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6.52 What do all those medical terms mean? (ER) C-F


This article is from the ER FAQ, by Rose Cooper cooper@acm.cse.msu.edu with numerous contributions by others.

6.52 What do all those medical terms mean? (ER) C-F

+ Chem 7: A blood test to measure blood urea nitrogen (BUN), serum
chloride (Cl), CO2, creatinine, glucose, serum potassium (K), and serum
sodium (Na). The logical follow-on to this question is, "Okay, so
what's in a Chem 20?" Answer (in alphabetical order, as it's listed
on this lab print-out): albumin, alkaline phosphatase, ALT, AST, BUN,
serum calcium, serum Cl, CO2, creatinine, two billirubin determinations,
gamma-GT, glucose, LDH, serum PO4, serum K, serum Na, cholesterol,
protein, and uric acid. And no, I'm not going to explain what all of
these are, because it'll take me another 60kb. You can also call these
tests SMA 7 and SMA 20 at most places, and nobody will look at you
+ CPR: Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. Go take a course in it. A six hour
investment might help you save somebody's life someday. If it's been
more than a year since you've done the course, your ticket has expired.
Go take another one, and keep taking it every year.
+ Crit: Hematocrit, or the height of red blood cells over the plasma in a
centrifuged tube, expressed as a percentage. You can probably figure out
for yourself why this is a useful measurement. (Hint: red blood cells
carry oxygen to the tissues of the body.)
+ Cross-clamp(ing): The aorta, the main oxygenated artery leading from
the heart, has two parts one going up and one going down, called the
ascending and descending aorta respectively. During a thoracotomy, the
descending aorta can be clamped off to control massive hemorrhage below
the diaphragm. This process conserves blood while preserving perfusion
to the heart and brain, but obviously compromises circulation to the
lower body. It's kind of like putting a big tourniquet on just below
the costal margin. (See the "what's a rib spreader" question a bit
later on.)
+ CVA: Cerebrovascular Accident; a stroke. Sometimes called a brain
attack (I guess by analogy with 'heart attack'), it's a temporary
blockage of the blood flow to a part of the brain. It may be immediately
fatal or it may hardly be noticeable at all (or somewhere in between);
if you hardly notice it, it's called a transient ischemic attack, or
+ CXR: Chest x-ray.
+ D5W: Not a motor oil. (No, that would be 10W30.) 5% dextrose (a sugar)
in water. Sometimes called "D5." D10W is -- you guessed it -- 10%
+ DPL: Diagnostic peritoneal lavage. Saline is infused into the
peritoneum (abdominal cavity, in English), then expelled. The presence
of blood in the resultant fluid is an indication for laparotomy
(surgical exploration of the abdomen). It hurts. Sedate before doing.
+ DNR: Do Not Resuscitate. See section 6.7 below.
+ EEG: Electroencephalogram. Graphic representation of brain activity.
See EKG for its cardiac equivalent.
+ EKG: Electrocardiogram. A lot of early work on this was done in
Germany, so the "K" is there for what I hope are semi-obvious reasons.
It's a graphic representation of electrical activity in the heart. A
proper EKG produces twelve leads, and is sometimes called exactly
+ EMT: Emergency Medical Technician. A guy with cool toys and a really
loud horn on his car and who works in one of the least fun
professions out there. In the United States, EMTs are one step below
paramedics in terms of training. They can use a whole bunch of stuff
including oral airways, bag-valve masks, oxygen equipment,
semi-automatic defibrillators, and can perform some pretty
complicated patient assessments. Paramedics have neater toys and more
+ Foley: A type of indwelling urinary catheter. That description is
probably all you need.


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