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Glossary

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AFO - Ankle-Foot Orthosis

Amniotic Sac (Amnion) - A thin, tough, membranous sac that encloses the embryo or fetus of a mammal, bird, or reptile. It is filled with a serous fluid in which the embryo is suspended.

Apnea - Lack of breathing for longer than 15 or 20 seconds. It's common in preemies, whose brains aren't fully developed.  The muscles that control breathing depend on the brain for instructions on when to take the next breath.  The brain of a preemie sometimes makes mistakes and doesn't get the right message to the lungs.  

Aspiration - breathing of material into the windpipe or lungs, or removal of material from the windpipe or lungs by suction.

BPD (Bronchopulmonary ) - Damage to the lungs and bronchioles caused by the respirator.

Bagging - A procedure used to temporarily help a patient breathe.  A mask is placed on the patient's face and an air bag is pumped to give the patient air.

Benign - a growth or tumor that is not cancerous; one that does not usually invade and destroy neighboring tissue or spread to other parts of the body.

Bilateral - Having or formed of two sides.

Bilirubin - A yellowish substance produced when red blood cells break down.  It may cause jaundice, a yellowing of the skin.

Blood gases - A measurement of the amount of oxygen, carbon dioxide and acid in the patient's blood.  These measurements are needed to make adjustments in how much oxygen the patient should receive.

Bradychardia - A slower than normal heartbeat rate.  In an infant, this is below 100 beats per minute.

CAT (CT) Scan - a special x-ray test that allows a view of a specific part of the body from various angles.  Sometimes a dye is injected into the body through a vein to get a better view.  

Cancer - the general term for diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells; also called malignant neoplasm or malignancy.

Catheter - A thin tube used to give fluids to the body or to drain fluids from the body.

Central Venous Catheter - a small hollow flexible tube which is inserted into a large vein to be used for taking blood samples or giving blood products or medications.

Chemotherapy - medicines used to treat a disease, especially cancer. Chemotherapy is used to destroy cells the cancer cells and/or keep them from reproducing.

Chronological Age - The baby's actual age in months and days.

CPAP - An abbreviation for Continuous Airway Pressure, which helps the patient maintain necessary pressure in the lungs.

Cyst - An abnormal membranous sac containing a gaseous, liquid, or semisolid substance.

Developmental Age - The age the baby would be if born on or near the due date.

Endotrachial Tube - A thin plastic tube inserted into the baby's trachea (windpipe).  This allows air and/or oxygen to be sent into the lungs.

Edema - an accumulation of fluids within the body's tissues.

Extubation - the removal of the endotracheal tube.

Fetus - The developing unborn child from the 12th week of pregnancy until the date of delivery.

Fungus - an organism that can cause serious infections.

Gastrostomy Tube (G Tube) - a tube surgically placed into the stomach.  Use to give high calorie formulas.

Gestational Age - The unborn baby's age in weeks from the first day of the mother's last menstrual period before conception until the baby reaches term (40 weeks).

Hydrocephalus - A usually congenital condition in which an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the cerebral ventricles causes enlargement of the skull and compression of the brain, destroying much of the neural tissue.

Hyperbilirubenimia - Yellow jaundice. Excess bilirubin in the blood.  This condition is common in newborns.

Implantable Venous Access Device (IVAD) - a small device called a port which is placed beneath the skin and is used to deliver medications into the bloodstream.  A type of central venous catheter.

Immune System - a complicated network of cells and organs that defends the body against attacks from invaders such as bacteria and viruses.

Intubate - A procedure used to put a tube through the patient's mouth or nose into the windpipe. This tube is then attached to the equipment which assists breathing.

Intravenous (IV) - A tube or a needle placed into a vein to allow the infusion of fluids into the blood stream. 

Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH) - Bleeding within the ventricles of the brain. The ventricles are small chambers in the center of the brain.

Isolette  - A type of incubator.  An enclosed heated bed.

Jaundice - a yellowish color of the skin and white portion of the eyes which is usually associated with liver problems.

Lanugo - Fine, downy hair that covers the body of the unborn baby.

MRI - an abbreviation for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, sometimes called NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance); a special diagnostic test that uses a magnetic field to view the internal parts of the body; there is no x-ray delivered to patients.

Malignant - Tending to metastasize; cancerous; threatening to life; virulent.

Metastasis - the spread of cancer from its original site to other parts of the body.

Monitors - Machines that record signs such as the baby's heartbeat, blood pressure and respiration.

NICU - Neonatal intensive care unit. The section of the hospital with trained staff and special equipment to care for critically ill newborns.

N.P.O - an abbreviation meaning that the patient must have nothing by mouth, in other words, nothing to eat or drink.

Nasogastric Tube (NG Tube) - a thin tube placed into the stomach by way of the nose. Used to give high calorie formulas.

Neonatologist - a pediatrician with special training in the care of sick and preterm babies.

Neurosurgeon - surgeon specializing on any part of the nervous system.

OT (Occupation Therapist, Occupational Therapy) - Use of productive or creative activity in the treatment or rehabilitation of physically or emotionally disabled people.

Oncologist - a physician who specializes in the study of cancer.

Oncology - the study of cancer.

Ophthalmalogist - a surgeon who specializes in the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, functions, pathology, and treatment of the eye.

Orthopedics - Branch of medicine that deals with the prevention or correction of injuries or disorders of the skeletal system and associated muscles, joints and ligaments.

Orthosis - a device or appliance which assists residual weakened motor power or substitutes appropriate mechanisms for total loss of motor power; protects the body part from pain or potential deformity; and corrects an existing deformity.

Orthotics - The science that deals with the use of specialized mechanical devises to support or supplement weakened or abnormal joints or links.

Oxygen Hood - A plastic box which fits over the baby's head. Through this box oxygen may be given to the baby.

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA) - A condition common in premature babies, where the fetal blood vessel remains open after birth.

P.O. - an abbreviation meaning that food or medication should be given by mouth.

Paralysis - (a) loss or impairment of the ability to move a body part, usually as a result of damage to a nerve supply. (b) loss of sensation over a region of the body.

Pathology - The scientific study of the nature of disease and its causes, processes, development, and consequences.

Pediatrician - a physician with special training in the care of infants and children.

Phototherapy - Light therapy. Treatment of infants with hyperbilirubinemia (yellow jaundice) by exposing them to bright lights.

Preemie (Premature Infant, preterm birth) - a baby born before the 37th week of pregnancy.  A term infant is one born between the 38th and 42nd weeks of gestation.

Prognosis-estimated outcome of a disease, including the chance of recovery.

Pulmonary - Of, relating to, or affecting the lungs.

Pulmonary Artery - The blood vessel that carries non-oxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs.

Pulseoximeters - Machines that record the patient's oxygen level.

Radiation - the application of high powered x-rays to a certain part of the body in order to kill or injure the cancer cells.  Often radiation is used along with chemotherapy to treat cancer.

Relapse - return of cancer after there has been no evidence of its presence in the body or blood. 

Remission - complete or partial disappearance of the signs and symptoms of a disease; the period of time during which a disease is under control. 

Respirator - A ventilator machine which breathes for a patient unable to do so alone.

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) - A breathing disorder in premature babies caused by a baby's immature lungs and inability to produce surfactant.

Respiratory Therapist - an individual trained to assist in the operation of respirators and perform procedures which assist a patient's breathing and oxygen intake.

Room Air (RA) - the air we normally breathe that contains 21% oxygen.

RGO  ( Reciprocating Gait Orthosis) - A sophisticated brace commonly used in children with high level spina bifida who are beyond toddler years. It enables reciprocal walking in which one leg is planted while the other swings. Walking is slow, but requires little energy.

Sibling - brother or sister. 

Sonogram (Ultrasound) - a test which outlines the shape of specific organs in the body by the use of sound waves rather than x-ray.

Social Worker - an individual who has received special training to help families deal with their reactions to having a sick baby and to help them make necessary housing, transportation, and financial arrangements.

Spina Bifida - A congenital defect in which the spinal column is imperfectly closed so that part of the meninges or spinal cord protrudes, often resulting in hydrocephalus and other neurological disorders.

Spinal Tap - a technique for removing a small amount of the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord; also called a lumbar puncture (LP). 

Spinal Cord - part of the central nervous system extending from the base of the skull through the vertebrae of the spinal column. It is continuous with the brain stem, and like the brain it is encased in a triple sheath of membranes. Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves arise from the sides of the spinal cord. The spinal cord carries information from the body's nerves to the brain and signals from the brain to the body.

Strabismus - A visual defect in which one eye cannot focus with the other on an objective because of imbalance of the eye muscles.

TPN (Total Parental Nutrition) - a solution containing vitamins, minerals, sugar, electrolytes, lipids and proteins to support the patient's nutritional needs.  Solutions are given through an I.V. or central venous catheter. 

Transfusions - administration of blood or blood products through an I.V. or central venous catheter. 

Tumor - An abnormal growth of tissue resulting from uncontrolled, progressive multiplication of cells and serving no physiological function; a neoplasm.  A tumor can be benign or malignant. 

Ultrasound (aka Sonogram) - a test which outlines the shape of specific organs in the body by the use of sound waves rather than x-ray. 

Urologist - Surgeon dealing with diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the urinary tract and urogenital system. 

VCUG - a study of the bladder and the urethra.  While you lie on an x-ray table, a catheter is paced in the bladder and a clear contrast is run through the catheter. X-ray pictures are taken. This test takes approximately 30 minutes.

Ventilator - Respirator. A breathing machine.

Walker - A frame device use to support someone, such as an infant learning to walk or a convalescent learning to walk again.

Warmer bed - an open bed with overhead warmers which help them maintain their body temperature.  This type of bed makes it easier for the nursery staff to help the baby in case the baby needs help breathing.

White Blood Cells - also called leukocytes.  White blood cells are important in fighting infection; they are often decreased in number by chemotherapy. Normal white blood cells include: polys, bands, segs, neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils.