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  • abdomen

    Part of the body located below the chest. It contains the digestive organs (stomach, kidneys, intestines, liver, etc). In women it also contains the ovaries and uterus.

  • abscess

    A swelling, caused by a build up of pus, that is located within the body tissue.

  • account book

    Books in which financial accounts are kept.

  • acetabulum

    The cup-shaped cavity at the base of the hip bone into which the ball-shaped head of the femur fits.

  • Acid Purification System

    automates the purification of DNA from biological samples such as blood, sell cultures viruses and other tissues.

  • acne

    A disorder of the skin in which the glands producing oily matter become inflamed. It is characterized by blackheads, pustules and even scars. There are a number of treatments available. Acne particularly affects teenagers.

  • actinotherapy

    the treatment of disorders with infrared or ultraviolet radiation

  • acupuncture

    A central therapy in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where fine needles are inserted into the skin at specific points. These points are believed by to lie on channels, or meridians, of energy flow, or qi (chi).

  • addiction

    The condition of being addicted, or unable to live without, a particular habit, substance or pursuit.

  • adenovirus

    A virus that contains DNA. It causes respiratory infections that have similar symptoms to the common cold.

  • ADHD

    A behavioural disorder which begins in childhood. Symptoms include short attention span and impulsive tendencies, commonly but not always combined with hyperactivity.

  • admission ticket

    A voucher that entitles entry to an event or establishment, often prepaid.

  • adrenaline

    A hormone secreted from the adrenal gland in preparation for ‘fright, flight or fight’. The effects include increased heart and breathing rate, improved muscle contraction and delayed muscular fatigue.

  • advertisement

    A public notice or announcement especially one advertising goods or services in newspapers, on posters, or in broadcasts

  • AIDS

    Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease caused by infections resulting from a weakened immune system due to the HIV virus. It leads to failure of the immune system and is usually fatal. It is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids.

  • air sampler

    A device for obtaining and measuring air samples to assess the quality of air and the presence of any contaminants.

  • albarello

    A form of jar, typically from Medieval Spain, used for storing drugs. The word ‘albarello’ is of Spanish origin but historians appear divided over whether or not the design of the jar originated in Spain, Morocco or China. The shape of the waisted jar is distinctive.

  • albumenometer

    An instrument for determining the amount of albumen in a patient's sample of urine

  • alchemy

    A form of medieval chemistry that incorporated aspects of philosophy. It was concerned with transforming metal, particularly into gold, and potentially creating an elixir to prolong life.

  • allergy

    A state in which the body becomes hypersensitive to specific substances. When these substances come in contact with the body they provoke particular reactions. Common indications of allergy may include sneezing, itching, and skin rashes.

  • alligator

    Broad-snouted crocodile-like reptile found in the USA and China.

  • alms bowl

    The giving of alms, or charitable donations, is a ritual in many religions. An alms bowl was a vessel into which these charitable donations would be placed.

  • alms box

    Box used to collect alms, or charitable donations. Historically also known as a 'poor box' or 'mite box', it was often placed in church to collect money for the needy.

  • ambergris

    A wax like substance that is an intestinal secretion of the sperm whale. It is found floating on tropical seas and has been used to make perfume.

  • ambulance

    A vehicle used for taking people to and from hospital for treatment, particularly in emergencies.

  • amenorrhoea

    The abnormal absence of menstruation

  • amino acid analyser

    used in laboratories to analyse amino acids

  • ammoniaphone

    Instrument which uses the inhalation of ammonia to treat bronchial disorders.

  • amoxicillin

    A form of penicillin that is easily absorbed. It is used for a variety of ailments, including middle-ear and sinus infections, salmonella and gonorrhoea.

  • amphibian remains

    Whole or part remains of an animal from the amphibian family (amphibia). A group of vertebrate animals distinguished by having two distinct forms during its life cycle, one in water and the other usually out of water breathing air.

  • ampoule

    A sealed glass or plastic capsule containing one dose of a drug in the form of a sterile solution for injection.

  • amputation

    Removal of part of, or a whole limb by surgery. Used to control pain or the spread of disease in the affected limb.

  • amputation instrument set

    Set of instruments used for amputation, usually of external limbs. The amputation saw was the primary part, usually present in all sets of this type.

  • amputation knife

    A broad-bladed knife used primarily for cutting large muscles during major amputations of limbs

  • amputation saw

    Saw used for amputation. These tend to be instruments from the past, and were in common usage from c. 1500-1940 in Europe.

  • amulet

    Small object or piece of jewellery worn as a protecting charm to ward off ill health and bad luck.

  • amulet case

    Container for housing an amulet

  • amyl nitrite

    A liquid that is used to treat heart disease by causing the blood vessels to widen.

  • anaemia

    A shortage of haemoglobin (the pigment carrying oxygen in red blood cells). Symptoms include weakness, pale skin, breathlessness, faintness, palpitations, and lowered resistance to infection.

  • anaesthetic

    An agent that causes insensitivity to pain. Applied to either the whole body (general anaesthetic) or a particular area or region (local anaesthetic).

  • anaesthetic syringe

    syringe used to administer anaesthetic particularly in dentistry

  • analgesia

    Pain-relieving drugs or medications.

  • anastomosis

    An opening created by surgical, traumatic or pathological means between two normally separate spaces or organs

  • anatomical figure

    Highly detailed models of the full human figure for artists, teachers and medical practitioners.

  • anatomical model

    A model that demonstrates the structure of the human body through the separation of its parts. Often used for teaching purposes.

  • anatomy

    A branch of medical science concerned with the structure of living organisms.

  • aneurysm

    A balloon-like swelling occurring in the wall of an artery.

  • animal experimentation

    Before researchers test drug treatments in human clinical trials, they normally test them on animals to determine if they are toxic, to find the correct dose and whether they are effective.

  • animal experiments

    The use of animals in scientific research. The process has become controversial in some countries, but is considered vital by many scientists. The British Royal Society claims that virtually every medical achievement of the twentieth century used animal testing. The British and American governments both support animal testing provided that it minimizes animal suffering.

  • anorexia nervosa

    A disease characterized by a person’s sustained refusal to eat without any identifiable digestive system disorder; it was first identified and named in 1873.

  • anthrax

    A disease found in humans and other animals. It can be transmitted to humans through contact with animal hide or excrement. In humans it attacks the lungs (causing pneumonia) or the skin (producing skin ulcers). It can be fatal, but is treatable by penicillin.

  • anthropology

    The social, cultural and geographical study of humans and humankind.

  • anthropometrical measure

    The practise of measuring different parts of the human body in the hope of using them to determine personal characteristics. The practise is no longer accepted as scientific.

  • anthropometry

    The measuring of body parts so that comparisons can be made. The aim is to measure normal and abnormal development. In the past, it has also been used in attempts to measure racial difference.

  • anthropomorphic

    From anthropomorphism, which projects human characteristics such as speech, emotion and reason on to animals or objects.

  • anti-bacterial

    A substance that destroys bacteria or slows their growth or reproduction.

  • antibiotic

    A substance that is used to treat infections.

  • antibody

    Molecules produced by the body which attach themselves to the micro-organisms that cause disease and destroy them.

  • antigen

    A substance that stimulates an immune response when introduced into the body.

  • anti-inflammatory

    A drug that reduces inflammation by working against the elements in the body that cause and maintain the inflammation.

  • anti-malarial drug

    Drugs that are taken to prevent or cure malaria. Treatments can be preventative, or as therapy to cure malarial infection.

  • anti-masturbation device

    A device worn to prevent masturbation, which was thought to be bad for one's health. Often referred to as a ‘chastity belt’.

  • antimony cup

    Cup made of antimony

  • anti-mosquito hood

    A hood used to protect the wearer from flies and mosquitoes.

  • anti-semitic

    Discrimination and prejudice against Jewish people. Its most extreme form was found in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and early 1940s with the Holocaust.

  • antisepsis

    The practice of using antiseptic drugs to eliminate harmful micro-organisms.

  • antiseptic

    A chemical that destroys or holds back the growth of bacteria and harmful micro-organisms. It can be used to cleanse skin wounds and treat some internal infections if it is sufficiently non-toxic.

  • antiseptic machine

    machine used to make the atmosphere antispetic

  • antitoxin

    An antibody, a type of protein, which is produced to counter-act any bacterial toxins present in the body. It combines with toxins (antigens) in the blood and neutralises them.

  • apothecary

    A term used until about 1800 to describe someone who prepares and sells drugs or compounds for medicinal purposes. Today the term ‘pharmacist’ or ‘pharmaceutical chemist’ is used instead.

  • apprenticeship

    An agreement where a person learns a trade from a skilled worker over a fixed period of time.

  • apron

    Garments worn over main garments for protection and sometimes ornamentation. Usually cover the front of the body and tie at the waist with strings, but may have a bib or shoulder straps. There are specialist types such as those containing lead to give radiological protection.

  • aquatint

    prints produced where resin or other substance is applied to a plate to make a porous ground, and the plate is then heated and etched, producing a range of tonal value; often combined with line work

  • aquatints

    Prints produced by the aquatint process.

  • arithmometer

    An early mechanical calculator, invented around 1820, the first to be commercially sold and distributed.

  • arm

    The limb of the human body which extends from the shoulder to the hand

  • armrest

    A support for the arm.

  • arnica

    A flower that is a member of the Daisy family. It is found in areas of the Northern Hemisphere and was used to treat bruises.

  • artemisia

    A large group of plants. Many of the individual species have been used for medicinal purposes. Dried artemisia, known as moxa, is a key element in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Recently, artemisia-based drugs have been used to treat malaria.

  • artery

    A muscular tube carrying oxygenated blood away from the heart to all parts of the body.

  • artery forceps

    forceps are a two-bladed instrument with a handle for compressing or grasping tissues in surgical operations, and for handling sterile dressings, etc. Artery forceps are for specifically grasping and compressing an artery.

  • arthritis

    Inflammation of joints; swelling, pain and decreased mobility are typical symptoms.

  • articulated

    Something that has two or more sections linked by a flexible joint.

  • artificial acetabular cup

    prosthetic used to fit artifical femurs into the pelvis

  • artificial artery

    A complete or partial replacement of the arteries using materials such as Teflon, plastic or metal.

  • artificial eye

    A curved disk of opaque glass or plastic, containing an imitation iris and pupil in the centre, inserted beneath the eyelids and supported by the orbital contents after evisceration or enucleation; it may be ready-made (stock) or custom-made

  • artificial femur

    A complete or partial replacement of the bone situated between the pelvis and knee. It is the largest and strongest bone in the body.

  • artificial heart

    A mechanical device that is implanted into the body to replace the heart. A true artificial heart is very rare, and the term is often confused with a ventricular assist device - a device that is used to partially or completely replace the function of a failing heart.

  • artificial heart valve

    A device implanted into patients who have suffered a malfunction of their heart valves. (The heart valves restrict the flow of blood to one direction.)

  • artificial hip joint

    A replacement hip joint (the area where the thigh bone joins with the pelvis). The socket is replaced with a plastic or metal cup, while a metal ball (on a stem placed inside the bone) replaces the head of the femur. This process is also known as Hip Arthroplasty.

  • artificial insemination

    When carried out under medical supervision, sperm is deposited directly onto the uterus, usually via a thin tube-like catheter. The purpose is to achieve fertilisation and thereby pregnancy without the need for sexual intercourse.

  • artificial leg

    A device, either external or implanted, that substitutes for or supplements a missing or defective part of the body.

  • artificial nose

    An artificial device to replace part or all of a missing nose.

  • artificial teeth

    Artificial replacement of one, several, or all of the natural teeth especially ones not permanently anchored in the mouth.

  • Aryan

    A term used by Nazi Germany to describe the so-called 'pure' Germanic race.

  • asbestos

    A highly heat-resistant fibrous mineral used in fabrics and to insulate materials. Asbestos has been banned since the 1980s in many countries due to severe health risks, such as cancer, associated with its inhalation.

  • aseptic

    Free from bacterial contamination; surgically sterile or sterilized.

  • asphyxia

    condition caused by the inadequate intake of oxygen. Also known as suffocation. Choking is a form of asphyxia.

  • aspirating needle

    A hollow needle used for withdrawing fluid from a cavity, when combined with an aspirator tube attached to one end.

  • aspirator

    A device for removing liquids or gases from a body cavity through suction.

  • assay cup

    A small wine cup for tasting wine prior to offering it to another person

  • asthma

    A common condition in which the airways go into spasm and become constricted. It causes wheezing, coughing and difficulty in breathing. It is often a reaction to hypersensitivity, but can also be triggered by exercise or stress.

  • astigmatism

    A condition where there is deviation in the curvature of the eye or the lens. This means that vision is distorted, as light rays cannot focus properly.

  • astringent

    A drug that causes cells to contract. Astringents are used in lotions to harden and protect the skin and to lessen the bleeding from minor abrasions. They are present in several other domestic products, such as mouthwash and deodorant.

  • astrolabe

    Instrument designed to observe the positions and measure the altitude of celestial bodies; used from the 2nd century BCE, until superseded by sextant.

  • astrology

    The study of the stars, moon, and planets, interpreted as having an affect on everyday life.

  • asylum

    A historic term for a psychiatric hospital. The term in this context was common in the 1700s and 1800s, but is no longer in use.

  • athanor

    A digesting furnace, formerly used by alchemists. It was constructed to maintain uniform and durable heat.

  • atomic force microscope

    Atomic force microscope (AFM) is a very high-resolution type of scanning probe microscope, with demonstrated resolution of fractions of an Angstrom

  • atomizer

    A vessel with mechanism to atomizes a liquid contained therein, used to deliver such material as medicines, fuel, scent, in a fine spray.

  • ausculation

    Listening to the sounds of the body such as the heart or chest either with the ear or a stethoscope to diagnose medical problems.

  • autism

    A psychiatric condition that begins in childhood. Its symptoms include difficulties forming relationships and communicating. Sometimes autism is marked with high intelligence in specific areas, but with learning difficulties in other areas. A person can suffer from different levels of autism, from minor to severe.

  • autoclave

    A machine used to sterilise instruments or materials with high pressure and heat or pressurised steam.

  • automatic lancet

    A surgical instrument of various forms, commonly sharp-pointed and double-edged, used in venesection, and in opening abscesses, etc,which uses a spring mechanism instead of human force.

  • autoradiograph

    A photograph of an object containing radioactive material. The image is created on a photo-sensitive plate by the radiation contained within the object.

  • Ayurveda

    An Indian medical tradition. Literally translated it means ‘Life Science’ and promotes mental and physical health through balancing biological elements. Ayurveda focuses on exercise, massage, yoga and meditation.

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