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angiogram  – an imaging study depicting blood vessels. In a conventional angiogram, a dye is injected into the bloodstream and x-rays are taken to visualize the blood vessels. In other instances, CT or MRI can be used to create three-dimensional pictures of blood vessels

angiography (an-jE-og-ra-fE) – Radiography of vessels after the injection of a radiopaque contrast material. Unlike angioplasty, which is an invasive procedure, angiography breaks the skin only for the insertion of a needle for administering a radiopaque catheter and positioning under fluoroscopic control. This technique is used to image arteries in the brain, heart, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, aorta, neck, chest, limbs and pulmonary circuit.

angioplasty (an-jE-O-plas-tE) – Reconstitution or reopening of a blood vessel; may involve balloon dilation, mechanical stripping of the inside of the blood vessel, forceful injection of a elastic filamentous protein, or placement of a stent. For details see the Angioplasty and Vascular Stenting page

arteriosclerosis (ar-tEr-E-O-skler-O-sis) – Hardening of the arteries; types generally recognized are: atherosclerosis, Mönckeberg’s arteriosclerosis, and arteriolosclerosis.

arthrography – An imaging study of a joint that uses a contrast material and either magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a special form of x-ray imaging called fluoroscopy.

balloon angioplasty – An image-guided procedure in which a balloon-tipped catheter, a long thin, hollow plastic tube, is guided into an artery and advanced to a blockage or narrowing in a blood vessel. The balloon is then inflated to open the vessel, deflated and removed.

barium sulfate – A white insoluble radiopaque powder that is used as a contrast material to make certain body parts more visible in x-ray images. Radiopaque substances limit the penetration of x-rays and other forms of radiation.

barium swallow – Also called an esophagram. An x-ray examination that assesses both the pharynx and esophagus in the upper gastrointestinal tract.

benign (bE-nIn) – Not cancerous. May also be defined as non-malignant. Benign is also used to describe medical conditions that have a mild course

biopsy (bI-op-sE) – A biopsy is the removal of tissue in order to examine it for disease. The tissue samples can be taken from any part of the body. Biopsies are performed in several different ways. Some biopsies involve removing a small amount of tissue with a needle while others involve surgically removing an entire lump, or nodule, that is suspicious. Often, the tissue is removed by placing a needle through the skin (percutaneously) to the area of abnormality. Biopsies can be safely performed with imaging guidance such as ultrasound, x-ray, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These types of imaging are used to determine exactly where to place the needle and perform the biopsy.

blood clot – Blood clots are semi-solid masses of blood. Normally, blood flows freely through veins and arteries. Some blood clotting, or coagulation, is necessary and normal. Blood clotting helps stop bleeding if you are cut or injured. However, when too much clotting occurs, it can cause serious complications.

bore – The center of the cylindrical shaped magnet (often referred to as a doughnut) within a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner.

breast coil – A wire coil placed around the breast that sends and receives radio waves within the magnetic field of an MRI unit to create images in a breast MRI exam.

calcium score – A number reflecting the degree and extent of calcium deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries, as demonstrated by cardiac computed tomography.

cardiac catheterization – A diagnostic procedure in which a catheter is placed in a large vein in the leg or arm and advanced to the heart to check for blood pressure within the heart, oxygen in the blood, and/or pumping ability of the heart muscle. (Also see angiography and angioplasty.)

carotid artery (ka-rot-idar-ter-E) – One of the two major arteries running through either side of the neck, which supply blood to the brain.

computed tomography (CT) (tO-mog-ru-fE) – Sometimes referred to as CAT scan (computerized axial tomography). Imaging anatomical information from a cross-sectional plane of the body, each image generated by a computer synthesis of x-ray transmission data obtained in many different directions in a given plane.

catheter (kath-i-ter)

  1. A tubular instrument to allow passage of fluid from or into a body cavity.
  2. Especially a catheter designed to be passed through the urethra into the bladder to drain it of retained urine.
  3. A flexible, hollow plastic or rubber tube that may be passed into a blood vessel to withdraw fluids or inject medicine or contrast materials.

catheter angiography – An examination of blood vessels by injecting contrast material directly into an artery through a small plastic tube.

catheter-directed thrombolysis – A procedure in which a catheter is inserted through the skin into a vessel and directed to a blood clot in a fistula or graft of a hemodialysis patient. A medication or mechanical device delivered via the catheter is used to break up the clot and restore blood flow.

cauterize – To use heat, usually from radiofrequency energy or a laser, to destroy tissue or seal blood vessels.

cervical – Refers to the neck region of the spinal column which includes seven bones, or vertebrae, labeled C-1 through C-7.

closed bone biopsy – Also called needle bone biopsy. An image-guided procedure in which a needle is used to remove a small sample of bone from the body to be examined under a microscope.

computed tomography (CT) angiography (tO-mog-ru-fE an-jE-O-gra-fE) – A method of examining blood vessels utilizing x-rays and injection of iodine-containing contrast medium.

contrast material – Also referred to as contrast agent or contrast medium. Any internally administered substance that has a different opacity from soft tissue on radiography or computed tomography. Includes:

  • Barium or water, used to make parts of the gastrointestinal tract opaque.
  • Iodine in water, used for arthrography.
  • Water soluble iodine, used to make blood vessels opaque; to demonstrate the inner structures of the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters and bladder); and to outline joints (the spaces between two bones).
  • Iodine mixed with water or oil may be used to evaluate the fallopian tubes and lining of the uterus.
  • Sterile saline (salt water) is used during hysterosonography.
  • May refer to air occurring naturally or introduced into the body.
  • Paramagnetic substances used in magnetic resonance imaging.

core needle biopsy – A type of biopsy in which a large hollow needle is inserted through the skin to the site of an abnormal growth to collect and remove a sample of cells for analysis. This procedure uses an automated needle, which obtains one sample of tissue at a time and is re-inserted several times.

coronary artery disease – A condition involving the narrowing of the coronary arteries that carry blood and oxygen to the heart muscle.

CT enterography – CT enterography is a special type of computed tomography (CT) imaging performed with contrast material to produce images of the small intestine

cystography (sis-tog-ru-fE) – Radiography of the bladder, following injection of a radiopaque substance.

cysts (sists) – Abnormal sacs containing gas, fluid, or a semisolid material, with a membranous lining.

deep vein thrombosis – A condition in which a blood clot forms in a main vein that returns blood flow from the extremities back to the heart and lungs. This type of clot may grow big enough to completely block the vein or can pose a serious risk if part of it breaks off and travels to the lungs.

densitometry – A method for imaging density

diagnostic mammography – A “problem solving” x-ray examination of the breast performed on a patient who has signs or symptoms of breast disease.

diagnostic ultrasound – The use of ultrasound to obtain images for medical diagnostic purposes, typically employing frequencies ranging from 2 MHz to about 12 MHz

Doppler ultrasound – An application of diagnostic ultrasound used to detect moving blood cells or other moving structures and measure their direction and speed of movement. The Doppler effect is used to evaluate movement by measuring changes in frequency of the echoes reflected from moving structures.

In many instances, Doppler ultrasound has replaced x-ray methods such as angiography, as a method to evaluate blood vessels and blood flow. Doppler ultrasound permits real-time viewing of blood flow that cannot be obtained by other methods. Doppler ultrasound has proved a boon in all areas of ultrasound, aiding in the evaluation of the major arteries and veins of the body, the heart, and in obstetrics for fetal monitoring.

ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) (duk-tul car-si-nO-ma in sIt-U) – A breast cancer that has not spread beyond the lining (epithelium) of the milk ducts into the surrounding breast tissue. While DCIS must be treated to prevent it from developing into an invasive breast cancer, it is not harmful at this stage.

edema (e-dE-ma) – An accumulation of an excessive amount of watery fluid in cells, tissues, or serous cavities.

electronic detector – The part of a digital imaging system that captures and converts x-rays as they pass through a patient into digital signals which are in turn sent to a computer to produce images.

electronic medical record (EMR) – Computer information system that stores patients’ medical information such as demographics (name, date of birth, address), clinical history, medical images, lab test results, medications, and allergies, electronically allowing healthcare providers to view the information on computers.

embolism – A blood clot (a thickened mass of blood) that breaks loose, travels through the bloodstream and lodges in either an organ or artery forming a complete blockage in blood flow.

embolization – The movement of a blood clot, piece of tissue, or pocket of air or gas from where it forms through the bloodstream until it lodges in place, cutting off the flow of blood with its oxygen and tissue nutrients. Catheter embolization is the deliberate introduction of foreign (“embolic”) material such as gelatin sponge or metal coils to stop bleeding or cut off blood flowing to a tumor or arteriovenous malformation.

endovaginal ultrasonography – Pelvic ultrasonography using a probe inserted into the vagina.

endovenous – Within the vein.

endovenous ablation – A minimally invasive treatment that uses heat to cauterize or burn enlarged veins in the legs, a condition called varicose veins.

epidural analgesia – Injection of a local anesthetic into the epidural space of the spine to prevent or eliminate pain.

esophagram – Also called a barium swallow. An x-ray examination that assesses both the pharynx and esophagus in the upper gastrointestinal tract.

fibroadenoma – A benign tumor usually occurring in breast tissue.

fibrocystic – A common and benign (non-cancerous) condition of cysts in the breast, characterized by lumpiness and sometimes discomfort.

fibroid (fI-broyd) – Resembling or composed of fibers or fibrous tissue.

fibroid tumor – Masses of fiber and muscle tissue in the wall of the uterus, also known as myomas.

fine needle aspiration – A type of biopsy in which a small needle is inserted through the skin to the site of an abnormal growth to collect and remove a sample of cells for analysis.

fissure – A groove or tear.

fistula – An abnormal connection or false passageway between the body’s organs and or blood vessels.

fluoroscope – A device that projects radiographic (x-ray) images in a movie-like sequence onto a screen monitor.

fluoroscopy (flur-os-ko-pE) – An imaging technique that uses x-rays to obtain real-time moving images of the internal structures of a patient through the use of a fluoroscope.

fracture – A partial or complete break in a bone.

gadolinium (gad-O-lin-E-um) – An element used in contrast media for magnetic resonance imaging.

gantry (gan-trE) – A frame housing the x-ray tube, collimators, and detectors in a CT or radiation therapy machine, with a large opening into which the patient is inserted; a mechanical support for mounting a device to be moved in a circular path.

gastrointestinal (GI) (gas-trO-in-tes-tin-al) – Relating to the stomach and intestines.

gastropathy – Engorgement of the veins in the wall of the stomach, which can also cause severe bleeding.

goiter – An enlarged thyroid gland, usually evident as a pronounced swelling in the neck.

Graves’ disease – A condition, also called hyperthyroidism, in which the thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormone than the body needs. Symptoms include an enlarged thyroid gland, rapid heart rate, and high blood pressure.

guide wire – A thin wire used to guide the placement of a catheter within the body during a minimally invasive procedure.

hematoma – A collection of blood formed when small blood vessels are damaged, causing bleeding into the tissues

hemorrhage – The flow of blood from a ruptured blood vessel.

herniated disk – Protrusion of a degenerated or fragmented vertebral disk with potential compression of nerves in the spine.

hiatal hernia – An abnormality in which part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm.

HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; Federal Law as of 1996.

HIPAA security standards – The Federal Government’s requirements for handling electronic media and protected health information. The standards address the following:

  1. Ensuring confidentiality, integrity and availability of all electronic protected health information (ePHI) created, received, maintained, or transmitted by a healthcare entity.
  2. Protecting against any reasonably anticipated threats or hazards to security or integrity of ePHI.
  3. Protecting against any reasonably anticipated uses or disclosures of ePHI that are not permitted or required for the care of the patient.
  4. Ensuring compliance by the workforce

hyperparathyroidism – An excessive hormone production by the parathyroid gland(s).

hyperthyroidism – A condition, also called Graves’ disease, in which the thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormone than the body needs. Symptoms include an enlarged thyroid gland, rapid heart rate, and high blood pressure.

hypothyroidism – A condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone for the body’s needs. Symptoms include weight gain, energy loss, and dry skin.

hysterectomy – Surgical removal of the uterus.

hysterosalpingography (his-ter-O-sal-ping-gog-ru-fE) – Radiography of the uterus and fallopian tubes after the injection of radiopaque material.

image recording plate – Part of an electronic detector used in a digital imaging system. An x-ray machine produces a small burst of radiation that passes through the body, recording an image either on photographic film or, in a digital system, on the image recording plate of an electronic detector, a device that converts the x-rays into digital signals which are in turn sent to a computer to produce images.

image-guided biopsy – The use of imaging modalities, such as ultrasound, mammography or MRI, to assist in targeting a lesion too small to be felt so that cells can be removed from the suspicious area and examined under a microscope to determine whether the abnormality is cancerous.

in situ breast cancer – The early stage of cancer when it is confined to the ducts of the breast where it began and has not invaded the surrounding fatty tissues.

inferior vena cava – The large vein that returns blood from the legs and abdomen to the heart.

inferior vena cava (IVC) filter – A device that is implanted in the inferior vena cava, the large vein that returns blood from the legs to the heart, to prevent blood clots in the lower body from traveling to the heart or lungs.

infusion – Introduction of a fluid, nutrient, or medication directly into a vein by means of gravity flow.

interventional radiologist – A radiologist who specializes in the use of fluoroscopy, CT, and ultrasound to guide passage through the skin by needle puncture, including introduction of wires and catheters for performing procedures such as biopsies, draining fluids, inserting catheters, or dilating or stenting narrowed ducts or vessels.

interventional radiology – The clinical subspecialty that uses minimally invasive image guided procedures or “interventions” to target and treat various diseases without the risk and pain of more invasive surgery.

intervertebral disks – Disk-shaped pads of fibrous tissue that are interposed between the vertebrae.

intravenous (‘inside a vein’) – Frequently a needle will be placed in a vein, often a large arm vein, to deliver fluids and medications, withdraw blood samples, and transfuse blood.

intravenous pyelography (IVP) – Radiography of kidneys, ureters, and bladder following injection of contrast medium into a peripheral vein. For details see the Intravenous Pyelogram page.

invasive (in-vA-siv) – An invasive procedure is typically an “open” operation, such as appendectomy, which requires a surgical incision for exposure of deep structures or organs for performance of an intervention.

invasive breast cancer – Cancer that has spread beyond the layer of tissue in which it first developed and is growing into surrounding, healthy tissues.

isotope (I-sO-tOp) – One of two or more nuclides that are chemically identical, having the same number of protons, yet differ in mass number, since their nuclei contain different numbers of neutrons; individual isotopes are named with the inclusion of their mass number in the superior position (12C) and the atomic number (nuclear protons) in the inferior position (6C). In former usage, the mass numbers follow the chemical symbol (C-12).

Kyphoplasty – A procedure used to treat painful compression fractures in the spine. In a compression fracture, all or part of a spine bone collapses. The procedure is also called balloon kyphoplasty.

laser – A device emitting intense, focused light energy that can destroy tissues as an alternative to conventional surgical removal.

leiomyoma – A benign tumor derived from smooth muscle. In the uterus, commonly called a fibroid.

lesion – An area of abnormal tissue on the skin or within the body caused by injury or disease. A lesion may be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

local anesthesia – The use of medications called anesthetics to produce a temporary loss of sensation in a specific area of the body during a surgical or other medical procedure. While the local area injected with the anesthetic becomes numb, the patient remains awake and responsive.

local anesthetic (“numbing agent”) – A medication, also called a numbing agent, which produces a temporary loss of sensation in a specific area of the body during a surgical or other medical procedure. Local anesthesia may be administered as an injection under the skin or as a topical cream or patch applied to the surface of the skin in order to make the local area numb.

low-dose computed tomography (LDCT)Computed tomography (CT) scanning combines special x-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple, cross-sectional images or pictures of the inside of the body. Low-dose CT or LDCT uses less ionizing radiation than a conventional CT scan

lumbar – Refers to the low back region of the spinal column, which includes five bones, or vertebrae, labeled L-1 through L-5.

lumbar punctureAlso called spinal tap. A minimally invasive diagnostic imaging test that involves the removal of a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid—the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord—or an injection of medication or another substance into the lumbar (or lower) region of the spinal column.

lumpectomy (lum-pek-tO-mE) – The surgical removal of a small tumor (a lump). Lumpectomy generally refers to the removal of a lump from the breast as an alternative to mastectomy, the removal of the entire breast including the lump.

lymph (limf) – A clear, transparent, sometimes faintly yellow and slightly opalescent fluid that is collected from the tissues throughout the body, flows in the lymphatic vessels (through the lymph nodes), and is eventually added to the venous blood circulation. Lymph consists of a clear liquid portion, varying numbers of white blood cells (chiefly lymphocytes), and a few red blood cells.

lymph node biopsy – The removal of all or part of a lymph node to be examined under a microscope by a pathologist (a physician specializing in the examination of cells and tissues) to see if cancer cells are present.

lymph nodes – Small structures throughout the body that filter lymph fluid and collect inflammatory cells, keeping them from spreading infection.

lymphatic system – A network of small channels similar to blood vessels that circulate fluid (called lymph) and cells (lymphocytes) of the immune system throughout the body.

lymphoma – A group of cancers that involve the cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes. There are two major categories of lymphoma: Hodgkin (HL) and non-Hodgkin (NHL).

magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) (an-jE-O-gra-fE) – A method of angiography utilizing the magnetic properties of tissues and body fluids rather than x-rays to record images. For details see the MR Angiography page.

magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (kO-lan-gE-O-pan-KrE-a-tog-ra-fE) – Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) is an examination of the bile ducts and pancreas using magnetic resonance imaging.

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – A diagnostic radiological modality that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body.

mammography (ma-mog-ru-fE) – Imaging examination of the breast by means of x-rays, used for screening and diagnosis of breast disease. Ultrasound and magnetic resonance may also be used to image the breast. For details see the Mammography page.

meningitis – Inflammation in the meninges, the covering of the brain and spinal cord, caused by a virus or bacteria.

microstent – A small wire mesh tube-like device used to hold open an artery following balloon angioplasty.

minimally invasive – A minimally invasive procedure requires a small skin puncture or very limited incision to perform the intervention, which typically involves the insertion of miniaturized instruments. Common examples of minimally invasive procedures would be heart catheterization or temporary placement of an implanted port for chemotherapy.

modality (mO-dal-i-tE) – A form of application or employment of a therapeutic agent or regimen.

MR enterography – A special type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performed with a contrast material to produce detailed images of the small intestine.

MR spectroscopy (MRS) – A variation of conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This diagnostic imaging technique measures the concentration of metabolites, which are produced by chemical reactions in the brain and other areas of the body, and displays the results as a graph. The peaks in the graph represent various metabolites. The concentration of these metabolites can be altered by many diseases, including tumor, infections and trauma.

multi-detector computed tomography (MDCT) – A form of computed tomography technology with a two-dimensional (2-D) detector that produces multiple, thinner slices in a single rotation and a shorter period of time allowing for more detail and additional view capabilities.

myelogram – An x-ray taken after injecting contrast material into the space surrounding the spinal cord. Its purpose is to identify spinal lesions caused by disease or injury.

myelography – A radiographic procedure using contrast material to visualize the spinal column and its contents. See the Myelography page for more information.

myomas – Masses of fiber and muscle tissue in the wall of the uterus, also known as fibroid tumors. Although these tumors are not cancerous, they may cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pain in the pelvic region and pressure on the bladder or bowel.

myomectomy – The surgical removal of fibroids from a woman’s uterus.

needle aspiration – The removal of living tissue for microscopic examination by suction through a fine needle attached to a syringe. The procedure is used primarily to obtain cells from a lesion containing fluid.

needle biopsy – Removal of tissue or suspensions of cells from living patients through a small needle for diagnostic examination.

needle electrode – A fine wire through which electrical current may flow in or out when attached to a power source. There are two types of needle electrodes: simple straight needles and a straight, hollow needle that contains several retractable electrodes that extend when needed. A needle electrode is used to carry high frequency electrical currents that create heat to ablate or destroy diseased tissue (called radiofrequency ablation) or seal blood vessels.

neuroradiology (nUr-rO-rA-dE-ol-O-jE) – The clinical subspecialty concerned with the diagnostic radiology of diseases of the central nervous system, head, and neck.

noninvasive (non-in-vA-siv) – A noninvasive procedure does not require any skin incision or the insertion of any instruments or medical devices. Examples include CT and MR scanning and ultrasound.

NSAID – A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that reduces swelling and pain, such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

nuclear medicine – The clinical discipline concerned with the diagnostic and therapeutic uses of radionuclides (an isotope of artificial or natural origin that exhibits radioactivity), excluding the therapeutic use of sealed radiation sources.

Certain imaging procedures, including PET scanning, employ radionuclides to provide real-time visuals of biochemical processes. One device, a nuclear imaging machine, employs a scintillation camera, which can rotate around the body to pick up radiation emitted by an injected substance (e.g., radioactive iodine, which localizes in the thyroid, or radioactive thallium, which localizes in the heart). Through computerization, a digitized image of a particular organ is produced.

nucleus – The center part of intervertebral discs, sponge-like cushions between the vertebrae, or bones, of the spine. The nucleus is filled with a soft, rubber-like material.

occluded – Blocked.

osteoarthritis – A common condition that usually starts in middle age and is characterized by degenerative changes in the bone and cartilage of one or more joints

osteomyelitis (os-tE-O-mI-e-LI-tis) – Inflammation of the bone marrow and adjacent bone.

osteopenia – Reduction in bone volume to below-normal levels; the first stage of bone loss; an early-warning sign pointing to an increased risk of developing full-blown osteoporosis.

osteoporosis (os-tE-O-pOr-O-sis) – A condition of reduced bone mass, with decreased outer thickness and a decrease in the number and size of the spongy structures in the bone (but normal chemical composition), resulting in increased fracture incidence. Osteoporosis is classified as primary (Type 1, postmenopausal osteoporosis; Type 2, age-associated osteoporosis; and idiopathic, which can affect juveniles, premenopausal women, and middle-aged men) and secondary osteoporosis (which results from an identifiable cause of bone mass loss). See the Osteoporosis page for additional information.

papilloma – A non-cancerous tumor of the milk duct.

paracentesis – A minimally invasive procedure in which a thin needle or tube is inserted into the abdomen to remove excess fluid from the peritoneal cavity.

parathyroid glands – Typically four small raisin-sized glands in the neck primarily involved in the regulation of calcium and phosphorus levels in the body.

parathyroid imaging – Evaluation of the parathyroid glands (typically four small raisin sized glands in the neck primarily involved in the regulation of calcium and phosphorus levels in the body) can be accomplished with a nuclear medicine technique using a material called Sestamibi or the parathyroid glands can be imaged with ultrasound, CT or MRI.

particulate agents – Synthetic materials that are suspended in liquid and injected into a blood vessel to form a permanent roadblock preventing blood flow. They are used in embolization procedures to stop bleeding or block arteries that provide blood flow to a tumor.

percutaneous (per-kyU-tA-nE-u) – Denoting the passage of substances through unbroken skin, as in absorption
of an ointment containing the active ingredient; also passage through the skin by needle puncture, including introduction of wires and catheters.

peripheral vascular disease (PVD) – Arteriosclerosis in arteries of the arms or legs, which become narrow from the build up of plaque and eventually may cause severe symptoms. The most common form is disease in large vessels supplying the legs, which causes severe pain on walking and may in time make a patient immobile. PVD is sometimes called peripheral artery disease (PAD).

peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) – A special type of catheter used in a vascular access procedure that is inserted inside a major vein for a period of weeks, or months so that blood can be repeatedly drawn or medication and nutrients can be injected into the patient’s bloodstream on regular basis. Unlike a standard intravenous catheter (IV) which is for short term use, a vascular access catheter is more durable and does not easily become blocked or infected. The peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) typically provides access for 4-8 weeks but may remain in place for up to six months.

phlebectomy – Excision of a segment of a vein, performed sometimes for the cure of varicose veins.

phlebitis – Painful inflammation of the veins.

Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) – A computer system for acquiring, storing, viewing, and managing digital medical imaging studies and related information.

pituitary gland – An endocrine gland located beneath the brain that supplies numerous hormones that govern many vital processes in the body.

plaque (plak) – A build-up of fat and other substances on the inner wall of a blood vessel. In time, plaque may build up and limit blood flow through the vessel.

positron emission tomography (PET) – Positron emission tomography, also called PET or a PET scan, is a diagnostic examination that involves the development of biologic images based on the detection of subatomic particles. These particles are emitted from a radioactive substance given to the patient. The subsequent views of the human body are used to evaluate function.

protected health information (PHI) – Any information relating to a patient’s physical or mental health, the details of one’s care, or the payment for that health care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines all of the following as individually identifiable health information:

  1. Names and addresses
  2. Identifying Dates – date of birth, date of admission, date of examination.
  3. Specific age if over 89 years old.
  4. Telephone and Fax numbers, Social Security numbers, medical record or account numbers, employee numbers, health plan numbers, email addresses, vehicle identifiers, license numbers.
  5. Full face images or biometric identifiers such as finger and/or voice prints.
  6. Any unique identification numbers, codes or characteristics that may be traced back to an individual.

pyelography (pI-a-log-ru-fE) – Radiologic study of the kidney, ureters, and usually the bladder, performed with the aid of a contrast material either injected intravenously, or directly through a ureteral or nephrostomy catheter or percutaneously.

radiation (rA-dE-A-shun)

  1. The act or condition of diverging in all directions from a center.
  2. The sending forth of light, short radio waves, ultraviolet or x-rays, or any other rays for treatment or diagnosis or for other purpose.
  3. Radiant energy from waves or subatomic particles

radiofrequency ablation – A treatment technique that uses high-frequency alternating electrical current to destroy tissue cells by heating them.

radiofrequency electrodes – An electrode is a fine wire through which electrical current may flow in or out when attached to a power source. A radiofrequency electrode carries high frequency electromagnetic waves that creates heat to ablate or destroy tissue (called radiofrequency ablation) or to seal blood vessels.

radiographic (rA-dE-a-graf-ic) – Referring to the examination of any part of the body for diagnostic purposes by means of x-rays or other diagnostic modalities.

radiography (rA-dE-a-graf-E) – Examination of any part of the body for diagnostic purposes by means of x-rays with the record of the findings usually impressed upon a photographic.

radioisotope bone scan – A nuclear imaging examination that produces pictures of bones to help detect abnormalities caused by disease or injury. During a bone scan, a small amount of radioactive material is injected into the body and collects in the bones.

radiologist (rA-dE-Ol-O-jist) – A physician trained in the diagnostic and/or therapeutic use of x-rays and radionuclides, radiation physics, and biology; a diagnostic radiologist may also be trained in diagnostic ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging and applicable physics.

radiology (rA-dE-ol-O-jE)

  1. The science of high energy radiation and of the sources and the chemical, physical, and biologic effects of such radiation; the term usually refers to the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
  2. The scientific discipline of medical imaging using ionizing radiation, radionuclides, nuclear magnetic resonance, and ultrasound.

Radiology Information System (RIS) – A special case of a hospital information system (HIS) tailored to radiological imaging, containing information such as imaging examination orders, schedules on imaging modalities, imaging device parameters, billing codes and information.

radiolucent – Almost completely transparent to x-rays.

referring physician – Usually a family physician who sends a patient to a specialist for more information or treatment.

regional anesthesia – The injection of a local anesthetic, a medication that produce a temporary loss of sensation, near a specific group of nerves in order to block sensation in a larger, but still limited, area of the body supplied by those nerves.

restenosis – The gradual re-closing of an artery after it has been widened through a procedure such as angioplasty.

rheumatoid arthritis – A chronic autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system attacks the lining, cartilage, bones, and supporting structures of multiple joints.

sacroiliac joint – joint in the pelvis between the sacrum and the ilium of the pelvis


  1. To survey by traversing with an active or passive sensing device.
  2. The image, record, or data obtained by scanning, usually identified by the technology or device employed; e.g., CT scan, radionuclide scan, ultrasound scan, etc.
  3. Abbreviated form of scintiscan (scintigraphy), usually identified by the organ or structure examined; e.g., brain scan, bone scan, etc.

sciatica – Painful inflammation of the sciatic nerve that sometimes results from a herniated intervertebral disc in the spine.

sclerosing – Liquid chemicals or alcohols used to destroy blood vessels in an embolization procedure. Sclerosing damages the inner lining of a vessel and causes blood clots (a thickened mass of blood) to form, thus preventing blood flow through the vessel.

scoliosis – A lateral curvature of the spine that usually develops in childhood or adolescence.

screening mammography – Imaging examination of the breast by means of x-rays, of individuals usually without signs or symptoms to detect those with a high probability of having breast disease.

sedation, conscious – A combination of medicines given to help you relax (a sedative) and to block pain (an anesthetic) during a medical or dental procedure. You will generally remain awake but may not be able to speak or have memory of the procedure.

sedation, deep – A deep level of sedation, in which patients will generally sleep during the procedure without responding to painful stimulation. Patients will be able to breathe on their own and in many cases will receive oxygen from a face mask. See sedation, minimal and moderate.

sedative – A drug that allows you to relax during a procedure like angiography, often without putting you to sleep.

serial paracentesis – A minimally invasive procedure in which excess fluids in the abdomen are repeatedly withdrawn, either through a needle inserted directly into the peritoneal cavity or through a catheter connected to a peritoneal port, a small reservoir or chamber surgically implanted under the skin near the abdomen.

short-bore MRI system – A type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit. The traditional MRI unit is a large cylinder-shaped tube surrounded by a circular magnet. The patient lies on a moveable examination table that slides in the center of the magnet. The short-bore system is designed so that the body part that is being scanned remains in the magnet. The short-bore nature of the magnet allows the body part not being scanned to potentially be “outside” of the magnet. Patients often report the short-bore MRI system is less claustrophobic than a traditional MRI unit.

single-photon emission-computed tomography (SPECT) – An imaging test that uses a gamma camera and a computer to create three-dimensional (3-D) images of the distribution of a radiotracer in the body. SPECT is used to study blood flow through the heart muscle, the brain, bones and to detect infection and certain types of tumors.

sonographer (so-nog-ru-fer) – An allied health professional who has been specifically trained to perform ultrasound examinations. Many sonographers are certified by a registry of sonographers, provided they meet strict training requirements and pass examinations in basic ultrasound science and clinical applications.

sonography (so-nog-ru-fE) – The location, measurement, or delineation of deep structures by measuring the reflection or transmission of high frequency or ultrasonic waves. Computer calculation of the distance to the sound reflecting or absorbing surface plus the known orientation of the sound beam gives a two- or three-dimensional image. Syn: ultrasonography.

spinal anesthesia – Administration of a local anesthetic into the subarachnoid space, a fluid filled space surrounding the spinal cord. Generally used to prevent pain and movement in areas below the chest and extending to the feet.

spinal canal – The cavity within the vertebral column through which the spinal cord passes.

spinal cord – A cylindrical bundle of nerves, lying within the vertebral column, that carries sensory messages from peripheral nerves to the brain, and motor impulses from the brain to the body’s muscles.

spinal fusion – Surgical fixation of an unstable segment of the spine.

spot films – X-rays of a localized region, usually under study by fluoroscopy.

stenosis, pl. stenoses (sten-O-sis, sten-O-sEs)

  1. A stricture of any canal; especially, a narrowing of one of the cardiac valves.
  2. Narrowing of an opening or passageway in the body. Stenosis of an artery may reduce blood flow through the vessel


  1. Device used to maintain a bodily orifice or cavity during skin grafting, or to immobilize a skin graft after placement.
  2. Slender thread, rod, or catheter, lying within the space in the interior of a tubular structure, such as an artery or the intestine. Used to provide support during or after opening surgically, or to assure the opening of an intact but contracted lumen.
  3. A semi-rigid tube-like device used to keep an artery open after angioplasty.

stent graft – A synthetic tube-like device used to replace a portion of an artery that has weakened and bulged (called an aneurysm).

stenting – The act of placing a stent.

stereotactic biopsy – An x-ray procedure that uses multiple coordinates to precisely determine the location of a tumor or nodule so that a tissue sample may be obtained.

thoracic – Refers to the chest or ribs region of the spinal column, which includes twelve bones, or vertebrae labeled T-1 through T-12.

thrombosis – A blood clot or thrombus that forms in a blood vessel or organ of the body, potentially blocking the flow of blood.

thyroid gland (thI-rOYd) – One of nine endocrine glands in the body, located in front of the neck just below the Adam’s apple. It is shaped like a butterfly, with two lobes on either side of the neck connected by a narrow band of tissue. The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones that set the rate the body carries on its necessary functions (metabolic rate). Some of the functions controlled by thyroid hormones include heart rate, cholesterol level, body weight, energy level, muscle strength, skin condition and vision.

thyroid scan – A nuclear medicine examination that helps evaluate the structure of the thyroid. The thyroid is a gland in the neck that controls metabolism, a chemical process that regulates the rate at which the body functions.

thyroid uptakeAlso known as radioactive iodine uptake test (RAIU). A nuclear medicine examination that helps evaluate the function of the thyroid. The thyroid is a gland in the neck that controls metabolism, a chemical process that regulates the rate at which the body functions

tomography (tO-mog-ru-fE) – Making a radiographic image of a selected plane by means of reciprocal linear or curved motion of the x-ray tube and film cassette; images of all other planes are blurred (“out of focus”) by being relatively displaced on the film.

transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) – A small, tubular metal device commonly called a stent or stent-graft that is placed in the middle of the liver to connect the hepatic vein and portal vein, creating a shunt between the systemic and portal venous system. The shunt is placed in an attempt to decrease portal pressure and sometimes used to treat recurrent ascites.

turgidity – Veins that carry blood from throughout the body to the heart rely on a series of valves that work like gates to prevent blood from flowing backwards. When valves are not working properly, the normal flow of blood slows and creates pockets of backflow, called turgidity, where clots can develop

ulcers (of the skin) – An open sore or irritation on the skin.

ultrasonography (ul-tra-so-nog-ru-fE) – The location, measurement, or delineation of deep structures by measuring the reflection or transmission of high frequency or ultrasonic waves. Computer calculation of the distance to the sound-reflecting or absorbing surface plus the known orientation of the sound beam gives a two- or three-dimensional image.

ultrasound, diagnostic (ul-tra-sownd) – Ultrasound imaging, also known as ultrasound scanning or sonography, is a method of obtaining images from inside the human body through the use of high frequency sound waves. The soundwaves’ echoes are recorded and displayed as a real-time, visual image. No ionizing radiation is involved in ultrasound imaging

Urography (yU-rog-ru-fE) – Radiography of any part (kidneys, ureters, or bladder) of the urinary tract.

uterine fibroid embolization – A minimally invasive treatment for fibroid tumors of the uterus, , in which a synthetic material called an embolic agent is placed inside one or more of the blood vessels that supply the tumors with blood. As the vessels close off, the fibroid tissue shrinks. See the Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE) page for more information.

varicose – Abnormally swollen and enlarged.

varicose veins – When veins, typically in the legs, become less elastic and the one-way valves that normally prevent blood from flowing backward malfunction, blood pools in the vessels resulting in varicose or enlarged and knotty veins.

vascular (vas-kyU-lar) – Relating to or containing blood vessels.

vascular disease – Any condition that affects the (circulatory) system of blood vessels that pumps blood from the heart throughout the rest of the body. This includes diseases of the arteries, veins, and lymph vessels and blood disorders that affect circulation.

vascular stenting – Often performed with angioplasty, a procedure in which a small wire mesh tube called a stent is permanently placed in a newly opened artery to help it stay open. For details see the Angioplasty and Vascular Stenting page.

vasography (vA-sog-ru-fE) – Radiography of the the secretory duct of the testicle (vas deferens), to determine patency (the state of being freely open), by injecting contrast medium into its opening either through the urethra or by incision into the vas deferens.

vein – One of a large system of branching vessels that collect blood which the arteries have distributed to body tissues and returns it to the heart and then the lungs.

vein stripping – A procedure in which varicose veins, abnormally swollen and enlarged blood vessels, are removed surgically, usually from the leg.

venogram – X-ray imaging of the veins following contrast material injection into the veins.

venography (vE-nog-ra-fE) – A type of x-ray in which contrast material is injected into a vein to show the details of its structure and any abnormality that may be present.

venous insufficiency – Enlarged veins that cause circulatory problems.

vertebra – One of the bones that extend from the upper neck to the pelvic level and serve to enclose and protect the spinal cord.

vertebrae – The bony segments of the spinal column which contain and protect the spinal cord.

vertebral compression fractures – Fractures of the vertebrae caused by the compression, or excessive pushing, of one bone against another.

vertebroplasty – Vertebroplasty is an image-guided, minimally invasive, nonsurgical therapy used to strengthen a broken vertebra (spinal bone) that has been weakened by osteoporosis or, less commonly, cancer.

wire localization – Guided by an imaging modality such as magnetic resonance imaging, a wire is inserted through a hollow needle to a lesion, or suspicious area of cells and tissue. The wire then guides the surgeon to the area so that the abnormal tissue can be surgically removed for examination.

x-ray (X-Ra)

  1. The ionizing electromagnetic radiation emitted from a highly evacuated tube, resulting from the excitation of the inner orbital electrons by the bombardment of the target anode with a stream of electrons from a heated cathode.
  2. Ionizing electromagnetic radiation produced by the excitation of the inner orbital electrons of an atom by other processes, such as nuclear delay and its sequelae.
  3. A radiograph.