House, M.D./Diseases, Disorders, Infections, Symptoms and Syndromes

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Definitions in the House, M.D. Medical Dictionary for illnesses of all kinds, the viruses and bacteria which cause them, and physical and psychological problems which may result from such illnesses and infectious agents.

Contents: Top - 0–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A collection of pus formed by the body to protect against infection from foreign objects. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity and 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
absence seizure
A small seizure in which the patient stares off into space or twitches slightly. (Appears in 1x19 - Kids.)
A genus of fungi, some species of which - including Absidia corymbifera - may cause gastrointestinal disorders in humans. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor.)
acquired immune deficiency syndrome
(Also AIDS.) A disorder of the immune system caused by an infection of the HIV virus. It can be passed through fluid exchanges, including sexual activity and drug usage. (Appears in 1x17 - Role Model.)
Addison's disease
A rare disease caused by failure of the adrenal glands. It can cause chronic fatigue, weight loss, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea and low blood pressure. (Appears in 1x12 - Sports Medicine and 1x17 - Role Model.)
Benign tumors. (Appears in 1x21 - Three Stories.)
See lymphadenopathy.
Viruses of the family Adenoviridae, types of which may cause various infections in humans and animals. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
African sleeping sickness
See sleeping sickness.
African trypanosomiasis
See sleeping sickness.
See acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
See porphyria.
The brain's inability to percept motion, or whereby deficiency in detecting motion occurs. (Appears in 3x07 - Son of a Coma Guy.)
See amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Alzheimer's disease
A degenerative nervous system disease most common in elderly patients, best known for causing memory loss, which advances to loss of all recent memories and relative preservation of older memories. (Appears in 1x14 - Control and 1x22 - Honeymoon.)
A neurological condition which affects or causes the loss of memory. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
A disease in which misshapen proteins appear in the body and replicate themselves. (Appears in 1x12 - Sports Medicine.)
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
(Also ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease.) A disease of the nervous system in which the motor neurons - brain cells which control the muscles - degenerate or die. This causes paralysis and the gradual failure of all the voluntary motions of the body, including respiration. It is invariably fatal and untreatable. (Appears in 1x09 - DNR.)
anaphylactic shock
See anaphylaxis.
A severe systemic allergic reaction. It can cause the body to go into anaphylactic shock, which constricts oxygen to the brain and can be extremely dangerous if not treated immediately. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do.)
A general term for a deficiency of red blood cells and/or the iron-containing protein hemoglobin in the blood stream. The type known as aplastic anemia occurs when the bone marrow fails to produce enough new blood cells to replace the old ones. The type called hemolytic anemia, on the other hand, is characterized by a breakdown of red blood cells. (Appears in 1x07 - Fidelity, 1x10 - Histories and 1x11 - Detox.)
A swelling and ballooning out of the walls of blood vessels, especially arteries. The ballooning makes the walls of the blood vessels very thin and more susceptible to rupture or blood clots, which can travel through the bloodstream and suffocate healthy tissue. The most common areas in the body where aneurysms may form are at the base of the brain or in the aorta. (Appears in 1x01 - Pilot, 1x06 - The Socratic Method, 1x20 - Love Hurts and 1x21 - Three Stories.)
An infection caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis, which can be spread through infected animal tissues, although it is not known to spread by exposure to infected humans. It can lead to respiratory failure, vomiting blood, diarrhea and characteristic black, non-painful lesions on the skin. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
aplastic anemia
See anemia.
An inflammation of the appendix, often necessitating its removal. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method.)
See cardiac arrhythmia.
arteriovenous malformation
A disease in which the arteries and veins form without capillaries, causing extreme fragility of the affected blood vessels. If treated, they can be closed off, and patients may recover. (Appears in 1x09 - DNR.)
The name for a set of diseases which damage the bone joints. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor.)
A relatively common chronic inflammation of the respiratory system. Attacks can be triggered by a number of causes, including allergic reactions, exposure to cigarette smoke and exercise, and they can make breathing very difficult. As many as 25% of all urban children suffer from asthma. It can be treated with a variety of medications and preventions. (Appears in 1x01 - Pilot and 1x05 - Damned If You Do.)
atherosclerotic vascular disease
A disease in which plaque builds up within the arteries, causing hardening or stiffening of the vessel wall. (Appears in 1x14 - Control.)
athlete's foot
A fungal infection causing scaling and flaking of the skin, usually between the toes. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method.)
See human T-lymphotropic virus.
See arteriovenous malformation.


A general term for any bacterial infection in the blood. (Appears in 1x14 - Control.)
Berger's disease
See IgA nephropathy.
A disease caused by an infection by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The bacteria releases the nerve toxin botulin, the most potent toxin known to man, which can cause paralysis. Roughly a quarter of all known cases are caused by food contamination, usually through improper canning methods. (Appears in 1x08 - Poison.)
A heartrate of under 60 beats per minute. Although this is considered normal under certain circumstances, it may also be a sign of heart disease. (Appears in 1x08 - Poison and 1x22 - Honeymoon.)
Medical terminology for the distinctive sound the blood makes as it flows past an obstruction in the artery, as heard through a stethoscope. (Appears in 1x20 - Love Hurts.)
An eating disorder and psychological condition characterized by binge eating followed immediately by an expulsion of the food, either by induced vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics or excessive exercising. (Appears in 1x14 - Control.)


Cacchi-Ricci disease
A rare disease in which the kidneys fill with pools of urine. (Appears in 1x10 - Histories.)
A type of tumor which appears in the lungs and digestive tract. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor and 1x05 - Damned If You Do.)
cardiac arrhythmia
(Also arrhythmia.) An irregular (too fast or too slow) heartbeat. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor, 1x05 - Damned If You Do, 1x07 - Fidelity and 1x10 - Histories.)
cardiac embolus
See embolism.
The deterioration of the wall of the heart. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor and 1x14 - Control.)
carpal tunnel syndrome
A medical condition in which the main nerve running down the arm is pinched at the wrist, causing pain and numbness in the hand. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
Increases in the opacity of the lenses of the eyes. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method.)
An inflammation of the connective tissue beneath the skin, usually the result of a bacterial infection in a cut or other wound. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do.)
Chagas disease
A parasitic infection caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, passed on by insect bites. It is found in Latin America - particularly tropical South America. (Appears in 1x07 - Fidelity.)
A sexually transmitted disease caused by an infection of the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It may cause painful urination, pneumonia, bleeding or discharge from the genitals, fever, painful intercourse, and may eventually lead to blindness, sterility or miscarriage. (Appears in 1x08 - Poison and 1x13 - Cursed.)
chronic fatigue syndrome
A recently discovered disease of the central nervous and immune systems which is characterized by far more than fatigue - a tired feeling which is not relieved by rest. Other symptoms may include pain, weakness, digestive disturbances, depression, and heart or lung disorders. (Appears in 1x01 - Pilot.)
Churg-Strauss vasculitis
See vasculitis.
A chronic disease of the liver in which it becomes overgrown with scar tissue (connective tissue), usually the result of alcoholism or other liver diseases. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method.)
clap, the
A slang term for the sexually transmitted diseases gonnorhea and chlamydia. (Appears in 1x21 - Three Stories.)
See cytomegalovirus.
common variable immunodeficiency disease
(Also CVID.) A subset of immunodeficiency diseases in which the patient's body is unable to produce sufficient antibodies to fight off infection. Although there are many possible causes of this set of disorders, the Epstein-Barr virus is believed to play a role in causing the illness. (Appears in 1x17 - Role Model.)
contact dermatitis
See dermatitis.
Coxsackie B virus
See Coxsackie virus.
Coxsackie virus
One of a series of viruses which live in the human digestive tract. The Coxsackie B virus versions can cause destruction of the immune system and pancreas. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor.)
A condition of stunted physical and mental growth which can be the result of an iodine deficiency. In the modern Western World, it has been almost completely eliminated thanks in part to the practice of iodizing table salt. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity.)
Creutzfeld-Jakob disease
An extremely rare disorder which is the result of a malformed protein in the brain tissue. It can lead to dementia, memory loss, hallucinations, speech impairment, loss of motor, muscle and balance control, and seizures. The variant which is commonly called mad cow disease is believed to be contracted in humans by eating beef from cows infected with the disease, although too few cases have presented themselves as of yet for clinical studies to be possible. (Appears in 1x01 - Pilot.)
A common respiratory illness in infants and young children, characterized by a barking cough, wheezing and fever, which may result from any of a number of bacterial and viral infections. (Appears in 1x15 - Mob Rules.)
Cupid's disease
See syphilis.
Cushing's syndrome
(Also hypercortisolism.) A disorder caused by an excess of the hormone cortisol, which may result in rapid weight gain, increased skin sensitivity, reduced sex drive, psychosis, panic attacks, insulin resistance and heart disease. It may be the result of an abnormal growth on the pituitary gland, which can be removed with surgery. (Appears in 1x16 - Heavy.)
See common variable immunodeficiency disease.
A bluish coloring of the skin as the result of deoxygnated hemoglobin in the blood vessels. Cyanosis of the lips is a sure sign of asphyxiation. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
A disease caused by an infection of the tapeworm parasite Taenia solium. The tapeworm is often found in undercooked pork. Its eggs can travel through the walls of the intestines and into the bloodstream. In neurocysticercosis, the larvae travel to the brain. The larvae encase themselves in cysts which are invisible to the immune system thanks to excretions. When the tapeworm dies, however, the immune system becomes aware of the cyst and attacks it, causing an inflammation of the surrounding tissue. It can be treated with a gradual dose of steroids to control the inflammation until the tapeworm carcass works its way out of the system. (Appears in 1x01 - Pilot.)
(Also CMV.) A type of herpes virus which is often transmitted to children and infants, and may be fatal to fetuses. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)


deep-vein thrombosis
(Also DVT.) A blood clot which forms in one of the veins deep inside the body - typically in one of the legs. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method.)
A skin rash characterized by red, flaky skin. In contact dermatitis, the rash is caused by an allergic reaction to a chemical agent. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do and 1x13 - Cursed.)
A common blood disorder caused either by a lack of insulin or the body's inability to process insulin. Thanks to modern medicine, many patients live for a long time with diabetes, although without treatment, it can result in heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage or gangrene. (Appears throughout series.)
Dieulafoy's lesion
A lesion in the intestine which may cause bloody vomit and/or stool. (Appears in 1x19 - Kids.)
DiGeorge syndrome
A genetic disorder in which a part of chromosome 22 is missing, which may result in problems with the heart, mouth palate, immune system, hearing, growth and skeleton, as well as seizures, feeding problems and learning difficulties. (Appears in 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
disc herniation
See herniated disc.
See deep-vein thrombosis.
Medical terminology for shortness of breath. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)


eastern equine encephalitis
A virus commonly found in horses which can be contagious to humans, where its mortality rate is roughly a third. In the USA, most known cases have occurred in the northeast. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity.)
echovirus 11
A highly infectious virus which targets infants and young children and often proves fatal for newborns and infants. In the very young or those with weak immune systems, it can cause liver failure, inflammation of the heart muscle and infection of the central nervous system. It is passed on from person-to-person, often through the feces or saliva, or on the contaminated hands of medical workers. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
E. coli
See Escherichia coli.
Medical terminology for the dislocation of an organ or body part. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor.)
See erectile dysfunction.
Medical terminology for any swelling of tissue, usually the result of an excess of fluid. (Appears in 1x01 - Pilot, 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater and 1x20 - Love Hurts.)
Medical terminology for an abnormal collection of fluid into any type of body cavity or space. (Appears in 1x09 - DNR.)
embolic stroke
See embolism.
A condition which results when an object (called the embolus - usually a blood clot, although a fat embolus is a globule of fat) moves through the blood vessels and chokes off the blood flow to an organ in the body. In a pulmonary embolism, the organ affected is the lungs, which causes respiratory difficulties. In an embolic stroke, the blood clot moves to the brain. A cardiac embolus can block the flow of blood to and from the heart, and it may even travel to anywhere in the body. (Appears throughout series.)
See embolism.
A chronic lung disease, characterized by shortness of breath, hyperventilation and chest expansion. It is most common in long-time smokers and those who inhale toxic chemicals. (Appears in 1x15 - Mob Rules.)
An inflammation of the brain, usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection. In herpetic encephalitis, it is caused by a herpes virus. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do and 1x22 - Honeymoon.)
An inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, often the result of an infection of some kind. (Appears in 1x20 - Love Hurts.)
A genus of viruses which cause a number of infections in humans, including polio and the Coxsackie viruses. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
A high count of eosinophils. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do.)
A neurological disorder which causes chronic, unprovoked seizures. (Appears in 1x17 - Role Model and 1x22 - Honeymoon.)
Epstein-Barr virus
A virus which is present in most people but causes symptoms in almost none. While it has few symptoms itself, it is believed to be a factor in cancer and other diseases. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor and 1x17 - Role Model.)
erectile dysfunction
(Also ED.) The inability of a male to develop or maintain an erection for the duration of sexual intercourse. (Appears in 1x20 - Love Hurts.)
Escherichia coli
(Also E. coli.) A bacterium which lives in the lower intestines of birds and mammals and plays an important role in digestion. However, when the bacterium invades the urinary tract or exits the digestive tract through a tear, perforation or ulcer, or in the case of certain strains, it may cause an infection which is extremely dangerous, although it may be treated with antibiotics. (Appears in 1x19 - Kids.)


factor five deficiency
Factor V Leiden is a fairly common genetic deficiency that increases the rick of internal blood clotting. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method.)
fat embolus
See embolism.
A chronic syndrome characterized by diffuse or localized pain, sleep disturbances, "brain fog," fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome. There is no cure, but many patients respond to a variety of treatments. (Appears in 1x01 - Pilot.)
A disorder in which an organ produces an excess of connective tissue. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor, 1x04 - Maternity and 1x15 - Mob Rules.)
A parasitic infection transmitted by mosquito bites, found in tropical regions of Asia, Africa and the Americas. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
flesh-eating disease
A rare, fatal bacterial infection, most often caused by a species of Streptococcus, which causes the necrosis of skin and spreads rapidly. (Appears in 1x21 - Three Stories.)


An inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, causing fever, diarrhea and vomiting. It is usually caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi. (Appears in 1x08 - Poison.)
Giovannini's "Mirror Syndrome"
a condition whereby the patient loses self-knowledge or any memories, and constructs an identity for themselves based on what they gather. Patients mirror personalities of people in the room, but only the dominant person. Memories or feelings may occur in a patient with Giovannini's if a trigger occurs. (Appears in 4x05 - Mirror, Mirror.)
A type of tumor which affects the glial cells in the central nervous system - cells which provide support and nutrition to the CNS. (Appears in 1x07 - Fidelity.)
A sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Symptoms include milky white discharge, pain in the genitals, swelling and rectal bleeding. It is easily treated with antibiotics. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity.)
A painful form of arthritis caused by an excess of uric acid in the joints. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor.)
A nodule of white blood cells growing on a layer of tissue which is characteristic of several diseases. (Appears in 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
Guillain-Barré syndrome
An immune system disorder causing inflammation of the nerves causing symmetrical paralysis. It is treatable with various steroids and other medications. (Appears in 1x09 - DNR and 1x22 - Honeymoon.)


Haemophilus influenzae type B
(Also H flu.) A bacterium responsible for causing a wide array of illnesses, almost entirely in children aged five and younger. Common results include ear infections, pneumonia and meningitis. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
hairy cell leukemia
See leukemia.
hay fever
A common allergic reaction to dust, dander and pollen. It primarily affects the nose and eyes. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method.)
hemolytic anemia
See anemia.
The inflammation and swelling of veins in the rectum and anus. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor, 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater and 1x19 - Kids.)
See hepatitis.
(Also hep.) A chronic inflammation of the liver caused by a virus, although there are various possible causes. Hepatitis A is easily vaccinated against, although it can be transmitted through contaminated water, raw sea food and personal contact. Hepatitis B is more dangerous, although it is primarily found in Third World countries, but it can be passed on through blood transfusions, sexual contact, unclean tattoos and childbirth. Hepatitis C is passed on through the blood and can lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis E is caused by food contamination, although it is primarily found in India. The type called lupoid hepatitis is the result of the disease lupus. (Appears in 1x10 - Histories, 1x11 - Detox, 1x14 - Control, 1x15 - Mob Rules and 1x17 - Role Model.)
hepatitis A
See hepatitis.
hepatitis B
See hepatitis.
hepatitis C
See hepatitis.
hepatitis E
See hepatitis.
herniated disc
(Also disc herniation, slipped disc.) A condition in which a tear in the outer fibrous ring causes an invertebral disc to protrude into the spinal canal. (Appears in 1x14 - Control and 1x21 - Three Stories.)
A viral infection which causes painful blisters, especially on the mouth and genitals, and can be passed on from pregnant mothers to their children. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
herpetic encephalitis
See encephalitis.
H flu
See Haemophilus influenzae type B.
See human immunodeficiency virus.
See human T-lymphotropic virus.
human immunodeficiency virus
(Also HIV.) A virus which attacks the human immune system and causes AIDS. (Appears in 1x10 - Histories and 1x17 - Role Model.)
human T-lymphotropic virus
(Also HTLV.) A virus which attacks the immune system in humans and may cause leukemia. The variation known as ATLV primarily strikes adults. (Appears in 1x17 - Role Model.)
Huntington's disease
A genetic disease which causes abnormal body movements and loss of memory. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity.)
A high level of calcium in the blood, usually the result of a disorder or disease, which may result in fatigue, depression, confusion, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, constipation, incontinence, renal or bladder stones, abnormal heart rhythms and at extremely high levels, coma or heart attack. (Appears in 1x16 - Heavy.)
hypercoagulable state
A condition in which the blood clots within the veins, either as the result of an illness or a reaction to a drug. (Appears in 1x16 - Heavy.)
See Cushing's syndrome.
Overactive restlessness. (Appears in 1x07 - Fidelity.)
Excessive sleeping. (Appears in 1x07 - Fidelity.)
A syndrome caused by an excess of one or both of the hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine. Symptoms include weight loss, nausea, vomiting and periodic paralysis. It can be treated with medications and radiation therapy. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor and 1x16 - Heavy.)
A medical state of low glucose concentrations in the blood. The most severe symptoms are the result of lack of glucose to the brain, and they may be as severe as temporary psychosis, coma or death. (Appears in 1x16 - Heavy.)
A defect in the reproductive system, resulting in lack of function in the ovaries in females and the testicles in males. (Appears in 1x12 - Sports Medicine.)
hypotensive episode
An incident of low blood pressure. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do.)
hypovolemic shock
Shock caused by a sudden decrease in blood volume. (Appears in 1x11 - Detox.)


Referring to a disorder or illness for which the cause is unknown. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do and 1x17 - Role Model.)
IgA nephropathy
(Also Berger's disease.) Inflammation of the capillaries in the kidneys, which presents with a rash on the legs and arms which spread gradually to the trunk. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
An inability to control urination. (Appears in 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
infantile Alexander's disease
A very rare genetic, degenerative disease of the nervous system which usually appears in children aged six months to two years. It results in the delay of neurological skills, head enlargement and seizures, and the prognosis for survival is very poor. (Appears in 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
infectious mononucleosis
(Also mono.) A common viral infection amongst young adults which results in fever, sore throat and fatigue. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
inflammatory bowel
An inflammation of the small or large intestine. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do.)
influenza A
A species of flu virus which causes the avian flu. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
interstitial nephritis
An inflammation of the inner workings of the kidneys. It can be caused by infections or negative reactions to medications. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor.)
intestinal intussusception
A disorder in which part of the intestine collapses into another part. It typically occurs in patients less than three years old, and it may result in blood in the stool, abdominal pain, abdominal swelling and vomiting. (Appears in 1x19 - Kids.)
A general term for any restriction of the blood supply to an organ. (Appears in 1x01 - Pilot, 1x17 - Role Model and 1x20 - Love Hurts.)


A relatively common disorder, especially in newborns, which is a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes due to an increase in the system of the pigmentation bilirubin. It is highly common in newborns as the result of adjustment to metabolic and physiological adjustments after birth, and is easily treated by modern medicine. In adults, the cause can be as harmless as a gallstone or as serious as pancreatic cancer. (Appears in 1x01 - Pilot and 1x04 - Maternity.)


Kayser-Fleischer rings
See Wilson's disease.
Korsakoff's syndrome
A condition in which brain damage results in amnesia of long-term and short-term memory as the result of a Vitamin B1 deficiency, usually either through alcoholism or malnutrition. (Appears in 1x10 - Histories.)


Lambert-Eaton syndrome
A rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the junctions of the nerves and muscles. It is sometimes the result of a paraneoplastic syndrome associated with lung cancer. (Appears in 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
Legionnaire's disease
An infection caused by bacteria of the species Legionella pneumophila, which typically leads to pneumonia, as well as inflammation of the heart tissue and lesions on the skin. Although it is often traced to air conditioning units, it is typically spread by inhalation of mists from water sources. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
An infection of parasites of the genus Leishmania, which are spread to humans through bites from sandflies, found primarily in southern Asia, Sudan and Brazil. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
An infection by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae, which attacks the skin, nerves and mucous membranes. As the body's systems attack the bacteria, they cause tissue destruction and result in mutilation of the skin. Although known since recorded history, leprosy has been eliminated in almost all of the developed world. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed and 1x15 - Mob Rules.)
A cancer of the blood or bone marrow. In mast cell leukemia, the leukemia affects the mast cells. The type known as hairy cell leukemia gets its name from the short hair-like projections which form on the damaged white blood cells. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do and 1x17 - Role Model.)
See progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.
lobar pneumonia
See pneumonia.
Lou Gehrig's disease
See amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
lupoid hepatitis
See hepatitis.
A relatively common autoimmune disorder in which the body's antibodies react against the patient's own DNA, usually affecting the skin (including a rash in the face), kidneys, liver, joints, blood and immune system. (Appears in 1x11 - Detox and 1x13 - Cursed.)
Lyme disease
A bacterial infection caused by bacteria of the genus Borrelia, usually passed to humans through tick bites. It first presents with a rash and may lead to neurological symptoms if not treated. (Appears in 1x07 - Fidelity and 1x13 - Cursed.)
(Also adenopathy.) A swelling of the lymph nodes. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor and 1x07 - Fidelity.)
An increase in the number of lymphocytes in the blood. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
Cancer of the lymphatic system. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor, 1x11 - Detox, 1x12 - Sports Medicine and 1x17 - Role Model.)


mad cow disease
See Creutzfeld-Jacob disease.
A parasitic infection of protozoans of the genus Plasmodium. The parasite is usually passed on to humans by mosquitos of the genus Anopheles, which are found almost exclusively in sub-Saharan Africa. It presents with fever, joint pain, vomiting, anemia and convulsions. (Appears in 1x07 - Fidelity.)
mast cell leukemia
See leukemia.
A common childhood infection caused by a virus of the genus Morbillivirus. It is highly contagious and results in an itchy rash, fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes. It usually goes away after several days' rest, and once contracted, almost never recurs. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity.)
An inflammation of the meninges which can be caused by a number of infections (including viral infections). Symptoms include fever, headache, confusion, deafness, brain damage, stroke or seizures. Vaccinations prevent most causes of viral meningitis. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity, 1x10 - Histories, 1x11 - Detox, 1x15 - Mob Rules and 1x19 - Kids.)
metabolic syndrome X
(Also MSX.) A largely misunderstood illness in which a patient's metabolism fails to operate properly, resulting in obesity, high blood pressure and hypoglycemia. Insulin resistance is a characteristic of the illness, although it is unknown whether this resistance is the cause or a symptom of the illness. It is primarily treated through diet and exercise. (Appears in 1x16 - Heavy.)
The spread of a cancer from its initial formation to other organs and systems. (Appears in 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
(Also MRSA.) A widespread strain of bacteria which is resistant to most antibiotics. In most patients, it is not harmful, but in infants or those with compromised immune systems, it can be deadly. Vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or VRSA is the same thing, but it is also resistant to the powerful antibiotic vancomycin. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
mitral valve prolapse
A condition in which the mitral valve becomes abnormally thickened and remains in the left atrium, which may result in an endocarditis infection or cardiac arrest. (Appears in 1x20 - Love Hurts.)
mixed connective tissue disease
A disorder presumed to be caused by the immune system which may result in pale, tingling and numb fingers, arthritis, swollen hands, muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, heartburn and shortness of breath. It may also affect the heart, nerves and kidneys. About 80% of all patients affected are women. It is usually treated with corticosteroids. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do.)
See infectious mononucleosis.
See methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
See multiple sclerosis.
See metabolic syndrome X.
multiple myeloma
Cancer of the plasma cells - immune system cells which produce antibodies. (Appears in 1x21 - Three Stories.)
multiple neurofibromatosis
A genetic disorder in which many benign tumors grow on the peripheral nerves under and over the skin. These tumors may cause skeletal abnormalities, blindness, headaches, balance problems, facial paralysis and brain tumors. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
multiple sclerosis
(Also MS.) A chronic autoimmune disease which occurs when the immune system attacks the protective sheath around cells in the central nervous system. Although many patients live with it for years, it can also be rapidly progressing, in which case a patient may have only months to live. Symptoms include problems with eyesight, weakness, depression and coordination and speech impairment. Its causes are unknown, and while there is no cure, various treatments help patients with most types of MS live long, full lives. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity.)
Abnormal or severe muscle weakness or fatigue. (Appears in 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
An inflammation of the myocardium which may cause signs of heart failure. (Appears in 1x08 - Poison.)
A brief, involuntary muscle twitch. The two most common myoclonic jerks occur during hiccups and while falling asleep, but they may also be symptoms of such neurological disorders as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity.)
A general term for any disease of the muscle system. (Appears in 1x14 - Control.)


A psychological disorder in which the patient thinks of himself or herself as the center of the Universe. (Appears in 1x21 - Three Stories and 1x22 - Honeymoon.)
Medical terminology for abnormal cell or tissue death. (Appears in 1x10 - Histories, 1x13 - Cursed, 1x16 - Heavy, 1x17 - Role Model and 1x21 - Three Stories.)
An abnormal cell growth of any kind. When the growth is malignant, that neoplasia is cancer. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity.)
neoplastic syndrome
See paraneoplastic syndrome.
See cysticercosis.
neurogenic bladder
A urinary disorder in which the bladder empties abnormally. It can be a sign of a nervous system or inflammatory disorder. (Appears in 1x22 - Honeymoon.)
Medical terminology for nerve damage. The type known as toxic neuropathy is caused by some kind of poisoning. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor, 1x09 - DNR, 1x13 - Cursed and 1x20 - Love Hurts.)
See syphilis.
nominal aphasia
A neurological disorder in which a subject is unable to remember the names of certain objects, although language and objective recognition capabilities are otherwise undamaged. (Appears in 1x20 - Love Hurts.)


occult infection
Medical terminology for a "hidden" infection - one which presents no symptoms. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity and 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency
(Also OTD.) A rare genetic disorder which results in the body's inability to remove ammonia, produced as a byproduct of the metabolism of protein. Coma, brain damage and death may occur as a result of the ammonia build-up, although OTC can be treated with drugs and diet. (Appears in 1x15 - Mob Rules.)
osteogenesis imperfecta
A group of genetic disorders which cause a deficiency in collagen levels or quality, which results in weak or fragile bones. (Appears in 1x21 - Three Stories.)
A general term for any infection of the bone. (Appears in 1x20 - Love Hurts.)
A severe decrease in bone density which usually appears in seniors, particularly women. (Appears in 1x12 - Sports Medicine.)
A cancerous tumor on the bone. (Appears in 1x21 - Three Stories.)
See ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency.
oxygen toxicity
An excess of oxygen in the body as the result of breathing high-pressure oxygen. The excess may cause damage to the central nervous system, lungs and eyes. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do.)


papular lesion
A lesion characterized by a small, solid rounded bump rising from the skin, similar to a pimple. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
A family of viruses which cause a number of diseases in humans and animals. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
paraneoplastic syndrome
(Also neoplastic syndrome.) A disease caused by immune system reactions to a tumor in the body in attacking healthy tissue. One of the most common and deadliest type is a paraneoplastic neurological disorder, in which the immune system confuses the brain and central nervous system for the cancer and attacks it - often as the result of breast, ovarian or lung cancer. (Appears in 1x07 - Fidelity, 1x10 - Histories and 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
In psychiatry, a general term for any delusion, particularly one regarding fear of persecution. It is symptomatic of many psychological disorders, including schizophrenia. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method.)
A tingling, numb or pricking sensation in the skin, commonly called "pins and needles." (Appears in 1x22 - Honeymoon.)
Parkinson's disease
A degenerative nerve disorder caused by an abnormality with the making and formation of dopamine, which leads to muscle rigidity, tremors and an ultimate loss of all physical movement. (Appears in 1x21 - Three Stories.)
parvovirus B19
A virus which can cause fifth disease in children - a disease marked by a rash on the cheeks and body, mostly harmless to older children but dangerous to newborns and fetuses - or arthritis in adults. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor and 1x04 - Maternity.)
petechial bruising
A small red or purple bruise caused by a broken capillary near the skin. It can be caused by excessive vomiting or coughing, heavy lifting or hickeys, although it may also be a warning sign of potentially dangerous illnesses, such as leukemia, syphilis or meningitis. (Appears in 1x17 - Role Model.)
pleural effusion
An excess of fluid around the lungs. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia
See pneumonia.
An inflammation and flooding of the alveoli - the air sacs in the lungs which absorb oxygen from the atmosphere. It can be the result of an infection, chemical or physical irritation or another illness. The type known as lobar pneumonia only affects one lobe or section of the lungs. One variety, called Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, is caused the fungal microorganism Pneumocystis carinii, although it is rare in patients who do not suffer from an immune system disorder, such as AIDS or leukemia. (Appears in 1x09 - DNR, 1x13 - Cursed, 1x14 - Control, 1x17 - Role Model and 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
Inflammation of the lung tissue. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do.)
A viral infection which causes paralysis and usually strikes children between the ages of three and five, although it may strike people of any age. It has largely been eliminated in Western civilization thanks to vaccination. (Appears in 1x17 - Role Model.)
polyarteritis nodosa
A blood vessel disease in which rogue immune cells attack the arteries, affecting the skin, heart, kidneys and nervous system. (Appears in 1x14 - Control.)
The simultaneous malfunction of multiple peripheral nerves. (Appears in 1x22 - Honeymoon.)
A genetic disorder which affects the nervous system and may cause seizures, hallucinations, depression, anxiety and paranoia. The abbreviation AIP is short for "Accute Intermittent Porphyria," which means attacks are severe (accute) and recurring, but not constant (intermittent). It is most famous for affecting members of the British royal family, including King George III, Mary, Queen of Scots and Queen Anne. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method and 1x22 - Honeymoon.)
postictal disorientation
A period of confusion following a seizure ("postictal"). (Appears in 1x07 - Fidelity.)
post-traumatic stress disorder
A complex of psychological effects which may result from exposure to a traumatic experience, such as physical or sexual abuse, life-threatening danger, rape, war, violence and natural disasters. The effects may include nightmares, flashbacks, dissociation, insomnia, irritability, jumpiness, depression and anxiety. Although most periods of acceptance of a traumatic event last a few months, if they last much longer, they are considered to be PTSD. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity.)
A condition of high blood pressure in a pregnant woman which is relatively common but may be a result of an underlying disorder which could result in a miscarriage. (Appears in 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
(Also leukonencephalopathy.) A neurological disorder most commonly found in AIDS patients and those with other immune system disorders. It is the result of a virus, called the JC virus, which is actually quite common but only affects a small number of people. It destroys the protective sheath covering nerve cells, particularly around the outside of the brain. Symptoms include paralysis, vision loss, speech impairment and loss of cognitive skills. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity.)
A thick, tough false membrane which forms on a mucus membrane or the skin, characteristic of a number of chronic inflammations. (Appears in 1x15 - Mob Rules.)
A genus of bacteria which rarely causes infections in humans, unless they have weakened immune systems, in which case it may cause urinary tract or blood infections. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
An infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydophilia psittaci, which is often found in the feces and nasal discharges of parrots and other birds. In humans, it starts with flu-like symptoms which may gradually progress to pneumonia and damage to the heart, liver, joints, eyes and brain. It is treatable with antibiotics. (Appears in 1x01 - Pilot.)
pulmonary embolism
A condition which occurs when a blood clot moves through the bloodstream via the arteries and chokes off the flow of blood to the lungs, causing respiratory difficulties. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method.)
An apparent rash or bruising caused by bleeding under the skin, which can be indicative of various blood and heart disorders, or a symptom of meningitis. (Appears in 1x19 - Kids.)
pyoderma gangrenosum
A rare disorder caused by an immune system dysfunction, which causes deep sores to open up on the skin, usually on the legs. Although the wounds are not fatal, they may cause scarring. (Appears in 1x16 - Heavy.)



rabbit fever
See tularemia.
A viral infection which attacks humans and other carnivorous animals, usually transmitted through bites. There is no known cure, but it can be prevented with vaccinations, which may also be effective for up to a few days after exposure. Once it becomes symptomatic, it may lead to flu-like symptoms and eventually anxiety, confusion, paranoia, hallucinations and delirium. Later stages include light sensitivity and an inability to swallow, leading to hydrophobia. Almost invariably, death results within ten days after the progression of the illness to this stage. (Appears in 1x10 - Histories.)
reperfusion injury
Damage caused to tissue by the restoral of blood flow after a long period of ischemia. (Appears in 1x21 - Three Stories.)
respiratory synctial virus
(Also RSV.) A virus which causes respiratory infections in humans, especially young children. For most, it causes cold-like symptoms, however it can lead to bronchiolitis - an inflammation of the smallest air passages of the lungs - and become very deadly to infants. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
(Also Rhabdo.) Rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle.
Medical terminology for a wheezing sound while breathing, usually caused by secretions into the lungs or bronchial passageways. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
A genus of bacteria passed on to humans through the bites of such parasites as ticks, fleas and lice. Its species causes a number of infectious diseases, including types of fever, typhus and scrub typhus. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
See respiratory synctial virus.
A viral disease which may result in swollen glands, fever, rash, dry skin, eye inflammation, nasal congestion, joint and testicular pain, loss of appetite, numbness and headache. It is common in children, who recover more quickly than adults, and it can be passed on by a pregnant mother to her newborn child through the placenta. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)


An autoimmune disease in which small nodules form on an organ of the body, especially the lungs or lymph nodes. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
scalded-skin syndrome
A severe rash caused by an infection by the bacterial species Staphylococcus aureus. It is extremely rare in adults but somewhat common in children under the age of six. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
A mental disorder which affects the perception or expression of reality. It may result in confusion, disorganization, delusions and auditory hallucinations. Although it has been recognized since centuries before the Common Era, its causes and nature are still largely a mystery. It has been treated by countless methods throughout the ages, ranging from cleaning the vagina of female sufferers to demonic exorcism to eugenics (execution of those whose genetic material is considered undesirable). Today it is often treated with a variety of medications. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method.)
A rare autoimmune disease characterized by excessive deposits of collagen, resulting in red, scaly skin, fat and muscle wastage. (Appears in 1x13 - Cursed.)
A disease resulting from a vitamin C deficiency which results in weakness, joint pain, splotches on the skin and gum disease. It is largely unknown in modern times. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method.)
A serious medical condition when it is caused by an infection of some type. (Appears throughout series.)
serotonin syndrome
An excess of the neurotransmitter serotonin as a side effect of many psychological drugs which has a number of physical and psychiatric effects. (Appears in 1x10 - Histories.)
See somnambulism.
An infection by bacteria of the genus Shigella, commonly transmitted through fecal contamination in food and water. Symptoms include cramps, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and bloody stool. (Appears in 1x08 - Poison.)
sleeping sickness
(Also African sleeping sickness, African trypanosomiasis.) A parasitic infection caused by protozoa of the genus Trypanosoma and transmitted to humans by bites from the tsetse fly, which is found exclusively in sub-Saharan Africa. The first symptoms are similar to the flu and arthritis, but if untreated, it can spread to anemia and heart and kidney disorders. In the second phase, it attacks the central nervous system, where it begins with long periods of fatigue punctuated by insomnia. As neurological functions deteriorate, it can often be fatal. (Appears in 1x07 - Fidelity and 1x14 - Control.)
slipped disc
See herniated disc.
A highly contagious and deadly human viral infection which causes pockmarks all over the body. It was eradicated by 1979 thanks to vaccinations. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
A sleep disorder in which a person may walk, drive a car, eat or perform other waking activities while asleep or in a sleeplike state. In sexsomnia, the somnambulist commits sexual acts, including masturbation or engaging in intercourse. (Appears in 1x17 - Role Model.)
spastic dysphonia
Paralysis of the vocal cords resulting in an inability for the patient to speak. (Appears in 1x14 - Control.)
See subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.
staph infection
An infection of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause skin infections, abscesses, or even pneumonia, meningitis and other serious illnesses. (Appears in 1x16 - Heavy.)
Stockholm syndrome
A psychological condition which develops in a hostage or other victim, in which the victim develops an affection for and loyalty to his or her captor or victimizer. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor.)
strep bacteria
Any bacteria of the genus Streptococcus, which is responsible for many types of infections ranging from strep throat to flesh-eating disease.
strep throat
A common infection, especially amongst children, of the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes in the pharynx. Symptoms include sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, fever and headache. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method and 1x14 - Control.)
subacute sclerosing panencephalitis
(Also SSPE.) An extremely rare inflammation of the brain caused by the measles virus. It has been almost entirely eliminated in Western Civilization thanks to vaccinations. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity.)
subdural hematoma
A traumatic brain injury in which blood collects between the outside of the brain and its protective sheath of meninges, usually caused by injuries to veins from head injuries. If left untreated, it may cause brain damage. (Appears in 1x10 - Histories and 1x15 - Mob Rules.)
supraventricular tachycardia
See tachycardia.
A neurologically-based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. A patient with synesthesia may "hear with [their] eyes". (Appears in 4x02 - The Right Stuff.) Synesthesia is also mentioned in the book, A Mango Shaped Space, by Wendy Mass. In the book, a young girl's mind assigns a color to each number and letter, a shape to each sound.
(Also Cupid's disease.) A sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The bacteria may damage many organs. In neurosyphilis, it attacks the brain and central nervous system. Syphilis can be treated by many antibiotics. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity and 1x08 - Poison.)


Medical terminology for a dangerously rapid heartrate. If it is supraventricular tachycardia, it is caused by an abnormality in either the atria or the AV node. (Appears throughout series.)
See tuberculosis.
Inflammation of a tendon. (Appears in 1x21 - Three Stories.)
An infection of the bacterium Clostridium tetani. The bacteria releases a neurotoxin which is potentially deadly. Deaths are very rare thanks to the practice of immunizing patients with puncture and bite wounds who have not received recent vaccinations. (Appears in 1x10 - Histories.)
thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura
(Also TTP.) A disorder of blood clotting caused by a deficiency in the enzyme ADAMTS13, which may lead to damage to the central nervous system and kidneys, as well as fever, anemia and purpura. It is often the result of a genetic disorder, although it may also be caused by cancer, bone marrow transplants, side effects of medication, HIV infection or pregnancy. (Appears in 1x19 - Kids.)
Symptoms caused by increased levels of thyroid hormones in the blood, as in hyperthyroidism. (Appears in 1x05 - Damned If You Do.)
TORCH syndrome
A general term for the infection of newborns through Toxoplasmosis, Other agents, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus and Herpes simplex. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
toxic neuropathy
See neuropathy.
A parasitic disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. It is usually transmitted through eating undercooked meat or contact with cat feces, but it may also be passed on by a pregnant mother to her fetus through the placenta. Most humans are immune, but those with weakened immune systems - such as AIDS patients - may be at great risk. It may cause damage to the brain, heart, liver and eyes. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity, 1x14 - Control and 1x17 - Role Model.)
transverse myelitis
A neurological disorder which results from a loss of the myelin - the protective sheath around the spinal cord - which can result in paralysis. (Appears in 1x09 - DNR.)
An infection of the parasite Trichinella spiralis, usually ingested through raw or undercooked pork, which may cause nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, abdominal pain, headache, fever, chills, cough, eye swelling, muscle and joint pain, hemmorhaging, itches and high white blood cell count. (Appears in 1x14 - Control.)
See thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura.
See tuberculosis.
An infection of the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which may attack the lungs, central nervous system, lymphatic system, circulatory system, genitourinary system or bones and joints. A tuberculoma is a mass which grows as a result of this infection. If untreated, the bacteria may attack and kill the cells, although in Western Civilization, a variety of treatments exist. (Appears in 1x10 - Histories.)
(Also rabbit fever.) A disease caused by an infection of the bacteria Francisella tularensis, often found in rabbits and other rodents and spread through humans through tick bites, handling or skinning infected rodents or eating undercooked meat. It attacks the white blood cells and through them the lungs, liver, spleen and lymphatic system. It can be treated with antibiotics. (Appears in 1x07 - Fidelity.)


A toxic condition in which the waste product urea is retained in the blood. It is a sign of renal failure. (Appears in 1x19 - Kids.)


vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus
(Also VRE.) Enterococcus is a genus of bacteria, many of which live naturally in the human body and serve in digestive functions, a few of which are harmful and may cause urinary tract infections or meningitis. For most harmful species, the antibiotic vancomycin is prescribed, but VRE is resistant to that treatment. (Appears in 1x04 - Maternity.)
vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
See methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Medical terminology for swollen or dilated veins. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method and 1x15 - Mob Rules.)
varicose veins
Veins in the leg which have become twisted and swollen, resulting in swelling and pain. (Appears in 1x21 - Three Stories.)
The name for several diseases which cause an inflammation of the walls of blood vessels. It is often caused by autoimmune disorders and infections. Churg-Strauss vasculitis is caused by an autoimmune disorder and affects the arteries, lungs and nerves. It is very serious and has no cure. (Appears throughout series.)
A spasm of the blood vessels. (Appears in 1x22 - Honeymoon.)
ventricular fibrillation
(Also V-fib.) A lack of coordination of the large chambers of the heart in contraction, which eventually leads to complete cardiac arrest. (Appears in 1x18 - Babies & Bathwater.)
See ventricular fibrillation.
See vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus.
See methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.


Wegener's granulomatosis
A type of vasculitis that affects the lungs and kidneys, as well as other organs, including the nervous system, often characterized by a collapsed nose. It is difficult to diagnose, although biopsies and tests for C-ANCA may help. It can be treated with steroids and other medications. (Appears in 1x09 - DNR.)
Wernicke's encephalopathy
A severe syndrome caused by damage to Wernicke's area of the brain. The symptoms are generally short-term memory loss, sometimes coupled with rapid eye movement or eye paralysis, palsies, confusion and clumsiness. (Appears in 1x01 - Pilot and 1x14 - Control.)
West Nile virus
An infection passed on to humans through mosquito bites. Most humans show no symptoms, but a few may show flu-like symptoms, and fewer still suffer neurological damage. (Appears in 1x02 - Paternity and 1x08 - Poison.)
Wilson's disease
An extremely rare genetic disorder in which the body accumulates copper rather than passing it out. It primarily affects the nervous system and liver, although it may not affect a sufferer until well into his or her 30s or later. It is often identified by the appearance of Kayser-Fleischer rings - brown rings around the corneas of the eyes, the result of copper deposits in the cornea. (Appears in 1x06 - The Socratic Method.)



A genus of bacteria, the species of which cause a number of diseases in humans. The most famous type is Yersinia pestis, which caused the Black Death in Europe. (Appears in 1x03 - Occam's Razor.)


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