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Dr. Kennedy's Vocabulary Course: -F-
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(A B C D E F G H I J K L M)
 
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Ron Kennedy, M.D.
 
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(A B C D E F G H I J K L M)
Fabry disease:  A genetic disease due to deficiency of the enzyme alpha-galactosidase A. This enzyme is essential to the metabolism of molecules known as glycosphingolipids. Without the enzyme, glycosphingolipids accumulate in the kidneys, heart, nerves and throughout the body. Males with Fabry disease are more severely affected than females since the gene for Fabry disease is on the X chromosome. Males have only one X while females have a second X and therefore some enzyme activity. Boys with Fabry disease usually have discomfort of the hands and feet with abnormal sensation (paresthesia) or burning pain by adolescence. Red raised lesions known as angiokeratomas occur on the skin and within the mouth. The ability to sweat is decreased. The cornea and lens of the eye become clouded. There may be painful abdominal crises. Renal impairment may require dialysis or kidney transplant. The kidney failure may cause hypertension. Heart function can be impaired. Females with partial enzyme activity may not show any symptoms or only late in life. Impaired heart function may be their primary problem. Diagnosis is made by determining the level of alpha-galactosidase A in blood plasma or by genetic testing to detect the abnormal gene. Treatment is by enzyme replacement. Twice weekly infusions of recombinant galactosidase A have been found to be safe and effective in clearing deposits from the kidney blood vessels, myocardium (heart muscle), and skin.
Facelift (aka Rhytidectomy):  A surgical procedure designed to make the face appear younger by pulling loose facial skin taut. With age and sun exposure, wrinkled creased skin develops on the face, neck or forehead along with fat deposits and folds around the jaws and jowls. While a facelift cannot stop the aging process, it may "turn back the clock" in appearance. Recovery time is usually one to two weeks, and the results last approximately 10 years. Additional procedures to supplement a facelift, including necklift, blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), liposuction, autologous fat injection (fat cells tranposed from one location to another) , removal of cheek fat pads, forehead lift, and browlift; chemical or laser peel; and cheek submalar, or chin implants may be necessary to achieve desired results. Although they are infrequent, risks and complications of facelift surgery include bleeding; hematoma; bruising; infection; neurological dysfunction (loss of muscle function or sensation), which is usually temporary; widened or thickened scars; loss of hair around the incision site; asymmetry and skin necrosis (loss of skin due to tissue death).
Facial muscles:  There are 43 muscles in the human face. The facial muscles convey basic human emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt and happiness by very clear facial signals. They are innervated by the facial (seventh cranial) nerve.
Facial nerve:  The facial nerve is the seventh cranial nerve. It is a mixed nerve that has fibers both going out and coming in (both efferent and afferent fibers) which means that it controls muscles and signals sensations to the brain. It supplies the muscles of facial expression. Paralysis of the facial nerve causes a characteristic picture with drooping of one side of the face, inability to wrinkle the forehead, inability to whistle, inability to close the eye and deviation of the mouth toward the other side of the face. Paralysis of the facial nerve is called Bell's palsy.
Facial nerve paralysis (aka Bell's palsy):  Loss of voluntary movement of the muscles on one side of the face due to abnormal function of the facial nerve (also known as the 7th cranial nerve) which supplies those muscles. The cause of facial nerve paralysis is often not known, but is thought to be due to a virus. The disease typically starts suddenly and causes paralysis of the muscles of the side of the face on which the facial nerve is affected. Yours truly awoke one moning at age 23 with this situation. Treatment is directed toward protecting the eye on the affected side from dryness during sleep. Massage of affected muscles can reduce soreness. Sometimes Prednisone is given to reduce inflammation during the first weeks of illness. The prognosis of Bell's palsy is generally good. About 80% of patients recover within weeks to months. Conversely, about 20% of patients do less well. The condition was originally described in 1830 by the Scottish anatomist and neurologist Sir Charles Bell (1774- 1842). The word "palsy" is a corruption of the French word for paralysis.
Facies:  face. A direct borrowing from the Latin.
Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy:  A form of muscular dystrophy that typically begins before age 20 with slowly progressive weakness of the muscles of the face, shoulders, and feet. The severity of the disease is quite variable. Although most people with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) retain the ability to walk, about 20% require a wheelchair. Life expectancy is not shortened. The diagnosis can be confirmed by a DNA test.
Factor V:  A coagulation factor needed for the normal clotting of blood. Also known as proaccelerin.
Factor V Leiden:  A genetic disorder of blood coagulation that carries an increased risk of venous thromboembolism, the formation of clots in veins that may break loose and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs or brain. On the clotting level, factor V Leiden is inactivated about 10 times slower than normal factor V and persists longer in the circulation, resulting in increased generation of thrombin and a hypercoagulable state. Factor V Leiden is the most common inherited disorder of blood clotting in the US, affecting 5% of Caucasians and 1.2% of the Afro-Americans. Individuals heterozygous for the factor V Leiden mutation (with one copy of it) have a slightly increased risk for venous thrombosis. Homozygous individuals (with two copies of the mutation) have a much greater risk of venous thrombosis. The diagnosis of factor V Leiden thrombophilia is made by a coagulation test or DNA analysis of the factor V gene. Effective therapy is available and may involve heparin, warfarin and low-molecular-weight heparins.
Factor VIII:  Factor eight, a key factor in the process of blood coagulation. Lack of normal factor VIII causes hemophilia (hemophilia A). The gene for classic hemophilia is on the X chromosome. Females carry the gene and transmit it to their hemophiliac sons. Female carriers are normal since they have another X chromosome that contains a normal gene to make factor VIII. Each of their sons has a one-half (50:50) risk of being a hemophiliac. Because the gene for hemophilia was clearly on the X chromosome, it was correctly inferred that the normal gene for Factor VIII was on the X. Factor VIII is also known as antihemophiliac factor or antihemophiliac globulin.
Factor X:  Factor ten is a coagulation factor essential to the normal clotting process. Production of factor X takes place in the liver and requires vitamin K. Factor X deficiency is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait manifest by prolonged nose bleeds, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding, blood in the urine, and bleeding into joints. Pregnancy in women with factor X deficiency is often associated with recurrent spontaneous abortion, placenta abruptio, and premature birth. Factor X is also called Stuart-Prower factor because Mr. Stuart and Miss Prower were the first persons shown to have deficiency of this factor.
Facultative:  1. In general, not obligatory but rather capable of adapting to different conditions. The opposite of facultative is obligate. 2. In bacteriology, facultative bacteria that can grow under either aerobic or anaerobic circumstances (with or without oxygen).
FAE (fetal alcohol effects):  A softer diagnosis than fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). The diagnosis of possible FAE is considered when: 1. The person has some signs of FAS; 2. The person does not meet all of the necessary criteria for FAS; and 3. There is a history of alcohol exposure before birth.
Fahr syndrome:  Described in 1930 by T. Fahr this is an inherited neurological disorder characterized by abnormal deposits of calcium in certain of areas of the brain (including the basal ganglia and the cerebral cortex). Symptoms may include motor function deterioration, dementia, mental retardation, spastic paralysis, dysarthria (poorly articulated speech), spasticity (stiffness of the limbs), ocular (eye) problems, and athetosis (involuntary, writhing movements). Features of Parkinson's disease such as tremors, rigidity (resistance to imposed movement), a mask-like facial appearance, shuffling gait, and a "pill-rolling" motion of the fingers may also occur in individuals with Fahr's syndrome. Other symptoms may include dystonia (disordered muscle tone), chorea (involuntary, rapid, jerky movements), and seizures. Onset of the disorder may occur at any time from childhood to adulthood. Fahr syndrome thus involves abnormalities of the neurologic system (cerebral calcification, dementia, spastic paraplegia, athetosis), skull (microcephaly, i.e. an abnormally small head), eyes (glaucoma, optic nerve atrophy, retinitis pigmentosa), and a significant hormone problem, namely hypoparathyroidism (the parathyroid gland regulates calcium). The disease is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait in which both parents carry a Fahr gene and each of their children (boys and girls alike) stands a 1 on 4 (25%) risk of receiving both Fahr genes and therefore having this disease. There is no cure for Fahr's syndrome, nor is there a standard course of treatment, although medications can be prescribed to help with some of the symptoms. Treatment is directed toward minimizing symptoms. The prognosis for individuals with Fahr's syndrome is poor. Progressive neurological deterioration generally results in disability and death. Alternative names for this syndrome include nonarteriosclerotic cerebral calcification, Fahr disease, striopallidodentate calcinosis, SPD calcinosis, and cerebrovascular ferrocalcinosis.
Fahrenheit:  Thermometer scale in which the freezing point of water is 32°F and the boiling point of water 212°F. The Fahrenheit scale is in use in the US. Conversion from Centigrade (°C) to Fahrenheit (°F), and vice versa is easily achieved: One degree °C = (5/9)(°F - 32). One degree °F = (9/5)(°C + 32). Named for Gabriel Fahrenheit, a German-Dutch physicist, who devised the scale in 1724. 0°F was the lowest temperature that Fahrenheit could obtain using a mixture of ice and salt.
Failure to thrive (FTT):  Refers to a child whose physical growth is significantly less than that of peers. There is no official consensus on what constitutes failure to thrive. It usually refers to a child whose growth is below the 3rd or 5th percentiles for their age or whose growth has fallen off precipitously and crossed two major growth percentiles (for example, from above the 75th percentile to below the 25th percentile). Failure to thrive in early infancy sometimes results in death, and in older infancy or childhood is an important marker for underlying disease. Causes of failure to thrive are probably many, including unrecognized food allergies leading to refusal of food and vomiting, undiagnosed metabolic disorders, and disease. A specific type of failure to thrive is sometimes seen in abandoned or institutionalized infants who seem to "give up" and become listless and unwilling to nurse. It is assumed that this phenomenon is emotional in nature, although other factors may also be at work. Treatment of failure to thrive requires discovering and treating its underlying cause(s). In the interim, IV feeding is required some cases, while in others supplemental high-calorie feedings can help.
Falciparum malaria:  The most dangerous type of malaria. Red blood cells infected with the parasite tend to sludge and form microinfarctions (small areas of dead tissue due to lack of oxygen) in capillaries in the brain, liver, adrenal gland, intestinal tract, kidneys, lungs, and other organs. Treatment is in a hospital setting, using intravenous medications. Persons carrying the sickle cell gene have some protection against malaria. Persons with a gene for hemoglobin C (another abnormal hemoglobin like sickle hemoglobin), thalassemia trait or deficiency of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) are thought also to have partial protection against malaria. It is now widely believed that falciparum malaria contributed in no small way to the final fall of the Roman Empire. DNA evidence supports this concept. Malaria was once rife in the U.S. Washinton D.C. was built on a swamp and in the early years had to be abandoned six months out of the year to avoid malaria epidemics.
Fallopian tubes:  There are two Fallopian tubes, one on each side of the uterus, which transport the egg from the ovary to the uterus. The Fallopian tubes have small hair-like projections called cilia on the cells of the lining. These tubal cilia are essential to the movement of the egg through the tube into the uterus. If the tubal cilia are damaged by infection, the egg may not get 'pushed along' normally but may stay in the tube.
False labor:  Intermittent non-productive muscular contractions of the uterus during pregnancy, commonly in the last two months before full term. These contractions are non-productive and do not produce any flattening (effacement) or dilation (opening up) of the cervix. An episode of false labor can be of great concern to a pregnant woman, especially when she experiences these contractions for the first time. However, these contractions are of limited duration and do not indicate the onset of active labor.
False rib:  One of the last 5 pairs of ribs. They are said to be "false" because they do not attach to the sternum (the breast bone). The upper three false ribs connect to the costal cartilages of the ribs just above them, but do not themselves reach the sternum. The last two false ribs, however, usually have no ventral attachment (no anchor at all in front) and are called floating, fluctuating or vertebral ribs. All 12 pairs of ribs attach to the spine (vertebrae) in the back. The 12 pairs of ribs consist of the true ribs (the first seven ribs attached to the sternum - the breast bone. They are also termed sternal ribs.
False vocal cord:  A fold of mucous membrane covering muscle in the larynx. The false vocal cord separates the ventricle of the larynx from the vestibule of the larynx. Also called the false vocal fold.
Familial:  A condition that is tends to occur more often in family members than expected by chance alone. A familial disease may be genetic (such as cystic fibrosis) or environmental (such as tuberculosis).
Familial lung cancer:  Lung cancer that recurs in families. Lung cancer can occur sporadically in people with no known family history of lung cancer or it can recur in two or more members of the same family and constitute familial lung cancer. A gene for familial lung cancer is on the long (q) arm of chromosome 6 in a region that runs from chromosome band 6q23 through band 6q25. People carrying this gene for familial lung cancer appear unusually sensitive to tobacco smoke. Even a small amount of smoking may be enough to cause lung cancer. By contrast, the risk of lung cancer rises with the amount of smoking in people who do not carry this gene.
Fanconi anemia (aka Fanconi pancytopenia):  A genetic disease that affects all of the bone marrow elements, is associated with a great diversity of malformations as well as pigmentary changes of the skin, and predisposes to malignancy. Fanconi anemia predisposes particularly to a disturbance of bone marrow growth called myelodysplasia and to acute myeloid leukemia. Patients tend also to develop cancers in areas of the body where cells normally reproduce rapidly, such as the mouth, esophagus, the intestinal and urinary tracts, and the reproductive organs. Children with Fanconi anemia usually have low birth weight, are smaller than average at birth and tend to have certain birth defects:
FAO deficiency (aka Sjogren-Larsson syndrome):  A genetic (inherited) disease usually characterized by a triad of clinical findings consisting of ichthyosis (thickened fish-like skin), spastic paraplegia (spasticity of the legs) and mental retardation. (FAO = fatty alcohol: NAD+ oxidoreductase)
Farsightedness (aka hyperopia):  The ability to see distant objects more clearly than close objects. Farsightedness (hyperopia) can be corrected with glasses or contact lenses.
Fascia:  A flat band of tissue below the skin that covers the underlying tissues and separates different layers of tissue. Fascia encloses muscles. Inflammation of the fascia is referred to as fasciitis.
Fasciculation:  Involuntary contractions or twitchings of groups of muscle fibers. Fasciculations can occur in normal individuals without an associated disease or condition and can also occur as a result of illness, such as muscle cramps, nerve diseases, and metabolic imbalances.
Fasciitis:  Inflammation of the fascia (a lining tissue under the skin that covers a surface of underlying tissues).
Fascinoma:  Medical slang for a fascinating case, usually involving a rare disease.
Fasciola hepatica:  A parasite called the liver fluke which causes Fascioliasis or "liver rot" in many mammals, including humans. Eating contaminated vegetation such as watercress is a common mode of infection. Fasciola hepatica is found throughout all regions of the world, both temperate and tropical.
Fasciolopsis:  A parasitic disease caused by Fasciolopsis buski. the largest intestinal fluke in humans. It is known popularly as the giant intestinal fluke. Infection occurs primarily in Asia and the Indian subcontinent, especially in areas where humans raise pigs and consume freshwater plants. The immature eggs of the fluke in human feces reach fresh water where they hatch and form what are called miracidia. Upon contact with host snails, the miracidia penetrate them and form cercariae. The cercariae encyst on various plants such as the water chestnut, lotus (on the roots), water bamboo, and other aquatic vegetables. Humans are infected by consuming these raw vegetables. Most infections are light and asymptomatic. Heavy infection may cause nausea, diarrhea, malabsorption, or intestinal obstruction. Diagnosis is made by microscopic identification of the fluke eggs or, more rarely, the adult flukes in the stool or vomitus. Praziquantel is the drug of choice for treatment. Fasciolopsis infection is known as Fasciolopsiasis.
Fasting blood glucose (or Fasting blood sugar):  A lab test for learning how much glucose (sugar) there is in a blood sample taken after an overnight fast. The fasting blood glucose test is commonly used to detect diabetes mellitus or prediabetes. A blood sample is taken in the morning before the patient has eaten. The normal, nondiabetic range for blood glucose is from 70 to 110 mg/dl, depending on the type of blood being tested. If the level is over 140 mg/dl, it usually means the person has diabetes (except for newborns and some pregnant women). When the fasting glucose is 100 to 100 doctors suspect prediabetes.
Fatal familial insomnia (FFI):  A hereditary prion disease with disrupted sleep (insomnia), motor abnormalities (myoclonus, ataxia, dysarthria, dysphagia, and pyramidal signs), and hyperactivation of the autonomic nervous system. It is due to a mutation of the prion protein gene on chromosome 20. There is a fatal form of this disorder.
Fatigue:  A condition characterized by a lessened capacity for work and reduced efficiency of accomplishment accompanied by a feeling of weariness and tiredness. Fatigue can be acute and come on suddenly or chronic and persistent.
Fatty acid:  Any one of many long chain carbon based molecules attached to a carboxylic acid (-COOH) group found in fats and oils and in cell membranes as a component of phospholipids and glycolipids. Fatty acids come from animal and vegetable fats and oils and play roles outside the body. They are used as lubricants, in cooking and food engineering, and in the production of soaps, detergents, and cosmetics. An essential fatty acid is a fatty acid necesary for life and not made by the body. The come from plants. A free fatty acid is a by-product of the metabolism of fat in adipose tissues. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oils, especially in salmon and other cold-water fish. They lower levels of cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoproteins) in the blood. Trans fatty acids are (trans fats) are made through hydrogenation of saturated (meaning with a full complement of hydrogen atoms) fatty acids to solidify liquid oils. That increase their shelf life. These are found in vegetable shortenings and in some margarines, crackers, cookies, and snack foods. Intake of trans-fatty acids increases blood LDL-cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) levels and raises the risk of coronary heart disease.
Fatty acids:  The many molecules that are long chains of lipid-carboxylic acid found in fats and oils and in cell membranes. They come from animal and vegetable fats and oils and play roles outside the body. They are used as lubricants, in cooking and food engineering, and in the production of soaps, detergents, and cosmetics.
Fatty liver of pregnancy, acute (AFLP):  Liver failure in late pregnancy, usually from unknown cause. Acute fatty liver of pregnancy (AFLP) more commonly occurs in first-time pregnancies in the last trimester. AFLP symptoms include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain (especially in the upper abdomen), jaundice (yellowing), frequent thirst (polydipsia) and increased urination (polyuria), fatigue, headache, and altered mental state. Laboratory features of AFLP include profoundly low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), elevated liver enzymes (e.g., serum transaminase activity) and low levels of platelets. If a liver biopsy is done, the liver is seen to be infiltrated with fat. Left untreated, AFLP can cause complete liver failure, bleeding, and death of the mother and child. AFLP is treated by delivering the baby as soon as possible. Early diagnosis of AFLP and prompt delivery dramatically improve the prognosis. Women with AFLP generally improve soon after delivery, unless the liver is severely damaged. AFLP does not usually recur during a subsequent pregnancy except in one rare type in which a disordered metabolism in the fetal liver is at fault. In that case there is a 25% chance of recurrance in each subsequent pregnancy.
Fauces:  The throat. (The word fauces is the plural of the Latin faux meaning a small passage.)
Favism:  hemolytic anemia (breakup of red blood cells) after eating fava beans or being exposed to the pollen of the fava plant. This dangerous reaction occurs exclusively in people with a deficiency of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), an X-linked genetic trait. However, not all G6PD-deficient families appear at risk for favism, indicating the additional need for a single autosomal (not X-linked) gene to create susceptibility to favism in G6PD-deficient people. The active hemolytic principle in fava beans is most likely DOPA-quinone. Differences in susceptibility to favism may be related to differences in the enzymatic system that converts L-DOPA to DOPA-quinone.
Febrile:  Having a fever
Febrile seizure:  A convulsion that occurs in association with a rapid increase in body temperature. Febrile seizures are common in infants and young children and, fortunately, are usually of no lasting importance.
Fecal:  Relating to the feces, the stool. The excrement discharged from the intestines. (From the Latin "faex" and "faecis" meaning the dregs or sediment.)
Fecal incontinence:  Inability to hold feces in the rectum. This is due to failure of voluntary control over the anal sphincters permitting uncontrolled passage of feces and gas. Also called rectal incontinence.
Fecal occult blood test (FOBT):  A test to check for hidden blood in the feces. Fecal refers to stool. Occult means hidden. Fecal occult blood may be due to a number of causes. The source of the bleeding may be anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract ane when detected must be diagnosed.
Fecalith:  A hard stony mass of feces. A fecalith can obstruct the appendix, leading to appendicitis or diverticuli leading to diverticulitis. Called also a coprolith and stercolith.
Fecund:  Fruitful, fertile. JA woman may be fecund, able to reproduce.
Fecundity:  The ability to have children, usually many of them with ease.
Felty syndrome:  A complication of rheumatoid arthritis characterized by the presence of three conditions: rheumatoid arthritis, an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), and an abnormally low white blood cell count (neutropenia). The white blood cells that are low are called granulocytes (or neutrophils). Felty syndrome predisposes to infections such as pneumonia or skin infections, because of the low white counts. There may also be ulcers in the skin over the legs. The cause of the syndrome is not known. White cells may be stored in excess in the spleen. especially in patients with Felty's syndrome who have antibodies against granulocytes. In Felty syndrome, the underlying rheumatoid arthritis is managed in the standard manner. Patients with severe infectious disease may benefit from weekly injections of granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) to stimulate the production of granulocytes. The syndrome was named for the American physician Augustus Roi Felty (1895-1964) who first described it in 1924.
Femara:  Brand name for letrozole, an oral antiestrogen. Femara inhibits the enzyme aromatase in the adrenal glands that produces the estrogens (estradiol and estrone) and thereby lowers their levels.
Femoral artery:  A large artery that starts in the lower abdomen and goes down into the thigh The femoral artery starts as a continuation of the external iliac artery which comes from the abdominal aorta.
Femoral vein:  The largest vein in the groin. The femoral vein is a continuation of the popliteal vein. It passes, together with the femoral artery, beneath the inguinal ligament to enter the abdomen and form the external iliac vein. The femoral vein is one portion of the venous system that carries blood from the lower extremity back to the heart.
Femur:  The bone in the leg that extends from the hip to the knee.
Fenestration:  Literally, the making of a window. Fenestration refers to the creation of a new opening.
Fenfluramine:  A weight loss drug (an "anorectics") sold in the US under the brand name Pondimin, was withdrawn from the US market in 1997, and has since been withdrawn worldwide. It is no longer available because of its association with abnormal heart valve findings, primarily aortic regurgitation.
Ferritin:  The major iron storage protein. The blood level of ferritin serves as an indicator of the amount of iron stored in the body. The ferritin molecule has the shape of a hollow sphere tand thus permits the entry of a variable amount of iron for storage.
Fertile:  Able to conceive and bear offspring.
Fertility:  The ability to conceive and have children, the ability to become pregnant through normal sexual activity. Infertility is defined as the failure to conceive after a year of regular intercourse without contraception.
Fertility awareness (natural family planning) (periodic abstinence) (rhythm method):  Entails not having sexual intercourse on the days of woman's menstrual cycle when she could become pregnant or using a barrier method (such as a condom, the diaphragm or a cervical cap) for birth control on those days. Because sperm may live in the female's reproductive tract for up to 7 days and the egg remains fertile for about 24 hours, a woman can get pregnant in a substantial window of time from 7 days before ovulation to 3 days after. Methods to approximate when a woman is fertile are usually based on the menstrual cycle, changes in cervical mucus, or changes in body temperature.
Fertilization:  The process of combining the male gamete, or "sperm," with the female gamete, or "ovum." The product of this combination is a cell called a zygote. in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a laboratory procedure in which sperm are placed together with an unfertilized egg in a Petri dish to achieve fertilization. The embryo is then transferred to the uterus to begin a pregnancy or cryopreserved (frozen) for future use. IVF was devised to permit women with damaged or absent Fallopian tubes to have a baby. Normally a mature egg is released from the ovary (ovulated), then enters the Fallopian tube, and waits in the neck of the tube for a sperm to fertilize it. With defective Fallopian tubes, this is not possible. The first IVF baby, Louise Joy Brown, was born in England in 1978. A child born by in vitro fertilization is colloquially refered to as a test tube baby.
Fetal alcohol effects (FAE):  A softer diagnosis than fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). This diagnosis is considered when: 1. The person has some signs of FAS; 2. The person does not meet all of the necessary criteria for FAS; and 3. There is a history of alcohol exposure before birth.
Fetal alcohol syndrome:  The sum total of the damage done to the child before birth as a result of the mother drinking alcohol during pregnancy. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) involves brain damage, impaired growth, and head and face abnormalities. No amount of alcohol has been proven safe during pregnancy. Women who are or may become pregnant are therefore strongly advised to avoid alcohol. Even light drinking (less than three alcoholic drinks per week) during the first trimester of pregnancy has been reported to be associated with memory and learning problems that can be detected in the child at age 14. Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the leading causes of mental retardation in the US. FAS is irreversible, a lifelong condition that affects every aspect of a child's life and the lives of the child's family. However, FAS is 100% preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol while she is pregnant. If a pregnant woman drinks alcohol but her child does not have all the symptoms of FAS, it is possible that her child may be born with alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disabilities (ARND). Children with ARND may demonstrate learning and behavioral problems caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, so does her fetus, because alcohol crosses the placenta freely. All drinks containing alcohol can hurt an unborn baby. A standard 12-ounce can of beer has the same amount of alcohol as a 4-ounce glass of wine or a 1-ounce shot of straight liquor. In addition, some alcoholic drinks, such as malt beverages, wine coolers, and mixed drinks often contain more alcohol than a 12-ounce can of beer. If a pregnant woman does drink, it is never too late for her to stop. The sooner a pregnant woman stops drinking, the better it will be for both her and her baby. There is no cure for FAS. However, with early identification and diagnosis, children with FAS can receive services such as special education that can help increase their potential. The fetal alcohol syndrome diagnosis is made by noting:
  • small size and weight before and after birth (pre- and postnatal growth retardation)
  • brain involvement with evidence for delay in development, intellectual impairment, or neurologic abnormalities
  • specific appearance of the head and face with at least 2 of the following groups of signs: small head size (microcephaly), small eyes (microphthalmia) and/or short eye openings (palpebral fissures), and underdevelopment of the upper lip, indistinct groove between the lip and nose (the philtrum), and flattened cheekbones.
Fetal circulation:  The blood circulation in the fetus before birth when blood from the heart headed for the lungs in the pulmonary artery is shunted away from the lungs and returned to the greatest of arteries, the aorta. The purpose nature has for this shunting of blood, apparently, is to not put pressure on the lungs in the developmental stage. This arterial shunting occurs through a short vessel called the ductus arteriosus. When the shunt is open, it is said to be patent. The ductus arteriosus usually squeezes itself off at or shortly after birth. After closure of the ductus, blood is permitted from that time on to course freely to the lungs. Sometimes, however, the patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) persists and simply will not close by itself. Surgery can be done to ligate (tie off) the ductus. PDA ligation is a closed-heart operation. Historically, it was one of the earliest surgical procedures performed in children with cardiovascular disease. Alternative medical treatment involves the use of a medicine called Indomethacin to cause the ductus to close. This may make it possible to avoid surgery.
Fetal distress:  Compromise of the fetus before labor or during the birth process. The term is commonly used to describe fetal hypoxia (low oxygen levels in the fetus). Fetal hypoxia may result in fetal damage or death if not reversed or if the fetus is not promptly delivered. Fetal distress can be detected by abnormal slowing of labor, the presence of meconium (dark green fecal material from the fetus) or other abnormal substances in the amniotic fluid, or by fetal monitoring with an electronic device showing a fetal scalp pH of less than 7.2 (an acidic condition).
Fetal dystocia:  Difficult labor and delivery caused by the size (too big), shape or position of the fetus. Dystocia means, literally, "difficult birth."
Fetal fibronectin:  A protein produced in pregnancy and the basis of a test for possible preterm delivery. Fetal fibronectin (fFN) functions as a "glue" attaching the fetal (amniotic) sac to the uterine lining. The presence of fFN during weeks 22-34 of a high-risk pregnancy, along with symptoms of labor, suggests that the "glue" is disintegrating ahead of schedule and raises the possibility of an early delivery. To test fFN, a cotton swab is used (similar to that used in a Pap smear) to collect samples of cervical and vaginal secretions. A negative fFN test result is a highly reliable predictor that delivery will not occur within the next 2 weeks. The test is not not recommend for routine screening, as its use has not been shown to be clinically effective in predicting preterm labor in low-risk, asymptomatic pregnancies. It is used only for symptomatic, high-risk pregnancies, where preterm labor is suspected.
Fetal infant:  An extremely low birth weight infant. One, for example, with a birth weight of 400 to 500 grams.
Fetal mortality rate:  The ratio of fetal deaths divided by the sum of the births (the live births + the fetal deaths) in that year. In the U.S. the fetal mortality rate plummeted from 19.2 per 1,000 births in 1950 to 9.2 per 1,000 births in 1980. The fetal mortality rate is higher in certain ethnic groups and among mothers with health problems during pregnancy, especially if the mother does not receive adequate personal and prenatal health care. The fetal mortality rate is considered a good measure of the quality of health care in a country or a medical facility. The United States is nowhere near the top of this list.
Fetal pleural effusion:  Excess fluid between the two membranes (the pleurae) that envelop the lungs In a fetus. The pleural effusion may be unilateral or bilateral and it may be an isolated finding in an otherwise normal fetus or associated with generalized edema (hydrops). If untreated, fetal pleural effusion often causes severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory insufficiency. Treatment is by the prenatal insertion of a thoracoamniotic shunt (to shunt the pleural effusion into the amniotic fluid). Survival after this procedure is over 90% in fetuses with isolated pleural effusion and around 50% in those with associated hydrops.
Fetal rubella (congenital rubella syndrome):  The constellation of abnormalities, also called the rubella syndrome, caused by infection with the rubella (German measles) virus before birth. The syndrome is characterized by multiple congenital malformations and mental retardation. The individual features of the syndrome include growth retardation, microcephaly (abnormally small head), glaucoma, cataracts, microphthalmia (abnormally small eyes), hearing loss, cardiovascular malformations, and mental retardation. Deafness is common. After birth the child may develop diabetes due to destruction of the pancreas by the rubella virus. If the mother is infected with rubella in the first trimester (the first third) of pregnancy, the child has a 50% risk of being born with the congenital rubella syndrome. Risks also exist with infection in the second trimester The rubella epidemic of 1963-1965 resulted in 1,800,000 infected individuals, approximately 20,000 fetal deaths and about 30,000 infants born with congenital rubella syndrome. Since the introduction of the rubella vaccine in 1969 there are less than 120 cases of congenital rubella syndrome reported each year. The discovery of the congenital rubella syndrome by the Australian ophthalmologist NM Gregg in 1941 is of historic importance because it provided the first evidence that the placental barrier between the mother and the fetus does not fully protect the fetus from teratogens (agents that can cause birth defects).
Fetal surgery:  The surgical treatment of the fetus before birth. Also called prenatal or antenatal surgery. Fetal surgery is performed when the fetus is not expected to live long enough to make it through to delivery or to live long after birth unless surgery is performed. For example, if a fetus has a severe form of congenital diaphragmatic hernia, in which the liver is located in the chest and lung development is severely restricted, fetal surgery is done to lessen the severity of the problem and permit the baby to live to birth to undergo further corrective surgery.
Fetishism:  Fetishism is a condition in which a person has sexual urges associated with non-living objects. The person becomes sexually aroused by wearing or touching the object. For example, the object of a fetish could be a certain type of shoe, an article of clothing, such as underwear, rubber clothing, or women's underwear or lingerie. The fetish may replace sexual activity with a partner or may be integrated into sexual activity with a willing partner. When the fetish becomes the sole object of sexual desire, sexual relationships often are avoided. (A related disorder, called partialism, involves becoming sexually aroused by a body part, such as the feet, breasts or buttocks.)
Fetoscope:  (1) A flexible fiberoptic device used to view or operate upon a fetus within the womb (to do fetal surgery). (2) A stethoscope designed for listening to the fetal heart beat.
Fetoscopy:  A technique for looking directly at the fetus within the uterus (using a fetoscope).
Fetus:  The unborn child from the end of the 8th week after conception (when the major structures have formed) until birth. Up until the eighth week, the developing offspring is called an embryo.
FEV1:  Forced Expiratory Volume in the first second. The volume of air that can be forced out in one second after taking a deep breath, an important measure of pulmonary function.
Fever (Pyrexia):  Technically, fever is body temperature above 98.6 degrees F (37 degrees C.). In practice a person is not considered to have a significant fever until the temperature is above 100.4 degrees F (38 degrees C.). Fever is part of the body's disease-fightingmethods. Rising body temperatures apparently are capable of killing off many disease producing organisms. For that reason, low fevers should normally go untreated, although you may need to see your doctor to be sure if the fever is accompanied by any other significant symptoms. At fevers temperatures 104 degrees F and above, there can be unwanted consequences, particularly for children. These can include delirium and convulsions. A fever of this sort demands immediate treatment and medical attention. Home treatment possibilities include the use of aspirin or, in children, non-aspirin pain-killers such as acetaminophen, cool baths, or sponging to reduce the fever while seeking medical help. Fever may occur with almost any type of infection of illness. Fever has been used as a tool to treat disease by deliberately raising body temperature. Fever therapy was pioneered by the Austrian neuropsychiatrist Julius Wagner von Jauregg (1857-1940). He inoculated his patients with malaria who had dementia paralytica, the third and final stage of syphilis when it affects the nervous system and brain. The patients developed a high fever; and the fever halted the relentless course of the syphilis. For his discovery Wagner von Jauregg received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1927. Induced-fever therapy is rarely, if ever, employed today. However, sometimes a patient with a very high fever from an infection upon recovery from the infection enters into a most improbable remission from an unrelated disease or is even cured of it! Also called.
Fever blister (cold sores, labial herpes, febrile herpes):  A small sore on the face, lips, or mouth that causes pain, burning, or itching before bursting and crusting over. The favorite locations are on the lips, chin or cheeks and in the nostrils, less commonly the gums or roof of the mouth (the palate). Fever blisters are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1. It lies (dormant in the body and is reactivated by factors such as stress, sunburn, or fever from a wide range of infectious diseases including colds. Recurrences are less common after age 35. Sunscreen (SPF 15 or more) on the lips prevents recurrences of herpes from sunburn. The virus is highly contagious when fever blisters are present and is spread by kissing. Children become infected by contact with someone who has a fever blister and then they spread the virus by rubbing their cold sore and touching other children. There is no cure for fever blisters. Medications that can relieve some of the pain and discomfort include ointments that numb the blisters, antibiotics that control secondary bacterial infections, and ointments that soften the crests of the sores. Acyclovir, an antiviral drug, prevents the herpes simplex virus from multiplying and, in pill form, is said to reduce the symptoms and frequency of recurrence. Fever blisters can occur in epidemic proportions. About 100 million episodes of recurrent fever blisters occur yearly in the United States alone.
Fever of Unknown Origin (FUO):  A fever greater than 38.3°C (101 °F) that has occurred intermittently for over three weeks, for which no specific cause readily identified. In 90% of cases, the specific cause for a fever of unknown origin can eventually be identified after extensive diagnostic testing. The causes of a fever of unknown origin that are eventually discovered typically fall into one of three categories: uncommon infections, cancers, and chronic inflammatory diseases (most commonly connective tissue diseases or autoimmune diseases).
Fever therapy:  The use of abnormal elevations in body temperature as a tool to treat disease. This was done in the past by deliberately raising the patient's temperature to cause fever. Fever therapy was pioneered by the Austrian neuropsychiatrist Julius Wagner von Jauregg (1857-1940) who inoculated the malarial parasite into patients with dementia paralytica, the third and final stage of syphilis when it affects the nervous system and brain. The patients developed malaria with a high fever and the fever halted the relentless course of the syphilis. In 1927 Wagner von Jauregg received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Fever therapy is rarely, if ever, used in the present day. Sometimes, however, a patient with a very high fever from an infection upon recovery from the infection enters into a seemingly impossible remission from an unrelated disease or is even cured of it!
Fiber:  The parts of plants that cannot be digested, namely complex carbohydrates, aka bulk or roughage. Complex carbohydrates from plants are rich in starch and fiber. Examples of plants that provide complex carbohydrates (fiber) are fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, and cereal grains. Simple carbohydrates (e.g. table sugar), have no fiber. Dietary fiber can have many benefits including promoting bowel regularity, lowering cholesterol and easing hemorrhoids, colitis, and diverticulosis. Dietary fiber can also help in weight maintenance as it requires more chewing and promotes hunger satisfaction by giving the stomach a sense of fullness. It was once believed that all dietary fiber lowered the risk of colon cancer. Then in 1999 it was reported that dietary fiber seemed to have no effect on the chance of developing colon cancer. And in 2000 a kind of dietary fiber was discovered to increase the risk of the adenomas, the forerunners of cancer of the colon. The fiber under study was from ispaghula husk, which is not normally found in the diet but is found in laxatives containing mucilage. Ispaghula husk fiber is similar to psyllium, a fiber derived from plant husks that is found in many bulk laxatives. It appears that such laxatives should be avoided by anyone who may have colorectal adenomas. High fiber diets help delay the progression of diverticulosis and reduce the bouts of diverticulitis. In many cases, it helps reduce the symptoms of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (also called spastic colitis, mucus colitis, and nervous colon syndrome.) It is generally accepted that a diet high in fiber is protective, or at least reduces the incidence, of colon polyps and colon cancer. Soluble fibers (citrus, pears, oat bran, apples, peas/beans, psyllium, etc.) slow down the digestion of carbohydrates which results in better glucose metabolism. Some patients with the adult-onset diabetes may actually be successfully treated with a high-fiber diet alone, and those on insulin, can often reduce their insulin requirements by adhering to a high-fiber diet. Soluble fiber and insoluble fiber differ in function. For example, soluble fiber delays the time of transit through the intestine whereas insoluble fiber speeds up intestinal transit. For another example, soluble fiber and decreases the level of cholesterol in the blood whereas insoluble fiber has no effect on serum cholesterol. Oats, beans, dried peas, and legumes are major sources of soluble fiber whereas wheat bran, whole grain products, and vegetables are major sources of insoluble fiber. Fruits, vegetables, and barley are sources of both insoluble and soluble fiber.
Fibril:  The diminutive of fiber. A small fiber, a fine thread.
Fibrillation:  In matters of the heart (cardiology), fibrillation is incoordinate twitching of the heart muscle fibers. The difference between fibrillation and flutter is that fibrillation is not well organized while flutter is. For example, atrial flutter is regular, organized but over-rapid contraction of the atrium of the heart. By contrast in atrial fibrillation, the atrium quivers incoordinately and ineffectually.
Fibrin:  The protein formed during normal blood clotting that is the essence of the clot.
Fibrinogen:  The protein from which is generated fibrin, the essence of a normal blood clot.
Fibroadenoma:  A benign growth in the breast that is solid, firm, smooth and usually painless or only slightly tender. They are common and a woman may have several. They sometimes grow rapidly in teenagers or during pregnancy. Their peak incidence is in women 30 to 35 years old.
Fibroblast:  A cell ubiquitous in connective tissue that makes and secretes collagen, a primary component of connective tissue.
Fibrocystic breast disease (FBD):  Marked by lumpiness and usually discomfort in one or both breasts, this condition is very common and benign (not cancerous). Fibrocystic breast disease, now referred to as fibrocystic changes or >b>fibrocystic breast condition, is the most common cause of "lumpy breasts" in women and affects more than 60% of women. The condition primarily affects women between the ages of 30 and 50 and tends to become less of a problem after menopause.
Fibroid:  A benign tumor of the uterus and the most common indication for hysterectomy. Fibroids can be present and be asymptomatic. However, they are symptomatic in about 25% of women and cause significant morbidity, including prolonged or heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pressure or pain, and, in rare cases, reproductive problems. Fibroids are not cancerous. Drugs that manipulate the levels of steroid hormones are effective in treating fibroids but side-effects limit their long-term use. Fibroids tend to respond well to high dose vitamin E. They may be removed if they cause discomfort or if they cause with uterine bleeding. Surgery is the more aggressive form of treatment. In addition to hysterectomy and abdominal myomectomy, various minimally invasive procedures have been developed to remove fibroids. A fibroid is also medically known as a leiomyoma or a myoma of the uterus. A singular fibroid is termed a fibroma.
Fibromyalgia:  A syndrome characterized by chronic pain, stiffness, and tenderness of muscles, tendons, and joints without detectable inflammation. Fibromyalgia does not cause body damage or deformity. However, undue fatigue plagues the large majority of patients with fibromyalgia and insomnia is common. This is one of those conditions of which mainstream medicine does not have a clear understanding and therefore does not offer therapies which work and last. Fibromyalgia arises from a digetive disorder in which absorption of nutients is subclinically impaired. The muscles and other mesodermal tissues become staved for nutrition and therefore painful. Cure requires proper treatment of the gastrointestinal tract. Anything less will not produce lasting relief. Other symptoms of fibromyalgia may include headaches, painful menstrual periods, numbness or tingling of the extremities, restless legs, chronic low body temperature, and cognitive and memory problems (sometimes referred to as "brain fog." Mainstream medical treatment includes "education, stress reduction, exercise, medication, physical therapy, heat and massage, relaxation, and antidepressant medications. Most fibromyalgia patients recognize all this as missing the mark rather completely. Also known as fibrositis.
Fibrosarcoma:  A malignant tumor that begins in fibrous connective tissue at the ends of the arm or leg bones and may spread to surrounding soft tissue. It is the most common soft tissue sarcoma found in children under one year of age presenting as a rapidly growing mass at birth or early infancy. Fibrosarcoma can also occur in older children and adults. The symptoms may include a lump, soreness, pain, or a limp (if the tumor is in the leg).
Fibula:  The lateral and smaller of the two long bones in the lower leg between the knee and ankle. (The other bone is the tibia.) The fibula is not weight bearing. It articulates with the tibia above and with the tibia and the talus bone below. The word "fibula" comes from the Latin meaning clasp or brooch. The fibula was likened to a clasp attaching it to the tibia to form a brooch. The fibula is also called the calf bone.
Fibulin 3:  A protein that belongs to a family of extracellular proteins expressed in the basement membranes of blood vessels. The gene that encodes fibulin 3 is FBLN3 (or EFEMP1). FBLN3 is located on chromosome 2 in band 2p16. A single mutation in FBLN3 is responsible for an autosomal dominant form of macular degeneration.
Fibulin 5:  A protein that belongs to a family of extracellular proteins expressed in the basement membranes of blood vessels. Fibulin 5 may be essential for the polymerization of elastin. Missense mutations in FBLN5, the gene that encodes fibulin 5, appear responsible for 1-2% of cases of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). FBLN5 is located on chromosome 14 in band 14q32.1.
Fifth disease:  An oddly named disease caused by a virus called parvovirus B 19. (In the pre-vaccination era, fifth disease was frequently the "fifth disease" that a child contracted.) . Symptoms include low-grade fever, fatigue, a "slapped cheeks rash," and a rash over the whole body. While the illness is mild in most children, some children with immune deficiency (such as those with AIDS or leukemia) or with certain blood disorders (such as sickle cell anemia or hemolytic anemia) may become seriously ill with fifth disease. Parvovirus B19 can temporarily decrease or halt the body's production of red blood cells, causing anemia. Moreover, fifth disease is of consequence in many adults. About 80% of adults with fifth disease have joint aches and pains (arthritis) which may become long-term with stiffness in the morning, redness and swelling of the same joints on both sides of the body (a "symmetrical" arthritis), most commonly involving the knees, fingers, and wrists. Pregnant women (who have not previously had the illness) should avoid contact with patients who have fifth disease. The fifth disease virus can infect the fetus prior to birth. And, while no birth defects have been reported as a result of fifth disease, it can cause the death of the unborn fetus. The risk of fetal death is 5-10% if the mother becomes infected. Fifth disease is also known as erythema infectiosum. Treatment is supportive only. Fluids, acetaminophen, and rest are important. Antibiotics are of no use in the treatment of fifth disease since it is a viral illness. In those with persistent arthritis, antiinflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen can be used.
Filariasis (aka lymphatic filariasis):  A parasitic disease caused by the African eye worm, a microscopic thread-like worm. The adult worms can only live in the human lymph system.
Filgrastim (brand name Neupogen):  A man-made protein similar to the naturally occurring protein, granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) produced by the immune system and stimulates the formation of one type of white blood cell, the neutrophil. Neutrophils take part in the inflammatory reaction. They are responsible for detecting and destroying harmful bacteria and some fungi. Filgrastim is produced by bacteria through the use of genetic engineering and recombinant DNA technology. Filgrastim belongs to a class of drugs called colony-stimulating factors because of their ability to stimulate cells in the bone marrow to multiply and form colonies. Other colony stimulating factors are sargramostim (Leukine) and epoetin alfa (Epogen, Procrit).
Filial:  1. the first generation that results from the crossing of two parental lines, as the filial generation. 2. In general, pertaining to the relationship of children, both sons and daughters, to their parents. From the Latin filialis meaning offspring.
Filler:  An inactive substance used to make a product more bulky. For example, fillers are often used to make pills or capsules because the amount of active drug is too small to be handled conveniently.
Filoviridae (aka Filoviruses):  A family of viruses that cause hemorrhagic fever. Filoviruses have single-stranded RNA as their genetic material. Ebola virus and the Marburg virus are both examples of filoviruses.
Fine needle aspiration:  The use of a thin needle to withdraw material from the body, commonly used to determine whether a nodule in the thyroid gland is benign or malignant (fine needle aspiration biopsy of the thyroid). A fine gauge needle is placed into the nodule and a drop of blood is withdrawn and the cells are studied under a microscope.
Finished DNA sequence:  A DNA sequence in which the bases are identified to an accuracy of no more than 1 error in 10,000 and placed in the right order and orientation along a chromosome with almost no gaps. A finished sequence is as opposed to a draft DNA sequence which does not yet meet these standards.
Fire ants:  Originally from South America, among the worst insect pests ever to invade the U.S. Red or yellowish ants of small-to-medium size with a severe sting that burns like fire. They normally feed on small insects but, with denser populations, they eat seeds and seedling plants, damage grain and vegetable crops, invade kitchens, attack newly hatched poultry and the young of ground-nesting wild birds. Fire ants can kill newborn domestic and wild animals. Each colony is composed of a queen, winged males and females and 3 kinds of workers. A nest averages about 25,000 workers, but far larger populations are common. Semipermanent nests are large mounds of excavated soil with openings for ventilation. Since nests may number 50 -100 (or more) in a heavily infested field, cultivating becomes difficult or impossible. Fire ants belong to the genus Solenopsis. The severe sting of this ant causes a pustule to form within 24 hours that takes 10 -14 days to resolve. Fire ant toxin can trigger an allergic reaction, particularly in people allergic to bee, wasp and yellowjacket stings. Avoidance and prompt treatment are essential.
Fire gilding:  A dangerous process for gold-plating in which an amalgam of mercury and gold is applied to an object and then exposed to heat to vaporize the mercury and leave the gold behind in a thin layer. Fire gilding also is applicable to plating silver, copper, and copper alloys. The process of fie gilding is still used when antique work is to be repaired or an exact replica made. Fire gilding is hazardous because mercury vapors are emitted even at room temperature, presenting an appreciable risk of mercury poisoning. Fire gilding is also called mercury gilding.
Fireworks injury:  Injury from a device for producing a striking display by the combustion of explosive or flammable compositions. Since fireworks are often used around holidays, fireworks injuries cluster about holidays. All fireworks are potentially dangerous, especially to children. Children 14 years and younger sustain about 50% of the injuries related to fireworks, and boys represent about 75% of all those injured. Injuries from fireworks most often affect the hands and fingers, eyes, and head and face. Fireworks injuries involved the hands and fingers (32%), eyes (21%), and head and face (17%) in the US in 2004. More than half of the injuries involved burns (66%). The injuries were most commonly associated with sparklers (26%), fire-crackers (18%), and rockets (15%).
First American medical school (King's College Medical School):  Founded in New York in 1767, King's College was the first institution in the North American Colonies to confer the degree of Doctor of Medicine (the M.D.). The first graduates in medicine from the College were Robert Tucker and Samuel Kissarn, who received the degree of Bachelor of Medicine in May 1769, and that of Doctor of Medicine in May 1770 and May 1771, respectively. Instruction in medicine was given until interrupted by the Revolution and the occupation of New York by the British, which lasted until November 25, 1783. In 1784 instruction was resumed in the academic departments, and in December of the same year the medical faculty was reestablished. In 1814 the medical faculty of Columbia College was merged with the College of Physicians and Surgeons, which had obtained an independent charter in 1807. In 1860, by agreement between the Trustees of the two institutions, the College of Physicians and Surgeons became the Medical Department of Columbia College, from that time on the diplomas of the graduates were signed by the President of Columbia College as well as by the President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The connection was only a nominal one, however, until 1891, when the college was incorporated as an integral part of Columbia University. Since September 1917, women have been admitted to the College on the same basis as men.
First degree burn:  A superficial burn with similar characteristics to a typical sun burn. The skin is red in color and sensation is intact. In fact, it is usually somewhat painful.
First stage of labor:  The part of labor when the cervix dilates fully (to 10 centimeters). The first stage of labor is also called the stage of dilatation.
Fish bowl granuloma:  A localized nodular skin inflammation caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium marinum. Fish bowl granuloma is typically acquired by occupational or recreational exposure to salt or fresh water, often resulting from minor trauma during caring for aquariums. The diagnosis is suggested by the history of exposure and confirmed by culturing tissue specimens which yield the microscopic organism, Mycobacterium marinum. The infection can be treated with a variety of antibiotics. Also called swimming pool granuloma.
Fish oil, omega-3:  A class of fatty acids found in fish oils, especially from salmon and other cold-water fish, that acts to lower the levels of cholesterol and LDL (low-density lipoproteins), the "bad" cholesterol. Omega-3 fish oil is therefore thought to be a neutraceutical, a food that provides health benefits. Eating fish has been reported to protect against late age-related macular degeneration, a common eye disease. The maximum benefit appears to be from eating fish once a week. (In technical terms, omega-3 fatty acids have a double bond three carbons from the methyl moiety.) However, eating fish on a regular basis represents an unacceptable exposure to mercury.
Fish-odor syndrome:  An inborn error of metabolism associated with an offensive body odor, the smell of rotting fish, due to the excessive excretion of trimethylamine, known as trimethylaminuria (TMA) in urine, sweat, and breath. Persons with TMA may experience accelerated heart rate and severe hypertension after eating cheese (which contains tyramine) and after using nasal sprays containing epinephrine. TMA is caused by a mutation (change) in the gene for an enzyme, flavin-containing monooxygenase-3 (FMO3) encoded by a gene on chromosome #1. The FMO3 enzyme metabolizes tyramine (which is in cheese). The syndrome is associated with various psychosocial reactions, including social isolation, clinical depression and attempted suicide.
Fissure:  A cleft or groove. A fissure can be normal or abnormal. A fissure in the cerebral cortex is a normal feature, a deep fold that involves the entire thickness of the brain wall. A fissure in the anus is distinctly abnormal, a painful crack in the edge of the anus which is very painful and is also called an anal fissure or fissure in ano. The term palpebral fissure
Fistula:  An abnormal passageway in the body. A fistula may go from the body surface into a blindpouch or into an internal organ or go between two internal organs. A common example is an anal fistula which has an opening in the skin near the anus that leads into a blind pouch or may connect through a tunnel with the rectal canal. A rare example is a gastropericardial fistula which is a passageway between the stomach and the pericardial sac (which surrounds the heart). There are numerous types of fistulas designated by the organs or parts they connect (anovaginal, bronchoesophageal, etc.).
Five-day fever:  (aka trench fever) a disease borne by body lice first recognized in the trenches of World War I, when it is estimated to have affected more than a million people in Russia and on the fronts in Europe. Trench fever was a major problem in the military in World War II. It is endemic to Mexico, Africa, E. Europe, and elsewhere. Urban trench fever occurs among homeless people and people with alcoholism to this today. Outbreaks have been documented in Seattle, Baltimore (among injection-drug users), Marseilles (France) and Burundi. The cause of trench fever is Bartonella quintana, an unusual rickettsial organism that multiplies in the gut of the body louse. Transmission of the rickettsia to people can occur by rubbing infected louse feces into abraded (scuffed) skin or into the conjunctivae (whites of the eyes). The disease is classically a 5-day fever. The onset of symptoms is sudden with high fever, severe headache, back pain and leg pain and a fleeting rash. Recovery takes a month or more. Relapses are common.
Flail chest:  When enough ribs are broken (usually from a crush injury) to compromise the rigidity of the chest wall on inspiration, the chest wall moves inward instead of outward and the opposite on expiration.
Flashing:   A form of exhibitionism characterized by intense, sexually arousing fantasies, urges or behaviors involving exposure of the individual's genitals to an unsuspecting stranger. The individual with this problem, sometimes called a "flasher," feels a need to surprise, shock or impress his victims. The condition usually is limited to the exposure, with no other harmful advances made, although "indecent exposure" is illegal. Actual sexual contact with the victim is rare. However, the person may masturbate while exposing himself or while fantasizing about exposing himself.
Flat affect:  A severe reduction in emotional expressiveness. People with depression and schizophrenia often show flat affect. A person with schizophrenia may not show the signs of normal emotion, perhaps may speak in a monotonous voice, have diminished facial expressions, and appear extremely apathetic. Also known as blunted affect.
Flat condyloma:  A manifestation of the secondary stage of syphilis that takes the form of broad flat wartlike growths in moist creased areas, as around the anus and external genitalia. Also called condyloma latum.
Flat feet:  A condition of the feet in which the arch of the instep is flattened and the entire sole touches the ground. All babies have flat feet because their arches are not yet built up (and their feet tend to be plump). This condition may persist into adulthood, or an arch may form as the child grows. Flat feet can also be acquired, as in jobs that require a great deal of walking and carrying heavy objects.
Flavivirus:  A family of viruses transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks that cause some important diseases, including dengue, yellow fever, tick-borne encephalitis virus, and West Nile fever.
Flavoproteins:  Flavoproteins are yellow proteins that serve as enzymes critical to the ability of cells in the body to respire, to breath. (The "flavo-" is borrowed from the Latin "flavus", yellow). Flavoproteins are, in other words, respiratory enzymes. As enzymes they catalyze (speed) what are technically termed oxidation-reduction reactions.
Flax seed:  The seed of the common flax plant (also known as linseed and, botanically, Linum usitatissimum). Flax seed and flax seed oil are a rich souce of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), the only one of the omega-3 fatty acids that is essential in the sense that the body cannot make it so, if one is to get it, it must be in the diet.
Flesh-eating bacteria:  A popular media term for a type of strep bacteria (group A streptococcus) which rapidly destroys tissue and left untreated causes death. Surgical excision of dead and infected tissue is usually necessary to help control the infection. The rapid spread and destruction of tissue caused by these bacteria is thought due to a combination of factors related to a protective coat and other substances produced by the bacteria.
Flexion:  The process of bending or the state of being bent. Flexion of the fingers, for example, results in a clenched fist.
Flexner Report:  "Medical Education in the United States and Canada", quite possibly the most important written document in the history of American and Canadian medical education. The report is named for Abraham Flexner (1866-1959) who prepared it. Abraham Flexner was not a doctor but was a secondary school teacher and principal for 19 years in Louisville, Kentucky (where this writer's uncle was one of his students). Flexner then took graduate work at Harvard and the University of Berlin and joined the research staff of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For the Carnegie Foundation, Flexner researched, wrote and in 1910 published a report entitled "Medical Education in the United States and Canada." It is known today as the Flexner Report. The Flexner Report triggered much-needed reforms in the standards, organization, and curriculum of North American medical schools. At the time of the Report, many medical schools were proprietary schools operated more for profit than for education. In their stead Flexner proposed medical schools in the German tradition of strong biomedical sciences together with hands-on clinical training. The Flexner Report caused many medical schools to close down and most of the remaining schools were reformed to conform to the Flexnerian model. Flexner founded the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton in 1930 and served as its first director. Abraham Flexner was one of the great educators of the 20th century. Medical education and medicine in North America owe a large debt to Flexner.
Flexural psoriasis:  A form of psoriasis found in the armpits, groin, under the breasts and in other flexion creases (skin folds) such as those around the genitals and buttocks. This form of psoriasis appears as smooth, dry areas of skin that are red and inflamed but do not have the scaling associated with plaque psoriasis (the most common type of psoriasis). Flexural psoriasis is more frequent and severe in people who are overweight because it is in the skin folds where it is particularly prone to irritation from rubbing and sweating. Also called inverse psoriasis.
Floater:  A blurry spot that seems to drift in front of the eyes and when extreme can partially block vision. The blur is the result of debris from the vitreous of the eye casting a shadow on the retina. The spot is the image formed by a deposit of protein drifting about in the vitreous, the clear jelly-like substance that fills the middle of the eye. Floaters are often described by patients as spots, strands, or little flies. They can result from a separation of the vitreous gel from the retina. This condition is called a posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). Although a PVD occurs commonly, usually around age 50-60, or after head trauma, there are usually no retinal tears associated with the condition. Permanent or recurring white or black spots in the same area of your field of vision may be an early warning sign of cataracts or another serious eye problem. If you experience a shadow or curtain that affects any part of your vision, this can indicate that a retinal tear has occurred and has progressed to a detached retina. In this situation, you should immediately consult an ophthalmologist since time is of the essence. For more information on floaters, go here
Floating rib:  One of the last two ribs. A rib is said to be "floating" if it does not attach to the sternum (the breast bone) or to another rib. There are usually 12 pairs of ribs in all. Each pair of ribs is attached to the building blocks of the spine (the vertebrae) in the back. The 12 pairs of ribs consist of true ribs (the first seven ribs which attach to the sternum) and false ribs (the lower five ribs which do not directly connect to the sternum). The upper three false ribs connect to the costal cartilages of the ribs just above them. The last two false ribs, however, usually have no ventral attachment (no anchor at all in front) and are called floating, fluctuating or vertebral ribs.
Floppy baby syndrome:  A general medical reference to an abnormal condition of newborns and infants manifested by inadequate tone of the muscles (hypotonia). It can be due to a multitude of different neurologic and muscle problems.
Floppy valve syndrome (Mitral valve prolapse):  Abnormal bulging of part of the mitral valve's cusps backward into the atrium during the contraction of the heart. The strands of tissue (cordae tendini) which are designed by nature to prevent prolapse are not always perfectly made. If one or more are longer than optimal, this permits a partial prolapse with backflow of blood (regurgitation). Mitral valve prolapse is often an asymptomatic condition but when there is actual regurgitation, there can be symptoms (e.g. chest pain, fatigue, dizziness, dyspnea, or palpitations) with a tendency in some cases to endocarditis or ventricular tachycardia. Also known as Barlow's syndrome, click-murmur syndrome, MVP syndrome, and systolic click–murmur syndrome. The diagnosis is made by ultrasound. Before todays refined imaging techniques many cases of minimum mitral valve prolapse with regurgitation were diagnosed as "benign murmurs."
Flora:  The population of microbes inhabiting the outside or inside surfaces, such as the lungs, GI tract, vagina, etc. (This term also refers to the population of plants including flowers, usually in a particular area. The word "flora" is the name of the Roman goddess of flowers.)
Flu:  Short for influenza, caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract which are divided into three types, designated A, B, and C. Most people who get the flu recover completely in 1 to 2 weeks, but some people develop serious and potentially life-threatening medical complications, such as pneumonia. Controversy surrounds the recommended "flu shots." For more information on "flu," go here.
Fluorescein angiography:   A test to examine blood vessels in the retina, choroid, and iris of the eye. A special dye is injected into a vein in the arm and pictures are taken as the dye passes through the blood vessels in the eye. If the eye care professional suspects a patient has a disorder such as wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD), the patient may have fluorescein angiography. The resultant photos help evaluate leaking blood vessels and determine whether they can be treated.
Fluorescent microscope:  A microscope equipped to examine material that fluoresces under ultraviolet light. Fluorescence microscopy is based on the principle that fluorescent materials emit visible light when they are irradiated with ultraviolet rays or with violet-blue visible rays.
Fluorescent treponemal antibody absorbed test:  A blood serum screening test for syphilis designed to demonstrate the presence or absence of specific antibodies directed against the organism (Treponema pallidum) responsible for syphilis. The fluorescent treponemal antibody absorbed (FTA-ABS) test detects the majority but not all cases of the disease. It is thus a way of screening for the disease.
Fluoridation:  1. In general, treatment with fluoride. 2. Specifically, the addition of fluoride to a water supply to help prevent dental caries. Fluoride is a known carcinogen (cancer causing) agent.
Fluoride:  A compound of fluorine with another element or radical. Fluoride compounds are present in drinking water and some foods. Fluoride ions replace hydroxyl ions in hydroxyapatite in teeth, forming fluorapatite, which leads to fewer cavities, probably because fluoride is a toxin, not only to people but to bacteria as well. Fluoride compounds are therefore added to some toothpastes and dentists may also give a yearly fluoride treatment.
Fluorobody:   A hybrid molecule that combines the affinity and specificity of an antibody with the visibility of a green fluorescent protein which provides the antibody with a built-in detection system. The creation of the fluorobody in the laboratory was first reported in 2003.
Fluoroscopy:   An x-ray procedure that makes it possible to see internal organs in motion. Fluoroscopy uses x-ray to produce real-time video images. After the x-rays pass through the patient, instead of using film, they are captured by a device called an image intensifier and converted into light. The light is then captured by a TV camera and displayed on a video monitor.
Fluorosis:  An abnormal condition caused by excessive intake of fluorine, characterized by mottling of the teeth.
Fluorouracil:  A much-used anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites. Full name: 5-fluorouracil. Abbreviation: 5-FU.
Flush:   (1) A redness of the skin, typically over the cheeks or neck. A flush is usually temporary and brought on by excitement, exercise, fever, or embarrassment. Flushing is an involuntary response of the nervous system leading to widening of the capillaries of the involved skin. Also referred to as a blush. Flushing may also be caused by medications or other substances that cause widening of the capillaries, such as niacin. (2) Flush also means to wash out a wound or body area.
Flutter:   Flutter is a rapid vibration or pulsation. The difference between flutter and fibrillation is that flutter is well organized while fibrillation is not. For example, atrial flutter consists of well-organized but over-rapid contractions of the atrium of the heart (usually at a rate of 250-350 contractions per minute). Atrial flutter is a serious and potentially unstable cardiac rhythm.
Focal dystonia due to blepharospasm:  The involuntary forcible closure of the eyelid due to spasms. The first symptoms may be uncontrollable blinking. Only one eye may be affected initially, but eventually both eyes are usually involved. The spasms may leave the eyelids completely closed causing functional blindness even though the eyes beneath the lids and vision are normal.
Focal dystonia due to torticollis:  Spasm of the muscles in the neck that control the position of the head, causing the head to twist and turn to one side. In addition, the head may be pulled forward or backward. Torticollis is the most common form of focal dystonia. For more about the dystonias, see: Dystonia.
Focal gigantism:  1. The excessive growth of a specific body part such as a hand or foot, as with increased blood supply to that part. 2. The excessive growth of a combination of particular body parts, as is characteristic of a congenital malformation syndrome called the Wiedemann-Beckwith syndrome. Focal gigantism may occur before or after the bones fuse. If it occurs afterwards, it causes disfigurement, as in acromegaly. Surgery for mass reduction may sometimes improve function.
Focal motor seizure:  A simple partial seizure with localized motor activity. There may be spasm or clonus (jerking) of one muscle or a muscle group and this may remain localized or it may spread to adjacent muscles as a so-called Jacksonian seizure.
Folate:  Folic acid, one of the B vitamins, a key factor in the synthesis of the nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). A deficiency of folic acid after birth causes an anemia, namely, megaloblastic anemia in which there is a paucity of red blood cells and those that are made are unusually large and immature (so-called blast cells). Lack of adequate folic acid during pregnancy is known to increase the risk for the baby to have a birth defect involving the spinal cord and brain -- a neural tube defect such as spina bifida (meningomyelocele) or anencephaly. Folic acid antagonists (certain drugs) increase the risk not only of neural tube defects but also of congenital heart malformations, cleft lip and palate, and urinary tract defects. Supplementation with folic acid reduces the risks for a remarkably broad gamut of birth defects. In order for folic acid to be effective in preventing these birth defects, the vitamin must be consumed every day beginning before conception and continuing through the first three months of pregnancy. Educating women and their doctors about the importance of folic acid is a major effort. According to one study, only 10% of women know that folic acid should be taken before pregnancy. The active form is known as folinic acid.
Follicular cyst of the ovary:   A fluid-filled sac in the ovary, the most common type of ovarian cyst which results from the growth of a follicle. A follicle is the fluid-filled cyst that contains an egg. In some cycles, this follicle grows larger that normal and does not rupture to release the egg. Normally it resolves over the course of days to months. Most ovarian cysts are never noticed and resolve without ever knowing they were there. When a cyst causes symptoms, pain is by far the most common presentation. The pain from an ovarian cyst can be caused from rupture of the cyst, rapid growth of the cyst or stretching, bleeding into the cyst, and twisting of the cyst around its blood supply. The diagnosis of an ovarian cyst is usually made by ultrasound. The treatment of these tumors depends on the woman's age, the size of the cyst, and its appearance on ultrasound. If the tumor is causing severe pain, or if it is not resolving or is suspicious in any way, then it can be removed through laparoscopy or, if needed, through an open laparotomy ("bikini incision"). The outcome is usually excellent.
Fontanel (fontanelle):  From the French fontaine for fountain. The medical term fontanel is a "soft spot" of the skull. The "soft spot" is soft because the cartilage there has not yet hardened into bone between the skull bones. There are normally two fontanels, both in the midline of the skull, one (the anterior fontanel) well in front of the other (the posterior fontanel). The posterior fontanel closes first, at latest by the age of 8 weeks in a full-term baby. The anterior fontanel closes at 18 months of age on the average but it can close normally as early as 9 months. If fontanels close too early or too late, that may be a sign of a problem.
Food irradiation:  A food safety technology designed to eliminate disease-causing germs from foods. Treating food with ionizing radiation can kill bacteria and parasites that would otherwise cause foodborne disease. (Similar technology is used to sterilize medical devices so they can be used in surgery or implanted without risk of infection.) The effects of irradiation on the food and on animals and people eating irradiated food have been studied extensively. Official FDA policy is that when irradiation is used as approved on foods, disease-causing germs are reduced or eliminated, the food does not become radioactive, dangerous substances do not appear in the foods, and the nutritional value of the food is essentially unchanged. Sources of ionizing radiation that have been used include gamma rays, electron beams and X-rays. Gamma rays are produced by radioactive isotopes such as Cobalt-60. Electron beams are produced by linear accelerators, which themselves are powered by electricity. The dose applied to a product is the most important factor of the process. At high doses, food is essentially sterilized, just as occurs in canning. Products so treated can be stored at room temperature almost indefinitely. Treating raw meat and poultry with irradiation can eliminate bacteria commonly found on raw meat and raw poultry, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. Irradiating prepared ready-to-eat meats like hot dogs and deli meats can eliminate the risk of Listeria from such foods. Irradiation can also eliminate parasites like Cyclospora and bacteria like Shigella and Salmonella from fresh produce. Irradiation is considered by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be "a safe and effective technology that can prevent many foodborne diseases." CDC has stated that "food irradiation ... holds great potential for preventing many important foodborne diseases that are transmitted through meat, poultry, fresh produce and other foods. An overwhelming body of scientific evidence demonstrates that irradiation does not harm the nutritional value of food, nor does it make the food unsafe to eat. Just as for the pasteurization of milk, it will be most effective when irradiation is coupled to careful sanitation programs. Consumer confidence will depend on making food clean first, and then using irradiation or pasteurization to make it safe. Food irradiation is a logical next step to reducing the burden of foodborne disease in the United States." Not everyone by any means agrees on the merits of food irradiation. Public Citizen, founded by Ralph Nader, and the Center for Food Safety assert there is "an extensive body of research suggesting that irradiated food may not be safe for human consumption. Irradiation results in the formation of chemicals that are known or suspected to cause cancer and birth defects. Lab animals fed irradiated food have developed serious health problems... Further, irradiation does nothing to remove the feces, urine, vomit and pus that often contaminate meat in today's high-volume, factory-style slaughterhouses and processing plants. Research indicates that irradiation also can destroy vitamins and nutrients, disrupt proteins and essential fatty acids, and corrupt flavor, texture and odor."
Food poisoning:  A common flu-like illness typically characterized by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, due to something the victim ate or drank that contained noxious bacteria, viruses, parasites, metals or toxins. The most prominent causes of food poisoning are Norwalk virus and Norwalk-like viruses, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Vibrio vulnificus, and E. coli O157:H7
Foot fungus (aka athlete's foot):  Caused by a fungus, marked by itching, burning, pain, and scaling. It is treated with antifungal medications, many of which are available over-the-counter. Keeping the feet dry by using cotton socks and breathable shoes helps prevent athletes foot.
Foot-and-mouth disease:  A disease caused by a highly infectious virus that can infect people but affects them most by infecting livestock -- cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. The foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is in the same family of viruses as those causing the common cold.
Foot-drop:  Dropping of the front of the foot due to weakness or paralysis of the anterior muscles of the lower leg. Foot-drop results in what is called a steppage gait in which the advancing foot is lifted high in order that the toes may clear the ground. Foot drop can be due to a number of conditions including injury to the muscles that dorsiflex the foot or to the nerves to those muscles, a neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, a stroke, drug toxicity, and diabetes. Treatment may include an ankle-foot orthosis..
Footling presentation:  There are single-footling or double-footling presentations depending upon whether the presenting part of the baby at delivery is just one foot or both feet.
Foramen:  A natural opening. Although a foramen is usually through bone, it can be an opening through other types of tissue, as with the foramen ovale in the heart. The plural of foramen is foramina.
Foramen magnum:  The large hole at the base of the skull which allows passage of the spinal cord.
Foramen of Magendie:  An opening from the fourth ventricle, which is one in a system of four communicating cavities called ventricles within the brain that are continuous with the central canal of the spinal cord. The four ventricles consist of the two lateral ventricles, the third ventricle and the fourth ventricle. The lateral ventricles are in the cerebral hemispheres. Each lateral ventricle consists of a triangular central body and four horns. The lateral ventricles communicate with the third ventricle through what is called the interventricular foramen. The third ventricle is a median (midline) cavity in the brain that is bounded by the thalamus and hypothalamus on either side. Anteriorly (in front) the third ventricle communicates with the lateral ventricles and posteriorly (in back) the third ventricle communicates with what is called the aqueduct of the midbrain (or the aqueduct of Sylvius). The fourth ventricle is the most inferior (lowest) of the four ventricles of the brain. It extends from the aqueduct of the midbrain to the central canal of the upper end of the spinal cord with which it communicates by the two foramina of Luschka and the foramen of Magendie. The ventricles are filled with cerebrospinal fluid, which is formed by structures called choroid plexuses located in the walls and roofs of the ventricles.
Forced expiratory volume:  The volume of air that can be forced out taking a deep breath, an important measure of pulmonary function. The forced expiratory volume in the first second is the FEV1.
Forceps:  An instrument with two blades and a handle used for handling, grasping, or compressing. Many types of forceps are employed in medicine, including the alligator forceps (an angled instrument with jaws at the end), tissue forceps (a form of tweezer), hemostatic forceps (also simply called a hemostat, to clamp a bleeding vessel), mosquito forceps (a small hemostat) and obstetrical forceps (to aid in delivering a baby).
Foreign body airway obstruction:  Partial or complete blockage of the breathing tubes to the lungs due to a foreign body (e.g., food, a bead, toy, etc.). The onset of respiratory distress may be sudden with cough and speechlessness due to blockage of the air supply to the larynx. There is often agitation in the early stage of airway obstruction. The signs of respiratory distress include labored, ineffective breathing until the person is no longer breathing (apneic). Loss of consciousness occurs if the obstruction is not relieved. Treatment of airway obstruction due to a foreign body includes the Heimlich maneuver in adults, a series of 5 abdominal thrusts (a children's version of the Heimlich maneuver) in children over 1 year of age, and a combination of 5 back blows (with the flat of the hand) and 5 abdominal thrusts (with 2 fingers on the upper abdomen) in infants under 1 year of age.
Forensic medicine:  The branch of medicine that deals with the application of medical knowledge to legal problems and legal proceedings. Also called legal medicine. A physician may be engaged in forensic (or legal) medicine; a lawyer with comparable interests is said to be engaged in medical jurisprudence.
Foreskin:  The fold of skin which covers the head (the glans) of the penis. Also called the prepuce. Only about 1 in every 20 boys is born with a retractable foreskin. This reflects the fact that the histologic (tissue) development of the foreskin is usually not complete at birth. The foreskin is thus not fully separable from the glans in about 96% of newborn boys. By a year of 1 year, the foreskin can be retracted in 50% of boys and by 3 years, the foreskin can be retracted in 80% to 90% of uncircumcised boys. Newborn circumcision diminishes the risk for cancer of the penis and lowers the risk for cancer of the cervix in sexual partners. It also decreases the risk of urinary tract infections and lowers the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including especially HIV.
Forestier disease:  A form of degenerative arthritis characteristically associated with flowing calcification along the sides of the vertebrae of the spine and commonly with inflammation (tendinitis) and calcification of the tendons at their attachments points to bone. Because areas of the spine and tendons can become inflamed, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can be helpful in relieving both pain and inflammation. Also called diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH).
Formaldehyde:  A pungent gas, with the chemical formula HCHO, used as an antiseptic, disinfectant, and especially today as a fixative for histology (the study of tissues under the microscope). Formalin is a 37% aqueous (water) solution of formaldehyde
Formication:  The sensory illusion or hallucination that ants or other insects are creeping on or under the skin. Formication is a feature of some psychotic states as well as drug and alcohol abuse. From the Latin formicatio, from formicare meaning to creep like an ant. Not to be confused with fornication.
Formula feeding:  Feeding an infant or toddler prepared formula rather than breast-feeding, or in addition to breast-feeding. Formula feeding is indicated when the mother has an illness that could be passed on to the baby through breast milk or through the close physical proximity required for breast-feeding, or in the case of failure of milk production or inability of the infant to suck sufficiently to keep milk production going. Otherwise, experts in infant nutrition agree that breast-feeding is best.
Formulary:  1. A collection of formulas, recipes, or prescriptions. 2. In medicine, a listing of prescription drugs approved for use.
Fornix:  In anatomy, a vaultlike or arched structure. For example: The fornix in the brain -- a fibrous arching band connecting the two lobes of the cerebrum. The fornix of the conjunctivae - loose arching folds connecting the conjunctival membrane lining the inside of the eyelid with the conjunctival membrane covering the eyeball. The fornix of the vagina - the anterior (front) and posterior (back) recesses into which the upper vagina is divided. These vaultlike recesses are formed by protrusion of the cervix into the vagina. "Fornix" is the Latin word for "vault or arch." "Fornix" is closely related to "fornication." It seems that prostitutes in ancient Rome used to hang out under the arches of certain public buildings. The act of carrying on an illicit sexual relationship consequently came to be called "going under the arches" or fornication. The plural of fornix is fornices.
Fornix cerebri:  An arching fibrous band in the brain connecting the two lobes of the cerebrum. (The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain and consists of two hemispheres separated by a deep longitudinal fissure). Each fornix -- there are two -- in the brain is an arched tract of nerves.
Fornix conjunctivae:  The fornix of the conjunctivae refers to loose arching folds connecting the conjunctival membrane lining the inside of the eyelid with the conjunctival membrane covering the eyeball.
Fornix uteri:  The fornix of the uterus refers to the anterior (front) and posterior (back) recesses into which the upper vagina is divided. These vaultlike recesses are formed by protrusion of the cervix into the vagina. The fornix uteri is also known as the fornix vaginae (the vaginal fornix
Founder effect:  The positive effect on gene frequency when a population (a colony) has only a small number of original settlers (founders) one or more of whom had that gene. For example, the gene for Huntington disease was introduced into the Lake Maracaibo region in Venezuela early in the 19th century. So there are now over a hundred persons with Huntington disease and at least 900 persons at risk for that deadly disease in that region, the largest known aggregation with the Huntington gene in the world.
Fournier's gangrene:  A horrendous infection of the genitalia that causes severe pain in the genital area (in the penis and scrotum or perineum) and progresses from erythema (redness) to necrosis (death) of tissue. Gangrene can occur within hours. The mortality (death) rates are up to 50%. In this major medical emergency, a bacterial infection spreads quickly from the urinary tract (or the perianal, abdominal, or retroperitoneal areas), often following trauma. The gangrene is due to thrombosis of small blood vessels below the skin. Fornier's gangrene has been thought to strike mainly men over 50. Today the disease is not limited to older males or to men (although women are less commonly affected than men). Fourier's gangrene can also occur in children from infancy to adolescence following such events as insect bites, trauma, burns, perirectal diseases and infections. Predisposing factors in all age ranges include diabetes, immunodeficiency and corticosteroid use. Treatment is urgent. It involves surgically cutting away (debriding) the infected and necrotic (dead) tissue. Depending on the extent of the infection, surgical exploration of the abdomen and a colostomy also may be necessary. Triple-drug antibiotic therapy is given with, for example, Flagyl (metronidazole), ampicillin, and gentamicin. The syndrome is named for Jean Alfred Fournier, a French venereologist (venereal disease specialist), who first described it in 1883.
Fourth cranial nerve (the trochlear nerve):  The nerve supply to the superior oblique muscle of the eye, one of the muscles that moves the eye. Paralysis of the trochlear nerve results in rotation of the eyeball upward and outward (and, therefore, double vision). The trochlear nerve is the only cranial nerve that arises from the back of the brain stem and it follows the longest course within the skull of any of the cranial nerves. The twelve cranial nerves, the trochlear nerve included, emerge from or enter the skull (the cranium), as opposed to the spinal nerves which emerge from the vertebral column.
Fourth disease:  A disorder characterized by a rash due to a toxin produced by Staphylococcus aureus (Staph aureus bacteria). For many years, fourth disease was considered a non-entity, perhaps a mild form of scarlet fever, but certainly not a distinct disease. Now it is clear that fourth disease is caused by exotoxin-producing Staph aureus.
Fourth stage of labor:  The hour or two after delivery when the tone of the uterus is established and the uterus contracts down again expelling any remaining contents. These contractions are hastened by breast-feeding, which stimulates production of the pituitary hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin has been called the love hormone because it provokes the bonding of mother and child and in other situations between adults. It is known also as Pitocin when used as a drug.
Fourth ventricle:  One cavity in a system of four communicating cavities within the brain that are continuous with the central canal of the spinal cord. The four ventricles consist of two lateral ventricles, the third ventricle and the fourth ventricle.
Fovea:  In the eye, a tiny pit located in the macula of the retina that provides the clearest vision of all. It is the point of focus and transmit what you are looking directly at to the brain. Only in the fovea are the layers of the retina spread aside to let light fall directly on the cones, the cells that give the sharpest image. Also called the central fovea or fovea centralis. The word "fovea" is the Latin word for "small pit." The fovea is literally a small depression (in the retina).
Fractured hip:  Broken bone in the hip, a key health problem among the elderly, usually due to a fall or other kind of trauma involving direct impact to the hip bone which has been weakened by osteoporosis. The part of the hip most often broken is the greater trochanter of the femur. In older people the leading risk factors for falls include weakness, gait and balance disorders, functional, visual or cognitive impairment, and the side effects of drugs. The presence of hazards in the environment such as icy pavements or objects on the floor are important risk factors. More than 300,000 people 65 years old or older are hospitalized each year because of hip fractures in the U.S. About 1/4 survive for less than a year because of the fracture or its complications and most of those who survive have substantial reductions in in their ability to walk and function in daily life. Exercise programs and inspection and control of hazards in the living environment significantly reduce the incidence of falls. I suspect osteoprosis cause a spontaneous fracture in many cases followed by a fall which is then blamed for the fracture. Osteoporosis can be treated nutritionally. The use of impact-absorbing hip protectors for those at high risk for hip fractures appears to be dramatically helpful. Hip pads can eliminate up to 84% of hip fractures, according to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Fragile site:  A term devised in 1969 by Frederick Hecht to denote a heritable point on a chromosome where gaps and breaks tend to occur.
Fragile X chromosome:  An X chromosome with a heritable fragile site associated with a frequent form of mental retardation -- the fragile X syndrome. The fragile X chromosome was first sighted by Dr. Herbert A. Lubs in 1969 who termed it the "marker X." The fragile X is also called FRAXA. It was the first fragile site found on the X chromosome. The fragile X chromosome is due to a trinucleotide repeat sequence (a recurring motif of 3 bases) in the DNA at that spot.
Fragile X syndrome:  One of the most common causes of inherited mental retardation and neuropsychiatric disease in human beings, affects as many as one in 2000 males and one in 4000 females. The syndrome is also known as FRAXA (the fragile X chromosome itself) and as the Martin-Bell syndrome. However, the preferred name is fragile X syndrome. The characteristic features of the fragile X syndrome in boys include prominent or long ears, a long face, delayed speech, large testes (macroorchidism), hyperactivity, tactile defensiveness, gross motor delays, and autistic-like behaviors. Much less is known about girls with fragile X syndrome. Only about half of all females who carry the genetic mutation have symptoms themselves. Of those, half are of normal intelligence, and only one-fourth have an IQ under 70. Few fragile X girls have autistic symptoms, although they tend to be shy and quiet. Fragile X syndrome is due to a dynamic mutation (a trinucleotide repeat) at an inherited fragile site on the X chromosome, and so is an X-linked disorder. Because the mutation is dynamic, it can change in length and hence in severity from generation to generation, from person to person, and even within a given person. The diagnosis of the fragile X syndrome is confirmed by the detection of an increased number of CGG trinucleotide repeats (over 230). Approximately 15-25% of individuals with fragile X syndrome also are diagnosed with mild to moderate autism and autism spectrum disorders. Other clinical abnormalities associated with fragile X syndrome include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety disorders. The laboratory methods for the prenatal diagnosis of gene expansion of FRAXA, associated with FMR1 and its encoded protein, FMRP, are accurate, sensitive, and relatively inexpensive. Individuals with fragile X syndrome also exhibit neuroendocrinologic and reproductive disorders. Macroorchidism occurs in males with overt fragile X syndrome. Premature ovarian failure occurs in females who do not have the number of CGG repeats to produce overt fragile X syndrome. Genetic tretment may be available in the future.
Fragile X tremor / ataxia syndrome:  Abbreviated FXTAS (pronounced fax-tass). A progressive neurological disorder that strikes men over age 50 and causes tremor, ataxia (balance problems) and dementia that become increasingly severe with age. These men may be misdiagnosed with Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease. The disorder is due to a small mutation (premutation) in the same gene that causes fragile X syndrome, the most common cause of inherited mental retardation. Men with FXTAS are usually born with normal intelligence but in their 50s develop intention tremor, parkinsonism, cognitive decline, and impotence. They have atrophy (shrinkage) of the brain. The premutation of the fragile X gene (FMR1) is evident on DNA analysis. FXTAS was first reported in 2001.
Frailty syndrome:  A condition, seen particularly in older patients, characterized by low functional reserve, easy tiring, decrease of libido, mood disturbance, accelerated osteoporosis, decreased muscle strength, and high susceptibility to disease. People with the frailty syndrome may take a sudden turn for the worse and die. However, the frailty syndrome may sometimes be reversible.
Frambesia:  Also known as yaws, frambesia is a common chronic infectious disease that occurs mainly in the warm humid regions of the tropics with characteristic bumps on the skin of the face, hands, feet and genital area. Almost all cases of yaws are in children under 15 years of age. The organism that causes yaws is a bacterium called a spirochete. It is spiral shaped, as are all spirochetes, and is termed Treponema pertenue. (A different type of spirochete, Treponema pallidum, is the organism responsible for syphilis).
Framingham Heart Study:  A landmark study begun in 1948 in which some 12,000 residents of the town of Framingham, Massachusetts were enrolled in a study designed to gather medical data and, more recently, DNA samples. The participants in the Framingham study came in for regular medical exams and provided the information that researchers have requested. This extraordinary longitudinal (long-term) study has yielded a vast set of data from which invaluable health information has been extracted.
Frasier syndrome:  Described by S. D. Frasier in 1964, a condition characterized by the presence of an XY sex chromosome constitution and undermasculinized external genitalia that may range from ambiguous in appearance to normal-looking female genitalia. There is also kidney disease (glomerulosclerosis) and gonadal tumors (gonadoblastoma). Frasier syndrome is caused by point mutations in the WT1 gene.
Fraternal twins:  Twins who have shared a common uterine environment. Fraternal twins are due to the fertilization of two different ova by different sperm. Fraternal twins are also called dizygotic twins in distinction to indentical twins which are termed monozygotoc. The zygote is the cell resulting from fertilization of the egg by a sperm before the first cell division.
Freckle:  A flat circular spot on the skin about the size of the head of a nail that develops after repeated exposure to sunlight, particularly in someone of fair complexion. Freckles may be red, yellow, tan, light-brown, brown, or black. They are always darker than the skin around them since they are due to deposits of the dark melanin, a dark pigment. There are two basic types of freckles -- ephelides and lentigines. Ephelides (singular: ephelis) are flat red or light-brown spots that typically appear during the sunny months and fade in the winter. Lentigines (singular: lentigo) are small tan, brown, or black spots which tend to be darker than an ephelis-type freckle and which do not fade in the winter. The sun is not the only factor that induces freckles. Heredity also influences freckling, as witnessed by the striking similarity in the total number of freckles on identical twins. Such similarities are considerably less marked in fraternal twins. A gene for freckles has been mapped. Freckles are harmless. They may sometimes be confused with more serious skin problems. Conversely, more serious problems such as skin cancer may at times be passed over as a mere freckle. Anyone who has one or more pigmented spots of which they are not certain should be seen by a physician (or dermatologist). Effective treatments are available to lighten or eliminate those freckles whose appearance bothers their owners.
French paradox:  1. The fact that France enjoys a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease and a relatively long lifespan, despite a diet high in saturated fats. The explanations proposed include the consumption of wine, specifically red wine, alcohol, and resveratrol, an antioxidant in wine, but this is just a cover. Consumption of wine does little to prolong life. 2. The disconnect between France's rich cuisine and slender population. This paradox has been explained in part by portions that are significantly smaller in French restaurants and supermarkets than in their American counterparts. Actually it is simply a circumstance revealing the condition in America which could be termed "Fat Phobia," The "Great Fat Hoax," or "The Great Cholesterol Hoax." Fat has been demonized in the U. S., when in fact it is an important constituent of good nutrition. Consumption of fat reduces hunger and all factors being equal leads to a lower calorie intake. In the U.S. we have glorified carbohydrates while demonizing fat. We consume carbs most commonly in the form of refined grains (breads, pastas, pastries, etc.) and this increases hunger and thus calorie consumption and also increases cholesterol dramatically and predisposes people to the development of diabetes. Nevertheless this entire hoax, or whatever you want to call it, succeeds in selling millions of people copious quantities of drugs they do not need to lower their cholesterol. I live in a country gone mad.
Frenulum:  A small structure that has a restraining function. For example, the lingual frenulum attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth and appears to restrain it. A frenulum is literally a small bridle. It is the diminutive of frenum, the Latin word for bridle.
Frequency, urinary:  Urinating too often, at too frequent intervals, not due to an unusually large volume of urine, but rather to a decrease in the capacity of the bladder to hold urine.
Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP):  The fluid portion of one unit of human blood that has been centrifuged, separated, and frozen solid at −18 °C (−0.4 °F) (or colder) within 6 hours of collection. Other single-donor plasma units, either frozen or liquid, may be substituted for FFP. Indications for these products are interchangeable with those for FFP except for coagulation factor V deficiency. For that reason, the term FFP applies to all single-donor plasma units.
Freudian:  Pertaining to the neurologist, psychiatrist and founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) or to the theory and practice of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy as developed by Freud.
Frey syndrome:  Sweating on one side of the forehead, face, scalp, and neck occurring soon after ingesting food as a result of damage to a nerve that goes to the large saliva gland in the cheek (the parotid gland). Frey syndrome is the most common cause of sweating after eating (gustatory sweating). Gustatory sweating is also a rare complication of diabetes mellitus in which case the sweating is on both sides of the head and the severity of the sweating may be mild or substantial. This distressing problem can be difficult to treat.
Frigidity:  Failure of a female to respond to sexual stimulus; aversion on the part of a woman to sexual intercourse; failure of a female to achieve an orgasm (anorgasmia) during sexual intercourse. This disorder can stem from psychological or emotional problems such as stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, worry, guilt, fear of painful intercourse and fear of pregnancy. It can also develop from the undesirability of a partner, the undesirability of the setting, and the use of alcohol or drugs. The most common cause is probably hypoadrenalism which results in low levels of testosterone.
Frontal bone:  The large bone that makes up the forehead and supplies the upper edge and roof of the orbit (eye socket). The frontal bone articulates (comes together) with a number of other bones including the parietal, nasal, ethmoid, maxillary, and zygomatic bones.
Frontal lobe:  The part of each hemisphere of the brain located behind the forehead that serves to regulate and mediate the higher intellectual functions. The frontal lobes have intricate connections to other areas of the brain. In the frontal lobes, we meld emotions, cognition, error detection, volition, a sense of self, and more to create the mind.
Frostbite:  Damage to tissues from freezing due to the formation of ice crystals within cells, rupturing the cells and leading to cell death. Frostbite goes through several stages. First degree frostbite occurs when only the surface skin is frozen. This injury is called frostnip. Frostnip begins with itching and pain. The skin then blanches and eventually the area becomes numb. Frostnip generally does not lead to permanent damage because only the top layers of skin are involved. However, frostnip can lead to long-term hypersensitivity to heat and cold. Second degree frostbite occurs when freezing continues, the skin may become frozen and hard while the deep tissues are spared and remain soft and normal. This type of injury generally blisters 1-2 days after freezing. The blisters may become hard and blackened. However, they usually look worse than they are. Most of these injuries heal over 3-4 weeks. although the area may remain permanently hypersensitive to heat and cold. Third and fourth degree frostbite occurs if further freezing continues, and deep frostbite occurs. All of the muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and nerves freeze. The extremity is hard, feels woody, and use is lost temporarily, and in severe cases, permanently. The involved area appears deep purple or red with blisters that are usually filled with blood. This type of severe frostbite may result in the loss of fingers and toes. It can take several months to determine how much damage has actually been done by the freezing process. For this reason, surgery to remove tissue that is not capable of surviving is frequently delayed.
Frotteurism:  In psychiatry, this condition (commonly called toucherism) refers to a specific paraphilia which involves the non-consensual rubbing against another person to achieve sexual arousal. The contact is usually with the hands or the genitals and may involve touching any part of the body including the genital area. The majority of frotteurs are male and the majority of victims are female, although female on male, female on female, and male on male frotteurs exist. Adult on child frotteurism is a common early stage of child sexual abuse. This non-consensual activity may be done discreetly without being discovered, or in circumstances where the victim cannot respond, typically in a public place such as a crowded train, or at a rock concert. In common speech frotteurism is called groping though this term may sometimes be used for consensual Frottage. Usually such non-consensual sexual contact is viewed as criminal offense: a form of sexual assault albeit often classified as a misdemeanor with minor legal penalties. Conviction may result in a sentence including compulsory psychiatric treatment. A person who practices frotteurism is known as a frotteur.
Frozen shoulder:  Constant severe limitation of the range of motion of the shoulder due to scarring around the shoulder joint (adhesive capsulitis). Frozen shoulder is an unwanted consequence of rotator cuff disease: damage to the rotator cuff, the set of four tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint and help move the shoulder in diverse directions. Rotator cuff disease can be due to trauma, inflammation or degeneration. The common symptom is pain in the shoulder of gradual or sudden onset, typically located to the front and side of the shoulder, increasing when the shoulder is moved away from the body. A person with severe tears in the rotator cuff tendons may not be able to hold that arm up. An example of this is Senator John McCain who sustained war injuries. In public you will notice that he never raises his right hand above shoulder level. The diagnosis of rotator cuff disease can be confirmed by x-ray, an arthrogram (in which contrast dye is injected into the shoulder joint) or, less invasively, by MRI. Treatment depends on the severity of the injury to the rotator cuff. Mild rotator cuff damage is treated with ice, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications (such as ibuprofen) and, if needed, a cortisone injection in the rotator cuff. (However, although this gives relief, repeated injections worsen the condition.) More severe rotator cuff disease may require arthroscopic or open surgical repair. Gradual exercises are important and are specifically designed to strengthen the rotator cuff and increase its range of motion. Alternative treatment, and often successful, is prolotherapy.
Fructose:  A sugar that occurs naturally in fruits and honey. Fructose has 4 calories per gram and is similar in molecular structure to glucose.
Fruit fly:  Scientifically known as Drosophila melanogaster, a favorite organism in genetics and biology research since 1910 when Thomas Hunt Morgan at Columbia University chose it as the animal with which he and his students (and their many intellectual offspring) would work and come to understand many of the basic principles of genetics. The fruit fly's genes are similar to those of people.
Fruit fly genome (Drosophila genome):  All of the genetic information contained in Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruitfly. The genomes of particular non-human organisms such as Drosophila have been studied for a number of reasons including the need to improve sequencing and analysis techniques. These non-human genomes also provide sets of data against which to compare the human genome. The fruitfly's genes are similar to those of people. Of the 289 genes known to cause human disease in mutated form as of June 2000, 177 have been found to have counterparts in the fly. Fathoming fly genes is therefore a step toward knowledge and, hopefully, the treatment of human genetic diseases.
FTA-ABS test:  FTA-ABS stands for fluorescent treponemal antibody absorbed, a blood serum screening test for syphilis designed to demonstrate the presence or absence of specific antibodies directed against the organism (Treponema pallidum) responsible for syphilis. FTA-ABS detects the majority but not all cases of the disease. It is thus a way of screening for the disease. A negative FTA-ABS test result is consistent with a person not having syphilis. However, a person may have a negative FTA-ABS test result while in the early (primary) and late (tertiary) stages of the disease. In the middle (secondary) stage of syphilis, the FTA-ABS test is most reliable and is reportedly positive in 100% of cases. The FTA-ABS test is often used as a confirmatory test after first screening a patient with a VDRL (Venereal Disease Research Laboratory) or RPR (rapid plasma reagin) test, since the FTA-ABS test is more expensive and time-consuming than "non-treponemal" syphilis tests such as the VDRL and RPR.
Fuchs' endothelial corneal dystrophy:  A common adult-onset form of corneal dystrophy with autosomal dominant inheritance. The disorder is caused by mutation in the COL8A2 gene. In this disease, the endothelial cells (which line the back of the cornea, the clear part of the eye) gradually deteriorate. As more endothelial cells are lost, the endothelium becomes less efficient at pumping water out of the stroma (the main part of the cornea). This causes the cornea to swell and this distorts vision. Eventually, the epithelium also takes on water, resulting in pain and severe visual impairment. Epithelial swelling damages vision by changing the cornea's normal curvature, and causing a haze to appear in the tissue. Epithelial swelling also produces tiny blisters on the corneal surface. When these blisters burst, they are extremely painful. At first, a person with Fuchs' dystrophy will awaken with blurred vision that will gradually clear during the day. This occurs because the cornea is normally thicker in the morning; it retains fluids during sleep that evaporate in the tear film while we are awake. As the disease worsens, this swelling will remain constant and reduce vision throughout the day. Treatment is designed to reduce the swelling with drops, ointments, or soft contact lenses. A hair dryer, held at arm's length or directed across the face, may help dry out the epithelial blisters. This can be done two or three times a day. When the disease interferes with daily activities, a person may need to consider having a corneal transplant to restore vision.
Fugue state:  An altered state of consciousness in which a person may move about purposely and even speak but is not fully aware. A fugue state is usually a type of complex partial seizure.
Functional gene test:  Test for a specific protein which indicates that the corresponding gene is not only present but active.
Functional genomics:  The function of each gene in the genome. Functional genomics is the study of genes, their resulting proteins, and the role played by the proteins the body's biochemical processes. Functional genomics also involves understanding the genetic control mechanisms.
Functional hemispherectomy:  A functional hemispherectomy is a variation of a hemispherectomy, a radical procedure in which one entire hemisphere, or one half of the brain, is removed. With a functional hemispherectomy, one hemisphere is disconnected from the rest of the brain, but only a limited area of brain tissue is removed. This surgery generally is limited to children younger than 13 years old who have one hemisphere that is not functioning normally.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging:  The use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to learn which regions of the brain are active in a specific function, as in speech. Abbreviated fMRI.
Functional scoliosis:  A structurally normal spine that appears to have a lateral curve (scoliosis). Functional scoliosis involves a temporary change of spinal curvature. This is caused by an underlying condition such as a difference in leg length, muscle spasms, or inflammatory conditions, (e.g. appendicitis), which may produce muscle spasm. Functional scoliosis is treated by correcting the underlying problem. The spine itself needs no treatment. Functional scoliosis is also called nonstructural scoliosis as opposed to structural scoliosis in which there is a fixed curve of the bones of the spine (the vertebrae).
Fundoplication (anti-reflux surgery):  A surgical technique that strengthens the barrier to acid reflux when the lower esophageal sphincter does not work normally and there is gastro-esophageal reflux. Fundoplication has been the standard surgical method for treating gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is the constellation of inflammation, pain (heartburn), and complications that results when acid refluxes (regurgitates) from the stomach back up into the esophagus. Under normal conditions, there is a barrier to acid reflux. One part of this barrier is the lower-most muscle of the esophagus (called the lower esophageal sphincter) which is contracted and closes off the esophagus from the stomach most of the time. In people with GERD, the sphincter does not work normally. It is weak or relaxes inappropriately, permitting the acid from the stomach to go back up into the esophagus. During the fundoplication procedure, the part of the stomach that is closest to the entry of the esophagus (the fundus of the stomach) is gathered, wrapped, and sutured (sewn) around the lower end of the esophagus and the lower esophageal sphincter. (The gathering and suturing of one tissue to another is called plication.) This procedure increases the pressure at the lower end of the esophagus and thereby reduces acid reflux.
Fundus:  Latin word for the bottom. In medicine, fundus refers to the bottom or base of an organ. For example, the fundus of the eye (the retina), the fundus of the uterus, and so on. The fundus of the stomach is inexplicably the upper portion. The retninal fundus is the interior lining of the eyeball, including the retina (the light-sensitive screen), optic disc (the head of the nerve to the eye), and the macula (the small spot in the retina where vision is keenest). The fundus is the portion of the inner eye that can be seen during an eye examination by looking through the pupil.
Fungal nail infection (onychomycosos):  The most common fungus infection of the nails is onychomycosis (pronounced o-nek-o-my-cosis). Onychomycosis makes the nails look white and opaque, thickened, and brittle. Those at increased risk for developing onychomycosis include:
  • People with diabetes
  • People with disease of the small blood vessels (peripheral vascular disease)
  • Older women (perhaps because estrogen deficiency increases the risk of infection)
  • Women of any age who wear artificial nails (acrylic or "wraps")
Artificial nails increase the risk for onychomycosis because, when an artificial nail is applied, the nail surface is usually abraded with an emery board damaging it, emery boards can carry infection, and water can collect under the artificial nail creating a moist, warm environment favorable for fungal growth. Alternative names include tinea unguium and ringworm of the nails.
Fungicidal:  Capable of killing fungi.
Fungicide:  1. An agent capable of killing fungi. 2. Any pesticide used to control, deter, or destroy fungi. See also: Fungistat.
Fungiform:  Mushroom-shaped. From fungi-, fungus + forma, shape. The fungiform papillae are broad flat structures that house taste buds in the central portion of the dorsum (back) of the tongue. These papillae were thought to resemble a fungus: a little mushroom.
Fungistat:  A chemical that keeps fungi from growing. See also: Fungicide.
Fungistatic:  Capable of inhibiting the growth of fungi.
Fungus:  A single-celled or multicellular organism. Fungi can be true pathogens (such as histoplasmosis and coccidioidomycosis) that cause infections in healthy persons or they can be opportunistic pathogens (such as aspergillosis, candidiasis, and cryptococcosis) that cause infections in immunocompromised persons (including cancer patients, transplant recipients, and persons with AIDS). An example of a common fungus is the yeast organism which causes thrush and diaper rash (diaper dermatitis). Fungi are also used for the development of antibiotics, antitoxins, and other drugs used to control various human diseases.
Funnel chest (pectus excavatum):  "Caved-in" chest. Usually an unimportant isolated finding evident at birth. (Funnel chest can occasionally be part of a connective tissue disorder such as Marfan syndrome).
Funny bone:  As in "it tickled my funny bone." When the elbow is bumped, the ulnar nerve running past the elbow is stimulated and produces a strange (funny, actually painful) electrical sensation.
Furuncle:  Another name for a "boil" (abscess), i.e. a collection of pus. Antibiotics are often not very helpful in treating abscesses. The main treatments include hot packs and draining (by "lancing") the abscess, but only when it is soft and ready to drain. Teenagers know all about furuncles.
Fusiform:  Formed like a spindle, wider in the middle and tapering toward the ends. An aneurysm may be fusiform. The word "fusiform" comes from the Latin "fusus" meaning "spindle."
Fusiform aneurysm:  A vascular outpouching shaped like a spindle. A fusiform widening of an artery or vein. An aneurysm is a localized widening (dilatation) of an artery, vein, or the heart. At the area of an aneurysm, there is typically a bulge and the wall is weakened and may rupture.
Fusion inhibitor:  A class of antiretroviral drugs that work on the outside of the host CD4 cell to prevent HIV from fusing with and infecting it. Fusion inhibitors act by binding to an envelope protein and blocking the structural changes necessary for the virus to fuse with the host CD4 cell. If HIV cannot penetrate the host cell membrane and infect the cell, HIV cannot replicate within the host cell.
Fusospirillary gingivitis:  This is trench mouth, a progressive painful infection with ulceration, swelling and sloughing off of dead tissue from the mouth and throat due to the spread of infection from the gums. Certain germs (including fusiform bacteria and spirochetes) have been thought to be involved, but the full story behind this long- known disease is still not clear. This condition is also called Vincent's angina after the French physician Henri Vincent (1862-1950). The word "angina" comes from the Latin "angere" meaning "to choke or throttle." As with most poorly understood diseases, fusospirochetal gingivitis goes by many other names including acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG), acute membranous gingivitis, fusospirochetal gingivitis, fusospirillosis, fusospirochetal gingivitis, necrotizing gingivitis, phagedenic gingivitis, ulcerative gingivitis, Vincent's gingivitis, Vincent's infection, and Vincent's stomatitis.
Giant platelet syndrome (Bernard-Soulier syndrome):  This condition is a primary problem of platelets in which the platelets lack the ability to stick adequately to injured blood vessel walls and as a result of this problem there is abnormal bleeding. The giant platelet syndrome usually presents in the newborn period, infancy, or early childhood with bruises, nose bleeds (epistaxis), and/or gum bleeding. Later problems can occur with anything which can induce bleeding such as menstruation, trauma, surgery, or stomach ulcers. This is an inherited disease transmitted in an autosomal recessive pattern. Both parents must carry a gene for the giant platelet syndrome and transmit that gene to the child for the child to have the disease. The molecular basis is known and is due to a deficiency in platelet glycoproteins Ib, V, and IX. The parents have a decrease in the glycoprotein but no impairment of platelet function and no abnormal bleeding. The gene responsible for the syndrome has been mapped to the short (p) arm of chromosome 17. There is no specific curative treatment for the giant platelet syndrome. Bleeding episodes may require platelet transfusions. The abnormal platelets are usually considerably larger than normal platelets when viewed on blood films or sized by automated instruments. However, this is not the only syndrome with large platelets. Specific platelet function tests as well as tests for the glycoproteins can confirm the diagnosis. This disease was first recognized in 1948 by two French hematologists, Jean Bernard and Jean-Pierre Soulier, and so is also known as the Bernard-Soulier syndrome.



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