Medical/Neurosurgical Glossary
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Eaton-Lambert Syndrome (Lambert Syndrome) This is a proximal weakness, especially in the pelvic girdle muscles.  This is similar to myasthenia gravis.

Epstein-Barr Virus A herpes-like virus that can cause lymphoma and other diseases including chronic pain syndromes.

Erb Disease Progressive muscular dystrophy like myasthenia gravis syndrome.

Erb Sign Increased irritability of the motor nerves

Ecchymosis A swelling and bruising caused by blood under the skin.  This is a purplish discoloration of bruised skin.

Edema A swelling due to the build-up of fluid.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) The electroencephalogram measures brain wave activity.  It can detect seizures and other causes of brain damage.

Electromyogram (EMG) A medical test to evaluate nerve and muscle function.

Emergency Surgery An operation performed immediately as a result of an urgent medical condition.

Employment Development Department (EDD) - a California department that provides disability benefits and placement help.

Encephalitis -- A viral infection of the brain.

Endarterectomy The surgical removal of plaque or blood clots in an artery.

Endogenous Arising within from the body.  This is the opposite of exogenous.

Endorphins Endogenous biogeochemical substances which alleviate pain.  These are produced by the body in response to stress.  They are similar to narcotics and function in the same way.

Endoscope A medical device for viewing internal parts of the body. It is usually made from fiber optic tubes and video cameras.

Endoscopy A surgical inspection of internal body structures or cavities using an endoscope.

Entrapment Neuropathy This is a pathological situation where a nerve is trapped in an abnormally small canal.  The nerve is pinched and does not function.  Pain is common

Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) This is a blood test used identify certain infections.  It is both sensitive and specific.

Enzyme Replacement System This is a chiropractic approach that correlates recurring "subluxation patterns" with the results of a 24-hour urinalysis (purported to identify "enzyme deficiencies") so that spinal adjustments and nutritional measures can be combined.

Epi A Latin prefix meaning above or outside of something.  For example, epidural means outside of the dura.

Epidermal Nevus Syndrome (Feuerstein-Mims Syndrome) The combination of epidermal abnormalities combined with central nervous abnormalities.

Epidural Situated outside the thin, tough dural membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.  This is also a short name for some of the pain injections which are done and which are called epidural pain blocks.

Epidural Anesthetic An anesthetic which is injected into the "epidural space" in the middle and lower back, just outside the spinal space, to numb the lower extremities.

Epidural Block A procedure where pain medications or steroids are injected into "epidural space" in the neck, middle and lower back, just outside the spinal space, to treat pain.

Epidural Steroids  An injection like a block using the steroid drugs alone or in combination with other medications such as anesthetics.

Epinephrine This is one of several chemicals (another is norepinephrine) released by the adrenal gland to increase heart rate.

Ergonomics The study of how the workplace relates to human functions.

Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate This is a blood test that measures the speed at which red blood cells settle on the bottom of a test tube.  A high sedimentation rate signals a possible inflammatory disease or infection.

Euphoria A feeling of well-being or elation which may be drug related.

Excision The removal or cutting out of a tissue or organ.  As differentiated from incision. 

Excisional Biopsy This involves the cutting away of a tissue to completely remove it.   There are many types of excisional biopsies and each is named for the particular area of the body which is removed.

Excrete To get rid of waste from the body.  To urinate or to pass solid waste is to excrete.

Exogenous Originating outside of the body.  This is the opposite of endogenous.

Experimental This includes care which is under study by scientists, or one not yet proven to be effective.  The word experimental is often used differently by insurance companies.  If an insurance company believes that a treatment is experimental, they typically refuse to pay for the treatment.  Many well accepted treatments are denied by insurance companies on this basis.

Extensor Muscle Any muscle that causes the straightening of a limb is an extensor.  This is the opposite of a flexor muscle.

External Fixation This is a way of repairing a broken bone or securing a fusion using metal screws and plates which are partly outside the body.  This is the opposite of internal fixation. 

Extra A Latin prefix that means in addition to outside of.

Extracorporeal Something which is outside of the body (corpus means body in Latin).

Extravasation The leakage of something out of its container or normal location.


If you are aware of any useful spine and neuromusculoskeletal terms which are not included in this list, or if you have suggestions for better definitions,  your help would be greatly appreciated.  Please send me any upgrades and I will update the web site appropriately.  Click here to send a comment.






The information in this site briefly describes issues related to medical treatments, and has been licensed by from Northern California Neurosurgery Medical Group, Inc., who is solely responsible for said content.  This web site is not a substitute for good medical care or for a consultation with a spine specialist. It should not be used to plan your treatment. The well considered advice of a specialist who has personally examined you is always superior to even the best internet pages.


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Last modified: 07/27/08