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  GLOSSARY M-Z

M-Q

maxilla — the principal bone of the upper jaw (The bone of the lower jaw is the mandible.)
mediastinum — the space within the chest located between the lungs, containing the heart, major blood vessels, trachea and esophagus
meninges — the system of membranes that envelopes the central nervous system
metabolism — the conversion of food into energy and waste products
mimicry/mimetic — protective resemblance; the resemblance that certain animals and plants exhibit to other animals and plants or to the natural objects among which they live; a characteristic that serves as their chief means of protection against enemies; imitation; mimesis; mimetism
morbidity — a disease or the incidence of disease within a population; also refers to adverse effects caused by a treatment
morphology — science of the form and structure of organisms (plants, animals and other forms of life)
mortality — death rate by a given cause within a population
motor nuclei — collection of cells in the central nervous system giving origin to a motor nerve
mydriasis — a long-continued or excessive dilation of the pupil of the eye
myocardium — the middle and thickest layer of the heart wall composed of cardiac muscle
neurological — having to do with the nerves or the nervous system
neuromuscular — the synapse or junction of the axon of a neuron and the motor end plate of a muscle; in vertebrates, the signal passes through the neuromuscular junction via a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine
neurotoxic — poisonous to the nerves or nerve cells
nystagmus — spontaneous, rapid, rhythmic movement of the eyes occurring on fixation or on ocular movement
oblique — an indirect or evasive angle
occlude — to close off or stop up; obstruct
oronasal — pertaining to the mouth and nose
paralysis — loss of ability to move all or part of the body
paresthesia — a sensation of numbness or tingling on the skin
patent foramen ovale — a hole in the septum (wall) between the right and left atria of the heart
pelagic — any water in the sea that is not close to the bottom or near to the shore is in the pelagic zone; from the Greek pélagos, which means “open sea”
perfusion — the passage of fluid (such as blood) through an organ or tissue
pericardium — a double-layered membranous sac surrounding the heart and major
blood vessels connected to it
peripheral — related to or located in the outer boundary of the body
pharynx — portion of the airway at the back of the throat, connecting mouth, nasal
cavity and larynx
phylogenetics — the study of evolutionary relatedness among various groups of organisms
pia mater — the delicate innermost layer of the meninges, the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord
platelet — a round or oval disk found in the blood of vertebrate animals that is involved with blood clotting
pleura — membranes surrounding the outer surface of the lungs and the inner surface of the chest wall and the diaphragm
pneumatophore — one of the polyps of Physalia spp., which forms a gas-filled bladder that enables the organism to float along the ocean surface; also known as the marissa or sail
pneumomediastinum — the presence of air in the mediastinal soft tissues
pneumothorax — a collapsed lung
postictal — pertaining to the period following a seizure or convulsion
postural — position of the body or of body parts
prescription — a written order for dispensing drugs signed by a physician
primary assessment — assessment of the airway, breathing and circulation (pulse) in an ill or injured person; also known as the ABCs
pro-inflammatory mediator — a substance that indirectly mediates or triggers an
inflammatory response
prokaryote — from the Greek pro (meaning “before”) and karyon (“nut” or “kernel”), meaning these cells have no real nucleus. They represent a more primordial form of life, less evolved than nucleated cells (eukaryotes).
proprioceptors — sensors that provide information about joint angle, muscle length and muscle tension
prosboscis — a hollow organ or tube attached to the head or connected with the mouth of various animals and generally used in taking food or drink
protozoan — a large group of single-celled, usually microscopic, nucleated organisms
proximal — nearer to the center of the body (as opposed to distal)
pruritus — an intense chronic itching sensation that can have various causes (allergies, infection, lymphoma, jaundice, etc.); poison ivy causes pruritus
psi — pounds per square inch; a measurement of pressure
pulmonary — having to do with the lungs
quadriceps — a large muscle in front of the thigh, the action of which extends the leg or bends the hip joint

R-Z

regurgitation — expulsion of material from the mouth, pharynx or esophagus, usually characterized by the presence of undigested food or blood; vomiting
respiratory arrest — cessation of breathing
resuscitation — to revive from apparent death or from unconsciousness
rhabdomyolysis — disintegration of skeletal muscle
seizure — a convulsion; a sudden, involuntary movement of the muscles; typical of epileptic disorders
sepsis — a severe infection that affects the entire body
sessile — resting directly upon the main stem or branch, without a petiole or footstalk (as a sessile leaf or blossom)
sign — any medical or trauma condition that can be observed
siphon — tubular organ through which water is ejected from the gill cavity of a cephalophoid; it serves as a locomotive organ by guiding and confining the jet of water
subacute — somewhat acute; between acute and chronic
subcutaneous emphysema — the presence of air or gas in subcutaneous tissues
supersaturation — the state of a solution when it contains more of a dissolved material than could be expected under normal circumstances.
supine — lying face up
surfactant — a substance produced in the lungs to reduce surface tension in alveoli and small airways
symbiosis — arrangement in which two similar organisms live together in what is usually a mutually beneficial manner; a cooperative arrangement (as opposed to parasitosis)
symptom — any nonobservable condition described by the patient
symptomatic — showing symptoms
syncope — fainting, swooning, temporary loss of consciousness generally caused by insufficient oxygen supply to the brain
systemic — affecting the entire body
tachycardia — rapid beating of the heart, usually defined as greater than 100 beats per minute
Td, Tdap — refers to different combination vaccines that provide immunization against tetanus. Tdap includes immunological coverage against three infectious diseases: tetanus (T), diphtheria (D) and pertussis/whooping cough (P). Td lacks the pertussis component.
thermolabile — heat sensitive; can be broken down with temperature
thermostable — the quality of a substance to resist irreversible change in its chemical or physical structure at a high relative temperature
thorax — the upper part of the trunk (main part of the body) between the neck and the abdomen that contains the heart, lungs, trachea and bronchi
thrombotic — having to do with intravascular coagulation of the blood in any part of the circulatory system, as in the heart, arteries, veins or capillaries
thrombus — blood clot
toxicology — a branch of biology and medicine concerned with the study of the adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms; study of the signs, symptoms, mechanisms of action and treatments of poisonings
toxinology — the specialized area of science that deals specifically with animal, plant and microbial toxins; a branch of biology and medicine concerned with the study of the adverse effects of natural toxins or chemicals on living organisms
trachea — the air passage that begins at the larynx and ends as the beginning of the principal right and left bronchi
transverse — crossing from side to side
trauma — a serious injury or shock to the body, as from violence or an accident
ulcer — a break in the skin or the surface of an organ; forms when the surface cells die and are cast off
Valsalva maneuver — the forced inflation of the middle ear by exhaling with the mouth closed and the nostrils pinched
vasoconstriction — narrowing of a blood vessel
venomous — secreting or transmitting venom (toxin)
venous — of, relating to or contained in the veins
venous gas emboli — inert gas bubbles in venous blood (that return to the heart and lungs)
ventilation — the exchange of gases between a living organism and its environment; the act of breathing
ventral — relating to the front (anterior) part of the body
ventral horns — the two roots of a spinal nerve that pass ventrally from the spinal cord and that consist of motor fibers
ventricle — thick-walled, muscular chamber in the heart that receives blood from the atrium, pumping it through to the pulmonary or systemic circulation
ventricular fibrillation (VF) — a condition in which there is uncoordinated contraction of the cardiac muscle of the ventricles in the heart, making them quiver rather than contract properly
venules — small veins
vertebra — the bones forming the spinal column
vertigo — a sensation of whirling motion, either of oneself or of external objects
vestibular — relating to the sense of equilibrium
volume of distribution — the volume in which the amount of drug would need to be uniformly distributed to produce the observed blood concentration

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