Glossary try the best to avoid the use of medical terms that could make it more difficult to understand the information on this website. Still, there are a number of terms that can't be avoided and that are useful to know because they are so often used by the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals with whom you might speak. The list below includes the terms used on for which we have provided definitions.

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Term Definition

Hardening of tissue resulting from the formation of calcium salts


To adjust the output or reading from a testing device to assure that it gives a correct answer; the adjustment is based on measurement of one or more known substances called standards (or calibrators).


The tiniest of blood vessels. Through the one-cell-layer-thick walls of capillaries, oxygen and nutrients are delivered to body tissues and carbon dioxide and other wastes are cleared from body tissues.


The starches and sugars that are the chief energy sources of the body


A collection of boils caused by an infection of a large area of skin involving several hair follicles and deeper layers of tissue; the area often has several openings for pus drainage and sloughing dead tissue

Carcinoid tumor

Slow-growing mass that can develop in the mucous membrane of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and sometimes the lungs

Cardiovascular System

The heart and blood vessels involved in the pumping of blood and the transport of nutrients, oxygen, and waste products throughout the body


1. Person, generally in apparent good health, who harbours organisms that can infect and cause disease in others
2. Person who has one copy of a recessive disease gene but is not affected themselves


Tissue that lines joints to absorb shock; it also forms the shape of the nose and ears.


1. long, thin, flexible tube inserted into a body cavity or vessel to allow the passage of fluids
2. thin, flexible tube inserted into a vessel in the body for the purpose of opening (distending) the vessel

Central Nervous System

Also known as: CNS

One of the two main divisions of the human nervous system, consisting of the brain and the spinal cord; the other division is the peripheral nervous system.


The automated process of separating lighter portions of a solution, mixture, or suspension from the heavier portions, by centrifugal force

Cerebrospinal Fluid

Also known as: CSF

Normally clear liquid, produced in the ventricles of the brain, that surrounds the brain and spinal cord

Cervical Adenitis

Lymph node inflammation in the neck

Chain of Custody

Legal document created when a piece of evidence is obtained that records the movement, location, handling and/or testing of the evidence from the time it is collected until the evidence is used in a legal proceeding and/or until it is no longer needed and is discarded or destroyed


Binding of a metal ion by a large molecule to form a soluble complex; chelation therapy uses large molecules such as EDTA (ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid) to remove excess metals (like lead or iron) from tissues and enable their excretion.


Also known as: Chemo

In the treatment of cancer, the use of medicines or drugs to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells; because chemo can also harm healthy cells, it can be associated with side effects, such as fatigue, hair loss, mouth sores, and nausea/vomiting.


Drug used in the treatment and prevention of malaria


Threadlike structure in every cell nucleus that carries the inheritance factors (genes) composed of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid, the gene material) and a protein (usually histone). A human cell normally contains 46 chromosomes, or 22 homologous pairs and 1 pair of sex chromosomes; one member of each pair of chromosomes is derived from each parent.


A condition or illness that arises slowly over days or weeks and may or may not resolve with treatment. It is the opposite of acute.


Chronic disease condition of the liver in which fibrous tissue and nodules replace normal tissue, interfering with blood flow and normal functions of the organ


(noun) Cell, group of cells, or organisms that descend from a single cell or organism; clones are genetically identical

(verb) To replicate or produce identical copies


Also known as: central nervous system

One of the two main divisions of the human nervous system, consisting of the brain and the spinal cord; the other division is the peripheral nervous system.


(n. cognition) Relating to the mental process of acquiring knowledge through awareness, perception, intuition, and reasoning


A group of proteins that form elongated fibers that are the main component in connective tissues such as skin, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and bone


The presence or growth of bacteria on or in the body; those who are colonized may or may not develop an infection and/or may spread the bacteria to others, in whom they may cause disease.


Examination of the rectum and entire colon with a flexible lighted instrument


a procedure in which a health practitioner uses a lighted magnifying instrument to examine a woman's cervix for abnormal areas, to take samples for biopsy, and/or treat as indicated


Present at birth

Conjugated bilirubin

A water-soluble form of bilirubin formed in the liver by the chemical addition of sugar molecules to unconjugated bilirubin; when present in the blood, conjugated bilirubin can become chemically bound to albumin, forming delta-bilirubin (also known as biliprotein).

Connective tissue

Tissue that connects organs or other structures within the body. It supports, attaches and encloses organs, fills the spaces between them, and forms ligaments and tendons.

Convalescent Sample

In the clinical laboratory, pertaining to samples taken at a time when a patient is recovering from a disease or condition

Corpus Luteum

Literally, yellow body in the ovary; the progesterone-producing tissue that remains after an egg is releaed from the ovary


Also known as: bronchiolitis
Inflamed bronchioles, the smaller airway passages/branches of the lower respiratory tract


A component prepared from donated blood; after freezing plasma and thawing, a precipitate that remains solid. It is rich in fibrinogen and Factor VIII.


Also known as: Cerebrospinal Fluid

Normally clear liquid, produced in the ventricles of the brain, that surrounds the brain and spinal cord


Deliberate growing of cells, especially microorganisms, in a solid or liquid medium (e.g. agar, gelatin), as of bacteria in a Petri dish


1) a hollow space or fluid-filled cavity surrounded by a distinct lining that develops abnormally in tissue or in an organ in the body, such as "ovarian cyst"

2) a cellular form of a parasite that has a thick cell wall, which allows for survival of the parasite in the environment and transmission into an uninfected host


one of a group of proteins released by cells of the immune system that carry signals to neighboring cells to regulate and/or promote an immune response


The microscopic assessment of individual cells or groups of cells that are either shed in body fluids or collected by smears and scrapings (e.g., the Pap smear) or by aspiration from deeper tissues through a very fine needle


The living substance within a cell that is located outside of the nucleus; it is a semi-fluid substance consisting of proteins, fat and other molecules