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Glossary of Terms and Definitions

3-D (three-dimensional) vision - Stereo or binocular vision created by two optical channels, as in two eyes. Three-dimensional vision blends the separate images seen by each eye into one composite image, which gives us the ability to perceive depth and judge distances

Ablative therapy - Treatment that removes or destroys the function of an organ, as in surgical removal of the ovaries.

Achalasia - The esophageal sphincter failing to relax properly, making it difficult to swallow. Treatable with da Vinci® Heller Myotomy.

Adrenal glands - Part of the endocrine (hormonal) system, the adrenal glands are located above each kidney.

Adrenalectomy - An adrenalectomy is the surgical removal of one or both adrenal glands. A number of conditions that affect the adrenal glands may be indication for removal, including hypoadrenalism, Cushing's syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and Conn's syndrome. Malignant or benign tumors in the adrenal gland are the most common conditions requiring adrenalectomy. Some adrenal gland tumors excrete hormones. If left untreated, these tumors can cause severe hormonal imbalances. 

Articulating - A movable, rotating joint, as in the human wrist or as in da Vinci ® ’s patented EndoWrist® instruments.

Atrial septal defect (ASD) - A hole or similar defect, present from birth and found in the wall of the heart’s atrium.

Bariatrics - The branch of medicine that deals with the causes, prevention, and treatment of obesity.

Benign - Referring to abnormal cell growth that is not cancerous, i.e. not dangerous to health; not recurrent or progressive (especially of a tumor).

Biopsy - A procedure in which a sample of tissue is removed and then examined under a microscope. The doctor will use transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) for guidance and insert a narrow needle through the wall of your rectum into several areas of your prostate gland. The needle then removes a cylinder of tissue, usually about 1/2-inch long and 1/16-inch across, that is sent to the laboratory to see if cancer is present.

Bladder cancer - Cancer of the bladder, the organ that stores urine until it is passed out of the body.

BMI Body Mass Index (BMI) - is a number derived by using height and weight measurements that gives a general indication if weight falls within a healthy range. BMI is calculated by dividing weight by height squared and multiplying by 703.

Cancer grading - If your biopsy shows the presence of prostate cancer, the pathologist assigns each tissue sample a grade, indicating how far the cells have traveled along the path from normal to abnormal.

Cancer staging - The process used to find out if cancer has spread within the prostate or to other parts of the body.

Cardiac - Referring to the heart.

Cardiothoracic conditions - Conditions affect the heart and surrounding structures located inside the chest cavity or ribcage (thorax).

Cervical cancer - A malignancy of the cervix. Worldwide, it is the second most common cancer of women. It may present with vaginal bleeding, but symptoms may be absent until the cancer is in advanced stages, which has made cervical cancer the focus of intense screening efforts utilizing the Pap smear. 

Cervix - The neck of the uterus, which connects the uterus with the vagina.

Chemotherapy - Chemotherapy, which kills fast-growing cells, has not proven particularly effective against slow-growing prostate cancer cells. Several promising new anticancer drugs are under study, being added to either surgery or radiation therapy for men with Stage III prostate cancer. Chemotherapy is also being tried in conjunction with hormonal therapy for men whose advanced cancers are no longer responsive to hormonal therapy alone.

Cholecystectomy - Surgical removal of the gall bladder. Surgeons generally perform this routine procedure using standard laparoscopy.

Colectomy - Surgical removal of part or all of the colon, performed to treat various conditions, including cancer, diverticulitis (inflammation of a herniation in the intestinal tract), inflammatory bowel disease, volvulus (abnormal twisting of the intestine causing obstruction) and fistulae (an abnormal duct or passage in the intestinal tract). 

Conformal radiation therapy - A 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) uses sophisticated computer software to conform or shape the distribution of radiation beams to the 3-dimensional shape of the diseased prostate, sparing damage to normal tissue in the vicinity of treatment. 

Conservative management - Also called watchful waiting, conservative management, observation or surveillance, is based on the premise that cases of localized prostate cancers may advance so slowly that they are unlikely to cause men—especially older men—any problems during their lifetimes. Men who opt for conservative management have regular medical checkups and are asked to report any new symptoms to the doctor immediately.

Coronary artery disease - Artery walls become built up with plaque created from fats, cholesterol, etc. Also called heart disease.

Coronary bypass - Also known as revascularization or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), coronary bypass is a surgical procedure that restores blood flow to the heart beyond a blockage in a coronary artery. Coronary bypass reroutes the blood around the blockage, creating an alternative pathway for blood to reach the heart muscle.

Cryosurgery - A procedure that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and kill prostate cancer cells. During cryosurgery, a warming catheter inserted through the penis protects the urethra, and incontinence is seldom a problem. However, the overlying nerve bundles usually freeze, so most men become impotent. The procedure takes about 2 hours, requires anesthesia (either general or spinal), and requires one or two days in the hospital.

Cystectomy - Surgery to remove the bladder, often to treat bladder cancer. The primary goal of cystectomy is to treat the cancer. A secondary goal is early return of bowel function.

Digital rectal exam (DRE) - During this exam, a physician inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for any irregularity that might suggest the presence of prostate cancer. The prostate gland is located just in front of the rectum, and most cancers begin in the back part of the gland that can be reached by a rectal exam. Although DRE is less effective than the PSA blood test in finding prostate cancer, it can sometimes find cancers in men with normal PSA levels. 

Endometrial cancer - Cancerous growth of the endometrium (lining of the uterus), which mainly occurs after the menopause, and presents with vaginal bleeding. A hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) is generally performed to treat this condition.

Endometriosis - A benign (noncancerous) growth of the uterine lining outside the uterus. Non-surgical treatment consists mainly of hormone therapy. If this cannot relieve symptoms, surgical intervention including laser treatment and hysterectomy offer more definitive treatment.

Endometrium - The lining of the uterus. 

Endoscope - A small tubular lens device, usually attached to a video monitor, and video camera, and used to visualize the inside of the body.

Esophagus - The tube or pipe that carries food from the throat to the stomach.

Fibroids - A common benign (non-cancerous) tumor that develops within the uterine wall. Also called leiomyoma or myoma. Treatments include uterine fibroid embolization, which shrinks the fibroids; hysterectomy –the most frequent surgical treatment - and myomectomy.

Gallstones - Each year more than 500,000 Americans have their gallbladders removed through surgery in order to treat gallstones. Gallstones are crystalline bodies formed by bile components, of which cholesterol is the most common.

Gastric bypass - A weight-loss procedure performed by bariatric or general surgeons that utilizes stapling, suturing and other surgical techniques to create a very small stomach pouch, severely restricting the amount of food that can be consumed at one time. The rest of the stomach is bypassed and therefore no longer receives food.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) - Widely known as acid reflux or chronic heartburn, GERD results from digestive acids entering the esophagus.

Heller myotomy - Surgical treatment of achalasia (failure of the esophagus to relax) by lengthwise division of the lowest part of the esophageal muscle down to the delicate submucosal (innermost) layer.

Hormonal therapy - Hormonal therapy combats prostate cancer by cutting off the supply of male hormones (androgens) such as testosterone that encourage prostate cancer growth. Hormonal control can be achieved by surgery to remove the testicles (the main source of testosterone) or by drugs. 

Indication - A reason to prescribe a drug or perform a procedure; "the presence of bacterial infection was an indication for the use of antibiotics".

Kidney - The organs that remove waste from the blood, contribute to red blood cell production and blood pressure regulation. 

Laparoscopy - A type of surgery using a surgical camera called a laparoscope or endoscope, which is inserted into one or more small incisions, to see inside the abdominal cavity. The surgeon views the affected area on a standard 2D video monitor.

Laparotomy - Open abdominal surgery using a large incision.

Lymph nodes - Bean-shaped structures scattered along vessels of the lymphatic system. These nodes act as filters, collecting bacteria or cancer cells that may travel through the body. 

Malignant - Characterized by progressive and uncontrolled cell growth (especially of a tumor); cancerous.

Menorrhagia - Abnormally heavy or extended menstrual flow, which is often treatable with non-surgical options like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), oral contraceptives (OCs) and intrauterine devices (IUDs); endometrial ablation, a minimally invasive option that is only offered to women who have finished childbearing. If these options cannot resolve excessive menstrual bleeding, hysterectomy provides a definitive treatment.

Minimally invasive surgery - Minimally invasive surgery (also known as MIS, minimal access, keyhole surgery, laparoscopic, or endoscopic surgery) is intended to eliminate the most physically and emotionally traumatic elements of conventional open surgery, including pain and lengthy recovery. Advances in MIS allow surgeons access to affected tissues and organs through very small incisions.

Mitral valve - The inflow valve located between the heart’s left atrium (upper chamber) and left ventricle (the lower chamber). The mitral valve helps keep blood flowing in same direction inside the heart by closing when the ventricle contracts in order to prevent blood from escaping back into the atrium.

Mitral valve prolapse - When this valve’s leaflets (its flaps) or its chordae (hinges) are abnormal or damaged, the leaflets cannot close properly. This is called prolapse.

Mitral valve regurgitation - The condition in which blood flows in the wrong direction inside the heart, past the mitral valve, and leaks back into the left atrium. 

Mitral valve surgery - A heart procedure to treat stenosis (narrowing) or regurgitation (leakage) of the mitral valve. 

Nephrectomy - Surgery to remove the kidney and ureter.

Nissen fundoplication - Surgical treatment for acid reflux or GERD. da Vinci® Nissen fundoplication provides surgeons with superb visualization of esophagogastric anatomy while enhancing dexterity and affording increased precision required for delicate suturing.

Obesity - Having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40, or a BMI of 35 with two or more related health problems that increase risk for early death.

Open surgery - Any surgical procedure performed using a large incision made for direct access to the affected organ or tissue.

Port - A tiny (1-2 cm) incision, into which a cannula (hollow, rigid tube) is inserted to act as a conduit for an endoscope or minimally invasive surgical instruments, including da Vinci® ’s EndoWrist® instruments.

Prolapse - Falling or slipping of the uterus towards or into the uterus.

Prostate - The prostate gland, a key part of the male reproductive system, is linked closely with the urinary system. It is a small gland that secretes much of the liquid portion of semen, the milky fluid that transports sperm through the penis during ejaculation. The prostate is located just beneath the bladder, where urine is stored, and in front of the rectum. It encircles a section of the urethra. 

Prostate cancer - Cancer of the prostate, the male reproductive gland located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Early prostate cancer usually causes no symptoms and is found by a PSA test and/or DRE. Some advanced prostate cancers can slow or weaken your urinary stream or make you need to urinate more often.

Prostatectomy - Surgery to remove the prostate in order to treat and prevent the reoccurrence of prostate cancer. A secondary goal of prostatectomy is early return of urinary continence. Where applicable, a third goal is early return of sexual potency. 

Prostate-specific Antigen (PSA) - Testing a blood sample for the amount of PSA plays an important part in the early detection of prostate cancer. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is a substance made by the normal prostate gland and a small amount is found in blood. Most men have levels under 4 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood. When prostate cancer develops, the PSA level usually goes above 4.

Pyeloplasty - Surgery to correct UPJ obstruction. The goal of pyeloplasty is to provide drainage of the kidney to the bladder.

Radiation therapy - Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays, either beamed from a machine or emitted by radioactive seeds implanted in the prostate, to kill cancer cells. When prostate cancer is localized, radiation therapy serves as an alternative to surgery.

Robot-assisted or robotic surgery - Surgery performed using the assistance of robotic technologies. Existing systems like da Vinci® are designed to provide surgeons with enhanced capabilities rather than designed to operate on their own.

Sacrocolpopexy - A common procedure for repairing vaginal vault prolapse and restoring the length and shape of the vaginal canal. A vaginal vault prolapse is a condition in which the uppermost part of the vagina slips downward. This type of prolapse is more likely to occur in patients who have had a prior hysterectomy.

Splenectomy - Surgical removal of the spleen. A number of diseases including malaria, leukemia, Hodgkin's disease and mono can cause enlargement of the spleen, the most common indication for removal.

Sternotomy - The traditional approach to open heart surgery, which involves cutting through the sternum or breastbone, and opening the rib cage.

Sternum - The breastbone, which runs from your collarbone or clavicle to your xyphoid process, which is the lowest point of the center of your rib cage.

Thoracic - Referring to the thorax or chest cavity and the organs contained therein.

Thymectomy - Surgical removal of the thymus gland. The thymus has been demonstrated to play a role in the development of autoimmune myasthenia gravis (MG). It is removed in an effort to improve the weakness caused by MG, and to remove a thymoma (a usually benign tumor of the thymus), if present.

Ureter - One of a pair of tubes, about one foot long, that carries urine from each kidney to the bladder.

Ureteral reimplantation - Surgery to correct urinary reflux.

Ureteropelvic junction (UPJ) obstruction - Usually present at birth, characterized by a blockage in the urinary tract.

Urethra - The tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the penis. During ejaculation, semen is secreted by the prostate through small pores of the urethra's walls.

Uterus - The central, muscular organ of the female reproductive system, which holds and nourishes the fertilized egg during pregnancy. At one end of the uterus -- or womb -- is the cervix, which opens into the vagina; the other end is connected on both sides to the fallopian tubes, which deliver eggs for implantation.

Vesicoureteral reflux - The result of a malfunctioning valve at the junction of the ureter and bladder, where urine backs up into the ureters and/or kidneys.