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Ultrasound: Glossary

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 09:41

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Here are definitions of medical terms related to ultrasound:

Aorta: The main artery of the body, arising directly from the left ventricle of the heart to supply oxygen-carrying blood to all other arteries (except the pulmonary artery, which carries deoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs).

Aortic stenosis: Narrowing of the aortic valve opening, causing obstruction of blood flow into the circulation. The condition causes the heart to work harder and the muscle in the wall of the left ventricle (lower chamber) to thicken.

Biopsy: A procedure to remove cells to investigate a condition.

Congenital Heart Disease: A malformation of the heart or blood vessels near the heart.

Cyst: A closed sac, usually filled with fluid.

Diagnostic: Pertaining to the investigation to find a specific identifiable condition or disease.

Fine needle biopsy: A procedure using a very small needle to remove cells or objects from small areas such as the blood vessels.

Fetus: The developing cells in the uterus that will become a child.

Heart: An organ positioned centrally in the chest, with the right margin directly underneath the right side of the sternum, or breastbone. The rest of the heart points to the left, with the lowest point located directly underneath the left nipple.

Heart action and function:

  • Deoxygenated blood (blood that has had the oxygen portion removed) arrives from the body via the vena cava, in the right atrium, or upper heart chamber.
  • There it is transferred to the right ventricle, or lower chamber, and is pumped by the pulmonary artery to the lungs.
  • The lungs reoxygenate the blood and return it by way of the pulmonary vein to the left side of the heart, where it enters the left atrium and is transferred to the left ventricle.
  • From the left ventricle, blood is pumped via the aorta to all parts of the body.

Infertility: The inability to have a child.

Invasive: Going under the skin to into an orifice.

Mitral insufficiency: Failure of the mitral valve of the heart to close properly, which allows blood to leak back into the left atrium (upper chamber) when pumped out of the left ventricle (lower chamber). Also known as mitral incompetence or mitral regurgitation.

Mitral stenosis: Narrowing of the opening of the mitral valve in the heart. This narrowing causes the atrial portion of the left side of the heart to work harder to force blood through the valve. The consequences are similar to those of mitral insufficiency, which may accompany stenosis.

Mitral valve prolapse: A common slight deformity of the mitral valve, situated in the left side of the heart that can cause mitral insufficiency (leakage of the valve). Also known as "floppy valve syndrome." Mitral valve prolapse causes a characteristic heart murmur that may be heard by the physician through a stethoscope during a routine examination.

Noninvasive: Not going under the skin or into the orifices.

Pyloric stenosis: Narrowing of the pylorus (the lower outlet from the stomach) that blocks the passage of food into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). The condition can occur in both babies and adults.

Transducer: The hand-held portion of the ultrasound imaging machine, which sends sound waves into the body, and records echoes produced by the waves.

Vena cava: Either of two large veins into which all the circulating deoxygenated blood drains. The veins are nearly an inch in diameter and are located deep within the chest and abdomen.

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