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Glossary of Terms

Adenoma
is a benign type of mass, or tumor. That is to say that it is not cancerous. These can occur in many organs including the thyroid, parathyoid, pancreas, and adrenal glands.

Adrenal Cancer
is a malignant, or cancerous, growth of the adrenal gland. It is rare and difficult to cure.

Adrenalectomy
is the surgical removal of the adrenal gland. The extent of the removal dictates the terminology of the operation such as:

  • Anterior Adrenalectomy is an adrenalectomy performed through a single abdominal incision.
  • Laparoscopic Adrenalectomy is an adrenalectomy performed through multiple (4 or 5) small abdominal and flank incisions with the help of long instruments and a surgical telescope to remove the gland with potentially less pain and a shorter recovery.
  • Posterior Adrenalectomy is an adrenalectomy performed through an incision in the back.

Adrenal Glands
are glands located on top of each of the 2 kidneys. They secrete many important hormones such as cortisol, aldosterone, sex hormones, and adrenaline.

Adrenocortical Carcinoma
is another term for Adrenal Cancer.

Autotransplantation
is a process of reimplanting your own tissue into a different site in your body. This is sometimes done with parathyroid glands if their blood supply is not adequate after an operation.

Calcium
is an electrolyte or a chemical element of your blood. It is important for many bodily functions involving muscles and nerves but is also a major component of bone structure.

Carcinoid Tumors
are rare tumors that can occur throughout the digestive tract or in the bronchial tree (air passages of the lung). Depending on the location and extent, these tumors may be associated with a syndrome of flushing and diarrhea.

Carcinoma
is the pathological term for a type of cancer.

Conn's Syndrome
is primary hyperaldosteronism or adrenal overproduction of a hormone called aldosterone. This may cause high blood pressure and a low blood potassium level.

Cushing's Syndrome
refers to any condition with elevated glucocorticoid levels (a type of steroid hormone). This can be related to many factors including drug administration, pituitary gland tumors, or adrenal tumors.

Endocrine Surgery
is the type of surgery which specializes in the surgical treatment of endocrine diseases - those diseases affecting the endocrine glands of the body.

Endocrinology
is the study of the endocrine organs. These are a group of glands in the body that manufacture and secrete hormones.

Gastrinoma
refers to a tumor that secretes the hormone gastrin. Elevated levels of gastrin can cause severe ulcer disease and diarrhea.

Goiter
is a general term that means enlargement of the thyroid gland.

Graves' Disease
is a type of autoimmune disease that can cause enlargement of the thyroid gland (a goiter) and overproduction of thyroid hormones (hyperthyroidism). This disease may even affect the eyes and cause a bulging apearance as well as vision problems.

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
is another type of autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland. It may cause enlargement (a goiter) and although it occasionally may cause temporary overactivity of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism), it usually causes permanent underactivity (hypothyroidism) and may require treatment with thyroid hormone medication.

Hormones
are small substances secreted by glands such as the thyroid, parathyroids, pancreas, and adrenals which are able to act on tissues elsewhere in the body to cause a specific response.

Hyperaldosteronism
see Conn's syndrome above.

Hypercalcemia
is elevation of your blood calcium level. It may have many causes, but one of the more common ones is primary hyperparathyroidism, or overactivity of the parathyroid gland(s).

Hyperparathyroidism
refers to overactivity and growth of the parathyroid gland or glands. In the most common form, this is accompanied by hypercalcemia and may cause or worsen many problems including kidney stones, depression, ulcer disease, pancreatitis, fatigue, constipation, osteoporosis,or joint pains.

Hyperthyroidism
is the overproduction of thyroid hormones.

Hypothyroidism
is underproduction or ineffectiveness of thyroid hormones.

Insulinoma
is a type of tumor of the endocrine cells of the pancreas that makes insulin and can cause severe hypoglycemic attacks (low blood sugar).

Pancreas
is an important gland located deep within the abdomen. It makes substances that help with digestion of food but also makes multiple hormones such as insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, and others.

Pancreatectomy
is an operation to remove a portion of the pancreas done for a tumor or for severe dysfunction.

Parathyroid Glands
are small glands behind the thyroid (usually numbering 4) which secrete a hormone responsible for maintaining the balance of calcium in the body.

Parathyroidectomy
is an operation to remove a parathyroid gland. This is usually done for hyperparathyroidism. Some types of this disease may require removal of more than one parathyroid gland.

Minimally-Invasive Radioguided Parathyroidectomy
is a type of parathyroidectomy where a very small incision is made to find and remove a single parathyroid gland causing the hyperparathyroidism. Finding the gland is facilitated by use of a radioisotope (that concentrates in the parathyroid gland) and a radiation detecting instrument.

Pheochromocytoma is a type of tumor, usually in the adrenal gland, which may overproduce catecholamines (substances such as adrenaline) which can cause severe high blood pressure, heart problems and headaches.

Thyroid Cancer
is a malignant growth in from the thyroid gland. These may be of many types including papillary, follicular, Hurthle cell (a.k.a. oxyphilic or oncocytic), or medullary cancers. Surgery plays an important role in treating these cancers. Some of these cancers can also be detected and treated with radioactive iodine compounds following surgery.

Thyroidectomy
is the surgical removal of thyroid tissue. The extent of the removal dictates the terminology of the operation such as:

  • Hemithyroidectomy or Lobectomy is the removal of about half of the thyroid
  • Subtotal thyroidectomy is removal of less than the entire thyroid gland.
  • Total Thyroidectomy is complete removal of the thyroid gland.

Thyroid Gland
is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front portion of the neck. It processes iodine to make thyroid hormones which regulate the body's overall metabolism.


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