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GLOSSARY
Of Terms
divider Common Terms Medical Procedures and Services Frequently Used Health Insurance Terms

Medical Procedures and Services

Medical Glossary

This glossary includes descriptions of the common medical procedures and services included in the menu for the Medical Cost Lookup.

A

Acupuncture - A form of Chinese medicine; very thin needles are placed into the skin at certain points on the body to improve health and well-being, relieve pain or treat illnesses.
 
Adenoidectomy - Surgery to remove the adenoids, which are glands located in the back of the nose near the throat.
 
Amniocentesis - a pre-natal test that examines a small amount of fluid from the uterus, which may be used to identify certain birth defects in a developing baby (fetus).
 
Appendectomy - Surgery to remove an inflamed or infected appendix (appendicitis). Different methods for removing the appendix exist. In an open appendectomy, a cut is made in the lower right abdomen, and the appendix is pulled out through this incision. In a laparoscopic appendectomy (minimally invasive technique), tiny cuts (incisions) are made in the abdomen and a small camera is inserted through the incisions into the abdomen to help guide the removal of the appendix .
 
Arthroscopy - a procedure that can visually examine a joint, such as the knee, hip, wrist or shoulder. The physician inserts a rigid or flexible tube with a tiny camera, called an arthroscope, under the skin to diagnose and/or repair joint problems.
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B

Biopsy - A procedure to remove a small sample of body tissue or fluid to be examined for presence of disease. Biopsies can be done surgically or a needle can be used to obtain the tissue sample
 
Bone Scan - an imaging test that uses a radioactive “tracer” to detect changes in the bone, which may indicate bone injury or disease.
 
Breast Reduction - Surgery to reduce the size and reshape the breast, also known as reduction mammoplasty.
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C

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - Pain, tingling and other symptoms caused by pinching of the median nerve that runs from the arm to the hand passing through a small space in the wrist called the “carpal tunnel.”  In carpaltunnel surgery, ligaments are cut to relieve pressure on the median nerve.
 
Cataract Surgery - Is performed to remove cataracts, which are painless, cloudy areas in the lens of the eye that can interfere with vision.
 
Cesarean Section - (also called a C-section); a procedure whereby the baby is delivered through an incision in the mother's abdomen.
 
Chemotherapy - A treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells or prevent them from multiplying.
 
Chiropractic - A therapeutic system based on the principle that many disorders, especially those of the nervous system, can be treated through hands-on manipulation of the spinal column.
 
Cholecystectomy - Surgery to remove an inflamed or infected gallbladder.  The gallbladder is an organ that stores bile, which is made in the liver.  Bile aids in the digestion of fatty foods.
 
Chorionic Villus Sampling - A pre-natal test that looks for potential genetic disorders in cases where certain risk factors are present, such as the mother’s age or family history.
 
Colonoscopy - A visual exam of the large intestine (rectum and colon) performed with a flexible fiberoptic scope.  Colonoscopies can be performed as a screening test for colon cancer, and may be used to diagnose and treat other conditions.
 
Consultation - An evaluation by a medical professional who is not treating the patient to provide information on the presence of disease, compromised function and potential treatment options.
 
CT Scan - Sometimes called a CAT scan; x-ray technology is used to provide detailed pictures of the inside of the body.  A CT scan generates a clearer image than a regular x-ray.
 
Culture - A laboratory test that examines a sample of blood, urine, skin or other tissue to look for potential causes of infection or disease
 
Cystoscopy - A visual exam of the urinary tract performed with a rigid scope which enables the physician to look into the urethra and examine the bladder.
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D

DEXA - A bone density test that uses an x-ray to evaluate bone strength.
 
Dilation and Curettage (D&C) - Surgical procedures typically performed at the same time to open and widen (dilate) the cervix, and to scrape to remove the uterus lining (curettage).
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E

EKG - An abbreviation for electrocardiogram. Sensors, or electrodes, are placed on the skin to measure the electrical activity of the heart. The electrical activity, shown as a graph, helps physicians assess the regularity of a patient’s heartbeat.
 
Electrical Stimulation - Electrical stimulators and supplies are used for managing pain and wound healing.
 
 
Endoscopy - A visual exam using a flexible fiberoptic scope to examine a specific part of the body. In an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), the physician examines the upper digestive tract including the esophagus (swallowing tube), stomach and the duodenum, the upper part of the small intestines. 
 
Epidural Anesthesia - Anesthesia administered through an injection near the spine; the patient is awake but numb from the chest to the legs.  Epidurals are often used during childbirth.
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F

Femoral Hernia - A hernia that forms between the abdomen and thigh.
 
Fibroid - A benign (non-cancerous) lump or tumor, located in the muscle of the uterus (a women’s womb). 
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G

Gallbladder Removal (Cholecystectomy) - Surgery to remove an inflamed or infected gallbladder.  The gallbladder is an organ that stores bile, which is made in the liver.  Bile aids in the digestion of fatty foods.
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H

Hemorrhoid Removal - Surgery to remove hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in the anal area that can bleed or be painful
 
Hernia - A hole, tear or other weakening where part of an organ is displaced and protrudes through the wall of the cavity containing it.  Hernias can occur in different areas of the body, including the groin (inguinal hernia), navel, the site of a surgical incision, the abdomen and between the abdomen and thigh (femoral hernia). An organ or tissue can get stuck in a hernia.
 
Hysterectomy - Surgery to remove a woman's uterus.
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I

Imaging Tests - Tests that enable the healthcare professional to view organs, tissue, bone and other parts of the body.  X-Rays, CT (Cat) scans, MRIs, PET scans and ultrasound are types of imaging tests.
 
Implant (Breast) - A soft silicone shell filled with either silicone gel or a saline (saltwater) solution that is fitted under the breast tissue or chest muscle beneath the breast.  Implants are used in breast reconstruction or augmentation surgery.
 
Incontinences/Ostomy Supplies - Incontinence and ostomy supplies are medical devices that are used for collecting urine and waste materials.
 
Inguinal Hernia - A hernia that forms in the groin area.
 
Intravenous Infusion (also known as IV) - Intravenous (“within a vein”) infusions refer to the administration of fluids and drugs through a needle or tube which is inserted directly into a vein.
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L

Lumpectomy (also known as breast-conserving surgery) - This procedure removes tumors and small portions of the surrounding healthy tissue while conserving the breast. Implants are used in breast reconstruction or augmentation surgery.
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M

Mammogram - A low-dose x-ray of breast tissue that is often used to screen and diagnose abnormal growths in the breast.
 
Mastectomy - Surgery to remove a breast.  Mastectomy can be performed for cases of breast cancer or as a prophylactic surgery when the patient is at an increased risk of developing tumors in the breast.
 
MRI Scan - Abbreviation for Magnetic Resonance Imaging; an imaging test that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to take detailed pictures of the inside of the body.
 
Myomectomy - Surgery to remove uterine fibroids, which leaves the uterus in place.
 
Myringotomy - In this surgery, a small hole is made in the ear drum and, in many cases, a small tube is inserted into the hole, to drain fluid that becomes trapped in the middle ear.
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N

Nerve Block - An injection that can help to relieve pain by interrupting signals sent by an affected nerve to the brain.
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O

Orthotic Devices - Orthotics are medical devices that are used for treatment of the neuromuscular and skeletal system. 

Orthopedics - The medical specialty that deals with the treatment of the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
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P

Pap Smear - Also called a pap test; a test which involves taking a sample of cells from the cervix (the opening to the uterus) to screen for cervical cancer in women.
 
Pathology - The study of the nature and course of a disease; pathology reports describe the diagnosis and process of a disease after examination of tissue and other samples.
 
Prostate - Part of the male reproductive system; a gland that produces and stores seminal fluid, the milky liquid that forms part of semen. An enlarged prostate usually causes difficulty in urination, because the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) runs through the prostate gland.
 
PSA Test - A blood test that measures levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA). High levels of PSA may be a sign of prostate cancer.
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R

Radiation Therapy - A type of therapy used to destroy cancer cells and other diseases with high-energy particles.
 
Respirator and Oxygen Equipment - Respirator and oxygen equipment are used by people who have difficulty breathing.
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S

Sleep Apnea Devices -Sleep apnea devices are used to increase airflow to the lungs.

Steroids - Medicine that is used to help relieve pain and inflammation in specific parts of the body. Steroids are available in pill, inhaled and enema forms or may be injected into specific body parts to relieve joint pain.  Cortisone shots are a form of steroids used to relieve pain in the ankle, elbow, hip, knee, shoulder, spine and wrist.

 
Stress Test - Often performed to assess the health of the heart, this test measures how the body functions under stress. The patient’s change in blood pressure, pulse and heart activity is measured during a gradual increase in physical activity.
 
Synvisc - An elastic and viscous artificial fluid made from hyaluronan, a substance found in actual joint fluid.  Synvisc may be injected to lubricate and cushion the joint to relieve pain associated with advanced cases of osteoarthritis.   
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T

Tonsillectomy - Surgery to remove the tonsils, which are glands located at the back of the throat.
 
Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP) - Surgery to remove the part of the prostate gland that is blocking the flow of urine.
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U

Ultrasound - Also referred to as a sonogram, this test uses sound waves to create images of the inside of the body.
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W

Wound Care Supplies -  Wound care supplies are used for improving the healing of a wound. 

X

X-Ray - Uses small electromagnetic radiation to take pictures of the body.