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Glossary and list of Medical Terms

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

The way nutrients from food move from the small intestine into the cells in the body.

Anastomosis (AN-nah-stuh-MOH-sis):
An operation to connect two body parts. An example is an operation in which a part of the small intestine is removed and the two remaining ends are rejoined.

Ascites (uh-SY-teez):
A buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Ascites is usually caused by severe liver disease such as cirrhosis.

Atresia (uh TREEZ-ya):
Lack of a normal body opening such as a bile duct.

Fluid made by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Bile helps break down fats and gets rid of waste in the body. Bile is passed to the small intestine for use in digestion.

Bile Acids:
Acids made by the liver that work with bile to break down fats.

Bile Ducts:
Tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder for storage and to the small intestine for use in digestion.

Biliary Atresia:
A condition in which the bile ducts inside or outside the liver do not have normal openings. Bile becomes trapped in the liver, causing jaundice and cirrhosis. The gallbladder may be missing or abnormal. Without surgery the condition may cause death. (see Figure 1 below)

Biliary Stricture:
A narrowing of the biliary tract from scar tissue. The scar tissue can result from injury, disease, or infection.

Biliary tract:
The gallbladder and the bile ducts. Also called biliary system or biliary tree. (see Figure 2 below)

The yellow substance formed when hemoglobin breaks down. Bilirubin gives bile its color. Bilirubin is normally passed in stool. Too much bilirubin causes jaundice.

Another word for the small and large intestines.

Cholangiography (koh-LAN-jee-AW-gruh-fee):
A series of x-rays of the bile ducts.

Cholangitis (KOH-lan-JY-tis):
Irritated or infected bile ducts.

Cholecystectomy (KOH-lee-sis-TEK-tuh-mee):
An operation to remove the gallbladder.

Cholecystitis (KOH-lee-sis-TY-tis):
An irritated gallbladder

Cholestasis (KOH-lee-STAY-sis):
Poor or blocked bile flow out of the liver.

Cirrhosis (suh-ROH-sis):
A chronic liver condition caused by scar tissue and cell damage. Cirrhosis makes it hard for the liver to remove poisons (toxins) from the blood. These toxins build up in the blood and may affect brain function. (see Figure 3 below)

Common Bile Duct:
The tube that carries bile from the liver to the small intestine.

Common Bile Duct Obstruction:
A blockage of the common bile duct.

Medicines such a prednisone. These medicines reduce irritation. They may be taken either by mouth or through and infusion in the vein (an IV).

Cystic Duct:
The tube that carries bile from the gallbladder into the common bile duct and the small intestine.

The process the body uses to break down food into simple substances for energy, growth, and cell repair.

Digestive System:
The organs in the body that break down and absorb food. Organs that make up the digestive system are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus. Organs that help with digestion but are not part of the digestive tract are the tongue, glands in the mouth that make saliva, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder. (see Figure 4 below)

Bloating or swelling of the abdomen.

Enteral Nutrition:
A way to provide food through a tube placed in the nose, the stomach, or the small intestine. A tube in the nose is called a NG tube. A tube that goes through the skin into the stomach is called a gastrostomy or PEG. A tube into the small intestine is called jejunostomy or (PEJ) tube. Also called tube feeding.

An irritation of the small intestine.

Extrahepatic Biliary Tree:
The bile ducts located outside the liver.

Failure to Thrive:
A condition that occurs when a baby does not grow normally.

The organ that stores the bile made in the liver. It is connected to the liver by bile ducts. Eating signals the gallbladder to empty the bile through the bile ducts to help digest fats.

Gastroenterologist (GAH-stroh-en-tuh-RAW-lih-jist):
A doctor who specializes in digestive diseases.

Inflammation of the liver that sometimes cause permanent damage. Hepatitis may be caused by viruses or by medicines.

Hepatologist (HEH-puh-TAW-luh-jist):
A doctor who specializes in liver diseases.

Hepatoportoenterostomy (HEH-puh-TAW-poor-tow En-tuh-RAW-stuh-mee):
See Kasai Procedure

Too much bilirubin in the blood. Symptoms include jaundice. This condition occurs when the liver does not work normally.

Medicines that reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces. Prescription H2-blockers are cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), and rantidine (Zantac).

See Large Intestine and Small Intestine. Also called gut.

Intestinal Flora:
The bacteria, yeasts, and fungi that grow normally in the intestines.

Intestinal Mucosa:
The surface lining of the intestines where the cells absorb nutrients.

Jaundice causes the skin and eyes to turn yellow from too much bilirubin in the blood. A symptom of many disorders. See also Hyperbilirubinemia.

Kasai Procedure (KA-sigh):
A surgery performed on an infant with Biliary Atresia to allow bile to flow from the liver. In a Kasai the damaged ducts are removed and replaced with some of the infant’s own intestine. The small intestine is divided (Roux-en-Y) and a section is brought up to the liver. This connection may be inside or outside of the liver. The Kasai procedure is also called a hepatoportoenterostomy. (see Figure 5 below)

Large Intestine:
The part of the intestine that goes from the cecum to the rectum. The large intestine absorbs water from stool and changes it from a liquid to a solid form. The large intestine is 5 feet long and includes the appendix, cecum, colon, and rectum. Also called colon.

The largest organ in the body. The liver carries out many important functions, such as making bile, changing food into energy, and cleaning poisons from the blood.

Liver Enzyme Tests:
Blood tests that look at how well the liver and biliary system are working. Also called liver function tests.

Malabsorption Syndromes:
Conditions that happen when the small intestine cannot absorb nutrients from foods.

Neonatal Hepatitis:
Irritation of the liver with no known cause. Occurs in newborn babies. Symptoms include jaundice and liver cell changes.

A blockage in the small or large intestine that prevents the flow of liquids or solids.

Parenteral Nutrition:
A way to provide a liquid food mixture through a special intravenous tube. Also called hyperalimentation or total parenteral nutrition (TPN).

Pathologist (Path-owl-oh-jist):
A doctor who specializes in examining tissue samples to make a diagnosis.

Peritoneum (PEH-rih-toh-NEE-um):
The lining of the abdominal cavity.

Peritonitis (PEH-rih-toh-Ny-tis):
Infection of the peritoneum.

Portal Hypertension:
High blood pressure in the portal vein, which carries blood into the liver. This is a common complication of cirrhosis.

Portal Vein:
The large vein that carries blood from the intestines and spleen to the liver.

Roux-en-Y (rooh-in-why):
See Kasai Procedure.

Small Intestine:
Organ where most digestion occurs. It includes the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.

The organ that filters blood and removes old blood cells and debris.

Stretched veins such as those that form in the esophagus from cirrhosis.

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