GLOSSARY


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Abdomen

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

Alimentary canal

Gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Anal electromyography

Diagnostic test involving the insertion of needle electrodes into muscles around anus to measure nerve damage.

Anal fissure

Small tear in the anus. Symptoms include itching, pain, or bleeding.

Anal fistula

Abnormal opening between anus and another organ or anus and the skin. May result from injuries or sub-dermal abscesses or disease (e.g. cancer, Crohn's disease).

Anal sphincter

Ring of muscle at the anal aperture that keeps the anus closed.

Anastomosis

The surgical creation of an opening between two hollow organs or vessels, or one hollow organ or vessel and the skin. A colostomy is an anastomosis between the colon and the skin.

Anoscopy

A visual exam of the anus using an anoscope.

Anorectal manometry

Use of a manometry catheter to measure anal and rectal pressure, reflexes and sensation.

Anticholinergics

Medicines that calm muscle spasms in the intestine.

Antispasmodics

Medicines that help reduce or stop muscle spasms in the intestines.

Anus

Terminal end of the digestive tract.

Ascending colon

First third of the colon on the right side of the abdomen.

Asymptomatic

Without symptoms.

Atonic colon

Lack of normal muscle tone in the colon generally caused by disease or the overuse of laxatives. May result in chronic constipation.

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Barium

Chalky liquid used to coat the inside of organs to improve visualization in X-ray.

Barium enema X-ray

Lower GI series.

Bowel

Portion of GI tract made up by the small and large intestines.

Bowel prep

Process used to clean the colon in preparation for surgery or visualization studies.

Bulbocavernosis reflex

A reflex contraction of the anal sphincter mediated by the pudendal nerve and produced by squeezing the clitoris or the glans of the penis.

Bulking agents

Laxatives that make bowel movements soft and easy to pass.

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Cannula

A hollow tube generally used for accessing the body through the skin or a natural orifice.

Catheter

Generally thin, flexible, hollow tube that acts as short or long-term entryway into the body.

Cecum

First part of the large intestine at junction of small/large intestine.

Colectomy

Surgical removal all or part of the colon.

Colic

Attacks of abdominal pain, caused by muscle spasms in the intestines.

Colitis

Irritation of the colon.

Collagen

Prevalent body protein that shapes the structure of tendons, bones, and connective tissues.

Collagen vascular disease

Malfunction of the immune system that can affect tendons, bones, and connective tissues.

Colon

The large intestine. Consists of the cecum, ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon, the sigmoid colon, and the rectum. Primary purpose is to extract water from feces.

Colonic inertia

When muscles of the colon do not work properly to excrete waste.

Colonoscopy

Visual exam of the colon through a long, flexible, narrow tube.

Colonoscopic polypectomy

Removal of growths (polyps) through a colonoscope.

Colorectal transit study

Test to see how food moves through the colon.

Colostomy

Surgically created opening between the colon and the abdominal wall allowing the diversion of fecal waste.

Congenital

Present at birth.

Constipation

Condition in which the stool becomes hard and dry.

Continence

Ability to control bowel movements or urine.

Continent ileostomy

Surgically created pouch of the small intestine. Stool that collects in the pouch is removed by inserting a small tube through an opening made in the abdomen.

Crohn's disease

A chronic form of inflammatory bowel disease.

Cystocele (dropped bladder)

When bladder wall droops into the anterior vaginal space as a result of weakening of the pelvic floor.

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Defecation

Passage of stool through the anus.

Defecography

X-ray of the anus and rectum during bowel evacuation to measure colonic muscle effectiveness.

Descending perineum syndrome

Weakness and excessive ballooning of the pelvic muscles associated with chronic constipation due to straining, vaginal deliveries, or prior surgery.

Digestive system

Organs in the body that break down and absorb food.

Distention

Bloating or swelling.

Diverticulitis

Condition that occurs when weakness in the muscle layer of the colon creates small out-pouches (diverticulum) and become inflamed.

Diverticulosis

Condition that occurs when weakness in the muscle layer of the colon creates small out-pouches.

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Electrocoagulation

Electrical current delivered to tissue to cease bleeding.

Encopresis

Accidental bowel movement.

Endo anal ultrasound (EAU)

Ultrasound of the anal muscles taken by passing a probe into the anus to assess muscle integrity.

Endoscope

Thin, flexible tube with integrated camera to visualize the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, colon, or rectum. Colonoscopes and sigmoidoscopes are types of endoscopes.

Enteric Nervous System (ENS)

Autonomic nervous system within the walls of the digestive tract. Regulates digestion and muscle contractions that eliminate solid waste.

Epithelium

Inner lining of cavities of human organs.

Etiology

Cause.

Excrete

To get rid of waste from the body.

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Fecal incontinence

Inability to control the passage of stool or gas.

Fecalith

A hard mass of dried feces.

Feces

Stool.

Fistula

Abnormal opening between two organs or between one organ and the outside of the body, caused when damaged tissues come into contact with each other and join together while healing.

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Gardner's syndrome

Condition in which many polyps form throughout the digestive tract.

Gastroenterologist

Physician who specializes in digestive diseases.

Gastroenterology

Field of medicine concerned with the function and disorders of the digestive system.

Gastrointestinal (GI) tract

Large, muscular tube or cavity that extends from the mouth to the anus.

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Health related quality of life (HRQL)

The impact an illness has on quality of life, including the individual's perception of his or her illness.

Hemorrhoidectomy

Surgical removal of hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids

Swollen blood vessels in and around the anus that cause itching, pain, and bleeding.

Hernia

An out-pouching or abnormal protrusion of the inner part of a structure through the middle layer and/or outer part of a structure.

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Imperforate anus

Birth defect in which the anal canal fails to develop.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Inflammation and ulcers in the GI tract. The most common causes are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Inguinal hernia

Segment of the large or small intestine that protrudes into the groin and may cause pain, pressure or burning.

Innervated

A structure supplied with intact nerves.

Intestinal flora

Bacteria, yeasts, and fungi that grow normally in the intestines.

Intestinal mucosa

Surface lining of the intestines that absorb nutrients.

Intractable

Symptoms that don't respond to standard treatments.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Hyper activity of GI nerves causing sensitivity to food, stool, gas, and stress.

Ischemic colitis

Decreased blood flow to the colon, which causes fever, pain, and bloody diarrhea.

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Kegel exercises

Series of pelvic floor flexing exercises recommended for women with urinary stress incontinence, men who have urinary incontinence after prostate surgery and people who have fecal incontinence.

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Laparotomy

Surgical incision into the abdomen.

Lavage

To clean or rinse.

Laxatives

Medications to relieve long-term constipation.

Lower GI series

X-rays of the rectum, colon, and lower part of the small intestine. Also called Barium Enema X-ray.

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Manometry

Tests that measure muscle pressure and movements in a muscular organ

Megacolon

Large and swollen colon; results from severe constipation.

Melena

Blood in the stool.

Motility

Movement of food through the digestive tract.

Mucosa

Mucous membrane that lines a structure (e.g. nose, mouth, GI tract).

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Occult

Hidden.

Occult bleeding

Blood in stool that is not visible to the naked eye.

Ostomy

Typically refers to a surgically created opening between GI tract and the skin with the intended purpose of permitting stool passage from the body. Colostomy and Ileostomy are types of ostomies.

Overlapping Sphincter Repair

Surgical procedure used to repair a damaged or weakened anal sphincter where the sphincter is strengthened via overlapped edges sutured together.

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P-value

The p (probability) value is a calculation used in studies to determine if the results are caused by chance or not. A p value less than 0.05 is statistically significant and indicates that the result is not due to chance.

Pathogenesis

The origin and development of a disease or disorder.

Pathology

The study of the fundamental nature, causes, and development of abnormal conditions and the structural and functional changes that result.

Pathophysiology

Changes or alterations in function that accompany a syndrome or disease.

Pelvic Floor

A large hammock-like structure of muscles stretching across the floor of the pelvis. Supports reproductive organs, urinary structures and the lower portion of the GI tract.

Perianal

Area around the anus.

Perianal abscess

A collection of pus in and around the anus.

Perineal

Related to the perineum.

Perineum

Area between the anus and the sex organs.

Peristalsis

Wavelike movement of muscles in the GI tract that moves food and liquid through the GI tract.

Polyp

Abnormal tissue growth on the inner or outer surface of an organ.

Polyposis

Presence of many polyps.

Proctectomy

Operation to remove the rectum.

Proctitis

Irritation of the rectum.

Proctocolectomy

Surgical removal the colon and rectum.

Proctocolitis

Inflammation of the colon and rectum.

Proctologist

Physician who specializes in disorders of the anus and rectum.

Proctoscope

Short, rigid metal tube used to look into the rectum and anus.

Proctoscopy

Examination of the rectum and anus with a proctoscope.

Proctosigmoidoscopy

Endoscopic examination of the rectum and sigmoid colon. See also endoscopy.

Prokinetic

Drugs that enhance propulsion of contents through the gut.

Puborectalis muscle

A voluntarily controlled muscle that acts as a sling to support the rectum. Contraction kinks the lower rectums so contents are not expelled when abdominal pressure increases, such as when coughing or lifting.

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Randomized controlled trial

A study in which patients are randomly assigned to receive one of several clinical interventions.

Rectal manometry

Test that uses a measuring device to assess pressure and contractions of the rectal and anal sphincter muscles.

Rectocele

Sloutching of the anterior rectal wall and posterior vaginal wall into the wall of vagina.

Rectopexy

Surgical placement of sutures and mesh to position, secure and anchor the rectum to the sacrum.

Rectum

Muscular portion of colon approximately 5 inches long that connects the sigmoid colon to the anus.

Refractory

Resistant to treatment.

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Sigmoid colon

Lower part of the colon that empties into the rectum.

Sigmoidoscopy

A flexible or rigid tube for visual exam of the sigmoid colon.

Small intestine

GI tract organ about 20 ft in length. Includes the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum.

Spastic colon

See irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Sphincter

Ring-like band of muscle.

Sphincteroplasty

Surgery to repair a damaged or weakened anal sphincter.

Stoma

Generally refers to a surgically created opening in the abdomen that is the permanent or temporary terminal end of the GI tract.

Stool

Solid waste of undigested foods, bacteria, mucus, and dead cells that pass through the rectum as bowel movements.. Also called Feces.

Stricture

Abnormal narrowing of a body opening. Also called Stenosis.

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Tenesmus

Constant feeling of the need to empty the bowel, accompanied by pain, cramping and involuntary straining efforts.

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Ulcerative colitis

Serious disease that causes ulcers and inflammation in the inner lining of the colon and rectum. See also Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Ultrasound

An imaging method using high-frequency sound waves.

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