Glossary Of Medical Terminology Neonatal Intensive Care .

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Glossary of Medical TerminologyNeonatal Intensive Care Unit [NICU]This information sheet explains medical wordswhich you will hear doctors and nurses use whilethey care for your baby in the NICU. Knowing whatthese words mean will help you understand, and bepart of, your baby’s care.Bili lights (Phototherapy)A yellow pigment (coloured substance) formed bythe breakdown of red blood cells. – see jaundiceApnoeaA short time when a baby does not breathe.Apnoeas are common when babies are immature(not completely ready for the outside world) and willhappen less as your baby develops and becomesolder. When a baby has an apnoea we may noticetheir skin colour change (skin/lips becomes slightlyblue or dusky) and sometimes their heart rate willslow down, which we call a bradycardia.AnaemiaAnaemia is a low number of red cells (RBCs) in theblood; these are cells which carry oxygen aroundthe body. Babies with anaemia may need treatmentwith a blood transfusion of ‘packed red cells’ (highconcentration of RBCs). Extra iron in the form ofdrops may also be given to premature babies after 6weeks of age to help them make enough RBCs.- see fact sheet on blood transfusionAsphyxiaA condition where there has been not enoughoxygen to some parts (tissues and organs) of thebody. The brain and kidneys are the organs mostlikely to be damaged by a lack of oxygen. Theproblems caused by asphyxia may be temporary(not last for ever) or may cause long term issues.AspirationOur lungs should only breathe gases like air; if liquidgets into the lungs we call it aspiration. Examples ofliquids that may affect babies’ lungs includeexpressed breast milk, stomach fluids or meconium.NICU Glossary of Medical Terminology February 2019Special blue coloured lights used in the treatment ofjaundice.BilirubinBlood GasA blood test used to check the levels of gases likeoxygen, carbon dioxide, and the amount of acidity(balance of chemicals) in the blood. This test can bechecked by taking a small amount of blood frombaby’s heel or a blood vessel.Blood TransfusionWhere blood is given by one person, called theblood donor, and placed into the circulation (bloodflowing around the body) of another person (calledthe recipient or receiver).Boarder BabyThis is a baby who is well, but needs to be cared forin the nursery while his/her mother has treatment inthe hospital or is too unwell to care for her newborn.BRAINZ MonitoringA brain wave monitor (also called an EEG) which isplaced on the baby’s head to check for possibleseizures (fits) which she/he may be having.BradycardiaA slow heart rate - for babies this is when the heartbeats at less than 100 beats per minute. Inpremature babies, bradycardias often happen at thesame time as an apnoea.This written information is for guidance only and does notreplace consultation and advice by your health care provider.

Glossary of Medical TerminologyNeonatal Intensive Care Unit [NICU]Central Line / Peripherally Inserted CentralCatheter (PICC) lineCultureA fine catheter (tube) placed into a vein that can beused for a long time to give feeding (calledintravenous nutrition), fluids, and medicines tobabies. The line is put in a more central vein thanthose of the hands and feet so that it need not bereplaced as frequently.A sample of blood, urine or other body fluid iscollected and taken to the laboratory where it ischecked for germs (bacteria or viruses) by growingit in a substance called a culture medium. This testtells us which bacteria or virus is causing aninfection and the best antibiotic medicine needed tofight the infection.Chest tubeCyanosisA small, hollow plastic tube put through the skin andmuscle of the chest wall into the space between thelung and chest wall to remove air or fluids from thisspace. If air is trapped in this space it is called apneumothorax. – see pneumothorax in the NICUGlossary of Medical ConditionsBlueish, or dusky, colour of the skin, lips and nailbeds which we see when there is not enoughoxygen in the blood such as during an apnoea.CongenitalMeans to be born with, or be present at birth.ECHO CardiogramAn ultrasound of the heart done by using a probe onthe skin of the chest wall. This test does not causepain and gives very good pictures of the shape andmovement of the heart as well as the blood flowingthrough the heart and blood vessels.Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)A special way to give oxygen or air to babies withbreathing difficulties. CPAP works by giving thebaby air/oxygen at a slightly higher pressure thannormal; this helps keeps the baby’s airways(breathing tubes) open and helps baby get enoughoxygen. CPAP is usually given by a mask or noseprongs.CT scanSpecial x-rays which use a computer to make aclear picture of parts of the body. In NICU, CT scansare often used to get a detailed picture of a baby’sbrain. If your baby needs a CT scan, they will betaken to Westmead Children’s Hospital RadiologyDepartment to have the scan done.NICU Glossary of Medical Terminology February 2019Oedema“Puffy” skin from fluid collecting in body tissues.Endotracheal tube (ET tube)A plastic tube which is placed through the baby’snose or mouth, past the voice box and into theupper windpipe (trachea). An ET tube helps thebaby to breath. When the tube is put in we call it intubation. When the tube is taken out we call it extubation.This written information is for guidance only and does notreplace consultation and advice by your health care provider.

Glossary of Medical TerminologyNeonatal Intensive Care Unit [NICU]Exchange TransfusionGavage FeedingA treatment which removes small amounts of thebaby’s blood and then gives back blood fromanother person (called donor blood). In the NICUthis procedure is most often used to lower the levelof bilirubin (jaundice) in the baby’s blood. It mayalso be used to raise or lower the number of redblood cells and sometimes to help the baby’s bloodto clot.Feeding which is given by a small plastic tubeplaced through the nose or mouth down into thestomach. This type of feeding is used when thebaby is too weak, or too premature, to suck andswallow.Full Blood Count (FBC)A test which counts the different types of cells foundin the blood. These cells are: red cells (for carrying oxygen) white cells (for fighting infection) platelets (for preventing bleeding by helpingblood to form clots)Feeder and growerThis is the name given to premature babies that aregetting ready to be discharged home. They aregrowing and learning to feed by sucking rather thanbeing tube fed.Heart MurmurA rushing sound made by blood flowing in the heart,it is usually heard with a stethoscope. Sometimes aheart murmur tells us the baby has a problem withhis/her heart.Heel PrickWhere a tiny needle is used to collect a small bloodsample from the baby’s heel.HyperbilirubinemiaAn elevated level of bilirubin (yellow substance orpigment) in the blood. - see jaundiceHypoglycaemiaFeeding intoleranceA low amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. Thereare many causes for low blood glucose in newbornsincluding:Feeding intolerance means that the baby is notcoping with milk being fed through the gut(intestines). In premature babies the followingproblems tell us the baby is not managing feeds: increased gastric residuals – amount of fluid leftin the stomach after feeding vomiting reflux - fluid running back up the swallowing tube(oesophagus) abdominal distension – tummy looking bloated diarrhoea poor growthNICU Glossary of Medical Terminology February 2019being prematuremum having diabetes during her pregnancyinfectionlow body temperatureHypothermiaLower temperature than normal body temperature(Normal is 36.5ºC – 37.5ºC). Babies with lowtemperature may be restless (irritable) or they canbecome less active (lethargic). Hypothermia cancause babies’ blood sugar to be too low(hypoglycaemia).This written information is for guidance only and does notreplace consultation and advice by your health care provider.

Glossary of Medical TerminologyNeonatal Intensive Care Unit [NICU]Infant of a Diabetic motherKangaroo CareA mother may have diabetes during pregnancyeither because she was diabetic before pregnancy,or because she developed diabetes during herpregnancy (gestational diabetes). The mostcommon problem for babies of diabetic mothers islow blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), so we watchthese babies for signs of low blood sugar levels andwe check their blood glucose levels regularly.Kangaroo care is also called skin to skin care. Thisis good way of providing warmth, sleep and comfortto premature infants. This also gives an opportunityfor closer parent-baby interaction especially forpremature babies in NICU.- see our fact sheet on Kangaroo CareIntravenous Line /CannulaA thin tube inserted into a vein to give medicines orfluid.Intraventricular Haemorrhage (IVH)The brain has hollow areas, called the ventricles,which are filled with fluid (cerebrospinal fluid / CSF)that normally protects and flows around the brainand spinal cord. When blood collects in theventricles we call it an intraventricular haemorrhage(IVH).JaundiceJaundice is a yellow colour of the skin and eyescaused by increased amounts of bilirubin in thebloodstream. Bilirubin is formed when the red bloodcells break down. It is very common for newborns todevelop jaundice. Newborn jaundice is usually mild,but can be serious and may need treatment, whichis why we check all babies with jaundice regularlyand carefully. Treatments for jaundice include lighttherapy (phototherapy) and exchange transfusion.Late preterm infant (34-37/40 gestation)These are infants born after 34 weeks of pregnancybut before 37 weeks. Although they may look liketerm babies, they may still have the same problemsas premature infants such as: difficulty breathing not being able to control their body temperature(hypothermia) low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia) jaundice difficulty with feedingLumbar Puncture (Spinal Tap)A procedure by which a small needle is placedthrough the skin and between the bones (vertebrae)of the lower back into the space around the spinalcord. The needle is used to collect fluid to check forinfection or other tests.MeconiumThe first poo that a baby does. Meconium is thick,sticky, and dark green to black in colour. Sometimesbabies pass meconium while still inside the womb.Meconium AspirationMeconium aspiration happens when a babybreathes meconium into his/her lungs during, orbefore birth. Meconium in the lungs can causeproblems with breathing after the baby is born. Thiscondition is called meconium aspiration syndrome(MAS).NICU Glossary of Medical Terminology February 2019This written information is for guidance only and does notreplace consultation and advice by your health care provider.

Glossary of Medical TerminologyNeonatal Intensive Care Unit [NICU]MeningitisNon-Nutritive Sucking (NNS)Infection of membranes around the brain and thefluid (cerebrospinal fluid – CSF) that flows aroundand protects the brain and spinal cord.Non-nutritive sucking means that the baby sucks ona pacifier (dummy) during a tube feed. NNS is oftenused in neonatal nurseries because it helps babieslearn sucking behaviour and soothes them whilethey are changing from tube to sucking feeds.Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)A way of getting clear pictures of the organs insidethe body, for example, pictures of the brain. MRIuses magnets instead of x-rays to make thepictures. Because the magnets are very strongthere must be no metal on, or near, the baby whenthe test is done. If your baby needs an MRI scan,they will be taken to the radiology department ofWestmead Children’s Hospital to have the scandone.Nil by Mouth (NBM)The baby must not be given milk, or any otherliquid, by mouth or through the intestinal tract (bytube).OphthalmologistA medical doctor who is specially trained to lookafter problems or illness of the eyes.Nasal CannulaOxygenClear plastic tubes that are placed just under baby’snose, into the nostrils, to give extra oxygen if yourbaby needs it.Oxygen is one of the gases in the air that webreathe. Normal air has 21% oxygen. Oxygen hasno colour or smell and we cannot survive without it.Often premature and newborn babies who arehaving problems breathing are given extra oxygen.Newborn Bloodspot Screening Test (NBST)The NBST is done on all babies in NSW on day 2-3after birth. A small amount of blood is collected fromyour baby’s heel with a tiny needle. The blood ischecked for a number of rare medical problems,some of which need early treatment to protectaffected babies from harm. Examples of what ischecked for include: Phenylketonuria (PKU)HypothyroidismCystic FibrosisGalactosemiaMedium Chain Acyl CoA Dehydrogenase(MCAD) DeficiencyOther rare metabolic disordersPhototherapyPhototherapy is blue light used to treat jaundice.Phototherapy can be given by lights above thebaby’s bed or by ablanket the babylies on. Eyeshields are placedover the baby’seyes to protectthem from thelight.AttributioniFind out more information on the Newbornscreening programme here [PDF]. Available in otherlanguages here.NICU Glossary of Medical Terminology February 2019This written information is for guidance only and does notreplace consultation and advice by your health care provider.

Glossary of Medical TerminologyNeonatal Intensive Care Unit [NICU]RefluxReflux is when milk or fluid flows from the baby’sstomach into the swallowing tube (oesophagus).Reflux may cause babies to spit up or vomit.Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS):Respiratory distress syndrome is a condition whichoften happens to premature babies. The lungs ofpremature babies are not yet ready for the outsideworld and so babies may have problems breathingfor some time after they are born. Premature babiesmay be given a medicine called surfactant directlyinto their lungs to help treat this problem.SeizureSeizure is the medical name for ‘fit’, which is whenthe baby’s muscles twitch or stiffen without the babybeing in control of them (called involuntarymovement). Seizures are usually caused byabnormal electrical activity in the brain. There aremany causes of seizures and it may take time tofind out what the reasons are in each case. Yourtreating doctors and nurses will discuss this withyou.SepsisInfection in the bloodstream.Septic workupThe tests done when a baby might have aninfection. These tests may include all or some of thefollowing: chest or abdominal x-ray blood culture (blood taken to lab to look for andgrow germs) urine culture (urine taken to lab to look for andgrow germs) spinal fluid culture (fluid taken to lab to look forand grow germs)NICU Glossary of Medical Terminology February 2019Because infections in babies can worsen veryrapidly, they are often started on antibiotics beforethe results of the tests are known.Small for gestational ageSmall for gestational age babies are infants that arein the smallest 10% of babies born at that number ofweeks of pregnancy. Causes of small for gestationalinfants include: baby is small because the parents are small –healthy small baby baby did not grow well in the uterus because theplacenta was not feeding the baby adequately baby did not grow well in the uterus becausemum had a medical illness some medical problems of babies may causethem to be smallSupra-pubic tapA supra pubic tap is done when clean urine isneeded for culture in the laboratory to check forinfection. The lower part of the abdominal (tummy)wall is cleaned with antiseptic and a small needle ispassed through the skin directly into the bladder tocollect the urine.SurfactantA substance made by cells in the air sacs of thelungs, this substance helps to keep the lungsflexible and stops the small air sacs, called alveoli,from collapsing. Surfactant is important for normalbreathing and keeping oxygen and other gasesflowing in and out of the lungs. The lungs ofpremature babies do not make enough surfactantwhich causes Respiratory Distress Syndrome(RDS).This written information is for guidance only and does notreplace consultation and advice by your health care provider.

Glossary of Medical TerminologyNeonatal Intensive Care Unit [NICU]Tissuing of an intravenous infusionWhen an intravenous (IV) needle slips out of thevein it may allow the IV fluid to collect in thesurrounding tissues.UltrasoundAn ultrasound is when very fast moving soundwaves are used to take images (pictures) of organsin the body such as the brain, kidney and heart.Ultrasound is safe and not painful. Ultrasounds areusually done in the NICU at the baby’s bedside.Umbilical CatheterA small plastic tube placed into one of the umbilicalcord (belly button) blood vessels to give fluid and ormedicines to the baby.By Vtbijoy [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], fromWikimedia CommonsiNICU Glossary of Medical Terminology February 2019This written information is for guidance only and does notreplace consultation and advice by your health care provider.

NICU Glossary of Medical Terminology February 2019 This written information is for guidance only and does not replace consultation and advice by your health care provider. Glossary of Medical Terminology Neonatal Intensive Care Unit [NICU] This information sheet explains medical words which you will hear doctors and nurses use while

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