Medical/Neurosurgical Glossary
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N O P Q R S T
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Radiation Syndrome – The effects of high dose x-rays, including problems with the gastrointestinal tract and other tissues that have to repair themselves frequently, like the skin.

Radiation Therapy – This describes the use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, neutrons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Radicular Syndrome – Leg pain or arm pain from a pinched nerve and a ruptured disc.

Radiculopathy – In Latin this literally means a “sick nerve root.”  It most frequently refers to a nerve root damaged by a disc herniation.  It often causes pain which shoots down the arm or leg.  When the leg is affected, the pain is called sciatica.

Range of Motion – A measurement of the extent to which a joint can perform its normal movements.

Ransohoff Operation – Multiple crossed incisions in the pleura in cases of empyema.

Reasonable – This term has a special meaning in health insurance.  It is an insurance company word that describes what a particular policy allows.  “Reasonable” is determined by the insurance company.  For example if they do not consider a treatment “reasonable,” even if recommended by the doctor, they will not pay.  If they don’t agree that a bill is “reasonable,” they will not pay the bill.  If the insurance company claims something is not “reasonable,” the patient ordinarily has to pay for it.

Recovery Room – An area of the hospital where patients go after a surgery.  I looks just like an ICU and is staffed by ICU nurses.  They make sure that you wake up properly and have no medical complications.  The family cannot visit you in the recovery room.

Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) – A pain syndrome caused by an abnormal sympathetic nervous reflex.  This gives rise to a pain response that is out of proportion to, and inconsistent with, the injury.

Reflexology – A technique using thumb and finger pressure on the reflex points of the feet (which correspond to all areas of the body) to assist in achieving balance within the body.

Relaxation Massage A smooth, flowing style that promotes general relaxation, improves circulation and range of movement, and relieves muscular tension.

Remedial Massage A paramedical treatment that helps to restore function to injured "soft tissues" (muscles, tendons and ligaments). Therapy may involve the use of various types of Massage, as well as a range of other physical treatments to assist your recovery. In addition, you may be asked to perform some activities at home to assist the process of recovery.

Resection – The surgical removal of part of a structure, such as part of a bone or tissue. 

Resident – A young doctor in training who has finished his internship and therefore is in the second, third, fourth, fifth, or later year of training after medical school.  The doctor is typically an employee of a large teaching hospital.

Resorption – The body’s own way to remove bone, other tissues or foreign bodies.  It is a normal physiological process used to fight infection and disease.  Small cells remove the bone, tissue or foreign body a little bit at a time. 

Revision Surgery – This is a repeat operation.  A surgery is called a revision when an earlier surgery has not worked well and needs to be repeated or re-done.

Resting Tremor – This is a type of tremor or shaking of a limb that increases when the limb is at rest.

Restless Legs Syndrome – The feeing like one must keep moving the feet.  This is almost a compulsion to move the feet.  This is treated with several sedatives.

Retrolisthesis – A posterior slippage of one vertebra over another.

Retropulsion – A term that means the tendency to step backwards which is seen in Parkinson’s disease patients. 

Rhizotomy – Surgical cutting (transection), or burning, or freezing of a nerve root.  This is usually done to relieve pain.

Rib Hump – The prominence of the ribs on the convexity of a spinal curvature due to scoliosis, usually due to vertebral rotation and best exhibited on forward bending. 

RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) – This is the treatment plan for acute injury to prevent inflammatory processes from becoming uncontrolled and to speed up the recovery process by eliminating swelling; acute injury management.

Rigidity – Increased resistance to the passive movement of a limb. This is a type of stiffness.

Rinne Test – A specific type of measure of hearing where the bone conduction and air conduction of sound are compared.

Risk Factor – An activity or factor that may increase the chance of developing a disease.

Rod – In spinal applications, this is a slender, metal implant that is used to immobilize and align the spine.  Rods are usually attached to the vertebral bones with hooks or screws.

Rotation – The movement of one object around its axis.  The earth rotates once every day.  With respect to the spine, this refers to a vertebral bone which is turned improperly.

Rotator Cuff – Muscles and their insertional tendons that form a cuff over the shoulder joint, on their way to attaching from the scapula to the humorous; major function is to control, and produce, rotation of the shoulder.

RS4i-Stimulator – An electronic device called an interferential stimulator.  It is used to treat pain.

Rupture – A break or tear in any organ or soft tissue.

Ruptured Disc – This is a common term which applies to a disc that has come apart.  Some of the center of the disc can come out of its fibrous shell and pinch a nerve, for example.  It is also called a slipped disc or herniation. 


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