Glossary of Terms

Active labour

Part of the first stage of labour when the cervix dilates from three to seven centimeters. Active labour lasts an average of two to four hours. The contractions during active labour are strong, long (40 to 60 seconds each), and frequent (three to four minutes apart)

Acute

In medicine, an acute disease is a disease with a rapid onset, a short course, or both. Acute may be used to distinguish a disease from a chronic form, or to highlight the sudden onset of a disease. The word "acute" may also be used in the context of medicine to refer to the acute phase of injury, meaning the immediate post-injury healing processes.

Acute coronary syndrome (ACS)

is a phrase use to describe a chest pain or a heart attack

ADL (Activities of daily living)

Activities of daily living

Alarms

Alarms will sound for many reasons. Monitor alarms will sound when heart rate, respiratory rate or oxygen saturations fall outside an acceptable range. Medication pump alarms will sound to notify staff that a treatment or infusion is complete. Ventilator alarms will sound to notify staff of a disruption in the circuit or a change in the delivered support. Staff in the NICU/PICU set alarms to go off at the slightest change and before a serious problem arises. This may cause false alarms at times, but it allows us to observe your child closely. Alarms may also be observed from the nursing station.

Ambu-bag

An inflatable bag connected to oxygen that allows a physician, nurse or respiratory therapist to help your child breathe.

Amniocentesis

A diagnostic test to determine whether the fetus has any abnormalities. Performed anywhere between weeks 14 and 20 of pregnancy (though more commonly between weeks 16 and 18), amniocentesis tests the fluid inside the amniotic sac that surrounds the baby. The fluid, which contains the baby's skin cells, is drawn from the uterus through a hollow needle inserted through the expectant mother's abdominal wall and is tested for chromosomal abnormalities, genetic abnormalities, or other diseases.

Analgesia

Any intervention that reduces the sensation of pain.

Analgesic

A medication that reduces the sensation of pain without loss of consciousness.

Anesthesia

A general term describing techniques to ease pain. Types of anesthesia often used during childbirth include local anesthesia, general anesthesia, or analgesia.

Anesthetic

A medication that produces a loss of sensation, either partially or completely.

Angina

a term used to describe chest pain.

Angio seal

a vascular closure device, also referred to as a plug, placed in the groin to seal the puncture site after an angiogram

Angiogram

An angiogram is a test that takes x-ray pictures of the coronary arteries and the vessels that supply blood to the heart. During an angiogram, a special dye is released into the coronary arteries from a catheter (special tube) inserted in a blood vessel. This dye makes the blood vessels visible when an X-ray is taken. Angiography allows doctors to clearly see how blood flows into the heart. This allows them to pinpoint problems with the coronary arteries.

Angiography may be recommended for patients with angina (chest pain) or those with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD). The test gives doctors valuable information on the condition of the coronary arteries, such as atherosclerosis, regurgitation (blood flowing backwards through the heart valves) or pooling of blood in a chamber because of a valve malfunction.

Angioplasty

Angioplasty is a procedure to widen narrowed or obstructed arteries or veins. An empty, collapsed balloon, known as a balloon catheter, is passed over a wire into the narrowed locations and then inflated. The balloon forces expansion of the narrowed area within the vessel and the surrounding muscular wall, opening up the blood vessel for improved flow, and the balloon is then deflated and withdrawn. 

Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitor (ACEI)

a medication used for cardiovascular protection and to lower blood pressure

Angiotensin Receptor Blockers (ARB)

a medication similar to Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitor (ACEI) which provides blood pressure management and cardiac protection

Ankle Brachial Index (ABI)

is a measurement which helps determine blood flow in your leg.  A blood pressure cuff is attached to your leg and a reading is made, then a blood pressure reading is obtained in the arm.

Antenatal

Occurring or formed before birth; prenatal.

Anticoagulant

a medication that prevents and treats blood clots, an example is warfarin.

Antiplatelet

a drug that decreases platelet aggregation and helps prevent clots, an example is aspirin.

Aortic Valve Replacement (AVR)

a procedure sometimes included in heart surgery

Apgar score

A newborn baby's first test. Given one minute after a baby is born, then again five minutes later, the Apgar assesses the newborn's appearance (skin color), pulse, grimace (reflex), activity (muscle tone), and respiration. A perfect Apgar score is ten; typical Apgar scores are seven, eight, or nine.

Apnea

Pauses in breathing that last 20 seconds or longer, may be associated with color change and low heart rate. The infant may be described as apnic.

Arrhythmia

an abnormal heart beat or rhythm. This is an electrical problem in the heart 

Arterial Line

A flexible catheter inserted into an artery of the arm or leg to allow the continuous monitoring of blood pressure and the sampling of arterial blood to ensure adequacy of oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

ASP (Antimicrobial Stewardship Program)

A patient safety practice to ensure optimal antibiotic use. This reduces the risk of being exposed to resistant bacterial infections.

Assessment

Evaluation of the baby's general condition.

Atrial Fibrillation or AFib

an irregular heart rhythm in the upper chambers of the heart 

Attending Physician

Staff physician who oversees medical care of the infant.

Augmentation of labour

An intervention to help labour that has begun naturally to progress more rapidly. Often, Pitocin (a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin) is used to make contractions stronger or to rupture the membranes.

Auxillary temperature

Temperature that is obtained by placing thermometer under the arm of the infant.