Terms J-L

JAMA: Abbreviation for Journal of the American Medical Association.

Jejunum: The length of intestine between the duodenum and the ileum.

Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO): A private nongovernmental agency that establishes guidelines for the operation of hospitals and other health care facilities, conducts accreditation programs and surveys, and encourages the attainment of high standards of institutional medical care in the United States.

Ketoacidosis: Acidosis accompanied by an accumulation of ketones in the body, resulting from extensive breakdown of fats because of faulty carbohydrate metabolism. It occurs primarily as a complication of diabetes mellitus and is characterized by a fruity odor of acetone on the breath, mental confusion, dyspnea, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, weight loss, and, if untreated, coma. Emergency treatment includes the administration of insulin and IV fluids and the evaluation and correction of electrolyte imbalance.

Kidney: One of a pair of a bean-shaped, purplish brown urinary organs in the dorsal part of the abdomen; one is located on each side of the vertebral column between the twelfth thoracic and third lumbar vertebrae. The kidneys filter the blood and eliminate wastes in the urine through a complex filtration network and resorption system comprising more than 2 million nephrons.

Kinetics: The study of the forces that produce, arrest, or modify the motions of the body.

Klebsiella: A genus of diplococcal bacteria that appear as small plump rods with rounded ends. Several respiratory diseases, including bronchitis, sinusitis, and some forms of pneumonia, are Klebsiella bacteria.

Labile: Unstable, characterized by a tendency to change or be altered or modified, as in a labile blood sugar level found in patients with poorly controlled diabetes.

Laboratory Diagnosis: A diagnosis arrived at after study of secretions, excretions, or tissue through chemical, microscopic, or bacteriologic means or by biopsy.

Lactic Acid: A three-carbon organic acid produced by anaerobic respiration. Lactic acid in muscle and blood is a product of glucose and glycogen metabolism.

Lactic Acidosis: A disorder characterized by an accumulation of lactic acid in the blood, resulting in a lowered pH in muscle and serum.

Laminectomy: Surgical removal of the bony arches of one or more vertebrae. It is performed to relieve compression of the spinal cord as caused by a bone displaced in an injury, as the result of degeneration of a disk, or to reach and remove a displaced intervertebral disk.

Latent: Dormant; existing as a potential.

Lateral: Pertaining to a side.

Lavage: The process of washing out an organ, usually the bladder, bowel, paranasal sinuses or stomach, for therapeutic purposes.

Laxative: Pertaining to a substance that causes evacuation of the bowel by a mild action.

Lead Poisoning: A toxic condition caused by the ingestion or inhalation of lead or lead compounds. Poisoning also occurs from the ingestion of water from lead pipes and lead salts in certain foods and wines, the use of pewter or earthenware glazed with a lead glaze, and the use of leaded gasoline.

Left Ventricle (LV): The thick-walled chamber of the heart that pumps blood through the aorta and the systemic arteries, the capillaries, and back through the veins to the right atrium.

Lethargy: The state or quality of dullness, prolonged sleepiness, sluggishness, or serious drowsiness.

Leukocyte: A white blood cell, one of the formed elements of the circulating blood system. Leukocytes function as phagocytes of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, detoxifiers of toxic proteins that may result from allergic reactions and cellular injury, and immune system cells.

Leukocytosis: An abnormal increase in the number of circulating white blood cells.

Liabiliity: Something one is obligated to do or an obligation required to be fulfilled by law, usually financial in nature.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): A person educated in basic nursing techniques and direct patient care who practices under the supervision of a registered nurse. The course of education usually lasts 1 year.

Ligament: One of many predominantly white shiny flexible bands of fibrous tissue binding joints together and connecting the articular bones and cartilages to facilitate movement.

Lipid: Any of a structurally diverse group of organic compounds that are insoluble in water but soluble in alcohol, chloroform, ether and other solvents. Some lipids are stored in the body and serve as an energy reserve, but are elevated in various diseases such as atherosclerosis.

Liquid Diet: A diet consisting of foods that can be served in liquid or strained form but that may include custard, ice cream, pudding, tapioca, and soft-cooked eggs. It is prescribed in acute infections, in acute inflammatory conditions of the GI tract, and for patients unable to consume other soft or semifluid foods, usually after surgery.

Lithium Carbonate: An antimanic agent. It is prescribed in the treatment of manic episodes of manic- depressive disorder.

Liver: The largest gland of the body and one of its most complex organs. More than 500 functions of the liver have been identified. Some of the major functions are the production of the bile by hepatic cells; the secretion of glucose, proteins, vitamins, fats, and most of the other compounds used by the body; the processing of hemoglobin for vital use of its iron content; and the conversion of poisonous ammonia to urea.

Living Will: An advance declaration by a patient that, if determined to be hopelessly and terminally ill, the person does not want to be connected to life support equipment.

Local Infection: An infection involving bacteria that invade the body at a specific point and remain there, multiplying, until eliminated.

Long-term care (LTC): The provision of medical, social, and personal care services on a recurring or continuing basis to persons with chronic physical or mental disorders. The care may be provided in environments ranging from institutions to private homes. Long-term care services usually include symptomatic treatment, maintenance, and rehabilitation for patients of all age groups.

Lorazepam: A benzodiazepine tranquilizer. It is prescribed in the treatment of anxiety, nervous tension, and insomnia.

Loss of Consortium: A claim for damages sought to compensate for the loss of conjugal relations, including society, affection, and assistance, and impairment or loss of sexual relations. Such a claim is typically brought by the spouse of an injured party.

Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL): A plasma protein provided from very low-density lipoproteins or by the liver, containing relatively more cholesterol and triglycerides than protein.

Lumbar Nerves: These are five pairs of spinal nerves rising in the lumbar (lower back) region of the vertebral column.