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Stroke Care Center at the Gates Vascular Institute
Glossary of Terms

Aneurysm – A weakness in the arterial blood vessel wall causing an out-pouching.

Angiography – A procedure using X-rays to view blood vessels and look for blockages or narrowing of the vessels.

Aphasia – The partial or total loss of ability to communicate using speech or written words.

Apraxia – Lack of ability to plan motor movements when asked to do so. People with apraxia can understand the request, but are unable to move as directed.

Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) – Complex tangles or coils of arteries and veins.

Atherosclerosis – Hardening of the arteries.

Atrial fibrillation – An irregular heart rhythm.

Burr hole – A small opening in the skull made with a drill to remove localized fluid collection inside the skull.

Carotid angioplasty – A procedure in which a balloon catheter is guided through blood vessels to the carotid artery to reduce blockage and improve blood flow.

Carotid arteries – The arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.

Carotid artery stenosis – (narrowing) A major risk factor for ischemic stroke. Narrowing of the arteries is usually caused by plaque in an artery. Plaque forms when cholesterol, fat and other fatty substances build up in the inner lining of an artery.

Carotid Endarterectomy (CEA) – A surgical procedure that removes plaque from the carotid artery.

Carotid ultrasound (Doppler) – A non-invasive procedure that uses ultrasound to look at blood flow in the carotid arteries.

Clinical trial – A research study to investigate the safety and/or effectiveness of a new drug, device or treatment.

Cognition – mental processes carried out in the brain that include thinking, remembering and problem solving.

Craniectomy – The surgical removal of a portion of the skull.

Cranioplasty – The surgical repair of a skull defect or deformity.

Craniotomy – A surgical procedure that involves removing a part of the skull bone to access the brain. The bone is replaced at the end of the surgery.

Diastolic blood pressure – The lowest measure of blood pressure in arteries, occurring between heartbeats. It is the bottom number in a blood pressure measurement.

Dobbhoff feeding tube – A feeding tube that is passed through the nose into the stomach.

Dysarthia – Difficulty in speaking, caused by muscle stiffness or weakness in the throat or face.

Dysphagia – Difficulty in swallowing.

Embolus – A blood clot that forms in another part of the body and can travel to the brain.

Emotional lability – A brain condition causing sudden, uncontrollable emotional outbursts such as laughing or crying.

Endovascular – Within the blood vessels.

External Ventricular Drain (EVD) – Used to treat increased intracranial pressure by draining cerebrospinal fluid.

Hemianopsia – Ppartial loss of vision.

Hemiparesis – Weakness on one side of the body.

Hemiplegia – Paralysis affecting one side of the body.

Hemorrhagic stroke – A stroke caused by the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain.

Hyperlipidemia – High cholesterol.

Hypertension – High blood pressure.

Intracranial shunting – The placement of an alternate pathway to redirect the cerebrospinal fluid from one area to another.

Ischemic stroke – The type of stroke occurring when a blood vessel in the brain develops a clot that cuts off the blood supply to the brain.

Mobility – The ability to move.

Paralysis – The inability to move a part of the body.

Percutaneous Gastric Tube (PEG) – A feeding tube inserted into the stomach through a small abdominal incision.

Reperfusion – The restoration of blood flow to an organ after the blood flow has been cut off.

Residential health care facility – A facility that offers services including rehabilitation and long-term nursing care. Also referred to as a skilled nursing facility (SNF).

Stenting – Placement of a mesh wire device in a blood vessel to help keep it open.

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage – Bleeding into the subarachnoid space, which is between one of the three thin layers that cover the surface of the brain. Usually caused by the rupture of an aneurysm.

Systolic blood pressure – The highest measure of blood pressure in arteries, occurring when the heart contracts to push blood throughout the body. It is the top number in a blood pressure measurement.

Thrombus – A blood clot that forms in a blood vessel.

tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) – A medication used to dissolve a blockage in a blood vessel and restore blood flow.

Tracheostomy (Trach) – An opening into the trachea (windpipe) through a small incision. A tube is placed in the opening to assist in breathing.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – A “mini stroke,” occurring when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, causing symptoms for a short period of time.