Glossary of Children's Hospital Terms

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CAT Scan also known as a CT scan or Computerized Axial Tomography: An X-ray that provides detailed pictures of body structures.

CBC or Complete Blood Count: A test that measures the level of hemoglobin (oxygen carrying capacity) and number of red and white blood cells and platelets in the blood.
CF or Cystic Fibrosis: An inherited disease that causes the mucous lining the surfaces of internal organs to become thick, dry and sticky.   This abnormal mucous affects the functioning of the respiratory system, sweat glands, digestive, and reproductive system.
CNS or Central Nervous System: The brain and spinal cord.
CO2 or Carbon Dioxide: CO2 is a waste product formed by the production of energy in the cells.  It is eliminated by the lungs or neutralized by the kidney.
CPR or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation: A technique used to temporarily restore circulation to a person who has stopped breathing and whose heart has stopped beating.
CPT or Chest Physical Therapy: A therapy involving clapping or vibrating the chest wall to loosen secretions making them easier to cough up.
CSF or Cerebrospinal Fluid: The clear, colorless fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord with nutrients.
CVA or Cerebrovascular Accident: Also known as a stroke.  This occurs when a blood vessel that supplies the brain bursts or is blocked by a clot. Nerve cells in the area may be damaged or die resulting in loss or impairment of brain functions.
CVL/CVC or Central Venous Line or Catheter: A catheter is a flexible tube that is placed under the skin and then directed into a large blood vessel leading into the heart. The catheter allows fluids, medications, pressure measurements, nutrition, and blood products to be given.  Blood can also be drawn through the catheter for laboratory tests avoiding needlesticks. The catheter may have either one or more tubes or lumen.
CVP or Central Venous Pressure: The measure of the pressure in the heart.
Cancer: Diseases that are characterized by the uncontrolled and abnormal growth of cells. Examples: leukemia, lymphoma, and neuroblastoma.
Candida: A fungal infection frequently affecting the mouth and diaper area in babies.  It can be very serious if it infects the blood or other body tissues.
Cannula:  A slender tube that can be inserted into a body cavity or duct.  It may also be placed on the outside of the nose to deliver oxygen through small prongs.
Capillaries: Capillaries are the smallest of blood vessels. They distribute oxygenated blood from arteries to the tissues of the body and gather deoxygenated blood from the tissues back into the veins. When pink areas of skin such as the fingertips are compressed, this causes blanching because blood is pressed out of the capillaries.
Cardiac arrest: When the heart stops beating.
Cardiac contusion: A bruise of the heart that can occur if a child is hit in the chest or suffers a chest injury.
Cardiomyopathy:  Weakness of the heart muscle.
Catheter: A thin flexible tube that is placed in a vessel, body opening or cavity for a variety of purposes.
Centigrade: Thermometer scale in which the freezing point of water is 0°C and the boiling point of water at sea level is 100°C.  The Centigrade scale is used around most of the world to indicate the temperature on a thermometer while the Fahrenheit scale is still commonly in use in the US.
This difference requires conversion from Centigrade (°C) to Fahrenheit (°F), and vice versa.
  • One degree °C = (5/9) (°F - 32)
  • One degree °F = (9/5) (°C) + 32
  • 98.6, "normal" body temp = 37 °C
Cerebral edema: A swelling of the brain due to increase fluids in around the brain tissue most often due to trauma, infection, salt or sugar imbalance, shock, anoxia, etc.
Chest Tubes: Tubes inserted through the skin, into the space around the lungs to drain fluid or air.
Chemotherapy: Drugs primarily used to destroy cancer cells. Another name commonly used is "chemo."
Chest x-ray: An x-ray picture of the chest showing the heart, lungs, and tubes or catheters that have been placed. This test is done frequently.
Chronic illness: An illness that persists for a long period of time.
Circulatory system: The system that moves blood throughout the body it includes the heart, arteries, capillaries, and veins. This remarkable system moves oxygen carrying blood from the lungs and heart throughout the body via the arteries. The blood goes through the capillaries situated between the arteries and veins delivering oxygen and other nutrients like sugar to tissues and cells.  The used blood is then returned to the lungs and heart via the veins to resupply and start the journey again.
Closed head injury: A bouncing motion of the brain that results from a blow to the head or severe shaking that does not penetrate the skull or brain tissue. This bouncing motion can cause tearing, shearing or stretching of the nerves at the base of the brain, blood clots, edema (swelling) and even death.
Coagulation: The process by which the blood clots form at the site of an injury.
Coma: A condition in which a child is unable to respond to voice, touch or pain. A child may move but this is usually an involuntary response. Comas may be caused by head trauma, diseases such as diabetes, poisoning, etc.
Concussion: The mildest and most common form of head injury. It is associated with a temporary loss of consciousness without other obvious injury.
Congenital: A condition that is present at birth.
Congenital heart disease: The disease present at birth that is caused by a structural abnormality which occurs as the heart is forming. The defect results in an abnormal flow of blood through the heart and/or lungs after birth.
Contusion: Another name for a bruise.  A contusion is caused when blood vessels are damaged or broken as the result of a bump or hit to the skin. The raised area of a bump or bruise results from blood leaking from these injured blood vessels into the tissues as well as from the body’s response to the injury. A purplish, flat bruise that occurs when blood leaks out into the top layers of skin is referred to as an ecchymosis.
Cross Match: A process to ensure that the blood between donor and recipient matches.
C-spine or Cervical Spine: Refers to the 7 vertebrae or bones that make up the neck.
Culture: A laboratory procedure in which samples of blood, urine or other body fluid are used to test for the presence of an infection.  It takes 1-4 days for bacteria, fungus up to 6-weeks, and viruses at least a week to grow.
Cyanosis: there is not enough oxygen in the blood, causing the skin, mouth, tongue, or nails to look blue in some children.