Medical
Glossary


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D.
D and C

see Dilatation and Curettage

Debridement

surgical removal of dead, damaged, or infected tissue, or some foreign material from a wound or burn

Decompression sickness

the formation of gas bubbles in the body's tissues as a result of a scuba diver ascending too quickly from depth; commonly called the bends

Deep-vein thrombosis

the formation of a blood clot inside of a deep-lying vein, usually in the legs

Defecation

the passing of faeces out of the body through the anus; a bowel movement

Defibrillation

a short electric shock to the chest to normalise an irregular heartbeat

Degenerative arthritis

the breakdown of the cartilage lining the bones in joints, usually weight-bearing joints (such as the knee); causes stiffness and pain (also called osteoarthritis)

Dehydration

excessive, dangerous loss of water from the body

Deiodinase enzymes

Deiodinase enzymes are the proteins which selectively remove iodine from the thyroxine molecule T4 to produce the active ingredient T3. Deficiencies in these enzymes can lead to a fall in levels of T3.

Dementia

a gradual decline in mental ability usually caused by a brain disease, such as Alzheimer disease

Depilatory

a chemical hair remover

Depot injection

injection of a drug into a muscle; the drug is designed to absorb slowly into the body

Depression

feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and a general disinterest in life, which for the most part have no cause and may be the result of a psychiatric illness

Dermabrasion

removal of the surface layer of skin with a sanding wheel to treat scarring or to remove tattoos

Dermatitis

inflammation of the skin

Dermis

the inner skin layer

Desensitisation

the process of making a person less allergic to a substance by injecting gradually increasing amounts of the substance; sometimes done to prevent anaphylactic shock

Detoxification

treatment given either to fight a person's dependence on alcohol or other drugs or to rid the body of a poisonous substance and its effects

Dextrocardia

a rare genetic condition in which the heart is located on the right side of the body, instead of the left

Dextrose

another name for the sugar glucose

Diabetes insipidus

a rare condition characterised by increased urine production

Diabetes mellitus

a common form of diabetes in which the body cannot properly store or use glucose (sugar), the body's main source of energy

Dialysis

a procedure to treat kidney failure in which artificial means are used to filter waste, maintain acid-base balance, and remove excess fluid from the body

Diaper rash

a common condition in babies in which the skin in the diaper area becomes irritated and red, usually because of exposure to urine, faeces, or heat

Diaphragm

the large, dome-shaped muscle separating the abdomen and chest that contracts and relaxes to make breathing possible; also, a thin, rubber dome that is used as a method of female contraception

Diastolic pressure

the blood pressure measured when the heart is at rest between beats

Diathermy

the use of high-frequency currents, microwaves, or ultrasound to produce heat in the body to increase blood flow, relieve pain, or destroy diseased tissue

Digestive enzyme

Digestive enzymes are specialised proteins that are essential for digesting larger proteins, carbohydrates and fats into smaller chunks that are easily absorbed through the lining of the bowel wall into the bloodstream. They are predominantly released from the body and tail end of the pancreas gland.

Dilatation and Curettage

a procedure in which the vagina and cervix are widened and the lining of the uterus is scraped away to diagnose and treat disorders of the uterus

Diphtheria

a bacterial infection that causes a fever, headache, sore throat, and possibly death; diphtheria is rare in developed countries

Disk prolapse

a disorder in which one of the disks located between the vertebrae in the spine breaks down and the pulpy interior squeezes out, causing pressure on a nerve; commonly called a "slipped" or "ruptured" disk

Dislocation

displacement of the two bones in a joint

Distention

swelling, enlargement, or stretching

Diuretic

a drug that increases the amount of water in the urine, removing excess water from the body; used in treating high blood pressure and fluid retention

Diverticulitis

inflammation of diverticula (small sacs in the intestine's inner lining); can cause fever, pain, and tenderness

DNA

deoxyribonucleic acid; responsible for passing genetic information in nearly all organisms

Dominant gene

a gene that always produces its effect when it is present

Dopamine

a chemical that transmits messages in the brain and plays a role in movement

Down syndrome

a genetic disorder in which a person's cells have 1 too many chromosomes, causing moderate to severe mental handicap and a characteristic appearance

Duchenne muscular dystrophy

a genetic condition in boys in which nerves degenerate and muscles get progressively weaker

Duodenal ulcer

an erosion in the inner lining of the wall of the first part of the small intestine (called the duodenum)

Duodenum

the first part of the small intestine, immediately following the stomach

Dysentery

a severe intestinal infection, causing abdominal pain and diarrhoea with blood or mucus

Dyspnoea

difficulty breathing

Dystrophy

any disorder in which cells become damaged or do not develop properly because they do not receive adequate nutrition

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