Glossary

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Abnormal Fibrinolysis

Overactivity of the process normally responsible for clearing blood clots from blood vessels

ABO Incompatibility
ABO incompatibility is a common and generally mild type of haemolytic disease in babies. The term haemolytic disease means that red blood cells are broken down more quickly than usual which can cause jaundice anaemia and in very severe cases can cause death. During pregnancy this breakdown of red blood cells in the baby may occur if the mother and baby’s blood types are incompatible and if these different blood types come into direct contact with each other and antibodies are formed.
Abscess

An enclosed localized collection of pus formed by the disintegration of tissue within a cavity

Acanthosis nigricans

Darkening and thickening of the skin around the neck, underarms, and skin folds; can be caused by elevated levels of insulin in the blood and is often associated with obesity

Acid

A compound that contains at least one hydrogen atom and can react with a base to form a salt; a chemical with a pH less than 7. An example of acid in the body is hydrochloric acid (HCl) involved in digestion in the stomach.

Acid-Base Balance

The body's maintenance of a healthy pH range for blood and tissues that is slightly basic (pH between 7.35 - 7.45). This balance is achieved through the use of systems in the blood (which help to minimize pH changes) and by the lungs and kidneys, which eliminate excess amounts of acids or bases from the body.

Acidosis

A condition in which there is a shift in the acid-base balance of the body to have more acid than normal, often causing the pH of the blood and body tissues to fall below the healthy range (7.35-7.45). It may be caused by decreased CO2 eliimination in respiratory disorders such as emphysema, by metabolic problems such as kidney disease and diabetes, or as the result of ingesting poisons (ethlylene glycol, methanol) or overdosing on certain medication (salicylates); it can also be caused by losing HCO3, as in diarrhea.

Acromegaly

A condition in adults resulting from excess growth hormone characterized by enlargement of the hands and feet, change in shoe size, gradual changes in facial features, including protrusion of the lower jaw and brow, and enlargement of the nasal bone

Acute coronary syndrome

Also known as: ACS


A group of potentially life-threatening disorders resulting from insufficient blood flow to the heart caused by the narrowing or blockage of one or more blood vessels to the heart; the conditions included in this group range from unstable angina to heart attack and are usually characterized by chest pain, upper body discomfort with pain in one or both arms, shoulders, stomach or jaw, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating or dizziness.

Acute Myelocytic Leukemia

Also known as: Acute Myelocytic Leukemia, AML


bone marrow disease that is characterized by the production of large numbers of an immature granulocyte (a neutrophil -- the most common, basophil, or eosinophil) that replace other normal cells in the marrow.

Acute Myelocytic Leukemia, AML

Also known as: Acute Myelocytic Leukemia, AML


bone marrow disease that is characterized by the production of large numbers of an immature granulocyte (a neutrophil -- the most common, basophil, or eosinophil) that replace other normal cells in the marrow.

Acute Phase Reactant

A protein that increases or decreases in concentration with conditions that cause acute tissue inflammation or trauma.

Acute Sample

In the clinical laboratory, pertaining to samples taken at a time when a patient initially exhibits signs and symptoms of a disease or condition

Adenomatous polyp

Also known as: Tubular adenoma


Abnormal growth of cells that form the glands in the lining of the colon or rectum; while benign, may become cancerous over time

Adjuvant therapy

Treatment used to assist a primary therapy (such as surgery) in the prevention, improvement, or cure of a disease (such as adjuvant chemotherapy in cancer)

Adrenal Gland

Also known as: Suprarenal gland


One of a pair of glands located above each kidney that secretes hormones directly into the bloodstream. Each gland has two parts that perform different functions.
1. The adrenal cortex produces and secretes hormones such as cortisol, aldosterone and sex steroids. They are involved in many different body functions.
2. The adrenal medulla produces and secretes catecholamines such as adrenaline (epinephrine) and norepinephrine.

Aerobic

Living or occurring in an oxygen-rich environment

Afibrinogenemia

The absence of fibrinogen production

Alkalosis

A condition in which a there is a shift in the acid-base balance of the body to have more base than normal, often causing the pH of the blood and body tissues to rise above the healthy range (7.35-7.45). It may have respiratory causes such as hyperventilation and pneumonia or metabolic causes such as prolonged vomiting and severe dehydration.

Allele

Any one of the possible alternative forms in which a specific gene can occur

Allergen

Substance (e.g., ragweed pollen) that can cause an allergy

Alopecia
Ambiguous genitalia

Sex organs (genitals) that are not distinctly male or female in appearance. It is a condition present at birth (congenital) that results from a disruption in the formation of sex organs during fetal development.

Amenorrhea
Amino Acid

One of a group of chemical compounds (organic acids) that have an amino group (NH2); many are the building blocks of proteins.

Amniotic fluid

Fluid surrounding and supporting a fetus

Amplification

1) In molecular diagnostics, a process by which multiple copies of genetic material (RNA, DNA) are generated so as to produce adequate levels of the target to be detected or quantitated

2) The process by which the signal from a detection system is increased so as to improve detection or quantitation of an analyte of interest, such as genes or drugs

3) When there is more than the normal number of copies of a gene or genes in a cell, as in tumor cells, the gene is said to be amplified.

Anaerobic

Living or occurring in an oxygen-free environment

Analyte

Also known as: Test


In the clinical laboratory, a substance from the body that is undergoing analysis.  In lay terms, often referred to as a "test."

Anaphylaxis

Severe allergic reaction that can cause intensely itchy welts (hives) on the skin, low blood pressure, and difficulty breathing. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening so those who have been affected by it may be advised to carry an emergency injection of epinephrine.

Androgens

Hormones that are responsible for the induction of sexual differentiation and produce secondary male physical characteristics such as a deep voice and facial hair. An example is the hormone testosterone. They are also present in females as precursors to female hormones (such as estrogen).

Anencephaly

Congenital defect that occurs during fetal brain development when the neural tube fails to close properly at the head. The result is the lack of development of a large portion of the brain and skull.

Aneuploidy

Having an abnormal number of chromosomes

Aneurysm

Weakened portion of a blood vessel wall that widens or bulges and may eventually rupture; a ruptured aneurysm can bleed heavily and may be fatal.

Angioedema

Weakened portion of a blood vessel wall that widens or bulges and may eventually rupture; a ruptured aneurysm can bleed heavily and may be fatal.An allergic reaction involving the skin and deeper (subcutaneous) layers that is characterized by patches of swelling

Angioplasty

Medical procedure used to widen blood vessels that have been narrowed or blocked.  During the procedure, a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted into the body (usually through a small incision in the groin). The catheter is guided to the site of the blockage using X-rays and injected dye. The balloon on the catheter is then gently inflated to flatten the blockage and open the blood vessel.

Anovulation

An egg is not released by the ovaries during a menstrual cycle

Anterior

At or toward the front

Antibiotic resistance

Ability of a microorganism to grow despite the presence of an antibiotic

Antibody
Antibodies also called immunoglobulins are large Y-shaped proteins which function to identify and help remove foreign antigens or targets such as viruses and bacteria. Every different antibody recognizes a specific foreign antigen.
Antibody

Also Known As: Ig; Antibody; Immune serum globulin; Immune globulin; Gamma globulin



1) Special proteins produced by the body in response to foreign substances including bacteria and viruses; there are five structurally distinct classes of immunoglobulins produced by plasma cells in the bone marrow and other lymphoid tissue that bind to and neutralize foreign substances (antigens). The five major kinds of immunoglobulins are A, D, E, G and M.

2) A solution made from human blood plasma that contains concentrated antibodies that protect against specific diseases, such as short-term protection against certain infections and Rh sensitization during pregnancy; it is made from human blood plasma that has been pooled, processed from donated blood, and purified.

Anticoagulant

1. Drug that delays blood clotting (e.g., heparin, warfarin); used in patients with or at risk for blood clots
2. Substance used to prevent clotting in blood used for transfusions and certain laboratory tests

Antigen

1. Substance that causes the production of an antibody that binds to the antigen in order to damage, neutralize or kill it.
2. The presence of certain antigens on blood cells is the basis for blood typing for transfusions. Antigens that are present on tissue allow for donor-recipient matching in transplant medicine.

Antigen Testing

Also known as: Quantity Testing


Quantity testing measures how much of a particular substance or analyte is present. This type of testing can measure amounts of coagulation factors, hormones, enzymes, and many other substances. It does not, however, evaluate how well the substance is working or performing its role in the body.

Antihistamine

A class of drugs that is used to treat allergies, hypersensitivity reactions, and the symptoms of colds. These drugs work by reducing the effects of histamine, a naturally-occurring substance that is released in response to inflammation and allergies.

Apheresis

Process of removing a specific component from blood, such as platelets or white blood cells, and returning the remaining components to the donor; allows for more of one particular component to be collected than could be separated from a unit of whole blood

Apnea

Short pauses or cessations in breathing

Apoprotein

General term for a protein without its characteristic prosthetic group, which may be a metal or a small organic compound; for example, the protein apotransferrin combines with iron to form transferrin, and protein apoceruloplasmin combines with copper to form the enzyme ceruloplasmin.

Arrhythmia

Changes in the rhythm of heartbeats or in the strength of heart contractions

Ascites

Fluid buildup in the peritoneal (abdominal) cavity

Aspiration

Use of suction to take liquids, gases, or cells from a body cavity or area, as in aspiration biopsy

Assay

Procedure used to detect or measure a substance or reaction; test

Asymptomatic

Without symptoms.

Atherosclerosis

Common disorder of the arteries in which deposits consisting mostly of cholesterol and lipids form on the inner arterial wall. As a result, the vessels become nonelastic and narrowed, leading to decreased blood flow. One of the most important examples is coronary artery disease.

Atrial Fibrillation

Condition characterized by an irregular, often rapid, heart rhythm

Auer Bodies

Also known as: Auer Rods

unique, pink or red rod-shaped inclusions that are seen in very immature granulocytes ("blasts") in people with acute non-lymphocytic leukemia (i.e., acute myeloid leukemia; AML)

Auer Rods

Also known as: Auer Bodies

unique, pink or red rod-shaped inclusions that are seen in very immature granulocytes ("blasts") in people with acute non-lymphocytic leukemia (i.e., acute myeloid leukemia; AML)

Autoimmunity

Misdirected immunity with production of antibodies that act against the tissues of one's own body

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