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The GASTROLAB Dictionary

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A (U) Ampere(s)

A- (Pre) Lacking, absence of

AA (Abbr) Alcoholics Anonymous

AAA See Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Aaron´s sign Pressing the McBurney´s point causes epigastrial pain in a patient with acute appendicitis

AASLD (Abbr) American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases

Ab- (Pre) Away from

Ab (Abbr) Antibody

Abdomen The part of the body that contains the gastrointestinal organs, stomach, small and large bowel, liver, gallbladder and pancreas.

Abdominal Having to do with the abdomen

Abdominal angina Abdominal pain due to visceral arterial insufficiency

CT-scan of an abdominal aortic aneurysm
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm ( AAA) A dilatation of the abdomal aorta, where the diameter is at least 29 mm (the normal aortic diameter is about 20 mm). The main etiology is arteriosclerosis due to smoking and this disease is more frequent in men, especially over the age of 65. AAA does not usually cause any symptoms until is is complicated by a lifethreatning rupture. Surgical treatment (replacement of the dilated part of the aorta by a prosthesis) is the treatment of choice. and surgical treatment is considered indicated when the diameter of the aorta is 50 mm or more.

Abdominal migraine see Cyclic vomiting syndrome

Aberrant pancreas See Ectopic pancreas

Ablation Removing abnormal and harmful tissue by mechanical means.

Absorption The uptake of nutritients from the bowel into the circulation. Malabsorption is a disturbance in this uptake.

Abscess A collection of pus somewhere in the body

Acanthosis, glycogenic Clinically insignificant mucosal changes with high glycogen content in the o/esophagus. See glycogenic acanthosis.

Acanthosis nigricans A skin disorder characterized by thickened hyperpigmentated skin in the body folds areas, for example axilla, neck and soles. Mainly associated with gastric tumors (adenocarcinoma) and can be present for several years before the tumor cause any symptoms.

Accessory pancreas See Ectopic pancreas

ACE (Abbr) Angiotensin Converting Enzyme

Acetaminophen A drug used to reduce pain. This drug is not a NSAID, and does not though have any anti-inflammatory effect. Also called paracetamol.

Acetylcystein A drug used in respiratory diseases in order to reduce the thickness of mucus. Acetylcystein is also used in the treatment of poisoning with acetaminophen

ACG (Abbr) American College of Gastroenterology

A dilatated oesophagus seen in a x-ray examination in a patient with Achalasia cardiae
Achalasia cardiae is a motility disorder of the oesophagus, where there is a nerve degeneration in the Auerbach´s plexus, causing inability of the lower oesophageal sphincter in the cardia region (C) to relax. In oesophageal x-ray examanations a dilatation of the oesophagus is seen, and the contrast stays in the oesophagus for a long time. Endoscopy shows a quite normal cardia, and in less severe cases the endoscopic diagnose is not easy. Dysphagia is the main symptom, causing weight loss in severe cases. Achalasia can be treated with medicines (nifedipine, nitrates), botulinumtoxin injections in the cardia, dilatation during endoscopy and surgically (Heller´s myotomy).

Achlorhydria Lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach juice. The most common cause is chronic atrophic gastritis, where the gastric mucosa has lost its ability to produce hydrochloric acid.

ACMI American College of Medical Informatics

Acquired immune system The part of the immune system that develops as a person grows. It employs antibodies to fight harmful substances.(Definition by the US National Institutes of Health)

ACR American College of Radiology, a society for professional radiologists in USA.

Acre Square measure, measuring area. 1 acre is 0.405 hectare and 1 hectare is 2.471 acres.

ACTH (Abbr) Adrenocorticotropic hormone

Acupuncture A chinese method of treating pain and other symptoms by inserting thin needles through the skin.

Acute Having an abrupt onset, opposite to chronic

Acute fatty liver of pregnancy A rare but serious complication occuring during the last trimester, causing jaundice. The etiology of this condition is unknown and the treatment is urgent delivery of the baby, after which the condition often resolves.

Acute liver failure Severe impairment of the liver function causing a significant coagulopathy and often hepatic encephalopathy due to an acute liver disease

Acute necrotizing oesophagitis
Acute necrotizing oesophagitis is a severe condition rarely seen in elderly most often seriously ill patients. The etiology of this disease is thought to be an ischemic injury and/or a serious infection. The main symptoms are painful swallowing and bleeding, hematemesis. This condition can occur in the postoperative period, in patients with metastatic cancer and it might be associated with some drug treatment. After healing oesophageal strictures are often seen. The oesophageal wall often darkens, hence the name "black oesophagus". Lye ingestion, acanthosis nigricans and primary pigmented melanoma are the main differential diagnoses.

Adacolumn device
Adacolumn A new device made by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. An Adacolumn contains 35.000 cellulose acetate beads and as blood passes through the adacolumn, activated leukocytes are adsorbed (leukocyte apheresis).

Adalimumab A new drug used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Adalimumab is an anti-TNF (tumor necrosis factor alfa) antibody, and thus belongs to the same group of new drugs as inflimimabe and etarnecept.

ADE (Abbr) Adverse Drug Event

Adefovir dipivoxil An antiviral agent used in the treatment of Hepatitis B. One tablet 10 mg is a normal dosage. Trade mark Hepsera.

Adenocarcinoma Cancer that has it origin in glandular (secretory) cells. Such cells are common in the lining of the gastrointestinal canal. Stomach cancer and colorectal cancer are typical adenocarcinomas.

Adenoma A benign tumour that has its origin from glandular (secretory) cells. Such cells are common in the lining of tha gastrointestinal canal. Polyps in the colon are typical adenomas, and they have a malignant potential, that is they can transform into adenocarcinomas.

ADP (Abbr) Adenosine diphosphate

Adrenal gland An endocrine gland located above the kidney, somewhat triangular in shape. The adrenal cortex produces corticosteroids , the adrenal medulla stress hormones (adrenalin, noradrenalin). Adrenal insufficiency cause lack of corticosteroids, Addison´s disease.

Adverse effect Harmful side effect of a drug.

Aerophagia A functional gastrointestinal disorder, swallowing of air. The diagnostic criteria according to the Rome II Criteria are: At least 12 weeks, which need not be consecutive, in the preceding 12 months of two or more of the following signs and symptoms: 1. Air swallowing; 2. Abdominal distension due to intraluminal air; 3. Repetitive belching and/or increased flatus

Afferent loop syndrome A syndrome due to a partial and chronic obstruction of the afferent loop after a partial resection of the stomach. The syndrome results in distension of the bowel loop and causes epigatrial pain, nausea and vomiting ususally after a meal.

AFGE (Abbr) African Federation of Gastroenterology

Aflatoxin Toxic substance produced by a Aspergillus flavus, a mold. Aflatoxin(s) are supposed to be one cause of primary liver cancer in human.

AFP (Abbr) Alfa-Fetoprotein, see Tumour markers

Ag (Abbr) Antigen

AGA (Abbr) American Gastroenterological Association

Aganglionosis Absence of nerve cells (ganglion cells) in for example the bowel wall (occuring in Hirschsprung´s disease.

AGML (Abbr) Acute Gastric Mucosa Lesion

Ageusia Loss of taste function of the tongue causing inability to distinguish between sweet, salty, bitter and sour tastes. Ageusia can be total, partial or specific (= inability to taste specific substanses). ageusia can be caused by neurological diseases, vitamin deficiencies, some hormonal diseases and tobacco abuse, among other causes.

AHF (Abbr) Anti-Hemophilic Factor (Factor VIII in blood coagulation)

AIDS (Abbr) Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

AIHA (Abbr) Autoimmune Hemolytic Anaemia

Alagille syndrome A syndrome inherited autosomally dominantly, causing neonatal jaundice, cholestasis, and often congenital heart defects and sometimes ocular, vertebral and neural defects.

ALAT (Abbr) Alanine transferase, a liver enzyme

Oesophageal lesion due to alendronate
Alendronate A drug used in the treatment of osteoporosis. Alendronate belongs to a group of drugs called biphosphanates. This drug should be taken on an empty stomach in order to enhance the absorptio of the drug, the patient should drink enough of water after taking the drug and he or she should not lie down for half an hour, the drug can othervise cause oesophageal lesions.

ALF (Abbr) Acute Liver Failure

Alfa-1-fetoproteinAFP, see Tumour markers

Alginic acid A drug used to treat reflux from the stomach to the oesophagus

Alkaline reflux Reflux of alkaline fluid containing trypsin, bile and pancreatic enzymes from the stomach into the oesophagus.

Allopurinol A drug used in the treatment of too high levels of uric acid, for example due to some forms of cancer treatment.

Alosetron A new drug developed by GlazoWellcome for women with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. Registered trade mark Lotronex.

ALP (Abbr) Alkaline Phosphatase

ALT (Abbr) Alanine aminotransferase

Alvarado scoring system A diagnostic tool when acute appendicitis is suspected introduced by A Alvarado in 1986. The symptoms and findings (localized tenderness in the right lower quadrant, leukocytosis, migration of pain, shift to the left, temperature elevation, nausea-vomiting, anorexia-acetone, and direct rebound pain) are scored, and using this scoring system can reduce unnecessary surgery.

AMA (Abbr) Anti-Mitochondrial Antibodies

AMAGE (Abbr) African and Middle Eastern Association of Gastroenterology

AmitriptylineA tricyclic antidepresant used in the treatment of depression. This type of drugs are also frequently used for functional gastrointestinal disorders as they alter pain perception and have effects on gastrointestinal motility and secretion. The main adverse effects are dry mouth, constipation and sexual dysfunction.

AMP (Abbr) Adenosine monophosphate

Amyloidosis A group of several different diseases, the common feature of which is an extracellular deposition of insoluble amyloid. Amyloidosis can primary (often hereditary) or secundary to for example a chronic inflammatory disease, as tuberculosis or Crohn´s disease. The amyloid deposits can be localized to one organ or can be systemic.

An- (Pre) Lacking, absence of

Anal warts See condyloma acuminatum

Anaplastic A term used to to describe the microscopic findings in cancer cells. Anaplastic cells do not resemble the cells of its origin, and anaplastic cells are highly malignant, they divide rapidly and cause an aggressively growing cancer.

Anastomosis A surgically made connection between two segments of the intestine, the stomach and/or the small bowel (or between two blood vessels).

Aneurysm Dilatation of an artery

Angina abdominale Abdominal pain due to visceral arterial insufficiency

Caecal Angiodysplasias
Angiodysplasia Abnormally enlarged blood vessels in the gastrointestinal tract. The most typical localization is the caecum and ascending colon, but angiodysplasias can be found also in the small bowel and in the stomach. Angiodysplasias frequently bleed causing anaemia. Endoscopy gives the diagnosis and small angiodysplasias can be treated endoscopically. Large or numerous angiodysplasias may need surgical treatment.

Angulus A indentation of the stomach on the lesser curvature marking the transition from the gastric body and the gastric antrum. Gastric ulcers are typically situated in the angulus region.

Ann Arbor System A system of staging primary gastric lymphoma. In stage I, only the stomach is involved. In Stage II, there is localized involvement in lymph nodes on one side of the diaphragm. In Stage III there is involvement of lymph nodes on both sides of the diaphragm, and in Stage IV there is diffuse or disseminated involvement.

Annular pancreas A band or a ring of pancreatic tissue which surround the descending part of the duodenum and sometimes causes obstruction of the duodenum. This disorder can cause symptoms soon after birth but sometimes it causes symptoms late in life, and probably many with this disease do not have any symptoms at all. This disorder was described by Ecker in 1862.

Anorectal Concerning the anus and rectum

Anorectal junction seen from the inside of the rectum with the endoscope in an inverted position
Anorectal junction(also called linea anorectalis, linea dentata) is a circular line just inside the anal canal and is the border line between rectal mucosa and the anal canal.

Anorectal manometry An exmanation used to assess the function of the anal sphincter and rectum.

Anorexia Lack or loss of appetite. Anorexia can be caused by any serious disease (cancer, gastric ulcer, AIDS) or by at least partly psychiatric disturbances (anorexia nervosa).

Anosmia Loss of the ability to smell

Ant- (Pre) Against

Antacids Drugs that neutralize the hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Used for symptomatic relief in hyperacidic syndromes, e.g. gastritis or duodenitis, peptic ulcer disease and reflux oesophagitis. Registered trade marks in USA Maalox and Mylanta.

Anthrax An acute infectious disease caused by a bacterium Bacillus anthracis. This disease occurs often in wild and some domestic animals, and it occurs rarely in humans exposed to infected animals. There are three forms of this disease, the cutaneous, caused by direct contact to in infected animal, the pulmonary, caused by inhalation of the spores of the bacteria, and the intestinal form, caused by eating contaminated meat. The incubation period is about two to ten days. The disease is considered to be endemic on ao Haiti, South Africa and some Asian countries. The disease can be prevented by avoiding contact with infected animals, and there is a vaccine against this disease. Early treatment with antibiotics is effective, and the antibiotic treatment should go on for weeks. If untreated, the disease is often fatal. Anthrax is a potential agent for use in bioterrorism.

Anti- (Pre) Against

Anticoagulant A drug that reduce the coagulation of blood, thus reducing the risk of thrombosis.

Anticonvulsant hypersensitivity syndrome (AHS) A rare syndome caused by antiepileptic drugs, for exampel carbamazepine. The main symtoms are cutaneous rash, fever and dysphagia caused by inflammation in the oesophageal mucosa.

Anti-HAV Antibody to hepatitis A virus

Anti-HBc Antibody to hepatitis B core antigen

Anti-HBe Antibody to hepatitis B e-antigen

Anti-HBs Antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen

Anti-HCV Antibody to hepatitis C virus

Anti-HDV Antibody to hepatitis D (delta) virus

Anti-inflammatory (About a drug that is) reducing inflammation. For example Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs

APASL (Abbr) Asian-Pacific Association for the Study of the Liver

APC See Argon-Plasma Coagulation

APDW (Abbr) Asia-Pacific Digestive Week

Aperistalsis Lack of peristaltic waves. Scleroderma can cause aperistalsis in the oesophagus, which result in impairment of acid clearance.

Mucosal aphtae in Crohn´s disease
Aphtha Small ulcer frequently seen in the mouth with unknown - perhaps viral - cause. Aphthae of the colon and rectum mucosa is a typical finding in Crohn´s disease.

Aphthae tropicae An old name for tropical sprue

Aphthous Adj. See Aphtha.

Apoptosis "Programmed cell death", a genetically regulated cell death, which has a great role on many biological processes, including embryogenesis and ageing. Many drugs, e.g. anticancer drugs, act throught modifying apotosis.

Appendicectomy Surgical removal of the appendix, usually as treatment for acute appendicitis.

Appendicitis Inflammation of the appendix, ususally acute, treated with surgical removal of the appencix, appendicectomy.

Appendix aperture in the caecum
Appendix A rudimental part of the bowel, attached to the posteroinferior part of the caecum, with a dead end usually located behind the caecum in the right iliac fossa. Inflammation of the appendix, appendicitis, produces pain felt in the McBurney´s point (one third distance along a linefrom the anterior superior iliac spine to the umbilicus. The appendix does not have any physilogical role and appendicitis is thus treated with appendicectomy.

APSDE (Abbr) Asian-Pacific Society for Digestive Endoscopy

Aretaeus in a drawing by J Sambucus during the 16th century
Aretaeus the Cappadocian A philosoph and physician from Cappadocia, Greece, in the second century A.D. Aretaeus made most of his works in ancient Greece. Aretaeus is the first writer in history giving a quite adequate description of the symptoms of coeliac disease. Aretaueus used the greek word "koiliakos" (meaning bowel suffering) to describe this disease, and the name "coeliac disease" thus comes from the works of Aretaeus. He also described a disease that probably was diabetes mellitus. Aretaeus wrote eight books, quite well preserved and published in a Latin translation during the 16th century.

Argentaffin cells Cells in the intestine mucosa which stain with silver salts in histologic preparations.

Argentaffinoma A formerly used name for carcinoid tumours, which are arising from the argentaffin cells (cells that stain with silver salts in histologic preparations). See carcinoid tumours.

Argon-Plasma Coagulation An electrocoagulation method in which current can be delivered to tissue using a no'-touch technique with Argon gas as a medium. This method of coagulation can be used through a standard endoscope both in upper and lower endoscopy and it is considered to be a low-cost alternative to conventional laser therapy. This type of treatment is mainly used for hemostasis in surface bleeding, e.g. in radiation proctitis.

ARPANET A computer network started in the USA in 1969, forming the basis of Internet. ARPA stands for the Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Arteria mesenterica superior syndrome See Superior mesenteric artery syndrome (SMAS)

ASA (Abbr) Acetylsalicylic acid, "Aspirin"

5-ASA (Abbr) 5-Aminosalicylic Acid, a drug used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseease.

Asacol (RTM) A drug which contains mesalamine (5-ASA) used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.

ASAT (Abbr) Aspartate aminotransferase, a liver enzyme

Copyright: Prof Md.Ibrarullah 
Dept of Surgical Gastroenterology
Hitech Medical College 
Bhubaneswar 751010. India
e- mail:
An Ascaris lumbricoides-worm in the bile duct - and coming out through the Papilla Vater
Ascariasis A disease caused by Ascaris lumbricoides, a parasitic roundworm, the largest of the human intestinal nematodes. This is the most common parasitic worm disease in the world, very prevalent in tropical regions but rarely found also in our country. In the United States about 4 million people are infected. The adult female worm can be over 30 cm long and 2-6 mm wide. The female worm produces 200.000 eggs per day. The eggs (ova) are leave the body in the stools and they can be viable on the soil for years. After infective eggs are swallowed, the larvae hatch, invade the intestinal wall, and are carried via the blood circulation to the lungs . The larvae mature further in the lungs, penetrate the alveolar walls, ascend the bronchial tree to the throat, and are swallowed, once again. In the small instestine they then develop into adult worms Upon reaching the small intestine, they develop into adult worms. The patient can be completely free of symptoms, but in the larvae stage the infection can cause peritonitis or pneumonia and in the worm stage it can cause dyspeptic symptoms and weight loss and bowel obstruction especially in children. Cholangitis and pancreatitis can be caused by worms in the bile or pancreatic ducts. Drug treatment is effective, the two most commonly used drugs are mebendazole and piperazine. Good hygiene is the most important prevention.

Ascaris lumbricoides A parasitic roundworm that causes Ascariasis.

Ascites Accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity. Ascites is a common symptom in severe liver cirrhosis, severe cardiac insufficiency, severe renal disease and malignancies ad carcinosis in the peritoneal cavity.

ASGE (Abbr) Americal Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

ASNEGME (Abbr) Association des Societes Nationales Europeennes et Mediterraneennes de Gastroenterologie (the Association of National European and Mediterranean Societies of Gastroenterology)

ASO (Abbr) Arteriosclerosis obliterans

AST (Abbr) Aspartate aminotransferase

ATP (Abbr) Adenosine triphosphate

Auenbrugger´s sign Epigastric bulging suggesting an intra-abdominal disease in a patient with pericarditis and pericardial effusion.

Autoimmune cholangitis A chronic liver disease where the liver histology resembles those seen in primary biliary cirrhosis, but where antimitochondrial antibodies are negative. This disease is also called AMA-negative PBC.

Autoimmune diseases Diseases caused by an inapproptiate immune response where the immune system reacts with normal tissues in the body.

Autoinflammatory diseases A relatively new category of diseases that are different from autoimmune diseases. However, autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases share common characteristics in that both groups of disorders result from the immune system attacking the body’s own tissues, and also result in increased inflammation. Behçet's disease is a typical autoinflammatory disease. (Definition by the US National Institutes of Health)

Avenin A protein fraction in oats, related to gluten, but without the damaging effect of gluten in coeliac disease at least when consumed in small amounts.

Azathioprine A drug with an immunosuppressive effect used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and in the prevention of transplant rejection. Azathioprine is an antimetabolite which is metabolized to 6-mercaptopurine in the body. Autoimmune chronic hepatitis and Crohn´s disease are often treated with Azathioprine.

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