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Medical glossary for healthcare interpreters

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Term Definition

area between the chest and the hips that contains the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and spleen.

Abdominal bracing

technique of tensing the stomach muscles to support the spine.

Abdominal hysterectomy

the uterus is removed through the abdomen via a surgical incision.


a type of surgery that uses a laparoscope, which is inserted into one or more small incisions, to examine the abdominal cavity. (see also endoscopy, laparoscopy, or minimally invasive surgery.)


elimination or removal.

Ablative therapy

treatment that removes or destroys the function of an organ, as in surgical removal of the ovaries or the administration of some types of chemotherapy that causes the ovaries to stop functioning.


the way substances pass into tissue as nutrients from food move from the small intestine into the cells of the body.

Abutment teeth

the surrounding teeth of each side of the gap where teeth are missing.
Accessory digestive organs - organs that help with digestion but are not part of the digestive tract. These organs include the tongue, glands in the mouth that make saliva, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.

Accessory movement

joint movements that cannot be performed voluntarily or in isolation by the patient.


the ability of the eye to focus.


a chemical in the brain that acts as a neurotransmitter by sending nerve signals.

Acquired deafness

loss of hearing that occurs or develops over the course of a lifetime; deafness not present at birth.

Action tremor

a tremor that increases when the hand is moving voluntarily.

Activated charcoal

an over the counter product that may help relieve intestinal gas.

Activities of daily living (adls)

personal care activities necessary for everyday living, such as eating, bathing, grooming, dressing, and toileting; a term often used by healthcare professionals to assess the need and/or type of care a person may require.


a cancer that develops in the lining or inner surface of an organ.


benign growth starting in the glandular tissue. (see also fibroadenoma.)

Adjuvant treatment

treatment that is added to other therapies to increase effectiveness, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or hormone therapy.

Adrenal cortex

the outer portion of the adrenal gland that secretes hormones that are vital to the body.

Advanced cancer

stage of cancer in which the disease has spread from the primary site to other parts of the body.

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