Glossary - Transplantation

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ablation - elimination or removal. Ablation also refers to a procedure that eliminates extra electrical pathways within the heart that cause fast or irregular heart rhythms.

ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitor - A medication that opens up blood vessels, making it easier for the heart to pump blood forward to the body; also used to lower blood pressure.

acute - severe; sharp; begins quickly.

acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) - a rapidly progressing cancer of the blood in which too many immature (not fully formed) lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, are found in the bone marrow, blood, spleen, liver, and other organs.

acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) - a rapidly progressing cancer of the blood in which too many immature (not fully formed) granulocytes, a type of white blood cell, are found in the bone marrow and blood.

acyanotic - refers to a group of congenital heart defects in which there is a normal amount of oxygen in the bloodstream, giving a pink color to the lips and nail beds.

allogeneic bone marrow transplantation - a procedure in which a person receives stem cells from a compatible donor.

allograft - tissue or organ transplanted between genetically non-identical individuals of the same species (i.e., human to human).

alternative therapy - use of an unproven therapy instead of standard (proven) therapy.

alveolus - air sac where gas exchange takes place.

analgesic - any drug intended to alleviate pain.

anastomosis - a surgical connection, often between two blood vessels.

anemia - a blood disorder caused by a deficiency of red blood cells or hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells).

anesthesia - the loss of feeling or sensation as a result of medications or gases. General anesthesia causes loss of consciousness. Local or regional anesthesia numbs only a certain area.

anesthesiologist - a physician who specializes in administering medications or other agents that prevent or relieve pain, especially during surgery.

aneurysm - a thin, weakened area in a blood vessel or area of the heart.

angiography - an x-ray study that uses dye injected into arteries to study blood circulation.

angioplasty - a non-surgical procedure for treating narrowed arteries.

antibiotic - a medication used to treat infection.

anticoagulant - a medication that keeps blood from clotting.

antiemetic - a medication that helps prevent and control nausea and vomiting.

antigen - a substance that can trigger an immune response, such as a transplant, causing the production of antibodies, a part of the body's defense mechanism.

antihypertensive - a medication that lowers blood pressure.

aorta - the largest artery in the body and the primary blood vessel which carries oxygenated blood out of the heart to the rest of the body.

aortic arch - the curved portion of the aorta (the large blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to the body).

aortic regurgitation - backwards leakage of blood from the aorta, through a weakened aortic valve, and into the left ventricle, resulting in stress in the left heart and inadequate blood flow to the body.

aortic stenosis - narrowing of the opening of the aortic valve (the valve that regulates blood flow from the left ventricle into the aorta).

aortic valve - the valve that regulates blood flow from the heart into the aorta.

apex - top portion of the upper lobes of the lungs.

apheresis - a procedure in which a patient's own blood is removed, particular fluid and cellular elements are extracted from the blood, then returned to the patient.

aplastic anemia - one type of anemia that occurs when the bone marrow produces too few of all three types of blood cells: red cells, white cells, and platelets.

arrhythmia (Also called dysrhythmia.) - a fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat.

arterioles - small branches of arteries.

arteriosclerosis - commonly called "hardening of the arteries;" a variety of conditions caused by fatty or calcium deposits in the artery walls causing them to thicken.

artery - a blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood away from the heart to the body.

ascites - fluid that fills the abdomen when the liver is not functioning properly.

asplenia - absence of the spleen, either from improper development before birth, or due to the surgical removal of the spleen resulting from injury or disease.

atresia - inadequate development of an organ or part of an organ during pregnancy.

atrial fibrillation - a very fast and irregular beating of the atria (the upper two chambers of the heart).

atrial flutter - a very fast beating of the atria (the upper two chambers of the heart).

atrial septal defect (ASD) - a hole in the wall between the right and left atria (the two upper chambers of the heart).

atrial septum - the wall between the right and left atria (the two upper chambers of the heart).

atrioventricular block - an interruption of the electrical signal between the atria and the ventricles.

atrioventricular canal - refers to a congenital heart defect involving an opening low in the atrial septum, an opening high in the ventricular septum, and abnormal development of the mitral and/or tricuspid valves.

atrioventricular node - a cluster of cells between the atria and ventricles that regulate the electrical current.

atrium (atria pl.) - one of two upper chambers in the heart.

autologous bone marrow transplantation - a procedure in which a patient's own bone marrow is removed, treated with anticancer drugs or radiation, then returned to the patient.

autosomal recessive inheritance - a gene on one of the first 22 pairs of chromosomes, which, when present in two copies, causes a trait or disease to be expressed.


bacterial endocarditis - a bacterial infection of the valves and interior surfaces of the heart.

balloon angioplasty - a procedure usually done in the cardiac catheterization laboratory that uses a catheter (tube) with a balloon in the tip to open up a narrowed valve or blood vessel.

barium - a liquid used to coat the inside of organs so they will show up on an x-ray.

base - bottom portion of the lower lobes of the lung, located just above the diaphragm.

benign - non-cancerous.

beta blocker - a medication that limits the activity of epinephrine (a hormone that increases blood pressure).

bicuspid - a valve that has two leaflets.

bilateral - affecting both sides.

bile - a digestive fluid made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder that helps digest fats.

bile ducts - tubes that take bile from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine to aid in digestion.

biliary atresia -  a condition in which bile ducts do not have normal openings, preventing bile from leaving the liver. This causes jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes) and liver damage known as cirrhosis. Biliary atresia is a birth defect.

bilirubin - a normal substance produced when red blood cells break down and are excreted by the liver. Bilirubin gives bile its yellow-green color. Too much bilirubin in the blood causes jaundice.

biopsy - a procedure in which tissue samples are removed (with a needle or during surgery) from the body for examination under a microscope; to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

bladder - a triangle-shaped, hollow organ located in the lower abdomen that holds urine.

blasts - immature blood cells.

blood - the life-maintaining fluid which is made up of plasma, red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells (leukocytes), and platelets; blood circulates through the body's heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries; it carries away waste matter and carbon dioxide and brings nourishment, electrolytes, hormones, vitamins, antibodies, heat, and oxygen to the tissues.

blood banking - the process that takes place in the laboratory to ensure that the donated blood or blood products are safe, before they are used in blood transfusions and other medical procedures. Blood banking includes typing and cross matching the blood for transfusion and testing for infectious diseases.

blood clot - a thick, gelled mass of blood.

blood plasma - the fluid part of blood that contains nutrients, glucose, proteins, minerals, enzymes, and other substances.

blood pressure - pressure of blood against the walls of a blood vessel or heart chamber.

blood pressure cuff - a device usually placed around the upper portion of the arm to measure blood pressure.

bone marrow - the soft, spongy tissue found inside bones. It is the medium for development and storage of about 95 percent of the body's blood cells.

bone marrow aspiration and biopsy - the marrow may be removed by aspiration or a needle biopsy under local anesthesia. In aspiration biopsy, a fluid specimen, is removed from the bone marrow. In a needle biopsy, marrow cells (not fluid) are removed. These methods are often used together.

bone marrow harvest - collection of stem cells with a needle placed into the soft center of the bone, the marrow.

bone marrow transplant (BMT) - the transfusion of healthy bone marrow cells into a person after their own unhealthy bone marrow has been eliminated.

bowel - small and large intestine.

bowel movement - passage of stool (body wastes) from the large intestine through the rectum and anus.

brady - suffix meaning slow.

bradycardia - abnormally slow heartbeat.

bronchiole - a small airway (subdivision of the bronchus) that leads to areas of the lung and absorbs oxygen from the air.

bronchiolitis - inflammation that involves the bronchioles (small airways).

bronchoscopy - a fiberoptic, flexible tube is passed through the mouth into the bronchi to locate tumors or blockages, and to gather samples of tissue and/or fluid.

bronchus - one of two large subdivisions of the trachea through which air passes to and from the lungs.

bundle-branch block - a condition in which the heart's electrical system is unable to normally conduct the electrical signal.


calcium channel blocker - a medication that lowers blood pressure.

cancer cell - a cell that divides and multiplies uncontrollably and has the potential to spread throughout the body, crowding out normal cells and tissue.

capillaries - tiny blood vessels between arteries and veins that distribute oxygen-rich blood to the body.

carbohydrates - one of three main types of foods, along with proteins and fats; found in breads, cereals, grains, fruits, and vegetables; changes into a simple sugar called glucose during digestion; provides the body with a source of energy.

carcinogen - an agent (chemical, physical, or viral) that causes cancer. Examples include tobacco smoke and asbestos.

cardiac - pertaining to the heart.

cardiac arrest - the stopping of the heartbeat.

cardiac catheterization - a diagnostic procedure in which a tiny, hollow tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery or vein in order to evaluate the heart and blood vessels.

cardiac output - total amount of blood being pumped by the heart over a particular period of time.

cardiologist - a physician who specializes in the medical evaluation and treatment of heart diseases.

cardiology - the clinical study and practice of treating the heart.

cardiomyopathy - a disease of the heart muscle that causes it to lose its pumping strength.

cardiovascular (CV) - pertaining to the heart and blood vessel (circulatory) system.

cardioversion - the procedure of applying electrical shock to the chest to change an abnormal heartbeat into a normal one.

carotid artery - the major arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.

catheter - a flexible tube used to drain fluid from or inject fluid into the body. The most common catheters are the Foley catheter, used to drain urine from the bladder, and intravenous (IV) catheters inserted into veins to administer fluids.

cecum - the beginning of the large intestine; attached to the last section of the small intestine, known as the ileum.

chemotherapy - a medication that can help fight cancer.

child life specialist - a hospital staff member who has special training in the growth and development of children. A Child Life Specialist can help your child with play activities, relaxation and pain management skills and help meet the educational and emotional needs of the entire family.

cholangiography - x-rays of the bile ducts.

cholesterol - a substance normally made by the body, but also found in foods from animal sources, like beef, eggs, and butter. Too much cholesterol in the body can lead to narrowing and blockage of the arteries, especially those that feed the heart and keep it healthy. High cholesterol can also cause the formation of gallstones. Ideally, blood cholesterol levels should be less than 200mg/dL.

chromosome - structures in our cells that carry genes, the basic units of heredity. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, one member of each pair inherited from the mother, the other from the father. Each chromosome can contain hundreds or thousands of individual genes.

chronic - referring to a disease or disorder that usually develops slowly and lasts for a long period of time.

chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) - a slowly progressing cancer of the blood in which too many white blood cells are produced in the bone marrow.

cineangiography - the procedure of taking moving pictures to show the passage of dye through blood vessels.

circulatory system - pertaining to the heart and blood vessels and the circulation of blood.

cirrhosis - a chronic problem that makes it hard for the liver to remove toxins (poisonous substances) from the body. Alcohol, medications, and other substances may build up in the bloodstream and cause problems. Cirrhosis is a result of scarring and damage from other diseases, such as biliary atresia and alcoholism.

closed heart surgery - an operation that repairs problems involving the blood vessels attached to the heart and may not need the use of the heart-lung bypass machine.

clotting - the sealing of a blood vessel with coagulated blood.

coarctation of the aorta - a congenital heart defect that results in narrowing of the aorta.

collateral vessels - new blood vessels that are created by the body to provide extra blood flow to an area when the blood vessel(s) that are already there are too small, narrowed, or blocked.

colon - the large intestine.

colonoscopy - a test using a long, flexible tube with a light and camera lens at the end, which examines the large intestine.

common bile duct - a tube that moves bile from the liver to the small intestine.

complete blood count (CBC) - a measurement of size, number, and maturity of different blood cells in a specific volume of blood.

compliance - fulfillment by the patient of the prescribed orders of treatment (i.e., taking medications after a transplant).

computed tomography scan (Also called a CT or CAT scan.) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.

conduction system - the electrical system inside the heart that stimulates the heart to beat.

congenital - present at birth.

congenital heart defect - a heart problem present at birth, caused by improper development of the heart during fetal development.

congenital heart disease - see congenital heart defect.

congestive heart failure - a condition in which the heart cannot pump out all of the blood that enters it, which leads to an accumulation of blood in the vessels leading to the heart and fluid in the body tissues. Excess blood in the pulmonary (lung) blood vessels can also occur, leading to fluid accumulation in the lungs.

constrict - tighten; narrow.

coronary arteries - two arteries that come from the aorta to provide blood to the heart muscle.

corticosteroids - medications that reduce irritation and inflammation.

culture - a laboratory test that involves the growing of bacteria or other microorganisms to aid in the diagnosis.

cyanosis - bluish color in the skin because of insufficient oxygen.

cyanotic - appearing blue, due to insufficient oxygen in the blood.

cystoscopy (Also called cystourethroscopy.) - an examination in which a scope, a flexible tube and viewing device, is inserted through the urethra to examine the bladder and urinary tract for structural abnormalities or obstructions, such as tumors or stones.

cystourethrogram (Also called a voiding cystogram.) - a specific x-ray that examines the urinary tract. A catheter (hollow tube) is placed in the urethra (tube that drains urine from the bladder to the outside of the body) and the bladder is filled with a liquid dye. X-ray images will be taken as the bladder fills and empties. The images will show if there is any reverse flow of urine into the ureters and kidneys.


defibrillator - an electronic device used to establish normal heartbeat.

dehydration - when the bloodstream and the cells of the body contain less fluid than normal, often due to vomiting or diarrhea. The body's mineral balance may also be affected.

descending colon - the portion of the large intestine located on the left side of the body.

dextrocardia - a heart that is "flipped over," so that the structures that are normally on the right side of the chest are on the left, and vice versa. The arteries and veins are connected correctly; occurs due to an abnormality in heart development during pregnancy.

dialysis - a medical procedure to remove wastes and additional fluid from the blood after the kidneys have stopped functioning.

diaphragm - primary muscle used for respiration, located just below the lung bases.

diastole - the time during each heartbeat when the ventricles are at rest, filling with blood and not pumping.

diastolic blood pressure - the lowest blood pressure measure in the arteries, which occurs between heartbeats.

DiGeorge syndrome (Also known as Shprintzen, velo-cardio-facial, and 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.) - A genetic disease caused by a missing piece of chromosome material on chromosome #22 that results in many different health problems, and affects the normal fetal development of the heart, thymus, and parathyroid glands.

digestion - how the body breaks down food and uses it for energy, cell repair, and growth. Digestion starts in the mouth, continues in the stomach and small intestine, and is completed in the large intestine. The liver and pancreas add enzymes and juices that aid in this process.

digestive tract - the organs that are involved in digestion, including the mouth, salivary glands, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, and large intestine.

dilate - relax; expand.

distention - swelling or bloating, usually referring to the abdomen.

diuretic - a medication that helps the kidneys to remove excess fluids from the body, lowering blood pressure as well as decreasing edema (swelling).

Doppler ultrasound - A procedure that uses sound waves to evaluate heart, blood vessels, and valves.

double outlet right ventricle - a congenital heart defect in which both the aorta and the pulmonary artery are connected to the right ventricle.

Down syndrome (Also called trisomy 21.) - A combination of birth defects caused by the presence of an extra #21 chromosome in each cell of the body. Many children with Down syndrome also have congenital heart disease - usually atrioventricular canal defect.

ductus arteriosus - a connection between the aorta and the pulmonary artery that is necessary in fetal life, but becomes unnecessary after birth.

dyspnea - shortness of breath or a difficulty in breathing.

dysrhythmia (Also called arrhythmia.) - a fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat.


Ebstein's anomaly - Abnormal development of the tricuspid valve during pregnancy, causing an abnormally positioned valve that does not open easily (stenosis) and allows backflow of blood from the right ventricle into the right atrium (regurgitation).

echocardiogram (echo) - a procedure that evaluates the structure and function of the heart by using sound waves recorded on an electronic sensor which produce a moving picture of the heart and heart valves.

edema - swelling due to the buildup of fluid.

effusion - a collection of fluid in a closed cavity.

ejection fraction - the measurement of the amount of blood pumped out of the ventricles.

electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - a test that records the electrical activity of the heart, shows abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias or dysrhythmias), and detects heart muscle damage.

electroencephalogram (EEG) - a procedure that records the brain's continuous electrical activity by means of electrodes attached to the scalp.

electrolytes - minerals in the bloodstream and in the cells of the body, such as sodium (salt), potassium, and calcium. Electrolytes must remain in proper balance for the body to function normally.

electrophysiological study (EPS) - a cardiac catheterization to study electrical current in patients who have arrhythmias.

endocarditis - a bacterial infection of the valves and interior surfaces of the heart.

endocardium - the membrane that covers the inside surface of the heart.

endoscope - a small, flexible tube with a light and a camera lens at the end used to examine the inside of the digestive tract. It can also be used to take tissue samples for testing from inside the digestive tract.

endoscopy - a test that uses an endoscope to examine the inside of part of the digestive tract.

end-stage organ disease - a disease that leads to functional failure of an organ, such as cardiomyopathy (heart).

end-to-end anastomosis - surgical connection of two segments of blood vessel by stitching the open end of one segment to the open end of another segment.

enema - a liquid placed into the rectum to either clear stool out of the large intestine or to examine the large intestine with an x-ray (barium enema).

enlarged heart - a condition of the heart in which it is larger than normal.

enuresis - involuntary discharge of urine usually during sleep at night; bedwetting beyond the age when bladder control should have been established.

eosinophils - a type of white blood cell that can increase in allergy and other infections.

epicardium - the membrane that covers the outside of the heart.

esophagus - the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.

excrete - remove waste from the body.

exercise electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) - a test that assesses cardiac rhythm and function during exercise on a treadmill or bicycle.

expiration - exhaling; giving off carbon dioxide.


factor - a protein in the blood that is needed to form a blood clot.

fats - one of three main types of foods, along with proteins and carbohydrates; provides the body with a source of energy; needs bile in order to be digested properly and utilized for energy.

fibrillation - rapid contractions of the heart muscles.

fluoroscopy - an x-ray procedure that takes continuous pictures to evaluate moving structures within the body, such as the heart.

flutter - ineffective contractions of the heart muscles.

Fontan procedure - A surgical procedure performed to repair heart defects in which only one ventricle is functional. It connects the right atrium to the pulmonary artery, allowing oxygen-poor (blue) blood from the body to flow into the lungs.

foramen ovale - a hole between the right and left atria, present in all unborn children, that remains open after birth for variable periods of time.


gallbladder - stores bile made by the liver; sends bile into the small intestine to help digest fats.

gas - air that collects in the stomach and intestines as a natural result of digesting food; passed out of the body via the rectum or the mouth.

gastric - related to the stomach.

gastrointestinal - relating to the digestive tract.

gastrointestinal tract (Also called the digestive tract.) - the parts of the body that break down food into small particles, allowing nutrients from food to be used for energy and growth: the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, and large intestine.

gene - a segment of DNA that codes for a trait such as blood type or eye color, as well as susceptibility to certain diseases.

gene therapy - inserting a normal gene into a person to replace a non-working or missing gene.

genetic - determined by genes or chromosomes.

Glenn shunt -  a surgical connection between the superior vena cava and the right pulmonary artery, allowing oxygen-poor (blue) blood to flow into the lungs.

glomerulonephritis - a type of glomerular kidney disease in which the kidneys' filters become inflamed, scarred and slowly lose their ability to remove wastes and excess fluid from the blood to make urine.

glomerulosclerosis - the term used to describe scarring that occurs within the kidneys in the small balls of tiny blood vessels called the glomeruli. The glomeruli assist the kidneys in filtering urine from the blood.

glucose - a simple sugar made by the body from carbohydrates in food. Glucose is the body's main source of energy.

graft - transplanted organs, tissues, or cells.

graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) - the condition that results when the immune cells of a transplant (usually of bone marrow) react against the tissues of the person receiving the transplant.

granulocytes - a type of white blood cells. The different types of granulocytes include basophils, eosinophils, and neutrophils.


heart attack (Also called myocardial infarction.) - occurs when one or more regions of the heart muscle experience a severe or prolonged decrease in oxygen supply caused by a blocked blood flow to the heart muscle.

heart block - interrupted electrical impulse to heart muscles.

heartbeat - one complete contraction of the heart.

heart-lung bypass machine - a machine that performs for the heart and lungs during open heart surgery.

heart valve prolapse - a condition of the heart valve in which it is partially open when it should be closed.

hematocrit - the measurement of the percentage of red blood cells found in a specific volume of blood.

hematologist - a physician who specializes in the functions and disorders of the blood.

hematology - the scientific study of blood and blood-forming tissues.

hematopoiesis - the process of producing and developing new blood cells.

hematuria - the presence of red blood cells in the urine.

hemoglobin - a type of protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to the tissues of the body.

hemoglobin S-beta thalassemia - having one copy of the gene that causes sickle cell anemia (HbS) and one copy of a mutated gene in the beta-chain of hemoglobin; this blood disorder produces a moderate anemia and some symptoms similar to sickle cell anemia.

hemolytic anemia - one type of anemia in which the red blood cells are destroyed prematurely.

hemolytic uremic syndrome - a rare kidney disorder that mostly affects children under the age of 10. It is often characterized by damage to the lining of blood vessel walls, destruction of red blood cells, and/or kidney failure.

hemophilia (Also called a coagulation disorder.) - an inherited bleeding disorder caused by low levels, or absence of, a blood protein that is essential for clotting; hemophilia A is caused by a lack of the blood clotting protein factor VIII; hemophilia B is caused by a deficiency of factor IX.

hemorrhagic anemia - anemia caused by a sudden loss of a large amount of blood.

hepatic - relating to the liver.

hepatitis - inflammation of the liver that sometimes causes permanent damage; caused by viruses, drugs, alcohol, or parasites. Hepatitis has the following forms:

hepatitis A - a form of infectious hepatitis caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus may be spread by fecal-oral contact, fecal-infected food or water, and may also be spread by a blood-borne infection (which is rare).

hepatitis B - a form of infectious hepatitis caused by the hepatitis B virus. Transmission of the hepatitis B virus occurs through blood and body fluid exposure, such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or saliva.

hepatitis C - a form of infectious hepatitis caused by the hepatitis C virus. Transmission of the hepatitis C virus occurs primarily from contact with infected blood, but can also occur from sexual contact or from an infected mother to her baby.

hepatitis D - a form of infectious hepatitis caused by the hepatitis (Delta) virus. This form of hepatitis can only occur in the presence of hepatitis B. Transmission of hepatitis D occurs the same way as hepatitis B.

hepatitis E - a form of infectious hepatitis caused by the hepatitis E virus. This form of hepatitis is similar to hepatitis A. Transmission occurs through fecal-oral contamination. Hepatitis E is most common in poorly developed countries and is rarely seen in the US.

hepatitis G - the newest form of infectious hepatitis. Transmission is believed to occur through blood and is seen in IV drug users, individuals with clotting disorders, such as hemophilia, and individuals who require hemodialysis for renal failure.

hepatoblastoma - cancer that originates in the liver.

high density lipoprotein (HDL) - the "good" cholesterol that promotes breakdown and removal of cholesterol

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