Glossary: V

vacuum aspiration

procedure in which a suction tube attached to a vacuum pump is inserted through the vagina into the uterus to loosen and remove its contents.

vacuum extraction

procedure used to ease delivery by applying a metal or plastic cup to the baby's scalp and using suction to pull the baby gradually out of the vagina.

vagina

the part of the female genitals, behind the bladder and in front of the rectum, that forms a canal extending from the uterus to the vulva.

vaginal atrophy

often a symptom of menopause; the drying and thinning of the tissues of the vagina and urethra. This can lead to dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse) as well as vaginitis, cystitis, and urinary tract infections.

vaginal hysterectomy

the uterus is removed through the vaginal opening.

vaginitis

inflammation, redness, or swelling of the vaginal tissues; usually resulting from a bacterial infection.

vaginitis, atrophic

a form of noninfectious vaginitis which usually results from a decrease in hormones because of menopause, surgical removal of the ovaries, radiation therapy, or even after childbirth.

vaginitis, bacterial

very common vaginal infection characterized by symptoms such as increased vaginal discharge or itching, burning, or redness in the genital area.

vaginitis, noninfectious

a type of vaginitis that usually refers to vaginal irritation without an infection being present. Most often, the infection is caused by an allergic reaction to, or irritation from, vaginal sprays, douches, or spermicidal products. It may also be caused by sensitivity to perfumed soaps, detergents, or fabric softeners.

vaginitis, viral

very common vaginal infection, often sexually transmitted, that is caused by one of many different types of viruses (i.e., herpes simplex virus, human papillomavirus).

vagotomy

operation to cut the vagus nerve, which causes the stomach to produce less acid.

vagus nerve

nerve that, in addition to other important functions, controls the production of stomach acid.

valgus deformity

a lateral inclination of a distal bone of a joint from the midline.

valve

fold in the lining of an organ that prevents fluid from flowing backward.

valvuloplasty

the repair of a heart valve using a balloon catheter inside the valve.

varices

stretched veins, such as those that form in the esophagus from cirrhosis.

varicose veins

twisted, widened veins caused by swollen or enlarged blood vessels. The blood vessels have enlarged due a weakening in the vein's wall or valves.

varus deformity

a medial inclination of a distal bone of a joint from the midline.

vas deferens

the tubes leading to the testes.

vascular

pertaining to blood vessels.

vasculitis

inflamed blood vessels.

vasectomy

a surgical procedure performed to make a man sterile, or unable to father a child. It is a permanent male birth control measure, and a means of contraception used in many parts of the world.

vasopressors

a medication that raises blood pressure.

vasodilator

a medication that dilates or widens the opening in a blood vessel.

vein

a blood vessel that carries blood from the body back into the heart.

velocardiofacial syndrome

inherited disorder characterized by cleft palate, heart defects, characteristic facial appearance, minor learning problems, and speech and feeding problems.

venipuncture

drawing blood with a needle from a vein usually in the forearm.

ventricle

one of the two lower chambers of the heart.

ventricular fibrillation

a condition in which the ventricles contract in rapid and unsynchronized rhythms and cannot pump blood into the body.

vernix caseosa (also called vernix)

a white substance that covers the skin of the fetus (while inside the uterus) and helps to protect the fetus.

vertebrae

bony structures that surround the spinal cord; also called the "back bone."

vertigo

dizziness.

vesicoureteral reflux (VUR)

the abnormal flow of urine from the bladder back into the ureters; often as a result of a urinary tract infection or birth defect.

vestibular neuronitis

infection at the vestibular nerve.

vestibular system

system in the body that is responsible for maintaining the body's orientation in space, balance, and posture; also regulates locomotion and other movements and keeps objects in visual focus as the body moves.

vestibule

bony cavity of the inner ear.

vibrotactile aids

mechanical instruments that help individuals who are deaf detect and interpret sound through the sense of touch.

villi

tiny, fingerlike projections on the surface of the small intestine that help absorb nutrients.

viral hemorrhagic fevers

a term that refers to a group of illnesses caused by several distinct families of viruses. While some of these cause illnesses that are relatively mild, many cause severe, life-threatening diseases with no known cure, such as the Ebola virus.

visual acuity

the space visible to an eye in a given position of gaze.

vitiligo

smooth, white patches in the skin caused by the loss of pigment-producing cells.

vitrectomy

an operation to remove the blood that sometimes collects at the back of the eyes when a person has eye disease.

vitreous body

a clear, jelly-like substance that fills the center of the eye.

vocal cord paralysis

inability of one or both vocal folds (vocal cords) to move because of damage to the brain or nerves.

vocal cords (vocal folds)

muscularized folds of mucous membrane that extend from the larynx (voice box) wall; enclosed in elastic vocal ligament and muscle that control the tension and rate of vibration of the cords as air passes through them.

vocal tremor

trembling or shaking of one or more of the muscles of the larynx resulting in an unsteady-sounding voice.

voice

sound produced by air passing out through the larynx and upper respiratory tract.

voice disorders

group of problems involving abnormal pitch, loudness, or quality of the sound produced by the larynx (voice box).

volvulus

twisting of the stomach or large intestine.

vomiting

the release of stomach contents through the mouth; also known as throwing-up.

vulva

external, visible part of the female genital area.

vulvitis

an inflammation of the vulva, the soft folds of skin outside the vagina. This is not a condition but rather a symptom that results from a host of diseases, infections, injuries, allergies, and other irritants.

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