Diseases & Conditions

The human body is a remarkable structure. It's designed to efficiently manage the wear and tear of everyday life and fend off all sorts of threats. Most of us are healthy for most of our lives. But we're also susceptible to hundreds of injuries, diseases, and conditions. Some are quite common, others are extremely rare. Here are some of the most common conditions that affect humans.


Diseases & Conditions Articles

Abdominal CT Scan (Computed Tomography Scan)

CT scans are pictures taken by a specialized x-ray machine. The machine circles your body and scans an area from every angle within that circle. The machine measures how much the x-ray beams change as they pass through your body. It then relays that information to a computer, which generates a collection of black-and-white pictures, each showing a slightly different "slice" or cross-section of your internal organs. Because these "slices" are spaced only about a quarter-inch apart, they give a very good representation of your internal organs and other structures. Doctors use CT scans to evaluate all major parts of the body, including the abdomen, back, chest, and head. A CT scan is an excellent way to view the organs inside your abdomen. It is especially useful for looking at solid organs, such as the liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, and adrenal glands. It is also excellent for viewing the large blood vessels that pass through the abdomen (the aorta and vena cava) and for finding lymph nodes in the abdomen. (Locked) More »

Abdominal Ultrasound

Ultrasound uses sound waves instead of radiation to generate snapshots or moving pictures of structures inside the body. A radiologist or ultrasound technician places an ultrasound transducer, which looks like a microphone. The transducer sends sound waves into your body and picks up the echoes of the sound waves as they bounce off internal organs and tissue. A computer transforms these echoes into an image that is displayed on a small screen. Doppler ultrasound is a variation of this technique that not only shows internal structures but also examines the flow of blood through blood vessels. Doppler ultrasound is useful in detecting blockages to blood flow, such as a blood clot blocking a vein, or narrowing of the blood vessels due to cardiovascular disease. (Locked) More »

Bone Marrow Transplant

A bone marrow transplant is a procedure used to treat certain types of cancer and some other diseases. Before the bone marrow transplant takes place, a person's bone marrow cells are destroyed with radiation or chemotherapy. The cells that normally live in the bone marrow and that are responsible for making blood cells are then replaced. Bone marrow cells are blood cells that are located in the spongy center of bones. These include: Cells to replace your original cells can be taken from your blood or bone marrow before the procedure starts. Bone marrow cells also can be taken from a different person (a donor) whose cells are a good match for the person receiving the transplant (the recipient). A good match means certain chemical markers on the cells of both donor and recipient are as close as possible and thus minimizes the possibility that the cells will be rejected by your body. (Locked) More »

Bone Scan

A bone scan uses radiation to make images showing areas of bone where cells are unusually active. Unusually active cells can indicate cancer, bone trauma, infection or other disorders. First, a radioactive chemical called an isotope is injected into a vein. The isotope enters the bloodstream and travels to the bones, where it emits gamma rays, which are similar to X-rays. A gamma camera can detect gamma rays. A computer analyzes the rays and forms an image (or scan) of the bones. Areas with potential problems send out more intense rays and appear as bright spots on the scan. (Locked) More »

Bronchoscopy

Bronchoscopy is an examination of the larger airways (trachea and bronchi) using an instrument called a bronchoscope. A bronchoscope is a type of endoscope — a flexible instrument that sees inside the body using fiberoptic technology (very fine filaments that can bend and carry light). In bronchoscopy, the doctor can look directly inside the larger breathing passages for signs of tumors and can take samples of lung fluids or tissue if necessary. During bronchoscopy, a flexible bronchoscope is inserted through the mouth or nose, then slowly passed down into the trachea and bronchi. To limit discomfort, the mouth or nose is numbed with a local anesthetic beforehand and a light sedative may also be injected into the veins. The bronchoscopy procedure itself usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes, not counting preparation time. (Locked) More »

Cholecystectomy

Cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder, the small saclike organ located near the liver in the upper right side of the abdomen. It is attached to the main duct that carries bile from the liver into the intestine. Bile helps your body to break down and absorb fats. The gallbladder temporarily stores bile from the liver. When you eat, the gallbladder contracts, and squeezes extra bile into the intestine to aid digestion. There are two ways to remove the gallbladder: Over 90% of the time, laparoscopic surgery is used because it requires a shorter hospital stay, is less painful, and has a shorter recovery time compared to traditional surgery. Traditional surgery is usually used because the person has significant abdominal scarring from prior surgery, severe inflammation, unusual anatomy, or other factors that make surgery with a laparoscope very difficult and riskier. (Locked) More »

Throat Culture

A throat infection with streptococcus bacteria (called strep throat) needs to be treated with an antibiotic. A throat culture is the traditional test used for identifying streptococcus bacteria on your throat surface. Throat cultures also can identify some other bacteria that can cause sore throat. No preparation is necessary. A cotton swab is rubbed against the back of your throat to gather a sample of mucus. This takes only a second or two and makes some people feel a brief gagging or choking sensation. The mucus sample is then placed on a culture plate that helps any bacteria present in the mucus grow, so they can be examined and identified. (Locked) More »

Upper Endoscopy (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy or EGD)

This test inspects your esophagus, stomach and the first section of intestine (the duodenum) using an endoscope. An upper endoscopy allows the doctor to explore the cause of such symptoms as difficulty swallowing, abdominal pain, vomiting up blood, or passing blood in the stool. It can also diagnose irritation, ulcers, and cancers of the lining of the esophagus and stomach. During this type of endoscopy, the doctor can also take biopsy samples of tissue. Don't eat or drink anything for eight hours before this test. It's also best to stop taking aspirin and other NSAIDs for several days beforehand, to reduce the chances of bleeding should your doctor need to take a biopsy. Ask your doctor if you should avoid taking any other medicines on the day of the test. If you have diabetes, talk with your doctor about ways to avoid low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) since you will be fasting. If you wear dentures, remove them before the test. Arrange for a ride home because the medicine given for this test will make you drowsy. The nurse will place an intravenous catheter into your arm. During the procedure, the nurse will be monitoring your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen content of your blood. You'll probably be given a sedative through an IV. This medicine may prevent you from remembering the test; it might even make you sleep through it. (Locked) More »

Ventilation-Perfusion Scan or V-Q Scan

The ventilation-perfusion scan is a nuclear scan so named because it studies both airflow (ventilation) and blood flow (perfusion) in the lungs. The initials V-Q are used in mathematical equations that calculate airflow and blood flow. The test is used primarily to help diagnose a blood clot in the lungs, called a pulmonary embolus. Today, ventilation-perfusion scans are rarely performed because a chest CT scan is a much more accurate diagnostic test for detecting a pulmonary embolus. About one hour before the test, a technician places an IV in your arm. A slightly radioactive version of the mineral technetium mixed with liquid protein is injected through the IV to identify areas of the lung that have reduced blood flow. (Locked) More »

Video-Assisted Thoracic Surgery

Video-assisted thoracic surgery (VATS) is a type of surgery that enables doctors to view the inside of the chest cavity after making only very small incisions. The doctor can examine the outside surface of the lung and the inner surface of the chest wall through a camera attached to the scope. Abnormal appearing areas on the lung surface can be biopsied. VATS also provides relatively easy access to taking a biopsy of the lung.  This may be needed to diagnose the cause of abnormalities on a chest x-ray or to determine the specific infectious agent responsible for pneumonia that is not getting better on antibiotics. Discuss the specific procedures planned during your chest surgery ahead of time with your doctor. VATS is done by either a surgeon or a trained pulmonary specialist. You will need to sign a consent form giving the surgeon permission to perform this test. Talk to your doctor about whether you will stay in the hospital for any time after the procedure, so that you can plan for this. (Locked) More »