Respiratory Dictionary



ABG - arterial blood gas.

Adenitis - inflammation of a lymph node.

Aerosol - solution that is dispensed in a mist.

Ambu Bag - ventilating bag.

Angioedema - sudden onset of periodic, recurrent episodes of noninflammatory swelling of skin, mucous membranes, and other tissues, associated with food allergies, urticaria or possibly stress or emotional factors.

Aphonia - loss of voice.

Apnea Monitor - a machine that sounds an alarm when the infant stops breathing.

Apnea - temporary stop in breathing.

Artificial Airway - another word for tracheostomy tube.

Artificial Nose - see HME.

Asphyxia - insufficient intake of oxygen.

Aspiration pneumonia - pneumonia after inhaling foreign matter into the lungs.

Asplenia - absence of the spleen due to congenital or traumatic cause.

Asthma - difficulty breathing accompanied by wheezing caused by a spasm of the bronchial tubes or by swelling of the mucous membrane.

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Bacteria - germs.

BPD (bronchopulmonary dysplasia) - respiratory problem caused by mechanical ventilation.

Branchial cleft cyst - a malformation of the branchial cleft during embryogenesis such that the remnant forms a cyst, usually found in the lateral neck.

Bronchiolitis - inflammation of the bronchioles, often associated with bronchopneumonia. Also known as capillary bronchitis.

Bronchitis - inflammation of the bronchi.

Bronchoscopy - examination of the bronchi through a scope.

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Cannula - the tube part of the tracheostomy tube.

Carina - area at the end of the trachea, the carina represents the origins of the left and right mainstem bronchi.

Cartilage - the tough tissue rings the wind pipe is made of cartilage.

Catheter - tube used to remove or inject fluids into the body.

CBC - complete blood count.

CBVP - Congenital Bilateral Vocal Cord Paralysis.

Cellulitis - inflammation of the skin.

CO2 (carbon dioxide) - gas that the body eliminates through the lungs.

CO2 monitor - a machine that monitors the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood.

Connector - outside edge of the tracheostomy tube which connects to equipment

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) - assisted ventilation that supports the infants own respiratory efforts.

CPR (CardioPulmonary Resuscitation) - a method for getting someone to breath again once they have stopped.

Cricothyrotomy - a medical procedure involving an incision being made between the cricoid and thyroid cartilages to maintain patency of the airway.

Croup - childhood respiratory disease characterized by a barking cough and difficulty breathing. Also known as laryngotracheobronchitis.

Cuff - the inflatable balloon on some tracheostomy tubes.

Cyanosis - a blue coloration of the skin and mucous membranes due to deoxygenation of the blood.

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Decanulation - the removal of a tube.

Diaphragm - the big muscle below the lungs that controls breathing.

DIC - disposable inner cannula

Dying spells - episodes of bradycardia, apnea, and cyanosis. Also known as reflex apnea.

Dysphagia - difficulty in swallowing.

Dyspnea - labored respiration, difficult breathing, shortness of breath.

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E T tube (Endotracheal Tube) - tube used to provide an airway through the trachea.

ECG - a medical test to record the electrical current in the heart. Also known as an electrocardiogram.

Echocardiography - a medical test using ultrasound and Doppler techniques to visualize the structure of the heart.

Emphysema - a condition of the lung characterized by destruction of lung tissue resulting in enlarged terminal bronchioles and reduction of their number.

Encrustation - hard, crusty, dried mucus.

Endoscopy - a generic medical procedure used to visualize the inside of an organ system. This includes bronchoscopy.

ENT Doctor - ear nose and throat doctor.

Epiglottis - a thin leaf-shaped flap that covers to entrance of the airway during swallowing to prevent aspiration into the lungs

Epiglottitis - inflammation of the epiglottis, This is a medical emergency.

Exhale - breathe out.

Expiration - breathe out.

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Fenestrated - having openings.

Fistula - an abnormal tube-like passage from one body cavity to another.

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Glottis - the sound-producing apparatus of the larynx, Also known as the voice box.

Goiter - a chronic enlargement of the thyroid gland not due to neoplasm often seen in endemic areas.

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Hemorrhage - bleeding.

HME (heat and moisture exchanger) - a filter device that fits onto the end of the tracheostomy tube and warms and moistens the air the child breathes.

Humidity - moisture in the air.

Hyaline membrane disease - a disease causing respiratory distress usually in premature newborns in which hyalin, a glassy, eosinophilic material, is seen in the alveoli. Also known as respiratory distress syndrome.

Hydrogen Peroxide - (H2O2) mild antiseptic and cleansing agent.

Hypercapnea - the presence of an abnormally high amount of carbon dioxide in the blood. Also known as hypercarbia.

Hypopharynx - synonymous with larynx.

Hypoventilation - reduced rate and depth of breathing.

Hypoxia - the presence of an abnormally low amount of oxygen in the blood.

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Inhale - breathe in.

Inspiration - breathe in.

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Laryngectomy - removal of the larynx.

Laryngitis (acute infectious) - inflammation of the mucous membranes of the larynx usually secondary to influenza virus.

Laryngitis (spasmodic) - inflammation of the mucous membranes of the larynx generally causing stridor. The stridor subsides easily only to return on subsequent nights. Also known as spasmotic croup.

Laryngomalacia - a softening of the structures of the larynx. Also known as chondromalacia of the larynx.

Laryngoplasty - plastic surgery or reparation of the structures of the larynx.

Laryngoscopy - examination of the interior of the larynx with a scope.

Laryngotracheobronchitis - also known as viral croup.

Laryngotracheoplasty (LTP) - laryngeal and tracheal reconstrutive surgery.

Larynx - the voice box.

Leukocytosis - an elevation of the normal leukocyte blood count.

Lumen - inside part of the tube.

Lymphocytosis - an elevation of the normal lymphocyte blood count.

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Malacia - a softening of the affected structure.

mm - millimeter

Mucus - slippery fluid that is produced in the lungs and windpipe.

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Nebulizer - a machine that puts moisture (fine particles) and/or medicine directly into the lungs.

Neck plate - part of the tracheostomy tube that rests against the neck.

Neonatal - the first 6 weeks after birth.

Neoplasm - a tumor or growth.

NICU - Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

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O2 - oxygen.

Obturator - the semi-rigid stick you put into the tracheostomy tube to help guide it into the opening in the neck.

Otolyringologist - ear nose and throat doctor.

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Peritonsillar abscess - an abscess involving the structures around the tonsil. This is a surgical emergency.

Phonation - talking or making sounds with the vocal cords.

PICU - Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

Pliable - soft, flexible.

Pneumonia - an inflammation of the lung parenchyma, often causing consolidation of the affected part with the alveolar air spaces being filled with blood, cells, and fibrin. It has many causes.

Pneumothorax - the presence of gas or air in the pleural cavity.

Pulmonologist - lung doctor.

Pulse Oximeter - machine that monitors the oxygen saturation of the blood using an infrared detector placed across a capillary bed such as a digit or ear.

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Rale - a crackling sound heard on auscultation of the chest.

Respirator - a machine for artificial breathing.

Retractions - pulling in at the chest during breathing (intercostal and/or substernal)

Retropharyngeal abscess - an abscess involving the structures in the posterior pharynx. This is a surgical emergency.

Rhinitis - an inflammation of the nasal mucosa.

Rhinorrhea - a discharge from the nasal mucosa.

Rhonchi - a wheezing sound heard on auscultation of the chest.

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Saline - (normal saline or 0.9% sodium chloride) solution similar to water found in the body.

Secretions - another word for mucus.

Sinusitis - an inflammation of the sinus mucosa.

SLP (speech and language pathologist) - A person trained to help with speaking and swallowing problems.

Speaking Valve - a one-way valve that lets air come in through the tracheostomy tube, but then sends it out past the vocal cords and mouth to make talking possible.

Steeple sign - a radiographic sign seen on the anteroposterior endolateral neck x-rays in children with croup. A narrowing of the air column in the hypopharynx is seen resembling a church spire.

Stenosis - the narrowing or constriction of the lumen of a structure. Complete stenosis is also known as atresia.

Sterile - free from germs.

Stoma - hole or opening (in the neck where you insert the tracheostomy tube).

Stridor - an inspiratory, high-pitched sound caused by obstruction in the upper airway.

Subglottic stenosis - stenosis of the structures below the glottis.

Suctioning - vacuuming up mucus in the tracheostomy tube.

Swaddle - to wrap a baby like a mummy with only his head sticking out.

Swedish Nose - see HME.

Sx - suction.

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Thermal Humidifying Filter - see HME.

Thermovent T - see HME.

Thumb sign - a radiographic sign seen on lateral endolateral neck x-rays in children with epiglottitis, caused by the marked swelling of aryepiglottic folds and arytenoid cartilages. The swelling resembles the human thumb.

Trach - short for tracheostomy tube.

Trachea - wind pipe.

Tracheal Esophageal Fistulas (TEF) - abnormal opening between the trachea and esophagus.

Tracheoesophageal fistula - generally a congenital abnormality involving a communication between the trachea and esophagus. It may also be acquired.

Tracheomalacia - softening of the cartilage of the trachea.

Tracheoplasty - plastic surgery or reparation of the structures of the trachea.

Tracheostenosis - contraction or narrowing of the trachea.

Tracheostomy - opening into the trachea.

Tracheotomy - a medical procedure creating an opening in the trachea.

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URI - Upper respiratory tract infection.

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Ventilator - a machine that helps a person breathe.

Vocal Cords - two strips of tissue in the voice box in the neck.

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Web - a thin tissue or membrane bridging a space.

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This page updated 1/3/98