Neonatal Follow-up Clinic

NICU Glossary

A a

acidosis (acidemia): An excess of acid in the body tissue and in the blood.

alveoli: Tiny sacs in the lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged with the bloodstream.

amblyopia: Poor vision in an eye that did not develop normal sight during childhood. It is sometimes called "lazy eye."

ampicillin: An antibiotic.

anemia: An abnormally low number of red blood cells in the blood which carries oxygen to tissue.

anomaly: A malformation of a part of the body.

anoxia: Absence or lack of oxygen.

antibiotics: Drugs that kill bacteria or interfere with with their ability to grow and spread.

antibodies: Proteins produced by the body to fight harmful substances like viruses or bacteria that have entered the bloodstream.

aorta: The artery leading from the heart that supplies oxygenated blood to the body.

apnea: The absence of breathing for longer than 15-20 seconds.

Apgar Score: A number ranging from 0-10, which indicates a baby's physical condition immediately following birth and then again 5 minutes later. See Apgar Scoring Chart.

arterial blood gas (arterial stick): A sample of blood taken from an artery to measure its oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acid content.

arterial catheter (indwelling arterial catheter): A thin plastic tube placed in an artery to withdraw blood for testing and to measure blood pressure.

artery: Any blood vessel leading away from the heart. Arteries carry oxygenated blood to the body tissues (with the exception of the pulmonary artery which carries non-oxygenated blood to the lungs from the heart).

asphyxia: Lack of proper blood flow and oxygen.

aspiration: 1) Withdrawing material from the body by suctioning. 2) Breathing a foreign material such as formula, meconium, or stomach contents into the lungs; this may lead to aspiration pneumonia.

atelectasis: A collapsed condition in part of the lungs.

audiometric testing: Tests administered to determine hearing loss.

B b

bacteria: Single-celled organisms that can cause infection and disease.

bagging: A procedure used to temporarily help a baby to breathe. A small mask is placed on the infant's face and an air bag is compressed, giving the baby air and/or oxygen.

bicarbonate: A substance that may be given to an infant to neutralize excess acid in the blood.

b.i.d.: An abbreviation derived from a Latin term, meaning twice daily.

bililights (phototherapy): Lights used to treat jaundice.

bilirubin: A substance, yellowish in color, that is produced when red blood cells break down. The skin may take on a yellow tint (jaundice) Large quantities of bilirubin may cause a form of brain damage.

blood gas: A sample of blood taken from an artery to measure its oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acid content.

blood pressure: The pressure exerted by blood against the walls of the blood vessels. This pressure causes blood to flow through arteries. There are two numbers given during a reading of blood pressure. The first number (also called the top number) is the systolic pressure which tells the pressure exerted when the heart contracts, sending blood to the body. The second number (lower number) is the diastolic pressure which tells the pressure exerted between heartbeats.

blood type: There are 4 blood types: O, A, B or AB. Blood types are classified according to the absence or presence of certain proteins. Blood is also classified as Rh positive or Rh negative, by the absence or presence of the Rh factor.

BPD: These initials stand for bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

bradycardia or "brady": A heartbeat rate that, in an infant, is below 100 beats per minute.

brain bleed: Hemorrhaging into some part of the brain.

brain death: An absence of messages or electrical impulses from the brain.

brain stem evoked response audiometry: A way of testing for hearing loss in infants, in which the baby's brain waves are measured in response to various sounds.

bronchial tubes: The tubes that lead from the windpipe (trachea) to the lungs.

bronchioles: Little tubes that branch off from the larger bronchial tubes.

bronchiolitis: An infection or inflammation of the bronchioles.

bronchitis: An infection or inflammation of the bronchial tubes.

bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) or chronic lung disease (CLD): A condition marked by respirator-induced lung and bronchiole damage.

BUN (blood urea and nitrogen): A blood test that measures kidney and liver function.

C c

calcium (Ca): A mineral element which aids skeletal development, and contributes to the good health of the nervous, cardiovascular, and muscular systems.

Candida albicans (monila): A fungus known to cause yeast infections such as thrush.

capillaries: Very small blood vessels which remove waste from and provide oxygen and nutrients to body cells.

carbon dioxide (CO2): Gaseous bodily waste product transported via the bloodstream and exhaled by the the lungs.

cardiology: Medical discipline focusing on the heart and circulatory system.

cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): Manual procedure for restarting or maintaining a person's breathing and heartbeat.

catheter: Thin tube used to drain or administer fluid.

CAT scanner or CT scanner (computerized axial tomography): Computer-controlled x-ray machine capable of capturing cross-section images of body tissues.

CBC: An abbreviation for complete blood count.

central line: An intravenous line threaded through the vein until it comes as close as possible to the heart.

central nervous system (CNS): The spinal cord and brain.

cerebral palsy (CP): A persisting motor disorder appearing before the age of three years due to a nonprogressive damage to the brain.

cerebrospinal fluid (CSF): Fluid that circulates around the spinal column and brain, that has been produced by the ventricles of the brain.

chest tube (ct): A tube that has been surgically inserted in the chest wall to suction away air and allow a collapsed lung to re-expand.

CLD: An abbreviation for chronic lung disease, also called bronchopulmonary dysplasia.

CNS: An abbreviation for central nervous system.

colostomy: An opening, created through surgery, to allow the colon (lower part of the large intestine) to empty its contents directly through the wall of the abdomen.

complete blood count (CBC): A test conducted to count the number and types of cells in the blood. The CBC may be used to to check for many things, including infections.

congestive heart failure (CHF): Failure of the heart to act and perform efficiently because of circulatory imbalance.

corrected age or adjusted age: The age a premature baby would have been if he/she were born on his/her due date. Example: A baby is 10 months old (according to her birth age) because she was 2 months premature, her corrected age would be 8 months.

CP: Abbreviation for cerebral palsy.

CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure): Pressurized air that is delivered to a baby's lungs to keep them expanded while inhaling and exhaling. The air is sometimes accompanied by extra oxygen.

CPR: Abbreviation for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

CSF: Abbreviation for cerebrospinal fluid.

cultures: Tests that are preformed as a part of a septic work-up to look for bacteria, fungus or virus.

D d

dc: A medical abbreviation that means to discontinue. Example: "dc all feedings" means to stop all feedings.

dexamethasone: A steroid that is sometimes used following a brain injury, to help reduce swelling in the brain, can be used to treat more severe chronic lung disease.

Dextrostix: 1) A blood test performed to assess sugar levels. 2) The plastic strip that has been chemically treated to be used for the test.

DIC: Abbreviation for disseminated intravascular coagulation.

Dilantin (phenytoin): A drug that is often used to control seizures.

disseminated intravascular coagulation: A condition in which the clotting factors and platelets in the blood are consumed due to infections, acidosis, hypoxia or other injuries or diseases.

Down's Syndrome: An abnormality in the chromosomes that is characterized by varying degrees of mental retardation and physical malformations.

DPT: An abbreviation which refers to the immunizations against the diseases diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus.

ductus arteriosus: A blood vessel in the fetus that joins the aorta with the pulmonary artery in order to shift most of the blood away from the lungs. This blood vessel may not be closed in premature babies and must be closed by medicinal treatment or by surgery, to enable proper blood flow and oxygen flow to the lungs.

dyspnea: A term meaning difficult breathing.

E e

echocardiogram (echo): A non-invasive procedure in which a picture of the heart that is produced by the echo of ultrasound waves that have been directed through the chest.

edema: Puffiness or swelling that is caused by fluid retention in the body tissue.

EEG (electroencephalogram): A medical test that traces the electrical impulses of the brain.

EKG (electrocardiogram): A medical test that traces the electrical activity of the heart.

electrodes: An apparatus attached to adhesive pads that are put on the infant's body to conduct electrical impulses of her breathing motions and heartbeat to a monitor.

endotracheal tube (ET Tube): A skinny plastic tube that is inserted into the infant's windpipe (trachea) to deliver air and or oxygen to the lungs.

epilepsy: Periodic convulsions or seizures that are caused by a disorder of the nervous system.

esophagus: The tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach.

exchange transfusion: A blood transfusion in which the baby's blood is removed in small quantities while simultaneously being replaced with the same amounts of donor blood. Often times this is done to dilute harmful amounts of bilirubin.

extubation: Medical term referring to the removal of the ET Tube (endotracheal tube).

F f

fine motor skills: The skills involved in the coordination of small muscles such as those in the hand.

fontanel: The space between the unjoined sections of the baby's skull that are often referred to as the "soft spot".

full term (FT): A term that describes a baby born at some point between the 37th and 42nd weeks of gestation.

G g

gastrostomy: An opening in the abdominal wall, created through surgery, to provide nutrition straight to the stomach when the esophagus is injured or blocked, or to provide proper drainage after abdominal surgery is performed to maximize nutrition.

gavage feedings: Feedings through a tube inserted through the mouth or nose that goes straight to the stomach.

gentamicin: An antibiotic.

gestational age: The age of a baby, counted in weeks, from the first day of the mother's last menstrual cycle before conception until the baby is delivered or reaches full term of 40 weeks.

glucose: The sugar that is circulating in the blood stream and being used by the body for energy.

gram (G, GM, gm): The metric system's basic unit of weight. There are 28 grams in one ounce. (See the grams/pounds conversion chart.)

H h

heel stick: The method of taking small amounts of blood from an infant's heel for testing.

hematocrit ("crit"): The percentage of red blood cells in the blood.

hemoglobin: A material in the red blood cells that carries oxygen and contains iron.

hemolysis: The rupturing of red blood cells.

hernia: 1) umbilical - At the naval or umbilicus, a lump under the skin caused by a part of the intestine that protrudes through a fragile area in the abdominal wall. 2) Inguinal - A lump under the skin in the groin area caused by a part of the intestine protruding through a fragile part of the abdominal wall.

high-risk: A term referring to people or situations needing special attention and intervention to ward off sickness (or keep it from worsening), damage or death.

HMD: An abbreviation for hyaline membrane disease.

hyaline membrane disease (HMD or RDS): Respiratory distress that is caused by a lack of surfactant.

hydrocephalus: An abnormal amount of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain's ventricles.

hyperbilirubinemia: Too much bilirubin in the blood.

hypercalcemia: Too much calcium in the blood

hypercapnia (hypercarbia): Higher than normal carbon dioxide in the blood.

hyperglycemia: High and abnormal amounts of sugar in the blood.

hyperkalemia: Too much potassium in the blood.

hypertension: High blood pressure.

hyperthermia: Abnormally high temperature of the body.

hyperventiliation: Abnormally rapid breathing.

hypocalcemia: Calcium levels in the blood that are too low.

hypoglycemia: Blood sugar levels that are too low.

hypokalemia: Potassium levels that are too low.

hyponatremia: Sodium levels in the blood that are too low.

hypotension: Abnormally low blood pressure.

hypothermia: Abnormally low body temperature.

hypoxia: A lack of needed oxygen.

I i

I and O: An abbreviation for input and output/outflow, referring to the amount of fluids given and the amount of fluid excreted as well as blood removed for testing, over a period of time.

ICH: An abbreviation for intracranial hemorrhage.

ileostomy: An opening in the abdominal wall, created by surgery, to allow the ileus (part of the intestine above the colon) to empty directly outside of the body.

indomethiacin: A drug sometimes given to close the patent ductus arteriosus.

infusion pump: A pump that delivers IV fluids in small exactly measured amounts.

intracranial hemorrhage (ICH): Any bleeding that occurs in or around the brain.

intralipids ("lipids"): A white mixture of fatty acids that are usually given through an intravenous and might be coupled with TPN.

intravenous (IV): A small needle or tube inserted into a vein to allow fluids into the blood stream.

intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH): Bleeding in the ventricles of the brain.

intubation: Inserting a tube into the windpipe (trachea) to allow air to get to the lungs.

isolette: An incubator or enclosed heated bed where the temperature can be regulated.

IUGR (intrauterine growth restriction): This term is used to describe an infant who is small for her gestational age.

J j

jaundice: A yellowish tint of the skin and the whites of the eyes that is caused by too much bilirubin.

K k

kanamycin: An antibiotic.

kernicterus: Damage suffered by the nervous system that is caused by extremely high levels of bilirubin.

kilogram (kg): A metric unit of measurement. One kilogram is equal to 1000 grams or 2.2 pounds. (See the grams/pounds conversion chart.)

L l

lactose: The sugar found in milk.

lanugo: The fine, white, downy hair that covers a fetus' body. Some premature infants are still covered in lanugo at birth.

large motor skills: The skills, like crawling and walking, that include coordination of large muscle groups.

laryngoscope: A utensil used in intubation to see the vocal cords and guide the tube between them.

Lasix: A diuretic.

lead wires ("leads"): The wires that lead from a monitor to its electrodes.

lecithin: One of the ingredients used in the making of surfactant.

leukocyte (white blood cells): This type of blood cell helps to protect the body against bacteria, viruses.

low birthweight (LBW): A term used to describe an infant who weights less than 5 and 1/2 pounds at birth.

lower respiratory tract infection (LRI): An infection which can attack the lungs, bronchial tubes, voice box (larynx), or windpipe (trachea).

lumbar puncture (spinal tap): A medical procedure where spinal fluid is extracted from the lower back by inserting a needle between the vertebrae.

M m

meningitis: An infection or swelling of the meninges, the membranes found around the spinal cord and brain.

meningocele: A birth defect where the tissue that lines the spinal cord and brain (meninges) bulges through an opening in the spinal column or skull.

mental retardation (MR): Intellectual development that is limited. There are various degrees of mental retardation.

minimal brain dysfunction (MBD): A syndrome that, due to problems with the central nervous system, causes behavioral difficulties and/or learning problems.

monitor: A mechanical device that records heart rate, pulse, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, respiration or other vital signs.

myopia: Nearsightedness.

N n

NBIC/NBICU: Abbreviations for Newborn Intensive Care and Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

nebulizer: A machine that humidifies air and/or oxygen that is passed to the infant.

necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC): A condition of the intestinal tract where (normally) harmless bacteria attacks the intestinal wall.

neonate: A term used to describe an infant during the first 30 days of life.

newborn intensive care unit (NBICU) or neonatal intensive care unit (NICU): The unit in the hospital where premature or sick infants can be cared for and monitored.

"nippling": Another term used to describe bottle feeding.

NPO: An abbreviation for a Latin term that means "nothing by mouth"or stop feedings.

O o

omphalocele: A defect that enables the intestines to come through an opening in the abdominal wall.

osteopenia: A condition where the bones become frail and breakable from the loss of minerals.

oxygen (O2): The gas that is responsible and imperative for supporting life.

P p

Pavulon: A medicine used to yield temporary paralysis.

patent ductus arteriosus (PDA): A "typical" situation in preemies where the fetal blood vessel which links the aorta and the pulmonary artery does not clothes following birth.

pH: A symbol for hydrogen ion saturation. A low pH, means the solution is acidic.

Phenobarbital: A medication used to control seizures.

phototherapy: The use of bililights to treat hyperbilirubinemia.

plasma: The part of the blood (clear and liquid in consistency) that is left when the red blood cells have been taken out.

platelets: The part of the blood responsible for clotting.

pneumonia: An infection in the lungs.

pneumothorax: An accumulation of air in the chest cavity that results from a rupture in the lungs.

polycythemia: Too many red blood cells, which causes circulation to slow.

positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP): Referring to a respirator, the consistent amount of pressure exerted on the lungs to keep them from collapsing while breathing.

premature infants ("preemie"): An infant born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.

Pseudomonas: A strain of bacteria.

pulmonary hypertension: The inability of the blood vessels in the lungs to relax and open following birth.

pulmonary insufficiency of the premature (PIP): Respiratory distress, caused by immature lungs and lack of surfactant, that attacks the youngest pre-term infants.

pulmonary interstitial emphysema (PIE): A situation created when bubbles of air are pushed out of the alveoli and in between the layers of lung tissue.

R r

RBC: An abbreviation for red blood cells.

red blood cell (RBC, erythrocyte): They cells that carry oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from tissue.

respirator: A machine used to assist with breathing.

respiratory distress syndrome (RDS, hyaline membrane disease): Respiratory distress that is caused by a lack of surfactant.

retina: The nerve tissue that lines the back of the eye.

retinopathy of prematurity (OP): The abnormal growth of the blood vessels of the eye, seen in many premature infants this happens because the blood vessels are not finished developing at the time of a premature infants birth. They have to finish developing outside the protected environment of the womb.

room air: The air , containing 21% oxygen, that we normally breathe.

Rx: Prescription.

S s

scalp IV: An intravenous line placed in the baby's scalp vein.

septic work-up: Tests performed to check for infection.

shunt: A passage made artificially, between two areas of the body, usually placed to drain liquid.

sphingomyelin: An ingredient used in the making of surfactant.

spinal tap (lumbar puncture): A medical procedure where spinal fluid is extracted from the lower back by inserting a needle between the vertebrae.

strabismus: A visual defect in which the eyes are misaligned and point in different directions.

subarachnoid hemorrhage: Bleeding around the outer area of the brain (subarachnoid space).

surfactant: The substance made in the lungs that aids in keeping the tiny air sacs (alveoli) from collapsing and clinging together.

T t

tachycardia: An exceptionally fast heart rate.

tachypnea: An exceptionally fast breathing rate.

term infant: A baby born between 38-42 weeks gestation.

theophylline: A medicine that is sometimes used to treat apnea.

thermoregulation: The regulating of body temperature.

thrombocytopenia: An exceptional decrease in the number of platelets found in the blood.

thrush: A fungal infection of the mouth.

TPN (total parenteral nutrition): A mixture of sugar, minerals, vitamins and proteins given via IV.

TPR: An abbreviation for temperature, pulse and respiration.

trachea: The windpipe, which extends from the throat to the bronchial tubes.

tracheostomy: A surgical opening in the windpipe created to help air to flow through the lungs when there is an obstruction in the throat.

U u

upper respiratory infections (URI): An infection in the airways above the voice box (larynx).

UTI: An abbreviation for urinary tract infection.

V v

vein: A blood vessel which goes to the heart, carrying non-oxygenated blood.

ventricle: 1) A tiny chamber, as in those of the heart. 2) Tiny chambers in the middle of the brain where cerebrospinal fluid is created.

virus: A small infectious organism that thrives in the cells of the body.

vital signs: The pulse rate, rate of respiration and body temperature.

W w

WBC: An abbreviation for white blood cells.

Y y

yeast: A miniscule fungus that can cause the occurrence of infections.