Additional Medical Terms-digestive system - Medical Terminology(Adaptive*)

The following are additional medical terms related to the digestive system. Recognizing and learning these terms will help you understand the connection between common signs, symptoms, and diseases and their diagnoses as well as the rationale behind the method of treatment selected for a particular disorder.

Signs, Symptoms, and Diseases


Inflammation of the appendix, which is usually acute and caused by blockage of the appendix followed by infection

Treatment for acute appendicitis is appendectomy within 48 hours of the first symptom. When left untreated, appendicitis rapidly leads to perforation and peritonitis as fecal matter is released into the peritoneal cavity. (See Figure Appendectomy.)


Abnormal accumulation of serous fluid in the peritoneal cavity

Ascites may be a symptom of inflammatory disorders in the abdomen, venous hypertension caused by liver disease, or heart failure (HF)

Borborygmus:Gurgling or rumbling sound heard over the large intestine that is caused by gas moving through the intestines

Cirrhosis:Chronic liver disease characterized by destruction of liver cells that eventually leads to ineffective liver function and jaundice

diverticular disease:Condition in which bulging pouches (diverticula) in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract push the mucosal lining through the surrounding muscle



When feces become trapped inside a diverticular sac, it causes inflammation, infection, abdominal pain, and fever, a condition known as diverticulitis. (See Figure Diverticular disease.)


Diverticular disease.

inflammatory bowel disease (IBD):

Ulceration of the colon mucosa

Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis are forms of IBD.

Crohn disease:Chronic IBD that usually affects the ileum but may affect any portion of the intestinal tract

ulcerative colitis:Chronic IBD of the colon characterized by episodes of diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and pain

Common locations of hernias.

Common locations of hernias.

irritable bowel syndrome(IBS):

Condition characterized by gastrointestinal signs and symptoms, including constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bloating, all in the absence of organic pathology; also called spastic colon

Contributing factors of IBS include stress and tension. Treatment consists of dietary modifications, such as avoiding irritating foods or adding a high-fiber diet and laxatives if constipation is a symptom. It also includes antidiarrheal and antispasmodic drugs as well as alleviating anxiety and stress.


Yellow discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes, and sclerae of the eyes caused by excessive levels of bilirubin in the blood (hyperbilirubinemia)


Condition in which a person accumulates an amount of fat that exceeds the body’s skeletal and physical standards, usually an increase of 20 percent or more above ideal body weight More severe obesity in which a person has a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, which is generally 100 or more pounds over ideal body weight

morbid obesity:

Morbid obesity is a disease with serious medical, psychological, and social ramifications.


Small, tumor like, benign growth that projects from a mucous membrane surface

Polyps have potential of becoming cancerous, so they are checked frequently or removed to detect any abnormalities at an early stage. Colonic polyps have a high likelihood of becoming colorectal cancer.

colonic polyposis:

Condition in which polyps project from the mucous membrane of the colon


Condition in which polyps develop in the intestinal tract


Open sore or lesion of the skin or mucous membrane accompanied by sloughing of inflamed necrotic tissue

An ulcer may be shallow, involving only the epidermis, or it may be deep, involving multiple layers of the skin. Examples of ulcers are peptic ulcer, duodenal ulcer, and pressure ulcer (decubitus ulcer).


Twisting of the bowel on itself, causing obstruction

Volvulus usually requires surgery to untwist the loop of bowel.

Diagnostic Procedures:

barium enema (BE):

Radiographic examination of the rectum and colon after administration of barium sulfate (radiopaque contrast medium) into the rectum

BE is used for diagnosis of obstructions, tumors, or other abnormalities, such as ulcerative colitis.

barium swallow:

Radiographic examination of the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine after oral administration of barium sulfate (radiopaque contrast medium); also called upper GI seriesStructural abnormalities of the esophagus and vessels, such as esophageal varices, may be diagnosed using this technique.

computed tomography(CT):

Radiographic technique that uses a narrow beam of x-rays that rotates in a full arc around the patient to acquire multiple views of the body that a computer interprets to produce cross-sectional images of that body part

CT scans are used to view the gallbladder, liver, bile ducts, and pancreas and diagnose tumors, cysts, inflammation, abscesses, perforation, bleeding, and obstructions. A contrast material may be used to enhance the structures.


Visual examination of a cavity or canal using a specialized lighted instrument called an endoscope

The organ, cavity, or canal being examined dictates the name of the endoscopic procedure. A camera and video recorder are commonly used during the procedure to provide a permanent record.

Endoscopy of the esophagus (esophagoscopy), stomach (gastroscopy), and duodenum (duodenoscopy)

upper GI:

Endoscopy of the upper GI tract is performed to identify tumors, esophagitis, gastroesophagealvarices, peptic ulcers, and the source of upper GI bleeding. It is also used to confirm the presence and extent of varices in the lower esophagus and stomach in patients with liver disease.

Endoscopy of colon (colonoscopy), sigmoid colon (sigmoidoscopy), and rectum and anal canal (proctoscopy) (See Figure Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. A colonoscopy involves examination of the entire length of the colon; a sigmoidoscopy involves examination of only the lower third of the colon.)

lower GI:

Endoscopy of the lower GI tract is used to identify pathological conditions in the colon. It may also be used to remove polyps. When polyps are discovered in the colon, they are removed and tested for cancer.

magnetic resonanceimaging (MRI):

Radiographic technique that uses electromagnetic energy to produce multi planar cross-sectional images of the body

In the digestive system, MRI is particularly useful in detecting abdominal masses and viewing images of abdominal structures.

stool guaiac:

Test performed on feces using the reagent gum guaiac to detect presence of blood in feces that is not apparent on visual inspection; also called hemocculttest

ultrasonography (US):

Imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) that bounce off body tissues and are recorded to produce an image of an internal organ or tissue

Ultrasound is used to view the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas, among other structures. It is also used to diagnose digestive disorders, locate cysts and tumors, and guide insertion of instruments during surgical procedures.

Medical and Surgical Procedures

bariatric surgery vertical bandedgastroplastyRoux-en-Y gastricbypass (RGB):

Group of procedures that treat morbid obesity Commonly employed bariatric surgeries include vertical banded gastroplasty and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. (See Figure Bariatric surgery.)

Bariatric surgery in which the upper stomach near the esophagus is stapled vertically to reduce it to a small pouch and a band is inserted that restricts and delays food from leaving the pouch, causing a feeling of fullness (See Figure Vertical banded gastroplasty.)

Bariatric surgery in which the stomach is first stapled to decrease it to a small pouch and then the jejunum is shortened and connected to the small stomach pouch, causing the base of the duodenum leading from the nonfunctioning portion of the stomach to form a Y configuration, which decreases the pathway of food through the intestine, thus reducing absorption of calories and fats

RGB is performed laparoscopically using instruments inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. When laparoscopy is not possible, gastric bypass can be performed as an open procedure (laparotomy) and involves a large incision in the middle of the abdomen. RGB is the most commonly performed weight loss surgery today. (See Figure Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.)

Lithotripsyextracorporeal shockwavelithotripsy (ESWL):

Procedure for eliminating a stone within the gallbladder or urinary system by crushing the stone surgically or using a noninvasive method, such as ultrasonic shock waves, to shatter it

The crushed fragments may be expelled or washed out.

Use of shock waves as a noninvasive method to destroy stones in the gallbladder and biliary ducts

In ESWL, ultrasound is used to locate the stone or stones and monitor their destruction. The patient usually undergoes a course of oral dissolution drugs to ensure complete removal of all stones and stone fragments.

Lithotripsyextracorporeal shockwavelithotripsy (ESWL)

Bariatric surgery. (A) Vertical banded gastroplasty. (B) Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

nasogastric intubation:

Insertion of a nasogastric tube through the nose into the stomach

Nasogastric intubation is used to relieve gastric distention by removing gas, gastric secretions, or food. It is also used to instill medication, food, or fluids or obtain a specimen for laboratory analysis.

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