Glossary of ICU Terminology
You will inevitably hear terms or abbreviations when you're in ICU that are unfamiliar to you. This is a listing of some of the most common terms and an explanation of what they mean. This is not an exhaustive list of terms so if you find any missing which you think would be helpful to others, please let us know by clicking here.
An abnormal increase in the acidity of blood plasma, caused either by accumulation of acids or by depletion of bicarbonates.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome - when the lungs do not work sufficiently leading to rapid and shallow breathing.
Artificial kidney machine
A machine, which removes blood from a patient, purifies it by dialysis, adds vital substances, before returning it to a vein.
Breathing Machine (Ventilator)
The breathing machine blows air and oxygen in and out of the lungs. The breathing machine can do all the breathing for the patient or it can assist the patient's own breathing
A hollow flexible tube for insertion into a body cavity, duct, or vessel to allow the passage of fluids or distend a passageway. One use includes the drainage of urine from the bladder through the urethra.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - refers to a number of chronic lung disorders that obstruct air flow. The most common form of COPD is a combination of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Critical care is the multidisciplinary healthcare specialty that cares for patients with acute, life-threatening illness or injury.
Critical care team
The multidisciplinary team of health care professionals who care for critically ill and injured patients. The critical care team includes predominantly the critical care intensivist and the critical care nurse. Other healthcare professional such as physiotherapists, pharmacist, technicians, social workers and clergy may also participate as members of the critical care team.
A computed tomography (CT) scan, sometimes called a CAT scan, is a medical imaging method where digital geometry processing is used to generate a three-dimensional image of the internals of an object from a large series of two-dimensional X-ray images taken around a single axis of rotation.
Department of Critical Care (see ICU)
Endoscopy is a minimally invasive diagnostic medical procedure used to assess the interior surfaces of an organ by inserting a tube into the body.
This tube is inserted through either the patient's nose or throat and into the windpipe. You may also hear it being referred to as an ET Tube.
Gastrointestinal bleeding describes any form of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.
This is a machine that helps the kidneys work. it removes blood from a vein through a tube then pumps it through a filter to remove excess fluid and waste products. Once the waste products are cleaned out of the blood, the blood is returned to the patient.