Glossary of Terms

Like any medical specialty, there are terminlogy and concepts associated with wound care, and we know it can be overwhelming. We feel an educated patient is best prepared for healing, and we want our patients to be well informed. Here is a glossary of terms to help you better navigate and understand the information on our webpage.

Acute arterial insufficiency: of or relating to an artery; inability of the arteries (carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body) to function properly. †

Advanced dressings: a covering for a wound or lesion that is medically innovative.

Amputation: to cut off. An amputation refers to the removal of a limb when part of that limb is infected, such as cutting off a leg so that an infection of the foot does not spread.


Bacterium: any of a domain of prokaryotic round, spiral, or rod-shaped single-celled microorganisms that are often aggregated  onto colonies or motile by means of flagella, that live in soil, water, organic matter, or the bodies of plants and animals, and that are usually autotrophic saprophytic, or parasitic in nutrition, and that are noted for their biochemical effects and pathogenicity. †

Bacteriophage: a virus that infects bacteria. †

Bioengineered: a biological or medical application of engineering principles or engineering equipment. †

Biofilm: a thin, resistant layer of microorganisms (as bacteria) that form on and coat various surfaces. †

Cell: a small usually microscopic mass of protoplasm bounded externally by a semi-permeable membrane, usually including one or more nuclei and various non-living products, capable alone or interacting with other cells of performing all the fundamental functions of life, and forming the smallest structural unit of living matter capable of functioning independently. †

Chronic: marked by long duration, by frequent recurrence over a long time, and often by slowly progressing seriousness. †

Comorbidity: a condition existing simultaneously with and independently of another medical condition. †

Compression [Therapy]: the act, process, or result of pressing or squeezing together, especially when involving a compressing force on a body part. †

Decubitis Ulcer: a bedsore. †

Debridement: the [usually] surgical removal of lacerated, devitalized, or contaminated. †

Diabetic Foot Ulcer: a break in the skin or mucous membrane of the foot with loss of surface tissue, disintegration, and necrosis of epithelial tissue that is difficult to heal due to diabetes. †

Doppler Effect [Technology]: a change in the frequency with which waves (as sound and light) from a given source reach an observer when the source and the observer are in motion with respect to each other so that the frequency increases or decreases according to the speed at which distance is decreasing or increasing. †

Dressing: a covering applied to a lesion. †

Electromyography/Nerve Conduction Study: an instrument that converts the electrical activity associated with functioning skeletal muscle into a visual recording or into sound and has been used to diagnose neuromuscular disorders and in biofeedback training. †

Gauze: a loosely woven cotton surgical dressing. †

Gram stain: a method for the differential staining of bacteria by treatment with a watery solution of iodine and the iodide of potassium after staining with a triphenylmethane dye. †

Gram-negative: not holding the purple dye when stained by Grams stain. †

Gram-positive: holding the purple dye when stained by Grams stain. †

Homologous: having the same relative position, value, or structure. †

Host cell: a living cell invaded by or capable of being invaded by an infectious agent.

Hyperbaric Oxygen (HBO): of, relating to, or utilizing a pressure of oxygen greater than normal. †

Hypertension: abnormally high arterial blood pressure that is usually indicated by an adult systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or greater, is chiefly of unknown cause but may be attributed to preexisting condition (as renal or endocrine disorder) and that is a risk factor for various pathological conditions or events (as heart attack or stoke). †

Infection: a disease or condition caused by a germ or parasite. §

Intramuscular Antibiotics: antibiotic medication administered by entering the muscle. †

Intravenous Antibiotics: antibiotic medication administered by entering the vein. †

Lactoferrin: a red iron-binding protein synthesized by neutrophils and glandular epithelial cells, found in many human secretions (as tears and milk), and retarding bacterial and fungal growth. †

Membrane: a thin soft pliable sheet or layer especially of animal or plant origin. †

Molecular Diagnostics: using molecules (the smallest particle of a substance that retains all the properties of the substance and is composed of one or more atoms) to diagnose a condition. †

Multicellular: having or consisting of many cells. †

Necrosis: death of living tissue. †

Necrotizing fasciitis: a severe soft tissue infection typically by a Group A streptococci or by a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria that is marked by edema and necrosis of subcutaneous tissue with involvement of the fascia and wide-spread undermining of adjacent tissue, by painful red swollen skin over effected areas, and by polymorphonuclear leukocytosis. †

Non-healing Surgical Wounds: a physical injury to the body consisting of laceration or breaking of the skin or mucous membrane often with damage to underlying tissue inflicted during surgery that does not heal in a timely manner. †

Non-Invasive: not tending to infiltrate and destroy healthy tissue. †

Phenotype: the observable properties of an organism that are produced by the interaction of the genotype and the environment. †

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): an in vitro technique for rapidly synthesizing large quantities of a given DNA segment that involves separating the DNA into its two complementary strands, binding a primer to each single strand at the end of the given DNA segment where synthesis will start, using DNA polymerase to synthesize two-stranded DNA from each single strand, and repeating the process. †

Pyoderma gangrenosum: a chronic noninfectious condition that is marked by the formation of purplish nodules and pustules which tend to coalesce and form ulcers and that is associated with various underlying systemic or malignant diseases (as ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, or leukemia). †

Osteoradionecrosis: necrosis of bone following irradiation. †

Radionecrosis: ulceration or destruction of tissue resulting from irradiation. †

Tissue: a mass or layer of soft cell forming a basic structural material of humans, animals, and plants. §

Traumatic wounds: an injury to living tissue caused by an extrinsic (external) agent. †

Ulcer: a break in the skin or mucous membrane with loss of surface tissue, disintegration, and necrosis of epithelial tissue, and often pus. †

Vascular:  relating to the blood vessels of the body; of, relating to, constituting, or affecting a tube or a system of tubes for the conveyance of body fluid (blood or lymph). †

Venous Insufficiency [Chronic]: relating to the veins of the body; inability of the veins (carry blood from the capillaries to the heart) of the legs to return blood to the heart that is chiefly due to absence of or damage to venous valves (as from deep vein thrombosis or phlebitis) resulting in the pooling of blood in the lower legs and that is marked by edema, pain, reddened or discolored skin, varicose veins, eczema, and ulceration of the legs. †

Venous Leg Ulcers: a break in the skin or mucous membrane with loss of surface tissue, disintegration, and necrosis of epithelial tissue that is difficult to heal because of damaged veins in the leg. †

Wound: a physical injury to the body consisting of laceration or breaking of the skin or mucous membrane often with damage to underlying tissue. †

† Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary

§ Webster’s Dictionary