Glossary of medicine

This glossary of medical terms is a list of definitions about medicine, its sub-disciplines, and related fields.






Otitis externa, external otitis, or "swimmer's ear", involves the outer ear and ear canal. In external otitis, the ear hurts when touched or pulled.
Otitis media, or middle ear infection, involves the middle ear. In otitis media, the ear is infected or clogged with fluid behind the ear drum, in the normally air-filled middle-ear space. This very common childhood infection sometimes requires a surgical procedure called myringotomy and tube insertion.
Otitis interna, or labyrinthitis, involves the inner ear. The inner ear includes sensory organs for balance and hearing. When the inner ear is inflamed, vertigo is a common symptom.













  • Quadriplegia – Tetraplegia, also known as quadriplegia, is paralysis caused by illness or injury that results in the partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso; paraplegia is similar but does not affect the arms. The loss is usually sensory and motor, which means that both sensation and control are lost. The paralysis may be flaccid or spastic.







  • Waist – is the part of the abdomen between the rib cage and hips. On people with slim bodies, the waist is the narrowest part of the torso. The waistline refers to the horizontal line where the waist is narrowest, or to the general appearance of the waist.
  • Wart – Warts are typically small, rough, hard growths that are similar in color to the rest of the skin.[332][333] They typically do not result in other symptoms, except when on the bottom of the feet, where they may be painful.[333] While they usually occur on the hands and feet, they can also affect other locations.[332] One or many warts may appear.[333] They are not cancerous.[333]
  • Weber test – is a screening test for hearing performed with a tuning fork.[334][335] It can detect unilateral (one-sided) conductive hearing loss (middle ear hearing loss) and unilateral sensorineural hearing loss (inner ear hearing loss). The test is named after Ernst Heinrich Weber (1795–1878). Conductive hearing ability is mediated by the middle ear composed of the ossicles: the malleus, the incus, and the stapes. Sensorineural hearing ability is mediated by the inner ear composed of the cochlea with its internal basilar membrane and attached cochlear nerve (cranial nerve VIII). The outer ear consisting of the pinna, ear canal, and ear drum or tympanic membrane transmits sounds to the middle ear but does not contribute to the conduction or sensorineural hearing ability save for hearing transmissions limited by cerumen impaction (wax collection in the ear canal). The Weber test has had its value as a screening test questioned in the literature.[336][337]
  • Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome – (WKS) is the combined presence of Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) and alcoholic Korsakoff syndrome. Due to the close relationship between these two disorders, people with either are usually diagnosed with WKS as a single syndrome. It mainly causes vision changes, ataxia and impaired memory.[338]
  • Wernicke's area – also called Wernicke's speech area, is one of the two parts of the cerebral cortex that are linked to speech, the other being Broca's area. It is involved in the comprehension of written and spoken language, in contrast to Broca's area, which is involved in the production of language. It is traditionally thought to reside in Brodmann area 22, which is located in the superior temporal gyrus in the dominant cerebral hemisphere, which is the left hemisphere in about 95% of right-handed individuals and 60% of left-handed individuals.
  • Whiplash – is a non-medical term describing a range of injuries to the neck caused by or related to a sudden distortion of the neck[339] associated with extension,[340] although the exact injury mechanisms remain unknown. The term "whiplash" is a colloquialism. "Cervical acceleration–deceleration" (CAD) describes the mechanism of the injury, while the term "whiplash associated disorders" (WAD) describes the injury sequelae and symptoms.
  • White blood cell – White blood cells (WBCs), also called leukocytes or leucocytes, are the cells of the immune system that are involved in protecting the body against both infectious disease and foreign invaders. All white blood cells are produced and derived from multipotent cells in the bone marrow known as hematopoietic stem cells. Leukocytes are found throughout the body, including the blood and lymphatic system.[341]
  • White matter – refers to areas of the central nervous system (CNS) that are mainly made up of myelinated axons, also called tracts.[342] Long thought to be passive tissue, white matter affects learning and brain functions, modulating the distribution of action potentials, acting as a relay and coordinating communication between different brain regions.[343]
  • Working memory – is a cognitive system with a limited capacity that can hold information temporarily.[344] Working memory is important for reasoning and the guidance of decision-making and behavior.[345][346] Working memory is often used synonymously with short-term memory, but some theorists consider the two forms of memory distinct, assuming that working memory allows for the manipulation of stored information, whereas short-term memory only refers to the short-term storage of information.[345][347] Working memory is a theoretical concept central to cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, and neuroscience.
  • Wrist – In human anatomy, the wrist is variously defined as 1) the carpus or carpal bones, the complex of eight bones forming the proximal skeletal segment of the hand;[348][349] (2) the wrist joint or radiocarpal joint, the joint between the radius and the carpus[349] and; (3) the anatomical region surrounding the carpus including the distal parts of the bones of the forearm and the proximal parts of the metacarpus or five metacarpal bones and the series of joints between these bones, thus referred to as wrist joints.[350][351] This region also includes the carpal tunnel, the anatomical snuff box, bracelet lines, the flexor retinaculum, and the extensor retinaculum. As a consequence of these various definitions, fractures to the carpal bones are referred to as carpal fractures, while fractures such as distal radius fracture are often considered fractures to the wrist.


  • Xanthoma – A xanthoma (pl. xanthomas or xanthomata) (condition: xanthomatosis), from Greek ξανθός (xanthós) 'yellow', is a deposition of yellowish cholesterol-rich material that can appear anywhere in the body in various disease states.[352] They are cutaneous manifestations of lipidosis in which lipids accumulate in large foam cells within the skin.[352] They are associated with hyperlipidemias, both primary and secondary types.



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