Glossary of Transplant Terms

A1C: Also called hemoglobin A1C. A measure of average blood sugar level over a three to four month period of time.

Abdominal Ultrasound: A test using radio waves to look at the organs in the abdomen, including the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and spleen. Performed in the Radiology Department.

Acute Hepatic Failure (AHF): sudden, dramatic decline in liver function. This may result from a variety of causes, including drug reactions, alcohol/drug overdose, acute hepatitis A, B, or C, or some unknown reason.

Albumin/Creatinine Ratio: A test for protein in the urine, which could signify kidney damage

Alpha-1-Antitrypsin Deficiency: hereditary condition causing the lack of a protein needed for healthy lungs. It is responsible for some cases of emphysema.

Alveoli: tiny sacs in the lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged

Anastomoses: connections used in lung transplant surgery to attach your new lungs

Anesthesia: medicine given by injection or mouth that causes partial or complete loss of feeling for a period of time, usually during surgery

Angina: severe pain when the heart does not receive enough oxygen

Antibiotics: drugs taken to prevent infections and kill bacteria

Antihypertensive: medicine that prevents or controls high blood pressure

Antirejection Medicine: (See Immunosuppressants)

Aortic Valve: heart valve between the left ventricle and the aorta (leading from the heart to the body)

Aspirin: pain reliever taken by mouth; also helps prevent blood clot formation

Ascites: an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity

Atria: the two upper chambers of the heart

Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH): chronic, progressive condition in which the patient's own immune systems attacks the liver, causing inflammation and liver failure.

Azathioprine: immunosupressive drug used to prevent the body from rejecting an organ or tissue transplant (See Imuran®)

Bilateral Lung Transplant: double lung transplant

Biopsy: (short term for lung biopsy; see also bronchoscopy)

Body Mass Index (BMI): A value calculated by comparing height and weight; used to determine if weight is within a healthy range compared to height

Bradycardia: condition where the heart beats slower than normal

Bronchitis: inflammation of the bronchi (the tiny tubes in the lungs that carry oxygen and carbon dioxide)

Bronchoscopy: a procedure used regularly after lung transplant to check for infection or rejection

Bronchi: tiny tubes in the lungs that carry oxygen and carbon dioxide

C-peptide: "Pre-insulin" breaks down into C-peptide and insulin, therefore C-peptide is an indirect measurement of insulin production

Cancer: disease in which abnormal cells multiply out of control and disrupt normal cell or organ function

Capillaries: tiny blood vessels

Cardiac Biopsy: removal of a small amount of heart tissue to check for any evidence of rejection

Cardiac Catheterization: a procedure in which a small tube is guided through a vein or an artery into the right or left side of the heart to check the function of the heart and the coronary arteries

Cardiologist: doctor who studies and treats diseases of the heart

Cardiomyopathy: disease of the heart muscle (myocardium), causing it to weaken over time

Cardiovascular: relating to the heart and the blood vessels or to the circulation of blood

Catheter: a small, flexible tube inserted into the body to infuse medications, monitor organ function and drain fluid

Catheterization: inserting a tube into the body

CellCept®: immunosuppressant drug used mainly to prevent the body from rejecting an organ or tissue transplant (see also mycophenolate mofetil)

Cholesterol: fat substance found in animal meats, dairy products and produced by the liver; a high level of cholesterol in the blood is a risk factor for developing heart disease. Blood cholesterol can be elevated by cyclosporine.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): a condition causing breathing difficulty because the air flow out of the bronchial tubes of the lungs is partially blocked

Clinical Nutritionist: specialist in selecting foods that repair or maintain the body

Clinical Trial: A research study involving humans that is overseen by the FDA

Complete Blood Count: A blood test to check the levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and hemoglobin. This test can detect anemia, infection, leukemia, clotting disorders, and other problems.

Comprehensive Metabolic Profile: A blood test that measures chemicals in the blood such as electrolytes, liver enzymes, and kidney waste products. This test provides, among other things, information about liver and kidney function.

Congenital: existing at birth

Congestive Heart Failure: when the heart becomes too weak to pump enough blood through the body and fluid builds up in your organs and tissues

Coronary Arteries: blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood to the heart

Coronary Artery Disease: narrowing of the coronary arteries that usually results from the build-up of a substance called plaque or from atherosclerosis

Creatinine Clearance: A test that uses a 24-hour urine collection to measure the efficiency of the kidneys 

Cyclosporine: drug that helps keep the body from rejecting a transplanted organ. Brand names include Neoral® and Gengraf®.

Cystic Fibrosis: a hereditary chronic disease causing excess mucous production in the lungs

Cytomegalovirus (CMV): a very common virus that usually causes a flu-like illness with fever, general body aches, and decreased appetite which lasts two or three days

Denervation: cutting or blocking the nerve supply

Dermatology: study and treatment of skin

Diabetes: the body's inability to control the amount of insulin or blood sugar it produces for energy

Diaphragm: the muscle separating the abdomen from the lungs that helps with breathing

Diastolic Blood Pressure: bottom number of the blood pressure reading that shows the amount of resistance in the blood vessels that the heart has to overcome

Diuretic: medication that assists the kidneys in ridding the body of excess fluid

Dobutamine Stress Echo (DSE): A test to check heart function. Patients are given a drug that makes the heart beat rapidly. A cardiologist will then use an ultrasound to examine the heart and look for areas that may have decreased blood supply.

Donor: person who gives an organ to be used in another person

Echocardiogram: diagnostic test that uses reflected soundwave images to see the heart and provide information regarding the structure and function of the heart

Edema: swelling of body tissue caused by fluid leaking from blood vessels

EKG: Also called electrocardiogram. A tracing of the electrical activity in the heart that can detect heart damage.

Emphysema: an obstructive lung disease in which the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lung) are stretched or distorted, making it difficult to breathe. Emphysema is most often caused by cigarette smoking.

Endocarditis: an infection of the inner lining or valves of the heart caused when bacteria get into the bloodstream

Endotracheal Tube: long tube used to provide an airway into the lungs. This tube is generally connected to a breathing machine.

End-Stage Lung Disease: a condition that leads to failure of the lungs

Enzyme: protein that helps complete chemical reactions without being changed in the process

ERCP: GI procedure used to visualize the biliary ducts from the "inside out." An endoscopist places a tube down the patient's throat and approaches the bile ducts from common duct.

FDA: The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.

FEV1: Forced Expiratory Volume in the First Second. Usually reported as a percent of that of a healthy person of your height, age, gender and race.

Fluid Retention: condition in which the body stores excess fluid

Foley Catheter: tube inserted into the bladder to drain urine 

Fluid Retention: condition in which the body stores excess fluid

Gallbladder: organ that stores bile

Gallstones: stones that form when the bile has too much cholesterol

Glomeruli: A capillary bed that is found in the nephrons of the kidneys. The cells in the glomerulus filter blood that enters into the kidney.

Substance produced by the pancreas that raises your blood sugar level by stimulating sugar production in various organs

Glucose Tolerance Test: A test to measure the body's response to glucose.

Graft Coronary Disease: condition in which the arteries in a transplanted heart narrow

Guaiac: A test to check for blood in the stool, which could be an indication of cancer in the bowel or a bleeding stomach ulcer

Heart Attack: blockage of a vessel that feeds the heart muscle, causing sudden tissue death (myocardial infarction)

Heart Biopsy: (See Cardiac Biopsy)

Heart Failure: (See Congestive Heart Failure)

Heart Monitor: a device that records and displays information about the heart, including condition and number beats

Hepatitis A Virus (HAV): virus that attacks the liver. Hepatitis A is usually transmitted through contaminated seafood; a vaccine is available to prevent against infection.

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV): virus that attacks the liver. Hepatitis B is transmitted through sex with someone who is infected, blood transfusions, needle sharing, or tattoos; a vaccine is available to prevent against infection.

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV): virus that attacks the liver. Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood transfusions, needle sharing, or tattoos; it is not thought to be sexually transmitted. No vaccine is available.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC): liver cancer; may be contraindication for transplant if tumor is too large or extensive

HLA Antibody Test: A blood test for antibodies to tissue antigens. These are only present in people who have received transplants, blood transfusions, or who have been pregnant.

Hyperglycemia: Abnormally high blood sugar level

Hypoglycemia: Abnormally low blood sugar level

Idiopathic: arising from an unknown or obscure cause

Immune System: your body's natural defense system against foreign invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and some types of cancers. Sometimes the immune system attacks a transplanted organ, causing rejection.

Immunization: giving antibodies or other agents to protect against disease

Immunosuppressants: drugs that help treat or prevent the immune system from rejecting an organ or tissue transplant

Immunosupression: process of preventing the body's immune system from rejecting an organ or tissue transplant

Imuran®: immunosuppressive drug used to prevent the body from rejecting an organ transplant 

IND: Investigational New Drug. An IND application is submitted to the FDA to obtain permission to perform a clinical trial.

Infection: condition in which the body is invaded by a disease-causing microorganism

Informed Consent: A document signed by the study participant that discloses the risks, benefits, purposes, duration, contacts, etc. of the research study

Insulin: Substance produced by the pancreas that helps your body absorb blood sugar from the blood into your cells to produce energy

Interstitial Lung Disease: inflammatory condition of the lung resulting in progressive replacement of alveoli or air sacs with scar tissue

Intravenous (IV): a catheter (small tube) inserted into a vein so that fluid, blood or medicine can be received

IRB: Institutional Review Board. This is the research oversight committee charged with assuring that appropriate steps are taken to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating as subjects in approved research studies.

Jaundice: yellow/green/gray coloration of skin; usually corresponds to increasing serum bilirubin; may or may not be accompanied by pruritus (itching)

Ketoacidocis or Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA): A serious and life-threatening complication in people with type 1 diabetes in which the body starts to break down stored fat for energy. A byproduct of this breakdown is ketones, which are toxic.

Lab Draw: process of taking blood or urine for laboratory analysis

Laboratory (Lab): place where blood and specimens are studied and identified

Laxative: food or chemical substance that acts as a stool softener

Lesion: injury or wound to skin or tissue

LifeLink: organization which matches organs and tissues with potential recipients

Lipid Profile: A blood test that measures the amount and type of cholesterol in the blood

Liver Biopsy: procedure in which a small liver sample is extracted with a needle placed either through the abdominal wall and into the liver or through the jugular vein down into the liver

Magnesium Oxide: white, odorless powder used after transplant to counteract cyclosporine’s tendency to lower magnesium levels in the blood; low magnesium can cause heart rhythm problems or muscle cramps

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): diagnostic technique which uses magnetic fields to make cross-sectional images of organs and structures inside the body

Medic Alert: nonprofit organization that provides a bracelet or necklace with your personal medical information which can be used by medical personnel in case you have a car accident or other type of emergency

Mg: milligram

Mitral Valve: largest of the four heart valves; allows blood to flow on the left side of the heart

Native Heart: your diseased heart; the heart you were born with

Native Lungs: your diseased lungs; the lungs you were born with

Neoral®: (See cyclosporine)

a doctor who studies and treats diseases of the kidneys

The basic structural and functional unit of the kidney. The basic function of the kidney is to regulate water and soluble substances in the body by filtering it all out first, reabsorbing what should be kept and excreting the rest

Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH):
liver disease that is characterized by excessive fat in the liver; over time, NASH leads to liver failure.

Norvasc®: drug used to prevent heart spasms and lower blood pressure

Nystatin: antifungal agent used to prevent infections

Pacemaker: electrical device that stimulates or steadies the heartbeat or re-establishes the rhythm of an arrested heart

Palpitations: rapid throbbing of the heart, usually with an increase in frequency or force, with or without irregularity in rhythm

Pap Smear: A test to check for evidence of cervical cancer in females

Pathologist: specialist who diagnoses abnormal changes in tissue removed during an operation

Pleura: protective layers of tissue surrounding the lungs

Pneumococcus: bacterial microorganism which causes pneumonia

Pneumonia: infection of the lungs

PRA (Panel Reactive Antibodies): likelihood of already having antibodies against potential donors; if high likelihood, pre-cross match tests are performed pre-transplant

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA): A blood test to check for prostate cancer in males

Orthotopic Liver Transplant (OLT): procedure in which a diseased liver is removed and a new liver from a donor is replaced in the same location

Post-transplant: after transplantation

Postpartum Cardiomyopathy: heart disease that develops after childbirth

Pravachol: drug that lowers cholesterol

Prednisone: medication used to limit rejection of a transplanted organ or tissue

Pre-transplant: before transplantation

Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC): a chronic disease that causes a progressive destruction of bile ducts in the liver

Primary Pulmonary Hypertension: high blood pressure of the pulmonary vessels in the heart

Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC): chronic disease in which the bile ducts become narrowed from inflammation and scarring

Prograf®: (See Tacrolimus)

Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist: nurse specially trained to help you and your family deal with behavioral and mental issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression

physician who diagnoses and treats mental disorders

Pulmonary Artery:
blood vessel that carries blood from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs

Pulmonary Artery Catheter: a long, flexible tube inserted through your neck vein into the pulmonary artery; used to measure pressures in your heart and lungs and evaluate heart function

Pulmonary Fibrosis: progressive inflammation of the lung tissue that causes permanent scarring

Pulmonary Hypertension: a disorder of the lungs characterized by progressive high blood pressure in the vessels of the lungs and heart. Primary pulmonary hypertension does not have a known cause, and onset may occur at any age; secondary pulmonary hypertension has a definite cause (i.e. from liver diseases, SLE or other illness).

Pulmonary Valve: structure between the right ventricle and pulmonary artery; regulates movement of fluid into the pulmonary artery

Pulmonologist: doctor who studies and treats diseases of the lungs

Rejection: condition in which a transplant recipient's body rejects the tissue or organ transferred from a donor

Retinal Fundal Photography: An examination of the retina in the eye. Retinal damage is common in diabetes.

Sandimmune®: (See cyclosporine)

Sarcoidosis: chronic, progressive disease marked by inflammation of many organs, especially the lungs

Serologies: Blood tests to check for infectious viral diseases including syphilis, hepatitis, HIV, chickenpox, cytomegalovirus, and Epstein-Barr virus. Any of these infections could be made worse by immunosuppressive drugs.

Serum Creatinine: Creatinine is a waste product excreted by the kidneys. This blood test provides information about kidney function.

Split Liver: when a whole donor liver is split between two recipients, usually an adult and a child

Status: patient's current condition

Sternum: narrow, flat bone that connects the ribs or the shoulder girdle or both; also referred to as the breastbone

Swan-Ganz Catheter: (see Pulmonary Artery Catheter)

Systemic Lupus Erythematosis (SLE):
a disease of the immune system

Systolic Blood Pressure: amount of force used by the heart to eject blood out of the heart; "systolic" refers to the top number read as part of blood pressure

T-tube: a tube placed in the bile duct that allows bile to drain into a bag outside the body

Tachycardia: condition where the heart beats faster than normal

Tacrolimus: drug the helps keep the body from rejecting a transplanted organ. Brand name is Prograf®.

TB Skin Test: A test to check if a person has ever been exposed to tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that could become active in a person taking immunosuppressants.

Toxicology: A blood test to screen for the presence of commonly abused drugs such as cocaine, heroin, opium, marijuana, and amphetamines

Trachea: the tube connecting the larynx and the bronchi 

Transplant Coordinator: specially trained registered nurse who coordinates care for patients before and after transplantation

Transplant Surgeon: highly trained doctor who perfoms the transplant operation

Transplantation: transfer of living tissue or organs from one person to another

Transverse Sternotomy: a clam-shaped incision on the chest that extends from the right side to the left side just below the breast line 

Tricuspid Valve: heart valve between the right atrium and the right ventricle

Ultrasound: device that uses soundwaves to outline the shape of various tissues and organs of the body

UNOS: United Network for Organ Sharing, a national agency that maintains a national computerized transplant waiting list and helps locate donor organs

Vaccination: injection that builds your body's resistance to an infection

Valvular Disease: disease that causes the heart valves to malfunction and permit fluid to flow in the wrong direction

Vena Cava (Superior and Inferior): two large veins that bring blood that has been used by your body to the right side of the heart; the superior vena cava drains the upper portion of the body, while the inferior drains the lower portion of the body

Ventilator: mechanical device which controls and monitors flow of air to the lungs

Ventricle: either of two lower chambers of the heart. The right chamber pumps blood to the lungs to be oxygenated, while the left pumps the oxygenated blood throughout your body through your arteries.

Vital Signs: temperature, pulse, respiration and blood pressure

Zantac®: drug used to treat stomach problems like peptic ulcers and heartburn