of size, number, and maturity of different blood cells in a specific volume of blood.

compliance - fulfillment by the patient of the prescribed orders of treatment (i.e., taking medications after a transplant).

computed tomography scan (Also called a CT or CAT scan.) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.

congenital - present at birth.

congestive heart failure - a condition in which the heart cannot pump out all of the blood that enters it, which leads to an accumulation of blood in the vessels leading to the heart and fluid in the body tissues. Excess blood in the pulmonary (lung) blood vessels can also occur, leading to fluid accumulation in the lungs.

coronary arteries - two arteries that come from the aorta to provide blood to the heart muscle.

corticosteroids - medications that reduce irritation and inflammation.

culture - a laboratory test that involves the growing of bacteria or other microorganisms to aid in the diagnosis.

cyanosis - bluish color in the skin because of insufficient oxygen.

cyanotic - appearing blue, due to insufficient oxygen in the blood.

cystoscopy (Also called cystourethroscopy.) - an examination in which a scope, a flexible tube and viewing device, is inserted through the urethra to examine the bladder and urinary tract for structural abnormalities or obstructions, such as tumors or stones.

cystourethrogram (Also called a voiding cystogram.) - a specific x-ray that examines the urinary tract. A catheter (hollow tube) is placed in the urethra (tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) and the bladder is filled with a liquid dye. X-ray images will be taken as the bladder fills and empties. The images will show if there is any reverse flow of urine into the ureters and kidneys.


dehydration - when the bloodstream and the cells of the body contain less fluid than normal, often due to vomiting or diarrhea. The body's mineral balance may also be affected.

dialysis - a medical procedure to remove wastes and additional fluid from the blood after the kidneys have stopped functioning.

diastolic blood pressure - the lowest blood pressure measure in the arteries, which occurs between heartbeats.

digestion - how the body breaks down food and uses it for energy, cell repair, and growth. Digestion starts in the mouth, continues in the stomach and small intestine, and is completed in the large intestine. The liver and pancreas add enzymes and juices that aid in this process.

digestive tract - the organs that are involved in digestion, including the mouth, salivary glands, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, and large intestine.

dilate - relax; expand.

distention - swelling or bloating, usually referring to the abdomen.

diuretic - a medication that helps the kidneys to remove excess fluids from the body, lowering blood pressure as well as decreasing edema (swelling).

Doppler ultrasound - A procedure that uses sound waves to evaluate heart, blood vessels, and valves.

dyspnea - shortness of breath or a difficulty in breathing.

dysrhythmia (Also called arrhythmia.) - a fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat.


echocardiogram (echo) - a procedure that evaluates the structure and function of the heart by using sound waves recorded on an electronic sensor which produces a moving picture of the heart and heart valves.

edema - swelling due to the buildup of fluid.

effusion - a collection of fluid in a closed cavity.

ejection fraction - the measurement of the amount of blood pumped out of the ventricles.

electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - a test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias) and detects heart muscle damage.

electroencephalogram (EEG) - a procedure that records the brain's continuous electrical activity by means of electrodes attached to the scalp.

electrolytes - minerals in the bloodstream and in the cells of the body, such as sodium (salt), potassium, and calcium. Electrolytes must remain in proper balance for the body to function normally.

electrophysiological study (EPS) - a cardiac catheterization to study electrical current in patients who have arrhythmias.

endocarditis - a bacterial infection of the valves and interior surfaces of the heart.

endoscopy - a test that uses an endoscope to examine the inside of part of the digestive tract.

end-stage organ disease - a disease that leads to functional failure of an organ, such as cardiomyopathy (heart).

end-to-end anastomosis - surgical connection of two segments of blood vessel by stitching the open end of one segment to the open end of another segment.

enema - a liquid placed into the rectum to either clear stool out of the large intestine or to examine the large intestine with an x-ray (barium enema).

enlarged heart - a condition of the heart in which it is larger than normal.

esophagus - the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.

exercise electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - a test that assesses cardiac rhythm and function during exercise on a treadmill or bicycle.


fats - one of three main types of foods, along with proteins and carbohydrates; provides the body with a source of energy; needs bile in order to be digested properly and utilized for energy.

fluoroscopy - an x-ray procedure that takes continuous pictures to evaluate moving structures within the body, such as the heart.

flutter - ineffective contractions of the heart muscles.


gallbladder - stores bile made by the liver; sends bile into the small intestine to help digest fats.

gas - air that collects in the stomach and intestines as a natural result of digesting food; passed out of the body via the rectum or the mouth.

gastric - related to the stomach.

gastrointestinal - relating to the digestive tract.

gastrointestinal tract (Also called the digestive tract.) - the parts of the body that break down food into small particles, allowing nutrients from food to be used for energy and growth: the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, and large intestine.

glomerulonephritis - a type of glomerular kidney disease in which the kidneys' filters become inflamed, scarred and slowly lose their ability to remove wastes and excess fluid from the blood to make urine.

glomerulosclerosis - the term used to describe scarring that occurs within the kidneys in the small balls of tiny blood vessels called the glomeruli. The glomeruli assist the kidneys in filtering urine from the blood.

glucose - a simple sugar made by the body from carbohydrates in food. Glucose is the body's main source of energy.

graft - transplanted organs, tissues, or cells.

graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) - the condition that results when the immune cells of a transplant (usually of bone marrow) react against the tissues of the person receiving the transplant.

granulocytes - a type of white blood cells. The different types of granulocytes include basophils, eosinophils, and neutrophils.


heart attack (Also called myocardial infarction.) - occurs when one or more regions of the heart muscle experience a severe or prolonged decrease in oxygen supply caused by a blocked blood flow to the heart muscle.

heart block - interrupted electrical impulse to heart muscles.

hematocrit - the measurement of the percentage of red blood cells found in a specific volume of blood.

hematuria - the presence of red blood cells in the urine.

hemoglobin - a type of protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to the tissues of the body.

hemolytic anemia - one type of anemia in which the red blood cells are destroyed prematurely.

hemophilia (Also called a coagulation disorder.) - an inherited bleeding disorder caused by low levels, or absence of, a blood protein that is essential for clotting; hemophilia A is caused by a lack of the blood clotting protein factor VIII; hemophilia B is caused by a deficiency of factor IX.

hepatic - relating to the liver.

hepatitis - inflammation of the liver that sometimes causes permanent damage; caused by viruses, drugs, alcohol, or parasites. Hepatitis has the following forms:

hepatitis A - a form of infectious hepatitis caused by hepatitis A virus. The virus may be spread by fecal-oral contact, fecal-infected food or water, and may also be spread by a blood-borne infection (which is rare).

hepatitis B - a form of infectious hepatitis caused by hepatitis B virus. Transmission of the hepatitis B virus occurs through blood and body fluid exposure, such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or saliva.

hepatitis C - a form of infectious hepatitis caused by hepatitis C virus. Transmission of the hepatitis C virus occurs primarily from contact with infected blood, but can also occur from sexual contact or from an infected mother to her baby.

hepatitis D - a form of infectious hepatitis caused by hepatitis (Delta) virus. This form of hepatitis can only occur in the presence of hepatitis B. Transmission of hepatitis D occurs the same way as hepatitis B.

hepatitis E - a form of infectious hepatitis caused by hepatitis E virus. This form of hepatitis is similar to hepatitis A. Transmission occurs through fecal-oral contamination. Hepatitis E is most common in poorly developed countries and is rarely seen in the US.

hepatitis G - the newest form of infectious hepatitis. Transmission is believed to occur through blood and is seen in IV drug users, individuals with clotting disorders, such as hemophilia, and individuals who require hemodialysis for renal failure.

hepatoblastoma - cancer that originates in the liver.

high density lipoprotein (HDL) - the "good" cholesterol that promotes breakdown and removal of cholesterol from the body.

Holter monitor - A portable EKG machine worn for a 24-hour period or longer to evaluate irregular, fast, or slow heart rhythms while engaging in normal activities.

hyperbilirubinemia - too much bilirubin in the bloodstream, due to liver problems; causes a yellow color of the skin known as jaundice.

hypotension - low blood pressure.

hypoxia - abnormal oxygen content in the organs and tissues of the body.


IgE antibody - One of the antibodies made by the body found mostly in the skin, nose, lining of the airways, and lungs; involved in allergic reactions.

ileum - the lower end of the small intestine.

imaging studies - methods used to produce a picture of internal body structures. Some imaging methods include x-rays, CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound.

immune system - the system composed of lymph fluid, lymph nodes, the lymphatic system, and white blood cells that are responsible for protecting the body against infection and disease.

immunosuppression - a state in which the ability of the body's immune system to respond is decreased. This condition may be present at birth, or it may be caused by certain infections (such as human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV), or by certain cancer therapies, such as cancer cell killing (cytotoxic) drugs, radiation, and bone marrow transplantation.

immunosuppressive medications - medications that suppress the body's immune system; used to minimize rejection of transplanted organs.

immunotherapy - treatments that promote or support the body's immune system response to a disease such as cancer.

incision - a cut made with a surgical instrument during an operation.

indigestion - feeling of nausea, bloating, gas, and/or heartburn caused by poor digestion.

infection - the invasion of the body by microorganisms that cause disease.

informed consent - a legal document that explains a course of treatment, the risks, benefits, and possible alternatives; the process by which patients agree to treatment.

insufficiency - a valve deformity that allows the blood to leak backward when the valve is closed.

insulin - a hormone that regulates sugar in the body.

intestine - digestive organs found in the abdomen, also known as either the large or small bowel. The small intestine removes nutrients from food to be used for energy, while the large intestine absorbs water from the digested food and processes it into stool.

intravenous gamma globulin (IVGG) - a protein that contains many antibodies and slows destruction of platelets.

intravenous (IV) line - a thin, plastic tube inserted into a vein (usually in the patient's forearm) through which a volume of fluid is injected into the bloodstream.

intravenous pyelogram (IVP) - a series of x-rays of the kidney, ureters, and bladder with the injection of a contrast dye into the vein - to detect tumors, abnormalities, kidney stones, or any obstructions, and to assess renal blood flow.

iron deficiency anemia - the most common type of anemia. It is the lack of iron in the blood, which is necessary to make hemoglobin.

ischemia - decreased flow of oxygenated blood to an organ due to obstruction in an artery.

ischemic heart disease - coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease caused by narrowing of the coronary arteries and decreased blood flow to the heart.


jaundice - a yellow color of the skin and eyes that is caused by too much bilirubin in the bloodstream.


kidney transplantation - a procedure that places a healthy kidney from one person into a recipient's body.

kidneys - a pair of bean-shaped organs located below the ribs toward the middle of the back.


laparoscope - a tube with a light and a camera lens at the end to examine organs and check for abnormalities.

laparoscopy - a procedure that uses a tube with a light and a camera lens at the end (laparoscope) to examine organs, check for abnormalities, or perform minimally invasive surgeries. Laparoscopy is a surgery which avoids making large incisions. Tissue samples may also be taken for examination and testing.

large intestine (Also called the colon.) - The last section of the digestive tract, from the cecum to the rectum; absorbs water from digested food and processes it into stool.

left atrium - the upper left-hand chamber of the heart. The left atrium receives oxygen-rich (red) blood from the lungs via the four pulmonary veins, and then sends this blood to the left ventricle.

left ventricle - the lower left-hand chamber of the heart. The left ventricle receives oxygen-rich (red) blood from the left atrium and pumps it into the aorta, which takes the blood to the body. The left ventricle must be strong and muscular in order to pump enough blood to the body to meet its requirements.

leukemia - a cancer of the blood-forming tissue. Leukemic cells look different than normal cells and do not function properly.

lipid - a fatty substance in the blood.

liver - a digestive organ located on the right side of the abdomen, under the ribs; has many important functions, including storing and helping make blood, making bile (which aids in the digestion of fats in the food we eat), processing medicines and removing toxins from the bloodstream, and changing food and fats stored in our bodies into energy.

liver function tests - blood tests that indicate how well the liver is working.

lower GI series - a study that looks at the rectum, the large intestine, and the lower part of the small intestine. A fluid called barium that shows up well on x-rays is given into the rectum as an enema. X-rays of the abdomen shows strictures (narrowed areas), obstructions (blockages), and other problems.

lymph nodes - part of the lymphatic system; bean-shaped organs found in the underarm, groin, neck, and abdomen; they act as filters for the lymph fluid as it passes through them.


magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radio frequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

malignant - a term used to describe cancerous tumors which tend to grow rapidly, can invade and destroy nearby normal tissues and can spread.

Marfan syndrome - A genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue of the body. It causes dilation of blood vessels and abnormalities of cardiac valves.

metastasis - the spread of tumor cell in other areas of the body.

murmur - a blowing or rasping sound heard while listening to the heart that may or may not indicate problems within the heart or circulatory system.

myelogram - an x-ray of the spine, similar to an angiogram.

myocardial infarction (Also called a heart attack.) - occurs when one of more regions of the heart muscle experience a severe or prolonged decrease in oxygen supply caused by blocked blood flow to the heart muscle.

myocarditis - inflammation of the heart muscles.

myocardium - the muscular layer of the heart.


nephrectomy - surgery to remove the kidney; the most common treatment for kidney cancer.

nephrologist - a physician who specializes in diseases of the kidneys.

nephrology - the medical specialty concerned with diseases of the kidneys.

nephrotic syndrome - a condition characterized by high levels of protein in the urine, low levels of protein in the blood, tissue swelling, and high cholesterol.

neuroblastoma - cancer occurring in the nerve cells.

neurosurgeon - a physician specializing in operations to treat disorders of the nervous system.


occluded artery - an artery that is narrowed by plaque that impedes blood flow.

oncologist - a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

oncology - the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

open heart surgery - surgery that involves opening the chest and heart while a heart-lung machine performs for the heart and lungs during the operation.

oxygen desaturation - insufficient amounts of oxygen in the bloodstream. Desaturation can occur when oxygen-poor (blue) blood from the right side of the heart circulation mixes with oxygen-rich (red) blood in the left side of the heart circulation and goes to the body. Normal oxygen saturation in the arteries is 95 to 100 percent.

oxygen saturation - the extent to which the hemoglobin is saturated with oxygen. (Hemoglobin is an element in the bloodstream that binds to oxygen and carries it to the organs and tissues of the body.) A normal oxygen saturation of the blood leaving the heart to the body is 95 to 100 percent. The oxygen saturation of the blood returning to the heart after delivering oxygen to the body is 75 percent.


pacemaker - an electronic device that is surgically placed in the patient's body and connected to the heart to regulate the heartbeat.

pain specialist - oncologists, neurologists, anesthesiologists, neurosurgeons, and other physicians, nurses, or pharmacists who are experts in pain. A team of healthcare professionals may also be available to address issues of pain control.

palpitation - sensation of rapid heartbeats.

pancreas - an organ located underneath the stomach that produces enzymes that aid in digestion, and also produces hormones such as insulin, which helps the body use sugar for energy.

patent - open.

pathologist - a physician who specializes in diagnosis and classification of diseases by laboratory tests such as examination of tissue and cells under a microscope. The pathologist determines whether a tumor is benign or cancerous and, if cancerous, the exact cell type and grade.

percutaneous - through the skin.

perforation - a hole in the wall of an organ.

perfusion - flow.

pericardial effusion - a build-up of excess fluid in-between the heart and the membrane that surrounds it, often due to inflammation.

pericardium - the membrane that surrounds the heart.

peritonitis - an infection inside the abdominal cavity.

pharynx - the throat.

physical therapist - a health professional who uses exercises and other methods to restore or maintain the body's strength, mobility, and function.

plaque - deposits of fat or other substances attached to the artery wall.

plasma - the watery, liquid part of the blood in which the red blood cells, the white blood cells, and platelets are suspended.

platelets - cells found in the blood that are needed to help the blood to clot in order to control bleeding; often used in the treatment of leukemia and other forms of cancer.

pleura - membrane that covers the outside of the lung.

polycystic kidney disease (PKD) - a genetic disorder characterized by the growth of numerous cysts filled with fluid in the kidneys.

polyunsaturated fat - a type of fat found in vegetable oils and margarines that do not appear to raise blood cholesterol levels.

portal hypertension - high blood pressure in the portal vein that carries blood to the liver.

portal vein - the large vein that carries blood to the liver from the spleen and intestines.

premature atrial contraction (PAC) - an early heartbeat started by the atria.

premature ventricular contraction (PVC) - an early heartbeat started by the ventricles.

prognosis - a prediction of the course of disease; the outlook for the cure of the patient.

prophylaxis - prevention.

protocol - a formal outline or plan, such as a description of what treatments a patient will receive and exactly when each should be given.

pulmonary - pertaining to the lungs and respiratory system.

pulmonary artery - blood vessel delivering oxygen-poor blood from the right ventricle to the lungs.

pulmonary edema - a condition in which there is fluid accumulation in the lungs caused by an incorrectly functioning heart.

pulmonary hypertension - abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs.

pulmonary vein - the vessel that carries oxygenated blood from the lungs to the left side of the heart.

pulse oximeter - a device that measures the amount of oxygen in the blood. Normal oxygen saturation in the arteries is 95 to 100 percent.

pylorus - where the stomach connects to the small intestine.


radiation therapist - a professional specially trained to operate equipment that delivers radiation therapy.

radiologist - a physician with special training in diagnosing diseases by interpreting x-rays and other types of imaging studies (i.e., CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging).

rectum - the lower end of the large intestine.

red blood cells (Also called RBCs or erythrocytes.) - blood cells that mainly help transport oxygen to all the tissues in the body.

regimen - a strict, regulated plan (such as diet, exercise, or other activity) designed to reach certain goals. In cancer treatment, a plan to treat cancer.

rejection - an immune system response to transplanted tissues or organs.

renal - pertaining to the kidneys.

renal ultrasound - a non-invasive test in which a transducer wand is passed over the kidney, produces sound waves which bounce off of the kidney, transmitting a picture of the organ on a video screen. The test is used to determine the size and shape of the kidney and to detect a mass, kidney stone, cyst, or other obstruction or abnormalities.

respiration - gas exchange from air to the blood and from the blood to the body cells.

risk factor - anything that increases a person's chance of developing a disease, such as cancer.

rubella - an illness that can cause birth defects, including congenital heart disease, if a woman contracts it for the first time during pregnancy; can be prevented by immunization with the MMR vaccine.


saline solution - a solution containing sodium chloride.

sarcoma - a malignant tumor growing from connective tissues, such as cartilage, fat, muscle, or bone.

septal defect - a hole in the wall between the atria or the ventricles (upper or lower heart chambers).

septum - the muscle wall between the atria or ventricles (upper or lower heart chambers).

shunt - a connector to allow blood flow between two locations.

side effects - unwanted effects of treatment such as hair loss caused by chemotherapy and fatigue caused by radiation therapy.

sinus tachycardia - a heart rhythm that originates in the sinus node and proceeds through the rest of the electrical conduction system, but is faster than normal.

small intestine - the section of the digestive tract between the stomach and the large intestine. Most of digestion occurs here as nutrients are absorbed from food.

sphygmomanometer - an instrument used to measure blood pressure.

spinal tap (Also called a lumbar puncture.) - a special needle is placed into the lower back, into the spinal canal. This is the area around the spinal cord. The pressure in the spinal canal and brain can then be measured. A small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) can be removed and sent for testing to determine if there is an infection or other problems. CSF is the fluid that bathes your child's brain and spinal cord.

spleen - an organ found on the left side of the abdomen, next to the stomach. Makes white blood cells that help fight infection and filters and cleanses the blood.

stenosis - narrowing or constriction of a blood vessel or valve in the heart.

stent - a device implanted in a vessel used to help keep it open.

sternotomy - a surgical incision made in the breastbone.

sternum - the breastbone.

stethoscope - an instrument used to listen to the heart and other sounds in the body.

stress - mental or physical tension that results from physical, emotional, or chemical causes.

stroke - the sudden disruption of blood flow to the brain.

subclavian - a blood vessel that branches from the aorta and takes oxygen-rich (red) blood to the head and arms.

superior vena cava - the large vein that returns blood to the heart from the head and arms.

supraventricular tachycardia - a fast heart rate that originates in the aorta, but does not start in the sinus node.

syncope - light-headedness or fainting caused by insufficient blood supply to the brain.

systole - the time during the heartbeat when the ventricles are pumping blood either to the lungs or to the body.


tachycardia - rapid heartbeat.

tachypnea - rapid breathing.

tamponade - an emergency situation that occurs when blood or fluid fills the pericardial sac surrounding the heart, preventing the heart from beating effectively.

telemetry unit - a small box with wires attached to EKG patches on the chest; used to send information about the heartbeat via radio transmission to healthcare professionals for evaluation.

transplantation - to transfer organs, tissues, or cells from one person to another or from one area of the body to another in order to replace a diseased structure and to restore function.

tricuspid valve - the heart valve that controls blood flow from the right atrium into the right ventricle.


ultrasound (Also called sonography.) - a diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function, and to assess blood flow through various vessels.

unilateral - affecting one side of the body. For example, unilateral kidney cancer occurs in one kidney only.

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) - A nonprofit, charitable organization that maintains the nation's organ transplant waiting list under contract with the Health Resources and Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services. UNOS also helps to develop organ transplantation policies.

upper GI series - a test that looks at the organs of the upper part of the digestive system: the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (upper small intestine). A liquid that shows up well on x-rays called barium is swallowed. X-rays are then taken to evaluate the digestive organs.

urea - the nitrogen part of urine produced from the breakdown of protein.

ureteroscope - an optical device which is inserted into the urethra and passed up through the bladder to the ureter; to inspect the opening of the ureters.

ureters - two narrow tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

urethra - narrow channel through which urine passes from the bladder out of the body.

urethritis - infection limited to the urethra.

urinalysis - laboratory examination of urine for various cells and chemicals, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, infection, or excessive protein.

urinary incontinence - loss of bladder control.

urinary tract infection - an infection that occurs in the urinary tract; often caused by bacteria such as Escherichia coli. A urinary tract infection often causes frequent urination, pain, burning when urinating, and blood in the urine.

urogenital - refers to the urinary and reproductive systems.

urologist - a physician who specializes in treating problems of the urinary tract in males and females.

urology - the branch of medicine concerned with the urinary tract in both genders, and with the genital tract or reproductive system in the male.


valves - the "doors" between the chambers of the heart that allow blood to move forward and prevent it from moving backward. The heart valves are called tricuspid, pulmonic, mitral, and aortic.

vascular - pertaining to blood vessels.

vasodilator - a medication that dilates or widens the opening in a blood vessel.

vasopressor - a medication that raises blood pressure.

vein - a blood vessel that carries blood from the body back into the heart.

ventilation - movement of air (gases) in and out of the lungs.

ventricle - one of the two pumping chambers of the heart; right ventricle receives oxygen-poor blood from the right atrium and pumps it to the lungs through the pulmonary artery; left ventricle receives oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium and pumps it to the body through the aorta.

ventricular fibrillation - a condition in which the ventricles contract in rapid and unsynchronized rhythms and cannot pump blood into the body.

ventricular septal defect - an abnormal opening in the wall between the right and left ventricles.

ventricular tachycardia - a condition in which the ventricles beat very quickly.

vertigo - dizziness.

vomiting - the release of stomach contents through the mouth; also known as throwing-up.


white blood cells (Also called leukocytes or WBCs.) - blood cells involved in the destruction of viruses, bacteria, and fungi that cause infection.

Wilms tumor - A cancerous tumor originating in the cells of the kidney.