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Dictionary of Medical Terms 4th Ed

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ethambutol / θ mbjυtɒl/ noun a drug that is part of the treatment for bacterial infections such as tuberculosis

ethanol / eθənɒl/ noun a colourless liquid, present in alcoholic drinks such as whisky, gin and vodka, and also used in medicines and as a disinfectant. Also called ethyl alcohol. pure alcohol

ethene / i θi n/ noun same as ethylene

ether / i θə/ noun an anaesthetic substance, now rarely used

ethical / eθ k(ə)l/ adjective 1. concerning ethics 2. referring to a drug available on prescription only

ethical committee / eθ k(ə)l kə m ti/ noun a group of specialists who monitor experiments involving human beings or who regulate the way in which members of the medical profession conduct themselves ethinyloestradiol / eθ n(ə)l strə da ɒl/ noun an artificial hormone related to oestrogen that is effective in small doses. It forms part of hormone replacement therapy.

ethmoid /eθ mɔ d/, ethmoidal /eθ mɔ d(ə)l/ adjective referring to the ethmoid bone or near to the ethmoid bone

ethmoidal sinuses /eθ mɔ d(ə)l sa nəs z/ plural noun air cells inside the ethmoid bone

ethmoid bone / eθmɔ d bəυn/ noun a bone which forms the top of the nasal cavity and part of the orbits

ethmoidectomy / eθmɔ dektəmi/ noun an operation to remove the lining between the sinuses

ethmoiditis / eθmɔ da t s/ noun inflammation of the ethmoid bone or of the ethmoidal sinuses

ethnic / eθn k/ adjective relating to a culturally or racially distinctive group of people ethyl alcohol / iθa l lkəhɒl/ noun same as ethanol

ethylene / eθəli n/ noun a gas used as an anaesthetic

ethylestrenol / (ə)l estrənɒl/ noun an anabolic steroid

etiology / i ti ɒləd i/ noun US same as aetiology

eu- /ju / prefix good, well

eubacteria / ju b k t əriə/ noun true bacteria with rigid cell walls

eucalyptol / ju kə l ptəl/ noun a substance obtained from eucalyptus oil

eucalyptus / ju kə l ptəs/ noun a genus of tree growing mainly in Australia, from which a strongly smelling oil is distilled eucalyptus oil / ju kə l ptəs ɔ l/ noun an aromatic medicinal oil distilled from the leaves of various species of tree in the genus


COMMENT: Eucalyptus oil is used in pharmaceutical products especially to relieve congestion in the respiratory passages.

eugenics /ju d en ks/ noun the study of how to improve the human race by genetic selection

eunuch / ju nək/ noun a castrated male eupepsia /ju pepsiə/ noun good digestion euphoria /ju fɔ riə/ noun a feeling of extreme happiness

euplastic /ju pl st k/ adjective referring to tissue which heals well

Eustachian canal /ju ste ʃ(ə)n kə n l/ noun a passage through the porous bone forming the outside part of the Eustachian tube

Eustachian tube /ju ste ʃ(ə)n tju b/ noun the tube which connects the pharynx to the middle ear. See illustration at EAR in Supplement [Described 1562, but actually named after Eustachio by Valsalva a century later. Bartolomeo Eustachio (1520–74), physician to the Pope and Professor of Anatomy in Rome.]

COMMENT: The Eustachian tubes balance the air pressure on each side of the eardrum. When a person swallows or yawns, air is allowed into the Eustachian tubes and equalises the pressure with the normal atmospheric pressure outside the body. The tubes can be blocked by an infection, as in a cold, or by pressure differences, as inside an aircraft, and if they are blocked, the hearing is impaired.

euthanasia / ju θə ne ziə/ noun the painless killing of an incurably ill person or someone in a permanent coma in order to end their distress. Also called mercy killing (NOTE: This practice is illegal in most countries.)

euthanise / ju θəna z/, euthanize verb to kill an incurably ill person or someone in a permanent coma

euthyroid /ju θa rɔ d/ noun a condition where the thyroid is functioning normally

euthyroidism /ju θa rɔ d z(ə)m/, euthyroid state /ju θa rɔ d ste t/ noun the fact of

having a healthy thyroid gland

eutocia /ju təυsiə/ noun a standard childbirth

evacuant / v kjuənt/ noun a medicine which makes a person have a bowel movement

evacuate / v kjue t/ verb to discharge faeces from the bowel, or to have a bowel movement

evacuation / v kju e ʃ(ə)n/ noun the act of removing the contents of something, especially discharging faeces from the bowel

evacuation of retained products of conception / v kju e ʃ(ə)n əv r te ndprɒd"kts əv kən sepʃən/ noun a D & C op-

eration performed after an abortion or miscarriage to ensure the uterus is left empty. Abbr




evacuator / v kjue tə/ noun an instrument used to empty a cavity such as the bladder or bowel

evaluate / v ljue t/ verb 1. to examine and calculate the quantity or level of something

The laboratory is still evaluating the results of the tests. 2. to examine someone and calculate the treatment required

‘…all patients were evaluated and followed up at the hypertension unit’ [British Medical Journal]

evaluation / v lju e ʃ(ə)n/ noun the act of examining and calculating the quantity or level of something In further evaluation of these patients no side-effects of the treatment were noted.

‘…evaluation of fetal age and weight has proved to be of value in the clinical management of pregnancy, particularly in high-risk gestations’ [Southern Medical Journal]

eventration / ven tre ʃ(ə)n/ noun the pushing of the intestine through the wall of the abdomen

eversion / v! ʃ(ə)n/ noun the act of turning towards the outside or turning inside out. See illustration at ANATOMICAL TERMS in Supplement eversion of the cervix a condition after laceration during childbirth, where the edges of the cervix sometimes turn outwards

evertor / v! tə/ noun a muscle which makes a limb turn outwards

evidence-based / evidəns be st/ adjective based on the results of well-designed trials of specific types of treatment for specific conditions evidence-based practice

evidence-based medicine / ev d(ə)ns be st med(ə)s n/ noun medical practice

where findings from research are used as the basis for decisions

evisceration / v sə re ʃ(ə)n/ noun 1. the surgical removal of the abdominal viscera. Also called exenteration 2. removal of the contents of an organ evisceration of the eye surgical removal of the contents of an eyeball

evolution / i və lu ʃ(ə)n/ noun a process of change in organisms which takes place over a very long period involving many generations evulsion / v"lʃən/ noun the act of extracting something by force

Ewing’s tumour / ju ŋz tju mə/, Ewing’s sarcoma / ju ŋz sɑ kəυmə/ noun a malig-

nant tumour in the marrow of a long bone [Described 1922. After James Ewing (1866–1943), Professor of Pathology at Cornell University, New York, USA.]

ex- /eks/ prefix same as exo- (used before vowels)

exacerbate / & z sə be t/ verb to make a condition more severe The cold damp weather will only exacerbate his chest condition.

exacerbation / & z sə be ʃ(ə)n/ noun 1. the fact of making a condition worse 2. a period when a condition becomes worse

‘…patients were re-examined regularly or when they felt they might be having an exacerbation. Exacerbation rates were calculated from the number of exacerbations during the study’ [Lancet]

examination / & z m ne ʃ(ə)n/ noun 1. an act of looking at someone or something carefully From the examination of the X-ray photographs, it seems that the tumour has not spread. 2. the act of looking at someone to find out what is wrong with him or her The surgeon carried out a medical examination before operating. 3. a written or oral test to see if a student is progressing satisfactorily (NOTE: In this sense, often abbreviated to exam.)

examine / & z m n/ verb 1. to look at or to investigate someone or something carefully

The tissue samples were examined in the laboratory. 2. to look at and test someone to find out what is wrong with him or her The doctor examined the patient’s heart.

exanthem / & z nθəm/ noun a skin rash found with infectious diseases like measles or chickenpox

exanthematous / eks n θemətəs/ adjective referring to an exanthem or like an exanthem

exanthem subitum / & z nθəm sυb təm/

noun same as roseola infantum

excavator / ekskəve tə/ noun a surgical instrument shaped like a spoon

excavatum / ekskəve təm/ pectus excavatum

exception / k sepʃən/ noun 1. something that does not fit into or is excluded from a general rule or pattern 2. the act or condition of being excluded

excess / k ses/ noun too much of a substance

The gland was producing an excess of hor-

mones. The body could not cope with an excess of blood sugar. in excess of more than

Short men who weigh in excess of 100 kilos are very overweight.

excessive / k ses v/ adjective more than normal The patient was passing excessive quantities of urine. The doctor noted an excessive amount of bile in the patient’s blood.

excessively / k ses vli/ adverb too much

She has an excessively high blood pressure. If the patient sweats excessively, it may be necessary to cool his body with cold compresses. exchange transfusion / ks tʃe nd tr ns fju (ə)n/ noun a method of treating leukaemia or erythroblastosis in newborn babies, where almost all the blood is removed from the body and replaced with healthy blood excipient / k s piənt/ noun a substance added to a drug so that it can be made into a pill

excise / k sa z/ verb to cut something out



excision / k s (ə)n/ noun an operation by a surgeon to cut and remove part of the body such as a growth. Compare incision

excitation / eks te ʃ(ə)n/ noun the state of being mentally or physically aroused

excitatory / k sa tətri/ adjective tending to excite

excite / k sa t/ verb 1. to stimulate someone or something 2. to give an impulse to a nerve or muscle

excited / k sa t d/ adjective 1. very lively and happy 2. aroused

excitement / k sa tmənt/ noun 1. the act of being excited 2. the second stage of anaesthesia

excoriation / kskɔ ri e ʃ(ə)n/ noun a raw skin surface or mucous membrane after rubbing or burning

excrement / ekskr mənt/ noun same as fae-


excrescence / k skres(ə)ns/ noun a growth on the skin

excreta / k skri tə/ plural noun waste material from the body, especially faeces

excrete / k skri t/ verb to pass waste matter out of the body, especially to discharge faeces

The urinary system separates waste liquids from the blood and excretes them as urine. excretion / k skri ʃ(ə)n/ noun the act of passing waste matter, e.g. faeces, urine or sweat, out of the body

excruciating / k skru ʃie t ŋ/ adjective extremely painful He had excruciating pains in his head.

exenteration /ek sentə re ʃ(ə)n/ noun same

as evisceration

exercise / eksəsa z/ noun 1. physical or mental activity, especially the active use of the muscles as a way of keeping fit, correcting a deformity or strengthening a part Regular exercise is good for your heart. He doesn’t do or take enough exercise. 2. a particular movement or action designed to use and strengthen the muscles verb to take exercise, or exert part of the body in exercise He exercises twice a day to keep fit.

exercise cycle / eksəsa z sa k(ə)l/ noun a type of cycle which is fixed to the floor, so that someone can pedal on it for exercise

exercise-induced asthma / eksəsa z ndju st smə/ noun asthma which is caused

by exercise such as running or cycling. Abbr


exertion / & z! ʃ(ə)n/ noun physical activity exfoliation /eks fəυli e ʃ(ə)n/ noun the loss of layers of tissue such as sunburnt skin exfoliative /eks fəυlie t v/ adjective referring to exfoliation

exfoliative dermatitis /eks fəυliət vd! mə ta t s/ noun a typical form of dermati-

tis where the skin becomes red and comes off in flakes

exhalation / ekshə le ʃ(ə)n/ noun 1. the act of breathing out 2. air which is breathed out opposite inhalation

exhale /eks he l/ verb to breathe out. Opposite inhale

exhaust / & zɔ st/ verb to tire someone out exhaustion / & zɔ stʃən/ noun extreme tiredness or fatigue

exhibitionism / eks b ʃ(ə)n z(ə)m/ noun a desire to show the genitals to a person of the opposite sex

exo- /eksəυ/ prefix out of, outside

exocrine / eksəkra n/ adjective exocrine secretions of the pancreas enzymes carried from the pancreas to the second part of the duodenum

exocrine gland / eksəkra n &l nd/ noun a gland with ducts which channel secretions to particular parts of the body such as the liver, the sweat glands, the pancreas and the salivary glands. Compare endocrine gland exogenous /ek sɒd ənəs/ adjective developing or caused by something outside the organism. Compare endogenous exomphalos /ek sɒmfələs/ noun same as umbilical hernia

exophthalmic goitre / eksɒfθ lm k &ɔ tə/ noun a form of hyperthyroidism, in which the neck swells and the eyes protrude. Also called Graves’ disease exophthalmos / eksɒf θ lməs/ noun protruding eyeballs

exoskeleton / eksəυ skel t(ə)n/ noun the outer skeleton of some animals such as insects. Compare endoskeleton

exostosis / eksə stəυs s/ noun a benign growth on the surface of a bone

exotic / & zɒt k/ adjective referring to a disease which occurs in a foreign country exotoxin / eksəυ tɒks n/ noun a poison, produced by bacteria, which affects parts of the body away from the place of infection, e.g. the toxins which cause botulism or tetanus

COMMENT: Diphtheria is caused by a bacillus. The exotoxin released causes the generalised symptoms of the disease such as fever and rapid pulse while the bacillus itself is responsible for the local symptoms in the upper throat.

exotropia / eksəυ trəυpiə/ noun same as di-

vergent strabismus

expectant mother / k spektənt m"ðə/ noun a pregnant woman

expected date of delivery / k spekt dde t əv d l v(ə)ri/ noun the day on which a

doctor calculates that the birth of a baby will take place

expectorant / k spekt(ə)rənt/ noun a drug which helps someone to cough up phlegm


external iliac artery

expectorate / k spektəre t/ verb to cough up phlegm or sputum from the respiratory passages

expectoration / k spektə re ʃ(ə)n/ noun the act of coughing up fluid or phlegm from the respiratory tract

expel / k spel/ verb to send something out of the body Air is expelled from the lungs when a person breathes out.

experiential learning / k sp ərienʃəl l! n ŋ/ noun the process of learning from experience

experiment / k sper mənt/ noun a scientific test conducted under set conditions The scientists did some experiments to try the new

drug on a small sample of people.

expert patient / eksp! t pe ʃ(ə)nt/ noun a patient with a long-term illness who has been taught how to manage his or her own medical care

expiration / ekspə re ʃ(ə)n/ noun 1. the act of breathing out, or pushing air out of the lungs

Expiration takes place when the chest muscles relax and the lungs become smaller. Opposite inspiration 2. death 3. dying expiratory /ek sp rət(ə)ri/ adjective refer-

ring to the process of breathing out

expire / k spa ə/ verb 1. to breathe out 2. to die

explant /eks plɑ nt/ noun tissue taken from a body and grown in a culture in a laboratory verb 1. to take tissue from a body and grow it in a culture in a laboratory 2. to remove an implant

explantation / eksplɑ n te ʃ(ə)n/ noun 1. the act of taking tissue from a body and growing it in a culture in a laboratory 2. the removal of an implant

exploration / eksplə re ʃ(ə)n/ noun a procedure or surgical operation where the aim is to discover the cause of symptoms or the nature and extent of an illness

exploratory / k splɒrət(ə)ri/ adjective refer-

ring to an exploration

exploratory surgery / k splɒrət(ə)ri s! d əri/ noun a surgical operation in which the aim is to discover the cause of a person’s symptoms or the nature and extent of an illness explore / k splɔ / verb to examine a part of the body in order to make a diagnosis expose / k spəυz/ verb 1. to show something which was hidden The operation exposed a generalised cancer. The report exposed a lack of medical care on the part of some of the hospital staff. 2. to place something or someone under the influence of something He was exposed to the disease for two days. She was exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. exposure / k spəυ ə/ noun 1. the fact of being exposed to something his exposure to radiation 2. the fact of being damp, cold and with

no protection from the weather The survivors of the crash were all suffering from exposure after spending a night in the snow. express / k spres/ verb to squeeze liquid or air out of something, especially to squeeze out breast milk for a baby to feed on later expression / k spreʃ(ə)n/ noun 1. the look on a person’s face which shows what he or she thinks and feels His expression showed that he was annoyed. 2. the act of pushing something out of the body the expression of the fetus and placenta during childbirth exquisitely tender / k skw z tli tendə/ adjective producing a sharp localised pain or tenderness when touched

exsanguinate / k s ŋ&w ne t/ verb to drain blood from the body

exsanguination / k s ŋ&w ne ʃ(ə)n/ noun the removal of blood from the body exsufflation / eksə fle ʃ(ə)n/ noun an act of forcing breath out of the body

extend / k stend/ verb to stretch out, or cause something to stretch out The patient is unable to extend his arms fully.

extension / k stenʃən/ noun 1. the stretching or straightening out of a joint 2. the stretching of a joint by traction

extensor / k stensə/, extensor muscle / k stensə m"s(ə)l/ noun a muscle which makes

a joint become straight. Compare flexor exterior / k st əriə/ noun the outside of something

exteriorisation / k st əriəra ze ʃ(ə)n/, exteriorization noun a surgical operation to bring an internal organ to the outside surface of the body

externa / k st! nə/ otitis externa

external / k st! n(ə)l/ adjective on the outside, especially outside the surface of the body. Opposite internal the lotion is for external use only it should only be used on the outside of the body

external auditory canal / k st! n(ə)l ɔ d t(ə)ri kə n l/, external auditory meatus

/ k st! n(ə)l ɔ d t(ə)ri m e təs/ noun a tube in the skull leading from the outer ear to the eardrum. See illustration at EARin Supplement

external cardiac massage / k st! n(ə)lkɑ di k m sɑ / noun a method of making

someone’s heart start beating again by rhythmic pressing on the breastbone

external ear / k st! n(ə)l ə/ noun same as outer ear

external haemorrhoids / k st! n(ə)l hemərɔ dz/ plural noun haemorrhoids in the

skin just outside the anus

external iliac artery / k st! n(ə)l li kɑ təri/ noun an artery which branches from the aorta in the abdomen and leads to the leg

external jugular


external jugular / k st! n(ə)l d "&jυlə/ noun the main jugular vein in the neck, leading from the temporal vein

externally / k st! n(ə)li/ adverb on the outside of the body The ointment should only be used externally.

external nares plural noun same as anterior


external oblique / k st! n(ə)l ə bli k/ noun

an outer muscle covering the abdomen external otitis / k st! n(ə)l ə ta t s/ noun

same as otitis externa

external respiration / k st! n(ə)l resp re ʃ(ə)n/ noun the part of respiration concerned with oxygen in the air being exchanged

in the lungs for carbon dioxide from the blood exteroceptor /ekstərəυ septə/ noun a sen-

sory nerve which is affected by stimuli from

outside the body, e.g. in the eye or ear extinction / k st ŋkʃən/ noun 1. the destruc-

tion or stopping of something 2. the lessening or stopping of a conditioned behavioural re-

sponse through lack of reinforcement extirpate / ekst! pe t/ verb to remove

something by surgery

extirpation /ekst! pe ʃ(ə)n/ noun the total removal of a structure, an organ or growth by


extra- /ekstrə/ prefix outside extracapsular / ekstrə k psjυlə/ adjective

outside a capsule

extracapsular fracture / ekstrə k psjυlə fr ktʃə/ noun a fracture of the upper part of the femur, which does not involve the capsule

round the hip joint

extracellular / ekstrə seljυlə/ adjective out-

side cells

extracellular fluid / ekstrəseljυlə flu d/

noun a fluid which surrounds cells

extract noun / ekstr kt/ a preparation made by removing water or alcohol from a substance, leaving only the essence liver extract concentrated essence of liver verb / k str kt/ to take out something Adrenaline extracted from the animal’s adrenal glands is used in the treatment of asthma.

‘…all the staff are RGNs, partly because they do venesection, partly because they work in plasmapheresis units which extract plasma and return red blood cells to the donor’ [Nursing Times]

extraction / k str kʃən/ noun 1. the removal of part of the body, especially a tooth 2. in obstetrics, delivery, usually a breech presenta-

tion, which needs medical assistance extradural / ekstrə djυərəl/ adjective same

as epidural

extradural haematoma / ekstrə djυərəl hi mə təυmə/ noun a blood clot which forms

in the head outside the dura mater, caused by a


extradural haemorrhage / ekstrə djυərəl hem(ə)r d / noun a serious condition where

bleeding occurs between the dura mater and

the skull

extraembryonic / ekstrəembri ɒn k/ adjective referring to part of a fertilised ovum, such as the amnion, allantois and chorion which is not part of the embryo

extraembryonic membranes / ekstrə embri ɒn k membre nz/ plural noun mem-

branes which are not part of the embryo extrapleural / ekstrə plυərəl/ adjective out-

side the pleural cavity

extrapyramidal / ekstrəp r m d(ə)l/ ad-

jective outside the pyramidal tracts

extrapyramidal system / ekstrəpr m d(ə)l s stəm/ noun a motor system

which carries motor nerves outside the pyram-

idal system

extrapyramidal tracts / ekstrəpr m d(ə)l tr kts/ plural noun same as ex-

trapyramidal system

extrasensory / ekstrə sensəri/ adjective involving perception by means other than the

usual five senses

extrasystole / ekstrə s stəli/ noun same as

ectopic heartbeat

extrauterine / ekstrə ju təra n/ adjective

occurring or developing outside the uterus

extrauterine pregnancy / ekstrəju təra n pre&nənsi/ noun same as ectopic pregnancy

extravasation /ek str və se ʃ(ə)n/ noun a situation where a bodily fluid, such as blood or

secretions, escapes into tissue

extraversion / ekstrə v! ʃ(ə)n/ noun same

as extroversion

extravert / ekstrəv! t/ noun same as extro-


extremities / k stremətiz/ plural noun the parts of the body at the ends of limbs, e.g. the

fingers, toes, nose and ears

extremity / k strem ti/ noun 1. a limb 2. the part of a limb farthest away from the body, especially the hand or foot 3. a situation or state of great distress or danger 4. the greatest intensity of something

extrinsic /eks tr ns k/ adjective external, originating outside a structure

extrinsic allergic alveolitis /eks tr ns k əl! d k lviə la t s/ noun a condition in

which the lungs are allergic to fungus and oth-

er allergens

extrinsic factor /eks tr ns k f ktə/ noun a former term for vitamin B12, which is neces-

sary for the production of red blood cells extrinsic ligament /eks tr ns k l &əmənt/

noun a ligament between the bones in a joint

which is separate from the joint capsule extrinsic muscle /eks tr ns k m"s(ə)l/

noun a muscle which is some way away from

the part of the body which it operates extroversion /ekstrə v! ʃ(ə)n/ noun 1. (in

psychology) a condition in which a person is



interested in people and things other than themselves 2. a congenital turning of an organ inside out

extrovert / ekstrəv! t/ noun a person who is interested in people and things in the external world

extroverted / ekstrəυ v! t d/ adjective 1. (of a person) interested in people and things other than oneself 2. (of an organ) turned inside out extubation / ekstju be ʃ(ə)n/ noun the removal of a tube after intubation

exudate / eksjude t/ noun fluid which is deposited on the surface of tissue as the result of a condition or disease

exudation / eksju de ʃ(ə)n/ noun the escape of material such as fluid or cells into tissue as a defence mechanism

eye /a / noun the part of the body with which a person sees (NOTE: For other terms referring to the eye, see ocular, optic and words beginning with oculo-, ophth-, ophthalm-, ophthalmo-.)

eyeball / a bɔ l/ noun the round ball of tissue through which light passes, located in the eye socket and controlled by various muscles

COMMENT: Light rays enter the eye through the cornea, pass through the pupil and are refracted through the aqueous humour onto the lens, which then focuses the rays through the vitreous humour onto the retina at the back of the eyeball. Impulses from the retina pass along the optic nerve to the brain.

eye bank / a b ŋk/ noun a place where parts of eyes given by donors can be kept for use in grafts

eyebath / a bɑ θ/ noun a small dish into which a solution can be put for bathing the eye

eyebrow / a braυ/ noun an arch of skin with a line of hair above the eye

eye drops / a drɒps/ plural noun medicine in liquid form which is put into the eye in small amounts

eyeglasses / a &lɑ s z/ plural noun US glasses or spectacles for correcting vision

eyelash / a l ʃ/ noun a small hair which grows out from the edge of the eyelid

eyelid / a l d/ noun a piece of skin which covers the eye. Also called blepharon, palpebra

(NOTE: For other terms referring to the eyelids,

see words beginning with blephar-, blepharo-.) eye ointment / a ɔ ntmənt/ noun an ointment in a special tube to be used in eye treatment

eyesight / a sa t/ noun the ability to see

He has got very good eyesight. Failing eyesight is common in elderly people.

eye socket / a sɒk t/ noun same as orbit eye specialist / a speʃəl st/ noun same as


eyestrain / a stre n/ noun tiredness in the muscles of the eye with a headache, which may be caused by an activity such as reading in bad light or working on a computer screen. Also called asthenopia

eye surgeon / a s! d (ə)n/ noun a surgeon who specialises in operations on eyes

eye test / a test/ noun an examination of the inside of an eye to see if it is working correctly, and if the person needs glasses

eyetooth / a tu θ/ noun a canine tooth, one of two pairs of pointed teeth next to the incisors

(NOTE: The plural is eyeteeth.)


F abbr Fahrenheit

face /fe s/ noun the front part of the head, where the eyes, nose and mouth are placed verb to have your face towards or to look towards something Please face the screen. face delivery / fe s d l v(ə)ri/ noun a birth where the baby’s face appears first

face lift / fe s l ft/, face-lifting operation / fe s l ft ŋ ɒpə re ʃ(ə)n/ noun a surgical op-

eration to remove wrinkles on the face and neck

face mask / fe s mɑ sk/ noun 1. a rubber mask that fits over the nose and mouth and is used to administer an anaesthetic 2. a piece of gauze which fits over the mouth and nose to prevent droplet infection

face presentation / fe s prez(ə)n te ʃ(ə)n/ noun a position of a baby in the uterus where the face will appear first at birth

facet / f s t/ noun a flat surface on a bone facet syndrome / f s t s ndrəυm/ noun a condition in which a joint in the vertebrae becomes dislocated

facial / fe ʃ(ə)l/ adjective relating to, or appearing on, the face The psychiatrist examined the patient’s facial expression.

facial artery / fe ʃ(ə)l ɑ təri/ noun an artery which branches off the external carotid into the face and mouth

facial bone / fe ʃ(ə)l bəυn/ noun one of the fourteen bones which form the face

COMMENT: The bones which make up the face are: two maxillae forming the upper jaw; two nasal bones forming the top part of the nose; two lacrimal bones on the inside of the orbit near the nose; two zygomatic or malar bones forming the sides of the cheeks; two palatine bones forming the back part of the top of the mouth; two nasal conchae or turbinate bones which form the sides of the nasal cavity; the mandible or lower jaw; and the vomer in the centre of the nasal septum.

facial nerve / fe ʃ(ə)l n! v/ noun the seventh cranial nerve, which governs the muscles of the face, the taste buds on the front of the tongue and the salivary and lacrimal glands

facial paralysis / fe ʃ(ə)l pə r ləs s/ noun

same as Bell’s palsy

facial vein / fe ʃ(ə)l ve n/ noun a vein which drains down the side of the face into the internal jugular vein

-facient /fe ʃənt/ suffix making or causing abortifacient

facies / fe ʃii z/ noun someone’s facial appearance, used as a guide to diagnosis facilitation /fə s l te ʃ(ə)n/ noun an act where several slight stimuli help a neurone to be activated

facilities /fə s l tiz/ plural noun something such as equipment, accommodation, treatment or help that is provided for people who need them the provision of aftercare facilities factor / f ktə/ noun 1. something which has an influence or which makes something else take place 2. a substance, variously numbered, e.g. Factor I, Factor II, in the plasma, which makes the blood coagulate when a blood vessel is injured

Factor II / f ktə tu / same as prothrombin

Factor IX / f ktə na n/ noun a protein in plasma which promotes the clotting of blood and is lacking in people with haemophilia B.

Also called Christmas factor

Factor VIII / f ktər e t/ noun a protein in plasma which promotes the clotting of blood and is lacking in people with haemophilia A

Factor XI / f ktər lev(ə)n/ noun a protein in plasma which promotes the clotting of blood and is lacking in people with haemophilia C

Factor XII / f ktə twelv/ noun a protein in plasma which promotes the clotting of blood and is lacking in some people with haemophilia. Also called Hageman factor

faculty / f k(ə)lti/ noun the ability to do something

fade away /fe d ə we / verb to be in the process of dying (informal)

faecal / fi k(ə)l/ adjective referring to faeces faecal impaction / fi kl(ə)l m p kʃən/ noun a condition in which a hardened mass of faeces stays in the rectum


family therapy

faecal incontinence / fi k(ə)l n kɒnt nəns/ noun an inability to control the bowel movements

faecalith / fi kəl θ/ noun same as coprolith faecal matter / fi k(ə)l m tə/ noun solid

waste matter from the bowels

faeces / fi si z/ plural noun solid waste matter passed from the bowels through the anus. Also called stools, bowel movement (NOTE: For other terms referring to faeces, see words beginning with sterco-.)

Fahrenheit / f rənha t/, Fahrenheit scale / f rənha t ske l/ noun a scale of tempera-

tures where the freezing and boiling points of water are 32° and 212° under standard atmospheric pressure (NOTE: Used in the US, but less common in the UK. Usually written as an F after the degree sign: 32°F (say: ‘thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit’).)

COMMENT: To convert degrees Fahrenheit into degrees Celsius, subtract 32 and divide the remainder by 1.8.

fail /fe l/ verb 1. not to be successful in doing something The doctor failed to see the symptoms. She has failed her pharmacy exams. He failed his medical and was rejected by the police force. 2. to become weaker and less likely to recover

failing / fe l ŋ/ adjective weakening, or be-

coming closer to death

failure to thrive / fe ljə tə θra v/ noun same as marasmus

faint /fe nt/ verb to stop being conscious for a short time and, usually, fall down noun a loss of consciousness for a short period, caused by a temporary reduction in the blood flow to the brain

fainting fit / fe nt ŋ f t/, fainting spell / fe nt ŋ spel/ noun same as syncope She

often had fainting fits when she was dieting.

Fairbanks’ splint / feəb ŋks spl nt/ noun a special splint used for correcting Erb’s palsy faith healing / fe θ hi l ŋ/ noun the treatment of pain or illness by a person who prays and may also lay his or her hands on the patient falciform / f ls fɔ m/ adjective in the shape

of a sickle

falciform ligament / f ls fɔ m l &əmənt/ noun a piece of tissue which separates the two lobes of the liver and attaches it to the diaphragm

fall /fɔ l/ verb to fall pregnant, to fall for a

baby to become pregnant

fall asleep / fɔ l ə sli p/ verb to go to sleep fallen arches / fɔ lən ɑ tʃ z/ plural noun a

condition in which the arches in the sole of the foot are not high

fall ill / fɔ l l/ verb to get ill or to start to have an illness He fell ill while on holiday and

had to be flown home.

Fallopian tube /fə ləυpiən tju b/ noun one of two tubes which connect the ovaries to the

uterus. See illustration at UROGENITAL SYSTEM (FEMALE) in Supplement. Also called oviduct, salpinx (NOTE: For other terms referring to Fallopian tubes, see words beginning with salping- , salpingo-.) [Described 1561. After Gabriele Fallopio (1523–63), Italian man of medicine. He was Professor of Surgery and Anatomy at Padua, where he was also Professor of Botany.]

COMMENT: Once a month, ova (unfertilised eggs) leave the ovaries and move down the Fallopian tubes to the uterus. At the point where the Fallopian tubes join the uterus an ovum may be fertilised by a sperm cell. Sometimes fertilisation and development of the embryo take place in the Fallopian tube itself. This is called an ectopic pregnancy, and can

be life-threatening if not detected early.

Fallot’s tetralogy / f ləυz te tr ləd i/ noun same as tetralogy of Fallot [Described 1888. After Etienne-Louis Arthur Fallot (1850– 1911), Professor of Hygiene and Legal Medicine at Marseilles, France.]

false /fɔ ls/ adjective not true or not real false pains / fɔ ls pe nz/ plural noun pains

which appear to be labour pains but are not false pregnancy / fɔ ls pre&nənsi/ noun a

condition in which a woman believes wrongly that she is pregnant and displays symptoms and signs of pregnancy

false rib / fɔ ls r bz/ noun one of the bottom five ribs on each side which are not directly attached to the breastbone

false teeth / fɔ ls ti θ/ plural noun dentures, artificial teeth made of plastic, which fit in the mouth and take the place of teeth which have

been extracted

false vocal cords / fɔ ls vəυk(ə)l kɔ dz/

plural noun same as vestibular folds

falx /f lks/, falx cerebri / f lks serəbri/ noun a fold of the dura mater between the two hemispheres of the cerebrum

familial /fə m liəl/ adjective referring to a family

familial adenomatous polyposis /fə m liəl də nɒmətəs pɒl pəυs s/ noun a hered-

itary disorder where polyps develop in the

small intestine. Abbr FAP

familial disorder /fə m liəl d s ɔ də/ noun a hereditary disorder which affects several members of the same family

family / f m(ə)li/ noun a group of people who are related to each other, especially moth-

er, father and children

family doctor / f m(ə)li dɒktə/ noun a

general practitioner

family planning / f m(ə)li pl n ŋ/ noun the use of contraception to control the number

of children in a family

family planning clinic / f m(ə)li pl n ŋ

kl n k/ noun a clinic which gives advice on


family therapy / f m(ə)li θerəpi/ noun a type of psychotherapy where members of the



family of a person with a disorder meet a therapist to discuss the condition and try to come to terms with it

famotidine /fə mɒt di n/ noun a histamine which reduces the secretion of gastric acid and

is used to treat ulcers

Fanconi syndrome /f n kəυni s ndrəυm/ noun a kidney disorder where amino acids are present in the urine [Described 1927. After Guido Fanconi (b.1892), Professor of Paediatrics at

the University of Zurich, Switzerland.] fantasise / f ntəsa z/, fantasize verb to im-

agine that things have happened

fantasy / f ntəsi/ noun a series of imaginary events which someone believes really took place

FAP abbr familial adenomatous polyposis farcy / fɑ si/ noun a form of glanders which affects the lymph nodes

farinaceous / f r ne ʃəs/ adjective referring to flour, or containing starch

farmer’s lung / fɑ məz l"ŋ/ noun a type of asthma caused by an allergy to rotting hay FAS abbr fetal alcohol syndrome

fascia / fe ʃə/ noun fibrous tissue covering a muscle or an organ (NOTE: The plural is fasciae.)

fascia lata / fe ʃə l tə/ noun a wide sheet of tissue covering the thigh muscles fasciculation /fə s kjυ le ʃ(ə)n/ noun small muscle movements which appear as trembling


fasciculus /fə s kjυləs/ noun a bundle of nerve fibres (NOTE: The plural is fasciculi.) fasciitis / f ʃi a t s/ noun an inflammation of the connective tissue between muscles or around organs

fascioliasis /fə siə la əs s/ noun a disease caused by parasitic liver flukes

Fasciolopsis / f siəυ lɒps s/ noun a type of liver fluke, often found in the Far East, which is transmitted to humans through contaminated waterplants

fast /fɑ st/ noun a period of going without food, e.g. to lose weight or for religious reasons verb to go without food The patient should fast from midnight of the night before an operation.

fastigium /f st d iəm/ noun the highest temperature during a bout of fever

fat /f t/ adjective big and round in the body

You ought to eat less – you’re getting too fat.

(NOTE: fatter – fattest) noun 1. a white oily substance in the body, which stores energy and protects the body against cold 2. a type of food which supplies protein and Vitamins A and D, especially that part of meat which is white, and solid substances like lard or butter produced from animals and used for cooking, or liquid substances like oil If you don’t like the fat on the meat, cut it off. Fry the eggs in some fat.

(NOTE: Fat has no plural when it means the substance; the plural fats is used to mean different types of fat. For other terms referring to fats, see also lipid and words beginning with steato-.)

COMMENT: Fat is a necessary part of the diet because of the vitamins and energy-giving calories which it contains. Fat in the diet comes from either animal fats or vegetable fats. Animal fats such as butter, fat meat or cream, are saturated fatty acids. It is believed that the intake of unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, mainly vegetable fats and oils, and fish oil, in the diet, rather than animal fats, helps keep down the level of cholesterol in the blood and so lessens the risk of atherosclerosis. A low-fat diet does not always help to reduce body weight.

fatal / fe t(ə)l/ adjective causing or resulting in death He had a fatal accident. Cases of bee stings are rarely fatal.

fatality /fə t l ti/ noun a death as the result of something other than natural causes There were three fatalities during the flooding. fatally / fe t(ə)li/ adverb in a way which causes death His heart was fatally weakened by the lung disease.

father / fɑ ðə/ noun a biological or adoptive male parent

fatigue /fə ti &/ noun very great tiredness verb to tire someone out He was fatigued by

the hard work.

fatigue fracture /fə ti & fr ktʃə/ noun

stress fracture

fat-soluble / f t sɒljυb(ə)l/ adjective able to dissolve in fat Vitamin D is fat-soluble. fatty / f ti/ adjective containing fat

fatty acid / f ti s d/ noun an organic acid belonging to a group that occurs naturally as

fats, oils and waxes. essential fatty acid fatty degeneration / f ti d d enə re ʃ(ə)n/

noun same as adipose degeneration

fauces / fɔ si z/ noun an opening between the tonsils at the back of the throat, leading to the pharynx

favism / fe v z(ə)m/ noun a type of inherited anaemia caused by an allergy to beans

favus / fe vəs/ noun a highly contagious type of ringworm caused by a fungus which attacks the scalp

FDA abbr US Food and Drug Administration fear /f ə/ noun a state where a person is afraid

of something fear of flying

febricula /fe br kjυlə/ noun a low fever febrifuge / febr fju d / noun a drug which prevents or lowers a fever, e.g. aspirin adjective preventing or lowering fever

febrile / fi bra l/ adjective referring to a fever,

or caused by a fever

febrile convulsion / fi bra l kən v"lʃ(ə)n/ noun a convulsion in a child, lasting a short

time, associated with a fever

febrile disease / fi bra l d zi z/ noun a disease which is accompanied by fever



fecal / fi k(ə)l/ adjective US same as faecal fecundation / fekən de ʃ(ə)n/ noun the act of bringing male and female reproductive matter together. Also called fertilisation

feeble / fi b(ə)l/ adjective very weak

feed /fi d/ verb to give food to someone He has to be fed with a spoon. The baby has reached the stage when she can feed herself.

(NOTE: feeding – fed)

feed back / fi d b k/ verb to give information or comments on something that has been done The patients’ responses were fed back to the students.

feedback / fi db k/ noun 1. information or comments about something which has been done The initial feedback from patients on the new service was encouraging. 2. the linking of the result of an action back to the action itself

feeding / fi d ŋ/ noun the action of giving someone something to eat. breast feeding, bottle feeding, intravenous feeding

feeding cup / fi d ŋ k"p/ noun a special cup with a spout, used for feeding people who cannot feed themselves

feel /fi l/ verb 1. to touch someone or something, usually with your fingers The midwife felt the abdomen gently. to feel someone’s pulse to establish someone’s pulse rate, usually by holding the inner wrist 2. to give a sensation My skin feels hot and itchy. 3. to have a sensation When she got the results of her test, she felt relieved. He felt ill after eating the fish. 4. to believe or think something The doctor feels the patient is well enough to be moved out of intensive care. (NOTE: feeling – felt)

feeling / fi l ŋ/ noun 1. a sensation a prickling feeling 2. an emotional state or attitude to something

Fehling’s solution / fe l ŋz sə lu ʃ(ə)n/ noun a solution used in Fehling’s test to detect sugar in urine [Described 1848. After Hermann Christian von Fehling (1812–85), Professor of Chemistry at Stuttgart, Germany.]

Fehling’s test / fe l ŋz test/ noun a test for the presence of aldehydes and sugars in a biological sample by means of Fehling’s solution felon / felən/ noun same as whitlow

Felty’s syndrome / felti z s ndrəυm/ noun a condition, associated with rheumatoid arthritis, in which the spleen is enlarged and the number of white blood cells increases [Described 1924. After Augustus Roi Felty (1895– 1963), physician at Hartford Hospital, Connecticut, USA.]

female condom / fi me l kɒndɒm/ noun a rubber sheath inserted into the vagina before intercourse, covering the walls of the vagina and the cervix

female sex hormone / fi me l sekshɔ məυn/ noun same as oestrogen feminisation / fem na ze ʃ(ə)n/, feminization noun the development of female characteristics in a male

femora / femərə/ plural of femur

femoral / femərəl/ adjective referring to the femur or to the thigh

femoral artery / femərəl ɑ təri/ noun a continuation of the external iliac artery, which runs down the front of the thigh and then crosses to the back of the thigh

femoral canal / femərəl kə n l/ noun the inner tube of the sheath surrounding the femoral artery and vein

femoral head / femərəl hed/ noun the head of the femur, the rounded projecting end part of the thigh bone which joins the acetabulum at the hip

femoral hernia / femərəl h! niə/ noun a hernia of the bowel at the top of the thigh femoral neck / femərəl nek/ noun the narrow part between the head and the diaphysis of the femur. Also called neck of the femur femoral nerve / femərəl n! v/ noun a nerve which governs the muscle at the front of the thigh

femoral pulse / femərəl p"ls/ noun a pulse taken in the groin

femoral triangle / femərəl tra ŋ&əl/ noun a slight hollow in the groin which contains the femoral vessels and nerve. Also

called Scarpa’s triangle

femoral vein / femərəl ve n/ noun a vein running up the upper leg, a continuation of the popliteal vein

femoris / femər s/ noun rectus femoris femur / fi mə/ noun the bone in the top part of the leg which joins the acetabulum at the hip and the tibia at the knee. Also called thighbone. See illustration at PELVIS in Supplement

(NOTE: The plural is femora.)

-fen /fen/ suffix used in names of non-steroidal

anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen fenestra /fə nestrə/ noun a small opening in

the ear

fenestra ovalis /fə nestrə əυ vɑ l s/ noun

same as oval window

fenestra rotunda /fə nestrə rəυ t"ndə/ noun same as round window

fenestration / fenə stre ʃ(ə)n/ noun a surgical operation to relieve deafness by making a small opening in the inner ear

fenoprofen / fenəυ prəυfen/ noun a nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drug that is used to manage the pain of arthritis

fentanyl / fentən l/ noun a narcotic drug that is a powerful painkiller

fermentation / f! men te ʃ(ə)n/ noun a process where carbohydrates are broken down

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