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Glossary of Terms

Anesthesia: Medicines and/or gases given to place the patient in a deep sleep so as not to feel pain during surgery.

Anesthesiologist: A doctor who gives or directs the delivery of anesthesia.

Angina: A discomfort (tightness, pressure, pain) in the center of the chest that can radiate (spread) out to the neck, jaws, and down the left arm. It is caused by spasms or blockages of the heart’s arteries.

Arterial Catheter: A tube that is placed into an artery. It can be used to draw blood or measure blood pressure.

Atelectasis: What happens when the lung “closes down” or collapses.

Atherosclerosis: Fatty deposits build up on the walls of the arteries. The build-up of fat decreases or blocks the flow of blood.

Blood Tests: Tests of the blood that give information about the blood; for example, how many red or white blood cells in your blood.

Blood Transfusion: Receiving an amount of blood to replace any that was lost through surgery or after surgery.

Blood Typing: Checking the blood to find out what type you have, for example, O+ or A. This allows the doctor to have the right type available if a blood transfusion is needed.

Cardiac Monitor: A machine that gives a visual and/or audible (sound) account of the heartbeat.

Care Coordinator: A health care professional who works closely with your doctors, nurses and social worker organizing and assisting in your care while you are in the hospital. He or she also helps with any special services or equipment you need when you leave the hospital.

Chest Tube: A tube that is inserted into the chest to remove too much air and fluids from the chest cavity.

Congenital Heart Disease: Heart problems present at birth.

CT/SICU: Cardiothoracic Surgical Intensive Care Unit, a nursing unit that has specialized monitoring equipment and care.

Dietitian: A person who has special training in nutrition and diet therapy.

EKG or Electrocardiogram: A printed image of the heart’s electrical activity or rhythm (heartbeat) used to diagnose heart problems.

Emboli: A blood clot.

Endotracheal Tube: A tube that is placed through the vocal cords or “voice box” and into the lungs. It is attached to the ventilator that breathes for the patient while under anesthesia or when the patient is having breathing problems.

Foley Catheter: A tube that is inserted in the bladder to allow drainage of urine.

General surgeon: A physician who performs surgery and may perform a lymph node biopsy or other tissue biopsy.

Gastroenterologist: A physician with dedicated training in the diagnosis and management of diseases of the digestive tract and liver.

Home Care Liaison: A nurse who will talk to you about nursing care needs at home.

Heart-Lung Machine: A machine that takes over the functions of the heart and lung during open heart surgery.

Heart Palpitation: A sensation that the heart is pounding, beating fast, skipping or not regular (irregular).

Hematopathologist: A physician-pathologist, board certified in both anatomical and clinical pathology, who looks at peripheral blood smears, bone marrow aspirate and biopsy samples, lymph node biopsy, and other tissue biopsy samples to diagnose diseases such as blood cancers.

Hematology Oncologist: A physician specially trained to diagnose and treat patients with blood cancers.

Intra-Aortic Balloon Pump: A machine that has a balloon attached to a catheter that is placed through an artery into the aorta. It shares the work of the heart; this allows the heart to regain strength.

IV or Intravenous Catheter: A small tube that is placed in the vein to give fluids and medicines.

Lab technician: A health care professional with special training to withdraw blood.

Kidney Failure: When the kidneys are not able to get rid of waste products in the blood, concentrate the urine or keep the right amount of electrolytes (potassium, calcium) in the body.

Nephrologist: A physician with special training in kidney disease, kidney transplant, and dialysis therapy.

Nurse practitioner or oncology nurse: A nurse who has advanced training in diagnosing and treating illness or who specializes in treating and caring for people who have cancer.

Pacemaker: An electrical device used to help the heart have a regular rhythm (heartbeat).

Pathologist: A physician who identifies disease by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.

Pneumonia: An infection of the lungs that causes a buildup of fluids, such as mucus, that makes breathing more difficult.

Pulmonary Function Studies: Tests that measure how much air the lungs are able to hold and how well the lungs move oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Radiologist: A physician trained to read imaging studies to help diagnose and treat diseases.

Radiology Technician: A health care professional with special training to take images of a patient’s body based on physician orders.

Social Workers: Your link between the hospital and the community. They can tell you about the choices you have when the time comes for you to leave the hospital. You may be able to go home or may need a nursing home. Social workers can help make this move as smooth as possible for you and your family.

Spirometer or Incentive Spirometer: A device used to encourage deep breathing. Deep breathing and coughing help prevent atelectasis and pneumonia.

Stroke: A blockage of the blood flow to the brain due to a clot (emboli) or rupture of a blood vessel.

Telemetry Unit: The unit you are moved to after CT/SICU. This unit continues to monitor your heart and activities but allows more freedom of movement and physical activity.

Ventilator: Commonly called a “breathing machine” or sometimes called a respirator. It is a machine that helps patients with their breathing while under anesthesia or when they are not able to breathe on their own.

Weaning: Slowly helping you to breathe on your own so that you can be taken off the ventilator.

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