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Digestive Diseases Glossary of Terms


Hemorrhoid: Enlarged or swollen vein within the anus or rectum.

Hemorrhoidectomy: Surgery to remove hemorrhoids.

HIDA scan: Also called cholescintigraphy, during this test a radioactive material, called hydroxy iminodiacetic acid (HIDA), is injected into the patient. The test is used to diagnose certain conditions of the liver and gallbladder.

Jaundice: A yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes that occurs when levels of the pigment bilirubin are abnormally high. This may occur when the liver is not working properly or when a bile duct is blocked.

Jejunostomy tube: A feeding tube that is inserted in a surgical procedure through the abdomen into the part of the small intestine called the jejunum. Nutrients are put into the tube to feed the patient who is unable to swallow.

Laparoscopic surgery: "Minimally invasive" surgery in which small (usually 5- to 10-millimeter) incisions are made. The laparoscope and surgical instruments are inserted through these incisions. The surgeon is guided by the laparoscope, which transmits a picture of the internal organs on a monitor.

Lipase: Enzyme produced in the pancreas and secreted into the small intestine that aids in the digestion of certain fats from food.

Liver function tests (LFTs): Also known as hepatic enzymes or liver blood tests, they can show evidence of conditions affecting the normal functioning of the liver, gallbladder or bile ducts.

Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas.

Parenteral nutrition: A feeding method in which nutrients go directly into the bloodstream through a catheter placed into a vein.

Proton pump inhibitors: Drugs that suppress acid production in the stomach.

Sclerotherapy: A procedure in which a chemical irritant solution is injected into a vein to sclerose, or harden it by causing scar formation. This forces blood flow to nearby healthy blood vessels. Sclerotherapy may be performed to treat hemorrhoids, esophageal varices, and varicose and spider veins.

Secretin: A hormone made in the small intestines that aids in digestion.

Secretin stimulation test: Test that measures the ability of the pancreas to respond to the hormone secretin.

Ultrasound: The use of high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the organs and structures inside the body.

Vagus nerve: Also called cranial nerve ten, the vagus nerve regulates the function of numerous organs of the body from the throat and voice box to the trachea (windpipe), lungs, heart, and most of the intestinal tract. It also brings sensory information to the brain from the ears, tongue, and throat.

Villi: Hair-like structures that line the small intestine and absorb nutrients from food.

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome: A rare disorder of the gastrointestinal system caused by a tumor called a gastrinoma. Gastrinomas most often occur in the pancreas. The tumor secretes the hormone gastrin, which increases acid levels in the stomach, leading to severe, recurrent ulcers of the esophagus, stomach, and intestines.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on July 11, 2012

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