Terms S-U

Sarcoma: A malignant neoplasm of the soft tissues arising in fibrous, fatty, muscular, synovial, vascular, or neural tissue, usually first manifested as a painless swelling.

Scabies: A contagious disease caused by Sarcoptes scabiei, the human itch mite, characterized by intense itching of the skin and excoriation from scratching.

Scapula: One of the pair of large flat triangular bones that form the dorsal part of the shoulder girdle.

Sciatica: An inflammation of the sciatic nerve, usually marked by pain and tenderness along the course of the nerve through the thigh and leg.

Scoliosis:  Lateral curvature of the spine, a common abnormality of childhood, especially in females.

Sebaceous Gland: One of the many small sacculated organs. The sebrum secreted by the glands oils the hair and the surrounding skin, helps prevent evaporation of sweat, and aids in the retention of body heat.

Seizure: A hyperexcitement of neurons in the brain leading to a sudden, violent involuntary series of contractions of a group of muscles.

Sensory Deficit: A defect in the function of one or more of the senses.

Sensory Nerve: A nerve consisting of afferent fibers that conduct sensory impulses from the periphery of the body to the brain or spinal cord via the dorsal spinal roots.

Septic: Pertaining to an infection with pyogenic microorganisms.

Septicemia: Systemic infection in which pathogens are present in the circulating blood, having spread from an infection in any part of the body.

Septic Shock: A form of shock that occurs in septicemia when endotoxins or exotonins are released from certain bacteria in the bloodstream.

Septum: A partition or wall, such as the interatrial septum that separates the atria of the heart.

Sequela: Any abnormal condition that follows and is the result of a disease, treatment, or injury.

Settlement: In law, an agreement made between parties to resolve a claim or lawsuit. Terms of a settlement typically include the amount paid and a dismissal of the claim with prejudice (finality). Some settlements may include additional provisions like confidentiality. Certain settlements like those involving wrongful death or minors, may require Court approval.

Sexual Assault: The forcible perpetration of an act of sexual contact on the body of another person, male or female, without his or her consent.

Sexual Disorder: Any disorder involving sexual functioning, desire, or performance.

Short-acting Insulin: A clear preparation of regular (crystalline zinc) insulin with an immediate (15 to 30 minutes) onset of action that reaches a peak of action in 2 to 4 hours. The duration of action is 6 to 8 hours.

Shoulder Subluxation: The separation of the humeral head from the glenoid cavity, resulting in strain on the soft tissues surrounding the shoulder joint.

Sigmoid Colon: The part of the colon that extends from the descending colon in the pelvis to the juncture of the rectum.

Sigmoidoscope: An instrument used to examine the lumen of the sigmoid colon.

Sinus Arrhythmia: An irregular rhythm in which the heart rate usually increase during inspiration and decreased during expiration.

Sinus Node Dysfunction: Any disturbance in the normal functioning of the sinus node, such as slow sinus rate or sinoatrial block, that leads to the development of arrhythmias.

Sitz Bath: A bath in which only the rectal and perineal areas are immersed in water or saline solution. The procedure is used after childbirth and after rectal or perineal surgery to decrease swelling, inflammation, and pain.

Skin: The tough, supple cutaneous membrane that covers the entire surface of the body.

Skin Pigment: Any skin coloring caused by melanin deposits in skin and hair.

Slipped disk: A rupture of the fibrocartilage surrounding an intervertebral disk, releasing the nucleus pulposus that cushions the vertebrae above and below. The resultant pressure on spinal nerve roots may cause considerable pain and damage to the nerves, resulting in restriction of movement and/or radiating pain. The condition most frequently occurs in the lumbar region. Also called herniated intervertebral disk, herniated nucleus pulposus, ruptured intervertebral disk, slipped disk.

Small Intestine: The longest part of the digestive tract, extending for about 7 m from the pylorus of the stomach to the illiocecal junction. It is divided into duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. It functions in digestion and is the major organ of absorption of food.

Social Isolation: The diagnosis involving feelings of loneliness, which the patient acknowledges as negative or threatening.

Sodium Bicarbonate: An antacid, electrolyte, and urinary alkalinizing agent. It is prescribed in the treatment of acidosis, gastric acidity, peptic ulcer, and indigestion.

Sodium Chloride: Common table salt (NaCI), used in various concentrations as a fluid and electrolyte replenisher, isotonic vehicle, irrigating solution, and enema.

Spinal Fusion: The fixation of an unstable segment of the spine. It is accomplished by skeletal traction or immobilization of the patient in a body cast but most frequently by a surgical procedure.

Spinal Nerves: The 31 pairs of nerves without special names that are connected to the spinal cord and numbered according to the level of the vertebral column at which they emerge. There are 8 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, and 5 sacral pairs, and 1 coccygeal pair.

Spinal Stenosis: Narrowing of the vertebral canal, nerve root canals, or intervertebral foramina of the lumbar spine caused by encroachment of the bone on the space; symptoms are caused by compression of the cauda equina and include pain, paresthesias, and neurogenic claudication.

Spleen: The precise function of the spleen has baffled physiologists for more than 100 years, but research indicates it performs various tasks, such as defense, hemopoiesis, blood storage, and destruction/recycling of red blood cells and platelets. The spleen also produces leukocytes, monocytes, lymphocytes, and plasma cells in response to an infectious agent.

Spondylolisthesis: The partial forward dislocation of one vertebra over the one below it, most commonly the fifth lumbar vertebra over the first sacral vertebra.

Spondylosis: A condition of the spine characterized by fixation of stiffness of a vertebral joint.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma: A slow growing malignant tumor of squamous epithelium, frequently found in the lungs and skin and occurring also in the anus, cervix, larynx, nose, and bladder.

Standing Orders: A written document containing rules, policies, procedures, regulations, and orders for the conduct of patient care in various stipulated clinical situations.

Staphylococcal Infection: An infection caused by any one of several pathogenic species of Staphylococcus, commonly characterized by the formation of abscesses of the skin or other organs. Staphylococcal pneumonia often follows influenza or other viral disease and may be associated with chronic or debilitating illness.

Starch: A polysaccharide composed of long chains of glucose subunits. See also carbohydrate, glucose, glycogen.

Statute of Limitations: In law, a statute that sets a limit of time during which a suit may be brought or criminal charges may be made.

Stem Cell: A formative cell; a cell whose daughter cells may give rise to other cell types.

Sterile: Free of living microorganisms.

Sternum: The elongated flattened vertical bone forming the middle part of the thorax.

Stomach: The food reservoir and first major site of digestion, located just under the diaphragm and divided into a body and a pylorus.

Streptococcus: A genus of nonmotile gram-positive cocci classified by serologic types. Many species cause disease in humans. Streptococcus faecalis, a penicillin-resisant group D enterococcus and normal inhabitant of the GI tract, may cause infection of the urinary tract or endocradium. S. pneumonia (formerly Diplococcus pneumonia) cause a majority of the cases of bacterial pneumonia in the United States.

Stretching of Contractures: [as drawing together] Any of several procedures for release of muscle and other structures that have been shortened because of paralysis, spasm, disuse, or fibrosis.

Stump: The part of a limb that remains after amputation.

Stupor: A state of unresponsiveness in which a person seems unaware of the surroundings.

Subacute: Less than acute. Pertaining to a disease or other abnormal condition present in a person who appears to be clinically well.

Subcutaneous Fascia: A continuous layer of connective tissue over the entire body between the skin and the deep fascial investment of the specialized structures of the body, such as the muscles. It comprises an outer normally fatty layer and an inner thin elastic layer.

Subcutaneous Injection: The introduction of a hypodermic needle into the subcutaneous tissue beneath the skin, usually on the upper arm, thigh, or abdomen. A 24-gauge needle 2 cm long is used.

Subdural hemotoma: An accumulation of blood in the subdural space, usually caused by an injury. It can be acute or slower bleed over time.

Subpoena: In law, a document from a court commanding that a person appear at a certain time and place to testify on a specific matter, or to produce documents or things. Subpoenas are governed by applicable court rules of criminal or civil procedures.

Sulfonamide: One of a large group of synthetic bacteriostatic drugs that are effective in treating infections caused by many gram-negative and gram-positive microorganisms. They are used in treating some urinary tract infections.

Summary Judgment: A judgment requested by any party to a civil action to end the action when it is believed that there is no genuine issue or material fact in dispute. If summary judgment is granted, there is usually no jury trial.

Sundowning: A condition in which persons with cognitive impairment, typically the elderly become confused or disoriented at the end of the day. With less light, they lose visual cues that help them to compensate for their sensory impairments. It may also be a result of decreased sensory stimulation, especially in the evening.

Supine: Position of the arms or body in which the palms of the hands face upward. Lying horizontally on the back.

Support Group: Defined as use of a group environment to provide emotional support and health-related information for members.

Surgical Fever: A fever that develops after surgery.

Surgical Pathology: The study of disease by the analysis of tissue specimens obtained during surgery.

T: Symbol for temperature; abbreviation for tumor.

Tachy: swift or rapid, as in tachycardia (fast heartbeat).

Tachycardia: A condition in which the heart contracts at a rate greater than 100/min. It may occur normally in response to fever, exercise, or nervous excitement.

Tactile: Pertaining to the sense of touch.

Tapeworm: A parasitic intestinal worm belonging to the class Cestoda and having a scolex and ribbon-shaped body composed to segments in a chain.

T cell: A small circulating lymphocyte produced in the bone marrow that matures in the thymus. T cells primarily mediate cellular immune responses such as graft rejection and delayed hypersensitivity. One kind of T cell, the helper cell, affects the production of antibodies by B cell.

Temperature: A relative measure of sensible heat or cold normally maintained at a constant level of 98.6o F (37 o C).

Temporal Arteritis: A progressive inflammatory disorder of cranial blood vessels, principally the temporal artery. It occurs most frequently in women
over 70 years of age. Symptoms are intractable headache, difficulty in chewing, weakness, rheumatic pains, and loss of vision in the central retinal artery becomes occluded.

Temporomandibular Joint Pain dysfunction Syndrome (TMJ): An abnormal condition characterized by facial pain and mandibular dysfunction. Some common indications of this syndrome are clicking of the joint when the jaws move, limitation of jaw movement, subluxation, and temporomandibular dislocation.

Testamentary Capacity: A person’s competency to make a will, including that he or she be aware that a will is being made, of the nature and extent of property covered by the will, and of the identities of beneficiaries.

Thoracic: Meaning the chest.

Thoracic Nerves: The 12 pairs of spinal nerves emerging from the spinal cord at the level of the thorax, including 11 intercostal nerves and one subcostal nerve.

Thorax: The upper part of the trunk or cage of bone and cartilage containing the principal organs of respiration and circulation and covering part of the abdominal organs.

Thrombectomy: The removal of a thrombus from a blood vessel, performed as emergency surgery to restore circulation to the affected part. Anticoagulant therapy may being before surgery.

Thrombo: Combining form meaning ‘clot’.

Thrombocytosis: An abnormal increase in the number of platelets in the blood; it usually occurs after splenectomy, inflammatory disease, hemolytic anemia, hemorrhage, or iron deficiency.

Thrombolytic Therapy (TT): Administration of a thrombolytic agent such as tissue plasminogen activator, urokinase, or streptokinase to dissolve an arterial clot.

Thrush: Candidiasis of the tissues of the mouth. The condition is characterized by the appearance of creamy white patches of exudate on an inflamed tongue or buccal mucosa.

Tinnitus: A subjective noise sensation, often described as ringing, heard in one or both ears. It may be a sign of acoustic trauma.

Topical Anesthesia: Surface analgesia produced by application of a topical anesthetic in the form of a solution, gel, or ointment to the skin, mucous membrane, or cornea.

Toxicologist: A specialist in poisons, their effects, and antidotes.

Toxic Substance: Any poison.

Transient: Pertaining to a condition that is temporary, such as transient ischemic attack.

Transplant: To transfer an organ or tissue from one person to another or from one body part to another.

Trauma: Physical injury caused by violent or disruptive action or by the introduction into the body of a toxic substance.

Tremor: Rhythmic, purposeless, quivering movements resulting from the involuntary alternating contracting and relaxation of opposing groups of skeletal muscles occurring in some elderly individuals, certain families, and patients with various neurodegenerative disorders.

Triage: A process in which a group of patients is sorted according to their need for care.

Trochlear Nerve: Either of the smallest pair of cranial nerves, essential for eye movement and eye muscle sensibility.

Turgor: The expected resiliency of the skin caused by the outward pressure of the cells and interstitial fluid. Dehydration results in decreased skin turgor, manifested by lax skin that, when grasped and raised between two fingers, slowly returns to a position level with the adjacent tissue.

Ulcer: A circumscribed, craterlike lesion of the skin or mucous membrane resulting from necrosis that accompanies some inflammatory, infectious, or malignant processes. An ulcer may be shallow, involving only the epidermis, as in pemphigus, or deep, as in a rodent ulcer.

Ulna: The bone on the medial or little finger side of the forearm, lying parallel with the radius.

Ulnar Nerve: One of the terminal branches of the brachial plexus that arises on each side from the medial cord of the plexus. It receives fibers from both cervical and thoracic nerve roots and supplies the muscles and skin on the ulnar side of the forearm and the hand.

Ultrasound Imaging: The use of high-frequency sound (several MHz or more) to image internal structures by the differing reflection signals produced when a beam of sound waves is projected into the body and bounces back at interfaces between those structures.

Ultraviolet Radiation: A range of electromagnetic waves extending from the violet or short-wavelength end of the visible spectrum to the beginning of the x-ray spectrum.

Undisplaced (or nondisplaced) fracture: A bone break in which cracks in the bone may radiate in several directions but the bone fragments do not separate.

Urea Nitrogen Blood Test (BUN): A blood test that detects levels of urea nitrogen in the blood, which serve as an index of liver and kidney function and indicate diseases of these organs, as well as other conditions that affect their function.

Uremia: The presence of excessive amounts of urea and other nitrogenous waste products in the blood, as occurs in renal failure.

Urethra: A small tubular structure that drains urine from the bladder.

Urinalysis: A physical microscopic, or chemical examination of urine.

Urinary Incontinence: Inability to control urination. Several forms are recognized. Urinary incontinence can increase one’s risk for skin breakdown, specially where the patient has limited mobility.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): An infection of one or more structures in the urinary system. Most UTIs are caused by gram-negative bacteria, mostly common Escherichia coli or species of Klebsiella, Proteus, Pseudomonas, or Enterobacter. The condition is more common in women than in men.

Urologic: Pertaining to the scientific study of the urinary tract.

Urology: The branch of medicine concerned with the study of the anatomy, physiology, disorders, and care of the urinary tract in men and women and of the male genital tract.