Glossary of Terms

This glossary of terms is meant to help everyone understand medical words. It is a place to quickly find information on medical words.

To find a word or term begin by clicking on a letter in the A-Z list. Then you can browse down the list to find the word you want. You can also type your medical word in the search box in the upper right corner and then click on the little magnifying glass.

This glossary is for information only. It should never be used instead of advice from a healthcare provider.

If you have questions or comments about the Glossary of Terms please let us know.

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facet joint

joints in your spine


make easier, help


clinics, office, buildings


cause, reason

failed to

did not, didn't

false labour

false labour or pre-labour is actually really important, it means your body is starting to get ready for the main event. Your body is starting to prepare itself for the process of labour

contractions that are irregular, do not increase in frequency or severity, and do not efface or dilate the cervix

familial cardiomyopathy

heart disease

a genetic (hereditary) form of heart disease. It occurs when heart muscle becomes stretched out in at least one chamber of the heart. This causes the open area of the chamber to get bigger. As a result, the heart is unable to pump blood as well as it should

family health team

a group of healthcare providers who work together with you. It might include family doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, or dietitians

family history

health information about your close relatives

family meeting

a meeting between you, your family and your care team

farsightedness (far sighted)

when you can see things in the distance better than things close up

a vision condition where distant objects are easier to see than closer objects


to go without any food or drink


tired, weak


possible, can be done



fecal occult test

a test to check for blood in your stool (bowel movement)

feeding on demand

letting you baby decide when and how much to eat

feeding tube insertions

an adult nasogastric (NG tube) are placed while you are in bed. It goes through your nose and down into your stomach. You will have an x-ray of your chest and stomach to make sure the tube is in place.

gastrostomy tubes (G-tubes) are placed through the abdominal wall into the stomach in the interventional radiology department. This is done by specially trained doctors,nurses and technologist.

a feeding tube insertion may be done in part using a procedure called endoscopy. This is a way of looking inside the body using a flexible tube with a small camera on the end of it. The endoscope is inserted through your mouth and down your esophagus, which leads to the stomach.


a fellow is a doctor who has completed their residency and wants to complete further training in a specialty


able to have a baby

fetal assessment unit

where ultrasound imaging of the developing baby prior to birth is done at KGH

fetal distress

when a fetus may not be well 

When a fetus is not receiving enough oxygen. Signs of fetal distress include a slowed heartbeat or absence of fetal movement. Immediate delivery of the baby is warranted when there is fetal distress.

fetal heart rate

how fast your baby's heart is beating while in your uterus

rate of the baby's heartbeat while in the uterus or during delivery. Normal fetal heart rate is between 120 and 160 beats per minute.

fetal monitoring

tracking a fetus's heartbeat and the mother's uterine contractions during labour

fetal movement counts

when you count your baby's kicks (movements)

After 27 weeks of pregnancy, women are encouraged to perform periodic counts to measure how often their baby moves within an hour. Ten or more movements per hour are considered normal


unborn baby ( 8 weeks to birth)


a condition that causes muscle pain and fatigue


complete, end, finish

fistula (arterio-venous fistula) (A-V fistula)

before you can begin hemodialysis, there needs to be a way to remove the blood from your body (a few ounces at a time) and then return it. Your arteries and veins are usually too small, so a fistula is made by joining an artery and a vein under the skin in your arm.

commonly used method of providing access to the blood stream in which a vein and an artery in your arm are joined together.


worse, more than normal


moves easily


change, rise and fall, go back and forth from high to low

foley (catheter)

catheter into your bladder to drain urine, urinary catheter

a hollow, partially flexible tube that drains urine from your bladder

folic acid

a kind of vitamin B that's important for healthy blood, heart and nervous system

forced inspiratory volume in 1 second (FIV1)

amount of air that you can breathe in hard in 1 second


breast milk that is present at the beginning of a feeding. This milk is lower in fat and calories than hind milk which is secreted toward the end of a breast feeding


Relating to the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime.

fractional flow reserve (FFR)

during an angiogram, a thin pressure wire is used to measure the impact of plaque build-up in your artery

a technique used to measure pressure differences across a coronary artery stenosis




often, many times

full-term (full term)

at 37-39 weeks, your pregnancy is considered full-term

a baby born between 39 and 41 weeks gestation.


work, act, do, serve


basic, real


an operation to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

a surgery in which the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the lower part of the esophagus (a long, thin, and muscular tube that connects your throat to your stomach). This surgery strengthens the valve between the esophagus and stomach, which stops acid from backing up into the esophagus as easily

fungal infection

an infection you get from a fungus

you can get a fungal infection from touching or breathing in a fungus