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Glossary

Glossary

  • Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency - a common inherited disorder affecting around one in 3,000 white people in the UK, causing lung disease in adults and liver disease in adults and children.
  • Alagille Syndrome - a rare inherited disorder that affects the liver and means a person has too few bile ducts inside his/her liver.
  • Alopecia - hair loss that causes patches of baldness.
  • Analgesics - painkilling medicines.
  • Anti-bacterials - a form of antibiotic which destroys harmful bacteria or stops their growth.
  • Antibiotics - drugs used to treat infections caused by bacteria.
  • Antibodies - protein that is produced by the immune system to fight harmful substances (or antigens). Antibodies can also be produced if the immune system is ‘wrongly programmed’ and reacts against healthy tissue.
  • Antigen - a substance that triggers the production of an antibody.
  • Anti-inflammatories (or NSAIDS) - drugs used to treat pain, fevers or high temperatures, as well as swollen, inflamed and painful conditions. NSAIDS include ibuprofen and aspirin.
  • Antiviral drugs - stop viruses from multiplying.
  • Ascites - an accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. It occurs most commonly with cirrhosis of the liver when the fluid leaks from the surface of the liver.
  • Biliary Atresia - a rare liver disease that affects newborn babies (about 50 children a year in the UK). It causes blockages of the bile ducts and can be fatal. Babies with the disease are born with fluctuating jaundice and other symptoms.
  • Bilirubin - a substance found in bile produced when the liver breaks down red blood cells then removed from the body in stools or faeces. If Bilirubin levels are high then the skin may appear yellow (indicative of jaundice).
  • Biopsy - when doctors remove some cells from an abnormal area and examine them under a microscope.
  • Catheter - a tube that is inserted into the body to allow drainage or injection of fluids or access to administer medicine.
  • Chemotherapy - the treatment of disease (usually referring to cancer) by chemicals or drugs.
  • Cholangiogram - a test which produces a picture of the bile ducts. This is often done using an MRI scan.
  • Cholesterol - a substance called a lipid that is important for the body to make cell membranes and some hormones. It is manufactured in the liver or intestines but also found in some foods. High levels can block arteries and increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Clubbing - a symptom of heart or lung disease where the ends of fingers and toes become wide and thick.
  • COPD - (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is when someone has chronic bronchitis and emphysema , diseases of the lungs which narrow the airways. This means there is limited air flow to and from the lungs which causes shortness of breath.
  • De-roofing - taking the top off a cyst or abscess.
  • Digestive system - the system used by the body to process food into energy.
  • Endoscope - a flexible tube with a camera and light used to examine body organs and to perform surgery.
  • Endoscopy - use of an endoscope to exmine the inside of an internal body organ.
  • Enzymes - proteins produced by cells and used in biochemical reactions in the body.
  • ERCP - (endoscopic retrograde cholangio pancreatography) is an endoscope that allows doctors to take an X-ray of the pancreatic duct and the bile duct. If necessary the procedure can also be used to unblock a bile duct during the procedure.
  • EUS - (endoscopic ultrasound) is sometimes used instead of ERCP. An ultrasound probe is passed down the endoscope. This takes an ultrasound scan of the pancreas and other organs. Biopsies can also be taken.
  • Emphysema - an irreversible lung disease where the air sacs (alveoli) become damaged.
  • Galactosemia - an inherited disease where the body is unable to change galactose to glucose.
  • Gallstones - hard lumps that can form in the gallbladder.
  • Gland - an organ that produces enzymes and hormones.
  • Gynaecomastia - where males develop enlarged mammary glands, which look like a woman’s breasts.
  • Haematemesis - the vomiting of blood.
  • Hemochromotosis - too much iron in the body.
  • Hepatic encephalopathy - in people who have cirrhosis, this results in personality changes, affects the level of consciousness and can result in a coma.
  • Hepatomegaly - a liver that is abnormally enlarged.
  • Hormone - a substance secreted by an endocrine gland that travels in the bloodstream and has an effect on a specific type of tissue.
  • Immunology tests - tests to check if someone has an autoimmune disease.
  • Insulin - produced by the pancreas, insulin helps keep the blood sugar level stable, ensuring the body gets enough food but not too much. If the level of sugar in the blood is high, the pancreas will secrete more insulin into the body; if too low, it will secrete less. If the body does not make enough insulin, this results in diabetes.
  • Insulin resistance - a condition where insulin that is produced by the body is not effective enough at lowering blood sugar. This can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
  • Insulin sensitivity - the response by the body to insulin. Generally people will insulin sensitivity need only normal or low levels of insulin to enable the body to process glucose.
  • Jaundice - yellowing of the skin and whites of the eye caused by too much of a substance called bilrubin being produced in the liver. Bilrubin is usually excreted in the bile, so jaundice indicates that the liver is not producing bile.
  • Laparoscopy - a procedure that uses a laparoscope (a tube with a tiny camera and a light on the end) inserted through a small cut in the tummy. A biopsy can also be taken via a laproscopy. It is performed under general anaesthetic.
  • Liver function test - this measures chemicals made by the liver that are present in the blood.
  • Liver transplant - a procedure where a diseased liver is replaced by a healthy one from a donor.
  • Lymph glands - also known as lymph nodes are bean shaped glands part of the lymphatic system. They are often removed to determine the stage/progress of cancer.
  • Melena - dark, tarry, smelly faeces produced when there is blood in the colon.
  • Palpar erythema - reddening of the palms which can be a sign of liver damage.
  • Pancreatic juices - fluid secreted by the pancreas containing digestive enzymes.
  • Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC) - a disease of the liver and biliary system which cn destroy the bile ducts in the liver.
  • Radiotherapy - high-energy X-rays used in the treatment of some cancers.
  • Remission - where the symptoms of a disease that has existed partly or completely disappear.
  • Reye Syndrome - a rare, serious illness most often occurring in children that affects many organs, especially the liver and brain.
  • Thrush - a fungal yeast infection that affects the mouth and/or vagina.
  • Type 1 Glycogen Storage Disease - a disease that affects children and is due to a deficiency in the enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase which stops the liver producing glucose from glycogen, causing enlarged liver and kidneys.
  • Ultrasound - the use of high frequency sound waves to look at organs such as the pancreas and liver.
  • Virology tests - tests for viral infections.