Intensive Care Nursery Glossary

Here are a number of common terms used in the Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

As and Bs -- Short for apnea and bradycardia.

Acidosis -- Condition in which there is too much acid in the bloodstream.

Anemia -- A state in which there are not enough red blood cells in the body.

Antibiotics -- Drugs used to kill or slow the growth of bacteria that cause infections.

Apnea -- A pause in breathing, lasting more than 15 to 20 seconds, that is associated with the baby's color changing to pale, purplish or blue and often associated with bradycardia.

Artery -- A blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Aspiration -- Inhaling of material -- such as formula, meconium, or stomach contents -- into the windpipe and lungs.

Bilirubin (Bili) -- A pigment in blood cells that causes jaundice.

Blood Gas -- A test that measures the level of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the baby's blood.

Bradycardia -- A heart rate less than 100, slower than normal for an infant.

Calcium -- A chemical element necessary for the normal function of the heart, nerves and bones. Sick babies may need additional calcium.

Cardiac -- Relating to the heart.

Cardiology -- Medical specialty dealing with the heart and circulatory system.

Catheter -- Plastic tube used for giving or removing fluids from the baby.

CBC -- Complete blood count, a test conducted to detect infection, anemia or other conditions.

Central Line -- Special intravenous (IV) line placed in a large vein that goes to the heart. Can be used to give high levels of nutrition.

Chemstrip -- A blood test to determine blood sugar level.

Chest Tube -- Small plastic tube inserted in the chest to withdraw air or fluids that have escaped from the lungs into the chest cavity. The chest tube may be connected to suction equipment.

Chronic Lung Disease -- Changes in the lungs that have occurred due to long term mechanical ventilation of the premature or ill infant.

Colostomy -- Surgical opening of a small part of the intestine brought to the surface of the abdomen. It is performed when there is an obstruction or disease of the intestine.

Congenital -- Present at birth.

Congestive Heart Failure - Condition that results when the heart cannot pump strongly enough.

CPAP -- Continuous positive airway pressure provided by a ventilator to keep lungs from collapsing.

Culture -- Test of blood, urine, spinal fluid and tracheal secretions to check for infection.

Cyanosis -- Bluish coloration of the skin and lips due to low oxygen in the blood.

Diaphragm -- Muscle in the body that separates chest cavity from abdominal cavity.

Diaphragmatic Hernia -- A defect or hole in the diaphragm that allows the abdominal contents to move into the chest cavity.

ECMO -- Extracorporeal membraneous oxygenation, a procedure used to treat infants with a variety of conditions such as sepsis, pneumonia, diaphragmatic hernia and meconium aspiration.

Edema -- Presence of abnormally large amounts of fluid in the tissues of the body.

Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) -- A record of the electric current produced by the heart muscle to evaluate the heart's structure and function.

Electrolytes -- Elements in the blood, such as potassium and sodium, needed for the body to work well.

Endotracheal Tube (ETT) -- Tube that goes through the mouth into the windpipe so a ventilator can provide breathing support.

Gavage -- Method of feeding a baby through a small tube inserted through the mouth or nose into the stomach.

Gestational Age -- Length of time from conception until the baby is delivered. The average gestational age is 40 weeks.

Glucose -- Sugar that is the main source of energy for the human body.

Gram -- Basic unit of weight in the metric system. There are 28 grams in an ounce. Babies are weighed in grams in the nursery.

Heel Stick -- Used to obtain blood samples by pricking the heel of the baby.

Hematocrit -- Test used to measure the percentage of red blood cells in the blood.

Hydrocephalus -- Excess fluid in the brain.

Hyperalimentation (TPN) -- Administration of intravenous (IV) fluid with nutrients for babies who cannot be fed.

Hypogylcemia -- Blood sugar level below normal.

Hypotension -- Abnormally low blood pressure.

Hypoxia -- Oxygen level below normal.

Ileostomy -- Creation of a surgical opening through the abdominal wall into the ileum or small intestine. Fecal matter drains through this opening into a bag on the abdomen.

Intravenous (IV) -- Introduction of fluid into a vein through a catheter.

Isolette -- An incubator.

Jaundice -- Yellow color of the skin due to an excess of bilirubin in the body.

Kilo (Kilogram) -- Unit of weight in the metric system. One kilo is equal to 2.2 pounds and 1,000 grams is equal to 1 kilo.

Lumbar Puncture -- A small needle inserted into the spinal canal to obtain a sample of spinal fluid for testing.

Lytes -- Short for electolytes.

Meconium -- Dark green material in the intestines at birth, which is the first stool a baby passes.

Meningitis -- Infection of the membranes of the spinal cord or brain, caused by bacteria, viruses or other organisms that reach the membranes by blood or trauma.

Milligram -- Unit of weight in the metric system used to measure some drug doses. There are 1,000 milligrams in 1 gram.

Monitor -- Electronic equipment used to continuously monitor the heart rate, respirations and blood pressure of the baby.

Murmur -- Abnormal sound made by the heart or in the major blood vessels that may or may not be a problem.

Nasal CPAP -- Nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines deliver air through specially designed nasal prongs. The machine does not breathe for the baby but the flow of air creates enough pressure to keep the airway open.

Neonatologist -- Medical specialty dealing with the care of ill newborns.

NPO -- Stands for "nil per os," Latin for nothing by mouth, meaning the baby is not allowed to eat or drink anything by mouth.

PDA -- Patent ductus arteriosis or the failure of a blood vessel called the ductus arteriosis to close after birth. This vessel, which is important in fetal life, normally closes shortly after birth.

PDA Ligation -- Surgical closure of the ductus arteriosis.

PCO2 -- Measure of carbon dioxide in the blood.

Phototherapy -- Fluorescent lights placed over the baby's isolette to help with the breakdown of bilirubin to decrease jaundice.

Pneumonia -- Inflammation of the lungs cause by infection or aspiration.

Pneumothorax -- Condition in which air escapes from the lungs into the chest cavity and compresses the lungs.

PO2 -- Measure of oxygen in the blood.

Polycythemia -- Too many red blood cells in the blood.

Potassium -- One of the body's electrolytes.

Premature -- Infant born earlier than 37 weeks gestation.

Pulmonary Artery -- Large blood vessel that carries unoxygenated blood from the heart to the lungs.

Pulmonary Hypertension-- Increased blood pressure to the lungs that makes it difficult for the lungs and heart to provide enough oxygen to the body.

Red Blood Cells -- Cells in the blood that contain hemoglobin and carry oxygen.

Residual -- Amount of formula remaining in the baby's stomach after a reasonable amount of time.

Respirator -- A machine, sometimes called a ventilator, that helps the baby breathe when he or she is too sick, weak or small to breathe. The respirator helps prevent the lungs from collapsing.

Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS) -- Illness most commonly seen in preemies when the tiny air sacs in the lungs collapse when the baby exhales. It is caused by a lack of lung surfactant.

Retracting -- When an infant breathes hard and tugs in at the chest.

Room Air -- Normal air we breathe, containing 21 percent oxygen.

Rounds -- When doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel gather to discuss the care of the infants in the nursery.

Sepsis -- Infection.

Sodium -- One of the body's electrolytes

Spaghetti Line -- Sometimes called a PICC line or a peripherally inserted central catheter. A very thin intravenous (IV) central line, usually placed in the arm or leg.

Stool -- Feces from bowel movement.

Suction -- Use of a small tube attached to a vacuum that aids in removing mucous from the nose, mouth or endotracheal tube.

Surfactant -- Fluid in the lungs that helps to keep them open and expanded.

Term Infant -- Infant born at 38 to 42 weeks gestation.

Trachea -- Windpipe.

Tracheostomy -- Small opening in the lower part of the trachea and neck that allows a tube to be passed so an obstruction can be overcome.

Umbilical Artery Catheter -- Small plastic tube or catheter inserted into one of the arteries so blood can be taken from the baby and intravenous (IV) fluid and medications can be given to the baby.

Urinalysis -- Laboratory examination of urine.

Vein -- Blood vessel that carries unoxygenated blood from the body back to the heart.

Ventilator -- See respirator.

Work-up (Septic) -- A series of tests to identify the organism causing infection in the baby. It is done before starting the baby on antibiotics. The tests may include a complete blood count, blood and urine cultures and a lumbar puncture.

 

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Intensive Care Nursery
1975 Fourth St., Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-1565
Fax: (415) 353-1202

Condition Information