Medical Terms Glossary

Medical Terms Glossary
Glossary Term
Main Description
Additional Description
"Cure" Products Products for the course of treatment of any disease or of a special case. Resulting in the successful treatment of a disease.
Antimicrobial An agent for killing microorganisms or inhibiting their multiplication or growth. Antimicrobial agents can be found in sanitizers and other antimicrobial products.
Baseline A known value of quantity used to measure or assess an unknown. Baseline can be a known norm (standard) or vary from person to person (individual norm). 
CHG Chlorohexidine Gluconate Antibacterial agent.
Cross-contamination Process by which pathogens are transferred from one person/place to another. Can result in nosocomial infections.
Efficacy Strength, effectiveness.  Efficacy should be distinguished from activity, which is limited to a drug's immediate effects on the microbe triggering the disease.  The ability of a drug to control or cure an illness.
Emollients Softening or soothing.  As an ingredient can provide skin softening.
Gram-negative A method of staining bacteria using a violet stain. Differentiates bacteria into gram-positive and gram-negative. Assists in  the identification of a bacteria which aids in the selection of a treatment regime.
Gram-positive A method of staining bacteria using a violet stain. Differentiates bacteria into gram-positive and gram-negative. Assists in  the identification of a bacteria which aids in the selection of a treatment regime
Infection Control Programs of disease surveillance, generally within health care facilities, designed to investigate, revert, and control the spread of infections and their causative microorganisms. Health care facilities generally employ physicians and/or nurses as administrators of infection control programs.
In-Vitro Within a glass, observable in a test tube, in an artificial environment. Research/studies conducted in a laboratory or artificial conditions.
In-Vivo Within the living body. Research/studies involving living subjects.
Iodine An ingredient used for the purpose of killing or inhibiting the growth of bacteria. Antibacterial agent.
Latex Compatible Pertaining to maintaining the composition (protective barrier) of latex. Usually referring to latex gloves used by health care workers.
MRSA Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.  A prevalent nosocomial pathogen.  In hospitals, the most important reservoirs of MSRA are infected or colonized patients.  The main mode of transmission is the hands.
No-socomial Pertaining to or originating in the hospital, said of an infection not present or incubating prior to admittance to the hospital, but generally occurring 72 hours after admittance. Hospital acquired disease usually referring to patient disease, but hospital personal may also acquire nosocomial infection.
Pathogen Any disease-producing agent or microorganism. Pathogens are easily transmitted from person to person, person to object or object to person. Handwashing is essential in preventing the transmission of pathogens.
PCMX Para-Chlora-Meta-Xylenol Antibacterial agent.
Persistence The tendency of a cell to continue moving in one direction: an internal bias on the random walk behavior that cells exhibit in isotropic environments. Viruses that persist in a cell population, animal, plant or population for long periods often in a nonreplicating form, by such strategies as integration into host DNA, immunological suppression or mutation into forms with slow replication.
Protocol The written plan specifying the procedures to be followed. Health care settings identify protocols as standards for the provision of patient care.
Secondary Barrier Any barrier excluding a primary defense (intact skin) used as a partition or obstruction to prevent the exchange of materials. Secondary barriers would include the use of items such as gloves, gowns and masks.
Triclosan A diphenyl ether derivative used in cosmetics and toilet soaps as an antiseptic.  It has some bacteriostatic and fungistatic action. Pharmacological action: anti-infective agents, local.
Universal Precautions The CDC defines universal precautions as a set of precautions designed to prevent the transmission of bloodborne pathogens when providing first aid or health care. All health care workers should routinely use appropriate barrier precautions to prevent skin and mucous membrane exposure during contact with any blood or body fluids
VRE Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus A mutant strain of Enterococcus that cannot be controlled with antibiotics.  It can cause life-threatening infections in people with compromised immune systems, the very young, the very old and the very ill.
Abscess Localized collection of pus in any part of the body. An acute abscess is characterized by inflammation, pain and possible increase in temperature.
Aerobe A microorganism which lives and grows in the presence of oxygen. Aerobes are commonly found on the skin
Anaerobe A microorganism which lives and grows in the absence of oxygen. Anaerobe present in a wound are a potential problem with occlusive dressings
Anti-Bacterial An agent that kills, or inhibits the growth of bacteria Certain antibacterial agents, such as iodine or CHG, are toxic to blood components
Auto-Debridement The removal by disintegration or liquification of tissue or of cells by the body's own mechanisms (leukocytes/enzymes). Specialty dressing designed to create moist wound environment promote natural auto-debridement
Bactericidal A property of an agent which destroys (kills) bacteria. Hibiclens and Betadine Surgical Scrubs have bactericidal properties.
Blanching To become white with pressure; maximum pallor. Blanching will occur in an area where more than 20 mm of external pressure has been introduced.
CDC Center for Disease Control
Cell Migration  Movement of cells in the repair process. Following injury to the skin, epithelial cells migrate across the wound surface.
Cellulitis Inflammation of loose connective tissue, characterized by redness, swelling, and tenderness. A complication of strep infection could be cellulitis in the lower extremities.
Chemotaxis The attraction of leukocytes (white blood cells) to a specific part of the body by chemical stimuli. Agents that interfere with chemotaxis can reduce the body's natural defense to infection
Collagen Main supportive protein of skin tendon, bone, cartilage, and connective tissue. Collagen is synthesized from fibroblast and it replaces lost dermis.
Contaminate To become soiled by contact or introduction of organisms into a wound. Most wounds are contaminated, but few are infected.
Debridement Removal of devitalized tissue by mechanical means; enzymatic infections are a potential problem with occlusive dressings. By optimizing the would healing environments, Specialty wound care dressings and gels will assist in debridement.
Debris Remains of broken down or damaged cells or tissue. Wound cleansers can be used to remove debris from the wound.
Decubitus A misnomer for a pressure sore. Decubitus is an outdated term for pressure sore.
Denude  Loss or removal of epidermis/epithelial covering. When excessive friction is applied the skin can become denuded.
Dermal Wound Loss of skin integrity; may be superficial of deep. Dermal wounds include both pressure sores as well as leg ulcers.
Dermis The inner layer of skin in which hair follicles and sweat glands originate. The dermis doesn't have the ability to regenerate once destroyed.
Edema The presence of abnormally large amounts of fluid in the interstitial space, which leads to swelling. Poor circulation may lead to edema, especially in the lower extremities.
Enzymes Catalysts for biochemical reactions that ate capable of breaking down tissue. Enzyme products may be used to debride necrotic tissue.
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
Epidermis The outer cellular layer of skin. The epidermis, which will regenerate when damaged, is composed of dead epithelial cells.
Epithelialization Regeneration of the epidermis across the wound surface. Moist wound healing promotes rapid epithelialization.
Erythema Redness of the skin surface produced by vasodilatation. Erythema is seen during the early stages of wound healing.
Eschar Thick leathery necrotic tissue; devitalized tissue. An eschar will form on wounds which have been left exposed  to the environment.
Exudate Accumulation of fluids in a wound. May  contain serum, cellular debris, bacteria, and leukocytes. Patients treated with Epi-Lock will generally experience a temporary increase in exudate, which is part of the moist wound healing process.
FDA Food and Drug Administration
Fibrin A protein which is deposited as a fine interlacing filament which entangles red and white blood cells. Excessive fibrin deposits in the wound will lead to excessive scarring potential.
Fibroblast Any cell from which connective tissue is developed. When a wound is allowed to heal with a scab, there is an excess of fibroblast present and in general there may be more scarring.
Friction Surface damage caused by skin rubbing against another surface. When a patient is moved incorrectly, friction may occur and skin damage is likely.
Full-thickness Tissue destruction extending through the dermis to involve the subcutaneous layer and possible muscle and/or bone. Certain types of dressings are not indicated for use on full-thickness wounds which involve muscles, tendons or bones.
Granulation The formation of growth of small blood vessels and connective tissue in a full thickness would. Granulation tissue in the wound base has a beefy red, moist, cobblestone appearance.
Hydrophilic Attracting moisture. Calcium alginates and foam dressings are hydrophilic and helps to manage exudate.
Hydrophobic Repelling moisture. Thin film dressings outer surface  hydrophobic and allows the patient to bathe without damage to the wound.
Hyperemia Presence of excess blood in the vessels; engorgement. When a leg ulcer is dressed too tight hyperemia may occur.
Infection Overgrowth of microorganisms capable of tissue destruction and invasion, accompanied by local or systemic symptoms. Redness, swelling, burning and fever usually accompany infection.
Inflammation Defensive reaction to tissue injury; involves increased blood flow and capillary permeability and facilitates physiologic clean-up of wound.  Accompanied by increased heat, redness, swelling and pain in the affected area. Inflammation is a normal sequence required for wound healing.
Insulation Maintenance of wound temperature close to body temperature Thermal insulation is one of the ideal dressing characteristics found in certain dressing.
Ischemia A deficiency of blood due to functional construction or obstruction of a blood vessel to a part. Ischemia will occur when more than 20 mm of pressure is applied to an area of the body.
Lesion A broad term referring to wounds or sores. DuoDerm may be used on various types of lesions.
Leukocytes White blood cells which act as scavengers and help combat infection.  Types include macrophages, neutrophils and monocytes. Leukocytes are not destroyed when a wound is cleaned with Shur-Clens.
Maceration Softening of tissue by soaking in fluids. Maceration will occur when the skin is in contact with excess exudate for a prolonged time period.  Moist wound dressings wick away exudate and be absorbed by a secondary dressing.
Macrophage A type of leukocyte which has the ability to destroy bacteria and devitalized tissue. Macrophages are white blood cells which protect the body and are easily destroyed by antiseptic agents.
Necrotic Referring to the death of some or all cells in a small, localized area. Necrotic tissue may be removed by the autodebriding properties promoted by moist wound drssing or enzymes.
Neutrophil A type of leukocyte which has the ability to destroy bacteria and devitalized tissue; also called microphages. Neutrophils are circulating white blood cells necessary for phagocytosis.
Occlusive To retain or prevent the passage of gas, liquid or solid. Duoderm is a hydrocolloid type of dressing which is occlusive.
Partial-thickness Loss of epidermis and possible partial loss of dermis. Traumatic lacerations and stage II pressure sores are two examples of partial-thickness wounds.
Pathogen Any disease-producing agent or microorganism. The construction of Epi-Lock prevents secondary invasion by pathogens
Perfusion The passage of blood and/or fluid through an area of the body. Low blood perfusion can result in the lack of nutrients to the cells around a dermal ulcer.
Phagocyte Cells having the ability to ingest and destroy particulate substances. Phagocytes which help clean out the wound are easily destroyed by toxic antimicrobial agents.
Phagocytosis Ingestion or digestion of bacteria and particles by phagocytes which include macrophages, neutrophils, and monocytes. Phagocytosis is maximized when a moist healing environment insulates the wound and creates an environment which equals normal body temperature.
Pressure sore An area of localized tissue damage caused by ischemia due to pressure. Pressure sores are most commonly on the heel, the hip and the sacrum areas.
Pus Thick fluid indicative of infection containing leukocytes, bacteria and cellular debris. Many people, unfamiliar with most wound healing will mistake exudate for pus.
Scab Dried exudate covering superficial wounds. When blood is allowed to dry, a scab will form.
Semi-occlusive Permeable to gases, but not to liquids or solids. Certain polyurethane foam dressings are semi-occlusive
Shear Trauma caused by tissue layers sliding against each other; results in disruption or angulation of blood vessels. Skin will shear when a patient is moved carelessly.
Sinus tract A course or pathway which can extend in any direction from the wound surface; results in dead space with potential for abscess formation. Because of sinus tracts, many wounds are actually larger than they appear at the surface.
Slough Loose, stringy necrotic tissue. When a specialty dressing is first applied to a wound slough may occur until the wound stabilizes.
Undermine Tissue destruction underlying intact skin along wound margins. Wounds treated with moist wound specialty dressings may appear to enlarge due to undermining which has already occurred.
Vapor permeable To allow exchange or open to passage especially by gasses. Moist wound specialty dressings and polyurethane foam dressings which are vapor permeable.
Wound base Uppermost viable tissue layer of the wound; may be covered with slough or eschar. The eschar and exudate must be removed to determine with wound base.
Wound margin Rim or border of the wound. Pink epithelial cells can be seen growing from the wound margin.
Wound repair Healing process,. Partial thickness involves epithelialization; full-thickness involves contraction granulation, and epithellalization. Moist wound specialty dressings promote peak efficient wound repair.
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