Glossary of Trauma Terms

Glossary of Trauma Terms
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Activities of Daily Living (ADL)
Refers to the ability to every day activities including communicating, dressing, eating, bathing and simply getting around.
Acute Care Unit
Is the hospital facility where patients recovering from injury or illness but who are stable are cared for. Patients may go to an Acute Care Unit after they are stabilized in the Intensive Care Unit.
Angiography
Is a medical technique involving medical imaging to view blood vessels after injecting them with a radioopaque dye that outlines them on X-ray. Physicians use this to look at arteries in the aorta, brain, chest, gastrointestinal tract, heart, kidneys, limbs, neck (carotids), and pulmonary circuit.
Angiogram
Is a an X-ray image which allows physicians to have a detailed look at a patient's blood vessels. The X-ray is made possible by injecting a dye into a vessel which makes it visible by the X-ray.
Arterial Blood Gas (ABG)
A test of the blood which determines the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in a patient's blood. The test also measures the the acid and alkaline amounts in the blood.
Arteries
Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen rich blood from the heart to all the parts of the bodies.
Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM)
An abnormal collection of arteries and veins, usually in the brain. This is usually a congenital condition.
Attending Physician
The physician responsible for a patient's care. In a teaching hospital or clinic, the attending physician supervises fellows, residents and medical students.
Axions
Are extensions of a nerve cell which carry messages between cells.

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B
Benign
Not cancer, not malignant. A benign tumor is one which does not grow and spread in the way cancer does and is usually not life-threatening.
Biopsy
A procedure or medical test in which a small amount of cells or tissues are removed and examined to determine if cancer is present. In a "needle biopsy", a very thin needle draws fluid and cells from a lump or mass. In a "core biopsy", a larger needle is used.
Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is one of the principal vital signs. It measures the pressure of the circulating blood. A blood pressure reading is a component of two numbers:        
  1. Systolic Pressure - is the blood pressure at the time the heart beats out and pumps blood into the arteries.            
  2. Diastolic Pressure - is the blood pressure when the heart is at rest.        
A blood pressure is written with the systolic pressure above the diastolic pressure, e.g., 120/80.
Brain Death
A legal definition of death which describes irreversible end of all brain activity, including involuntary activity which sustains life.
Brain Spect (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography)
A nuclear medicine exam which uses radioactive compounds to diagnose some brain diseases.

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C
Cardiac
Refers to anything related to the heart.
Cardiac Monitor
Device which records the electrical activity of the heart. It may be used to monitor the blood pressures within the heart.
Catheter
A tube which is inserted into a vein to inject fluids or medications. A large catheter can be used to allow drainage of fluid like urine from the bladder.
Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)
A clear bodily fluid that occupies the space around the brain and below the skull. The brain floats in cerebrospinal fluid.
Cervical Collar (Neck Brace)
A orthopedic equipment worn around the neck to support a patient's spinal cord and head and is sued to maintain proper alignment of the cervical spine after trauma or surgery. It is also used to realign one's spinal cord and to help relieve pain.
Cervical Spine
Begins at the base of the skull and is made up of seven vertebrae. The individual cervical identified are named and referred to as C1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C6 and C7. It also contains eight pairs of cervical nerves which are named C1 through C8.
Chemotherapy
A drug treatment or regimen used to destroy cancer cells. Often used in conjunction with surgery or radiation to treat cancer which has spread.
Chest Tube
A drain or flexible plastic tube inserted into the chest wall to drain air, fluid blood or pus.
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
Is an advanced nurse with advanced degrees who is a resource for nurses, doctors and therapists in creating a care plan for individual patients.
Coma
A sleep-like state or deep unconsciousness from which a patient cannot be awakened. A coma may be as a result of a head trauma due to a fall or car accident or it may be induced by medications to allow a patient to be unaware of extreme pain following a traumatic injury or disease.
Comfort Care
At Harborview Medical Center, "comfort care" refers is the treatment plan that guides the health-care term in end-of-life-care.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
An emergency medical procedure which attempts to restart the heart and breathing of a patient whose heart has stopped.
Craniotomy
A surgical procedure in which part of the skull is removed temporarily to access the brain. Neurosurgeons perform a craniotomy to access the brain after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or to access a brain lesion.
Computed Tomography (CT or CAT Scan)
A medical imaging method in which many X-rays are taken allowing physicians to have cross-sectional pictures of internal organs.
Culture
A sample of blood or bodily fluids which is used to test for bacteria or other organisms in the laboratory.
Cyst
A fluid-filled sac which has distinct membrane dividing it from nearby tissues. It is usually benign.

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D
Debulking
A surgery in which as much of a tumor is removed as possible without damaging the underlying structure.
Dieticians
Experts in food and nutrition. In the trauma care unit, the dietician insures the patient is receiving sufficient calorie intake and vitamin-mineral supplements.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
Refers to the most most devastating type of traumatic brain injury. It refers to when the brain shifts and rotates inside the bony skull after an injury. It often results in unconsciousness and persistent vegetative states.
Dura Mater
Refers to the outermost, toughest and most fibrous of the three membranes (meninges) which over the brain and spinal cord.
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Electrocardiogram (ECG)
A medical devices which records the electrical activity of the heart over time via electrodes place on the skin. Used to determine if the heart has been damaged.
Embolization
A non-surgical procedure in which arteries are closed off to an aneurysm or to prevent them from rupturing and bleeding.
Endotracheal Tube
A tube inserted into a patient's trachea during general anesthesia, emergency medicine, or intensive care to provide an artificial airway for a patient. Usually, the tube is connected to a ventilator.
External Beam Radiation (Standard Radiation) vs. Internal Radiation
A treatment in which high energy rays are used to kill or shrink cancer cells. With external beam radiation, the radiation comes from outside of the body as opposed to internal radiation in which radioactive materials are placed directly into the tumor.
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F
Foley Catheter
A plastic tube placed in the bladder to drain urine.
Fracture
A bone fracture in which a bone is cracked.
Fusion
A surgical procedure to fuse the bones of the spine to keep them in proper alignment. The surgeon uses metal screws, plates or other devices to fuse the bones.

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G
Gamma Knife
A device used to treat brain tumors with high doses of radiation without harming the surrounding tissue.
Glioma
A type of tumor that starts in the brain or spinal cord. Malignant gliomas are cancerous and are the most common type of primary tumors in the brain or spinal cord.
Glioblastoma
The most common and most aggressive type of malignant brain tumor and accounts for more than 50% of the brain tumors in humans.

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H
Hydrocephalus    
"Water on the Brain." An abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain which if not treated can cause pressure on the brain and permanent damage. 

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I
Intensive Care Unit (ICU)    
A hospital department which cares for patients with acute life-threatening injuries or illnesses and require specialized equipment and monitoring.    
Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH)    
Bleeding into the brain's ventricular system where the cerebrospinal fluid is produced. It can be caused by a traumatic injury or from hemorrhaging during a stroke.   

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M  
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)    
A medical imaging technique which allows physicians to visualize the internal structures of the body. MRIs use powerful magnets which transmit radio waves through the body. The images may be viewed on a computer screen or on film.    
Malignant    
A synonym for cancer cells which can spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body.    
Meninges            
The three membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.            
            
Dura mater - outside membrane                    
arachnoid membrane - center layer            
Pia mater - innermost layer                            
Meningitis is the inflammation of the meninges and can occur as a result of a bacterial infection.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A test which uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field to provide clear and detailed pictures of the head an internal structures of the body.
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N
Nasal Cannula
A small plastic tube placed at the nostrils which provides supplemental oxygen to a patient.
Nasogastric Tube (NG Tube)
A plastic tube inserted through the nose, past the throat and into the stomach to provide fluids, foods and medication.
Neurologic/Neuro
Pertaining to the brain.
Neuro Critical Care Service
Also called "intensivists", they are the critical care physicians who assist the neurosurgery service in the daily care of adult neurosurgery patients in the Intensive Care Unit.
Nil  Per Os (NPO)
A medical instruction which means essentially "nothing by mouth" and means the patient should not take any food, fluids or oral medications by mouth.
Nurse Coordinator
A nurse who works with physicians and assists with family communications and coordination of patient care during hospitalization.

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O
Occupational Therapist
A therapist who trains patients on techniques and the use of adaptive devices for self care, hand function, endurance and independent living skills.

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P
Palliative Care
Care to prevent and relieve suffering from disease and injury rather than striving to halt, delay or reverse progression of the disease or provide a care. The goals is to enhance the quality of life for the patient and family.
Physical Therapist
A health care professional who helps patients develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and keep muscles and joints functioning at the best possible level. They assist in ordering mobility equipment and training patients to use it.
Pulmonary
Having to do with the lungs.

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R
Rehabilitation Medicine
An inpatient setting which helps patients enhance and restore functional abilities.
Resident
A physician in specialized training after graduating from medical school.
Respiratory Therapist
A therapist who helps patients with breathing difficulties.
Rotorest Bed
A specialized bed which helps immobilize patients with spinal cord injuries. The bed can be equipped with traction which keeps the head and spine in proper position. It can rotate from side to side to improve circulation.
Rounds
Is a visit to a patient by the team of physicians to discuss the condition of the patient and the plan for the day.

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S
Sacral            
The large triangular bone at the base of the spine between the fifth lumbar segment (L5) and the tailbone (coccyx). The sacrum consists of five segments that are completely fused into a single bone in the mid-20's.
Shunt
A hole or passage, or a flexible tube, which moves fluid from one part of the body to another. A cerebral shunt drains excess cerebrospinal fluid from the brain.    
Social Worker    
A person who assists in long-term planning, financial issues and community resources for when a patient leaves the hospital. The social worker coordinates care as a patients transitions from the Intensive Care Unit to the acute care or rehabilitation unit.    
Speech Pathologist        
A therapist who assists patients and specializes in methods of communication, breathing and swallowing.        
Spinal Column            
Also called the "vertebral column", the spinal column has three sections of vertebrae (bones: cervical, thoracic and lumbar.
Spinal Cord Injury        
An injury which damages the white matter or myelinated fiber tracts that carry signals up and down the spinal column.        
Spinal Cord Injury - Complete        
A complete spinal cord injury means there is no function below the level of the injury including no sensation and no voluntary movement.             
Spinal Cord Injury - Incomplete        
An incomplete spinal cord injury means that there is some functioning below the primary level of the injury. An incomplete injury may allow a patient to move one limb more than another, feel parts of the body that cannot be moved.         
Stroke (also known as a cerebrovascular accident or CVA)        
A stroke is a loss of brain function due to a disturbance in a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain to be blocked by a clot or bursts. The brain or parts of it becomes damaged in a stroke and affects a person's ability to function including moving of limbs, sight, speech, etc.        
Subarachnoid Hemorrhage            
A dangerous condition in which blood collects beneath the membrane, the subarachnoid space, that covers the brain.
Subdural Hematoma
Collection of blood between the outer layer (dura) and middle layers of the covering of the brain (the meinges). This is often caused by a trauma or blow to the head.    
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T
Thoracic Spine        
The part of the spine located in the chest area containing 12 vertebrae. The fibs connect to the thoracic spine and protect vital organs.
Tracheostomy
A surgical procedure in which an incision is made over the trachea to create an artificial airway.
Transcranial Doppler (TCD)
An ultrasound test to assess blood flow in the arteries of the brain. It detects vasospasm or narrowing or occlusion of these blood vessels.
Transphenoidal
A surgical approach which removes pituitary or other tumors at the base of the skull through the nose and sinuses.
Traumatic Brain Injury
A injury to the brain which results from rapid acceleration and deceleration of the brain. Brain injuries can include shearing of nerve fibers, contusion (bruising) of the brain tissue against the skull, brain stem injuries and swelling to the brain.
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V
Vasospasm
A dangerous side effect of subarachnoid hemorrhage that irritates the blood vessels on the surface of the brain causing them to constrict erratically, decreasing or cutting off blood flow.
Veins
Blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart.
Vertebrae
Bones that make up the spinal column.
Ventilator
A machine that assists with breathing and delivering oxygen to the lungs via a endotracheal tube.
Ventriculostomy
A procedure which inserts a small, thin, hollow catheter into the ventricles to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
Vital Signs
Measurement of four important body functions: blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and temperature.
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X-Rays
One form of radiation that can be used at low levels to produce an image of the body on film or at high levels to destroy cancer cells.
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