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Medical
Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

V.
V/Q lung scans

images produced by radionuclide scanning of the lungs; used to help diagnose a pulmonary embolism

Vaccination

a form of immunisation in which killed or weakened micro-organisms are placed into the body, where antibodies against them are developed; if the same types of micro-organisms enter the body again, they will be destroyed by the antibodies

Vaccine

a preparation of weakened micro-organisms given to create resistance to a certain disease

Vacuum aspiration

removal of the contents of the uterus using a suction device

Vacuum extraction

a technique used to facilitate childbirth using a suction device to help move the baby through the birth canal

Vagina

the muscular passage connecting the uterus with the outside genitals; a component of the female reproductive system

Vaginismus

an involuntary muscle spasm at the opening of the vagina when sexual intercourse is attempted; can be quite painful and may make sexual intercourse nearly impossible

Vaginitis

inflammation of the vagina, which can be the result of infection, ageing, a hormone deficiency, or a foreign object (such as a tampon)

Valve

a structure that allows fluid flow in only one direction

Valvotomy

surgical correction of a narrowed heart valve

Valvular heart disease

a heart valve defect

Valvuloplasty

reconstruction or repair of a narrowed heart valve

Varicella

the medical term for chickenpox

Varices

enlarged or twisted blood or lymph vessels

Varicocele

the appearance of varicose veins around the testicles; commonly occurs and is harmless, but may cause discomfort

Varicose veins

enlarged, twisted veins just below the surface of the skin, caused by defective valves in the veins

Variola

another term for smallpox

Vas deferens

a thin tube that stores and transports sperm

Vascular

pertaining to blood vessels

Vasculitis

inflammation of blood vessels

Vasectomy

a usually permanent method of sterilisation in which the tubes carrying sperm from the testicles (the vas deferens) are cut and tied off; as a result, the semen will no longer contain sperm

Vasoconstriction

narrowing of blood vessels

Vasodilation

widening of blood vessels

Vasovagal attack

a sudden slowing of the heart, causing fainting

VD

see Venereal disease

Vein

a blood vessel that carries blood toward the heart

Venepuncture

piercing of a vein with a hollow needle to inject fluid or withdraw blood

Venereal disease

any disease that is usually spread through sexual intercourse or genital contact

Venography

an X-ray procedure for viewing veins

Venom

a poisonous substance produced by certain animals

Ventilation

the process through which oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged between the lungs and the air; also refers to the use of a machine to carry out this process in someone who cannot breathe on his or her own

Ventilator

a machine used to take over breathing when a person cannot breathe on his or her own

Ventricle

a small cavity or chamber; there are four ventricles in the brain that circulate cerebrospinal fluid through it, and two in the heart that pump blood throughout the body

Ventricular fibrillation

rapid, irregular contractions of the heart

Ventricular septal defect

a hole in the wall that separates the two lower chambers of the heart (called the ventricles)

Vernix

the thick, greasy substance that covers the skin of a new-born baby

Version

a shift in the position of the foetus inside of the uterus, either occurring naturally or as performed by a doctor to facilitate delivery

Vertebra

any one of the 33 bones that make up the spine

Vertebral arteries

a pair of arteries running up the neck to supply the brain with blood

Vertebrobasilar insufficiency

episodes of dizziness and weakness caused by insufficient blood flow to the brain

Vertex presentation

the usual, head-first presentation of the foetus during delivery

Vertigo

the feeling that one or one's surroundings are spinning

Very low-density lipoprotein

a class of blood proteins, a high level of which is associated with coronary heart disease

Vesicle

a small skin blister, or any sac in the body, that contains fluid

Vestibular glands

two small glands located at the opening of the vagina that secrete a lubricating fluid during sexual stimulation

Villi

the millions of finger-like projections on the lining of the small intestine that aid in the absorption of food

Viraemia

the presence of viruses in the blood

Viral

a term describing something related to or caused by a virus

Virilization

the process by which a woman develops male characteristics; caused by overproduction of male sex hormones

Virulence

the relative ability of an organism to cause disease

Virus

the smallest known disease-causing micro-organism; viruses are very simple in structure and can only multiply when they are inside the cell of another organism

Visual acuity

a measure of the sharpness of a person's vision

Visual field

the area on both sides that can be seen while looking straight ahead

Vital sign

any sign, such as a pulse, that indicates that a person is alive

Vitamin A

a vitamin essential for normal growth and development of the body (most notably the bones and teeth), protection of mucous membranes from infection, normal vision, and healthy skin and hair

Vitamin B complex

a group of vitamins including thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, and folic acid; plays a variety of important roles in the body, including in hormone production, metabolism, and functioning of the nerves, muscle, heart, and digestive system

Vitamin B12

a vitamin that is essential to the production of DNA (the genetic material in cells) and red blood cells and in the functioning of the nervous system

Vitamin B6

a vitamin that plays an important role in the breakdown and use of energy sources, production of red blood cells and antibodies, and normal functioning of the nervous system

Vitamin C

a vitamin with many essential roles, including in maintaining healthy bones, teeth, gums, ligaments, and blood vessels and in the immune system's response to infection

Vitamin D

a vitamin that plays a role in the absorption of calcium by the intestines and is essential for healthy bones and teeth

Vitamin E

a vitamin that protects tissues from damage by oxygen free radicals, helps to form red blood cells, maintains the function of enzymes, and maintains cell structure

Vitamin K

a vitamin that is essential for normal blood clotting and the body's absorption of calcium

Vitamins

complex substances that are necessary in small amounts to maintain health and ensure proper development and functioning of the body

Vitiligo

a condition in which patches of skin on the body lose their colour; thought to be caused by the immune system attacking the skin tissues, causing the absence of melanin

Vitreous humour

the clear, watery fluid that fills the cavity of the eye behind the lens

VLDL

see Very low-density lipoprotein

Vocal cords

two strips of tissue in the voice box that have the ability to produce sound when air passing through them causes the tissues to vibrate

Volvulus

twisting and obstruction of an area of intestine

Von Willebrand's disease

a genetic disorder characterised by excessive bleeding

Vulva

the outer, visible portion of the female genitals

Vulvitis

inflammation of the vulva

Vulvovaginitis

inflammation of the vulva and vagina

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