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Glossary

Algo - Hearing Screening Test.

Air Leak - Caused when air tears one or more breathing sacs (alveoli) in the lungs and air leaks into spaces around the lung tissue. May also be called a pneumothorax.

Anemia - A condition marked by lower-than-normal red blood cell levels in the blood.

Antibiotics - Medications that kill bacteria or interfere with their growth. Used to treat infection.

Apnea - A pause in breathing that lasts longer than 20 seconds.

Arterial line - Tube inserted into a major artery used for administration of fluids and/or medications and sometimes for monitoring blood pressure. May also be used to withdraw blood for laboratory work.

Arterial Blood Gas (ABG) - A sampling of blood from an artery to measure its oxygen and carbon dioxide content.

Aspiration - Breathing a foreign substance such as meconium, formula or stomach contents into the lungs or withdrawal of material from the body by suctioning.

Assessment - An evaluation of a baby's general condition and anything that differs from the baby's usual status. Nursing and medical actions are based on continuous assessment of the baby's condition.

Atelectasis - The collapse of groups of alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs.

Bag and mask - A device used to assist the baby's breathing. It is kept at the bedside of each baby in the NICU.

Bilirubin (bili) - The substance released when the body breaks down red blood cells; it is converted by the liver and disposed of mainly in the stool. Too much bilirubin in the bloodstream causes jaundice, a yellow color of the skin.

Bolus feeding - A small amount of breast milk or formula given all at once to the baby through a tube into his stomach every so many hours.

Bradycardia (brady) - A decrease in the heart rate to less than 80 beats per minute. Bradycardia is often seen with apnea.

Cannula, nasal - Soft plastic tubing that wraps around a baby's face and has openings under the baby's nose. Used to deliver humidified oxygen.

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) - Pressurized air, sometimes given with additional oxygen that is delivered to the baby's lungs to keep them expanded as the baby breathes.

Carbon dioxide - A waste product of the body that is carried by the blood to the lungs where it is exhaled.

Catheter - A small tube used to put fluid into the baby's body or to remove fluids from the body.

Central line - An intravenous tube that is threaded through a large vein until it reaches a position near the heart.

Color - The look of the skin. Normal color of the mucous membranes (inner lips, tongue and gums) is pink. A pale, dusky (bluish pink) or blue color of the mucous membranes or a yellowish skin color may indicate medical problems.

Corrected age - The number of weeks since the baby's birth added to the actual length of pregnancy.

Developmental Delay - A slowness in mastering motor coordination skills (such as lifting the head, rolling over, or sitting) and behavioral skills (such as self-calming).

Echocardiogram (echo) - An ultrasound picture of the heart.

Endotracheal tube (ET tube) - A thin plastic tube inserted into the baby's windpipe through the mouth or nose to allow delivery of air and/or oxygen to the lungs. Because the ET tube passes between the vocal cords, you will not be able to hear your baby cry.

Esophagus - The tube extending from the mouth to the stomach that carries food to the stomach.

Extubation - The removal of the endotracheal tube. The ventilator is no longer needed to help the baby breathe.

Fontanel - The "soft spot" on the top of the baby's head.

Tube feeding - Feedings given through a small tube passed through the nose or mouth into the stomach.

Gestational age - A baby's age expressed in weeks. It is counted from the first day of the mother's last menstrual period, expressed in weeks.

Heel stick - The procedure of pricking the baby's heel to obtain small amounts of blood for testing.

Hematocrit (hct or "crit") - The percentage of red blood cells in the blood.

Hyperalimentation - See Total Parenteral Nutrition.

Hypoglycemia - Low blood sugar.

I and O - Intake and output.

Intralipid (IL) - A white solution of fats that may be given to a baby intravenously along with hyperalimentation (TPN).

Intravenous (IV) - A catheter or a needle placed into a vein to allow the infusion of fluids into the bloodstream.

Intubated - A term to describe a baby who requires an endotracheal tube (ET tube) and ventilator for assistance with breathing.

Jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia) - The yellow color of the baby's skin and whites of the eyes caused by excessive bilirubin levels or abnormal liver function.

Kilogram (kg) - Unit of weight of the metric system that equals 1000 grams or 2.2 pounds.

Meconium (mec) - Greenish-black material present in the baby's intestinal tract before birth and usually passed during the first days after birth.

Mucus - Fluid found in the nose and windpipe.

Murmur - Sound made by blood flow through the heart or blood vessels.

NPO - The abbreviation meaning "nothing by mouth."

Neonate - A baby during the first month of life.

Nippling - Sucking on a bottle filled with fluid.

Oxygen (O2) - The gas that makes up 21% of the atmosphere. It is essential in sustaining life. The amount of oxygen delivered to a baby can be controlled from 21% - 100%.

Oximeter (oxi, oxi sat, or sat) - A monitor which measures the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream through a little sensor attached to a hand or foot.

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) or Hyaline Membrane Disease (HMD) - Respiratory distress that affects premature babies. It is caused by the lack of surfactant, the substance that keeps the lungs' air sacs (alveoli) from collapsing.

Retraction - An abnormal sucking in of the chest or ribs during breathing indicating that increased efforts are being made to breathe.

Room air - The air we normally breathe that contains 21% oxygen.

Saturation (sat) - Percent of oxygen content of the blood.

Suctioning - A baby who is on the ventilator cannot cough up the mucus that accumulates in his lungs. A suctioning catheter is quickly inserted into the endotracheal (ET) tube in the baby's windpipe to vacuum out any secretions. Mucus in the nose and mouth can also be removed with a bulb syringe.

Surfactant - A substance in the lungs that helps keep the small air sacs from collapsing and sticking together. An artificial surfactant can be given to babies at birth or during the first few days of life.

Swaddle - To wrap a baby snuggly in a blanket.

Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN, hyperalimentation) - Intravenous administration of liquid solution that provides the baby with calories, vitamins and minerals.

Ultrasound - Technique in which sound waves produce a picture of body tissues (e.g., cranial ultrasound, abdominal ultrasound).

Umbilical Artery Catheter (UAC) - A thin flexible tube (a catheter) inserted into one of the two arteries (blood vessels) in the umbilical cord. Can be used to give the baby fluids and medications, to remove blood for testing and to monitor blood pressure.

Umbilical Venous Catheter (UVC) - A thin, flexible tube (a catheter) inserted into a vein in the umbilical cord. Can be used to give the baby fluids and medications and to remove blood for testing.

© Children's Hospital & Medical Center | In Affiliation with University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine