Glossary of Children's Hospital Terms

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RBC or Red Blood Cells: Cells found in the blood responsible for carrying oxygen to tissues in the body.


RN or Registered Nurse:  A health care professional who has completed a college education in nursing.  RN’s are licensed by the state.  Nurses are very involved in the delivery and coordination of health care.  Pediatric and Pediatric Intensive Care nurses are specialists in the care of children.

RSV or Respiratory Syncytial Virus: A virus that causes mild respiratory infections (colds and coughs) in adults but in young children can produce severe respiratory problems (bronchiolitis, and pneumonia).
RT or Respiratory Therapist: A specially trained therapist who helps to promote, improve, or maintain the health of the lungs.  These professionals administer breathing treatments and manage ventilators among other functions.
RX:  A common abbreviation used to mean a prescription written by a physician for medication or equipment.
Radiation Therapy: Treatment using high-energy radiation. The use of high-energy rays damages cancer cells, stopping them from growing and dividing. Like surgery, radiation therapy is a local treatment that affects cancer cells only in the treated area.  Radiation can come from a machine (external radiation) or from a small container of radioactive material implanted directly into or near the tumor (internal radiation).
Range of motion: The range through which a joint can be moved, usually flexion and extension. Due to an injury, the knee may, for example, lack 10 degrees of full extension.  It can also refer to movement of joints by a therapist or nurse through their range of motion to preserve function for those on prolonged bedrest.
Rash: Breaking out of the skin. Medically, a rash may be referred to as an exanthem.
Recipient: In medicine, a recipient is someone who receives something like a blood transfusion or an organ transplant.
Recurrence: The return of a sign, symptom, or disease after a remission. The reappearance of cancer cells at the same site or in another location is, unfortunately, a familiar form of recurrence.
Red blood: Blood that has picked up oxygen from the lungs and travels through the left side of the heart to be pumped around the body.
Referral: The recommendation to a medical or paramedical professional. If you get a referral to ophthalmology, for example, you are being sent to the eye doctor.
Reflex: A reaction that is involuntary. The corneal reflex is the blink that occurs with irritation of the eye. The nasal reflex is a sneeze.
Reflux: The term used when liquid backs up such as into the esophagus from the stomach, or into ureters from the bladder.
Refractory: Not yielding or improving with treatment or therapy, such as otitis refractory to penicillin.
Regimen: A regimen is a plan, a regulated course such as a diet, exercise or treatment, designed to give a good result. A low-salt diet is a regimen.
Regress: To return or go back, particularly to return to a pattern of behavior or level of skill characteristic of a younger age. Many normal children demonstrate regressive behavior when in the hospital, for example, previously potty-trained children may again wet or soil themselves.  In reference to a disease, to “regress,” means to worsen.
Regurgitation: A backward flowing. For example, of food (causing vomiting) or the sloshing of blood back into the heart (or between chambers of the heart) when a heart valve is incompetent and does not close effectively.
Rehabilitation: The restoration of skills by a person who has had an illness or injury so they regain maximum self-sufficiency and can function in a normal or as near normal manner as possible.
Rejection: In transplantation biology, the refusal by the body to accept transplanted cells, tissues or organs. For example, a kidney transplant may be rejected.
Relapse: The return of the disease and its' signs and symptoms after the patient has enjoyed a remission. Also known as a recurrence.
Remission: Disappearance of the signs and symptoms of cancer or other disease. When this happens, the disease is said to be "in remission." A remission can be temporary or permanent.
Resection: Surgical removal of part of an organ.
Residual: Something left behind.
Resistance: Opposition to something, or the ability to withstand it. For example, some forms of staphylococcus (bacterial infection) are resistant to treatment with penicillin.
Respiration: Respiration is the act of inhaling and exhaling air in order to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide.
Risk factor: Something that increases a person's chances of developing a disease.
Risk of recurrence: In medical genetics, the chance that a genetic (inherited) disease present in a family will recur in the family. In general medicine, it means the chance that an illness may come back again to an individual.
Rotavirus: A leading cause of severe winter diarrhea in young children.  Almost every child catches rotavirus before entering school but, with rehydration (and good nutrition), a child should fully recover. Other than causing diarrhea in young children the infection is typically accompanied by low-grade fever.  Except for young children or those born prematurely, rotavirus has few serious side affects or long-term problems.