A procedure whereby fluid is extracted from the amniotic sac. The amniotic sac is the fluid-filled structure inside the pregnant uterus within which the baby lives. Fetal cells, proteins, and fetal urine freely move within this sac. The volume of fluid withdrawn depends upon the age of the fetus and the reason for the testing.
The fluid can then be sent for evaluation of fetal lung maturity, genetic evaluation, evidence of spina bifida (a birth defect in spinal cord development), the presence of infection, or chromosome analysis. Data obtained from amniotic fluid can help women make informed decisions regarding their pregnancies and babies.
The watery fluid within the amnion that surrounds the fetus. Amniotic fluid cushions the fetus from injury, allows movement, and helps to stabilize temperature.
Source: amniotic fluid. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Science Dictionary. Retrieved July 28, 2008, from Dictionary.com
One in a group of speech disorders in which there is a defect or loss of the power of expression by speech, writing, or signs, or a defect or loss of the power of comprehension of spoken or written language.
Without normal muscle tone or strength. An atonic seizure is one in which the person suddenly loses muscle tone and strength and cannot sit or stand upright and, unless supported, falls down
The large masses of gray matter at the base of the brain which, if damaged, would impair motor abilities.
Source: basal ganglia. (n.d.). Webster’s New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7). Retrieved July 29, 2008, from Dictionary.com
A thin mantle of gray matter about the size of a formal dinner napkin covering the surface of each cerebral hemisphere. The cerebral cortex is crumpled and folded, forming numerous convolutions (gyri) and crevices (sulci). It is made up of six layers of nerve cells and the nerve pathways that connect them. The cerebral cortex is responsible for the processes of thought, perception and memory and serves as the seat of advanced motor function, social abilities, language, and problem solving.
The embryonic development of the cerebral cortex is under the control of a number of genes. In the first trimester of fetal life, neurons arise in a region lining the cerebral cavity.Precursor cells in this “proliferative zone” give rise to neurons that migrate up and out into the cortex, forming its layers. Other cell types arrive from different areas to complete the structure.
Much can go wrong in this process and result in congenital malformations of the cerebral cortex. Much can also go wrong with the cerebral cortex after birth.
An abnormality of motor function (the ability to move and control movements) that is acquired at an early age, usually less than a year of age, and is due to a brain lesion that is non-progressive. Cerebral palsy (CP) is frequently the result of abnormalities that occur in utero, while the fetus is developing inside the mother’s womb. Such abnormalities may include accidents of brain development, genetic disorders, stroke due to abnormal blood vessels or blood clots, or infection of the brain. In rare instances, obstetrical accidents during particularly difficult deliveries can cause brain damage and result in CP. CP may be divided into spastic, choreoathetoid, and hypotonic (flaccid) CP. In spastic CP, there is an abnormality of muscle tone in which one or more extremities (arm or leg) is held in a rigid posture. Choreoathetoid CP is associated with abnormal, uncontrollable, writhing movements of the arms and/or legs. The child with hypotonic CP appears floppy — like a rag doll. Treatment may include casting and braces to prevent further loss of limb function, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, the use of augmentative communication devices, and the use of medications of botox injections to treat spasticity.
CSF. A watery fluid, continuously produced and absorbed, which flows in the ventricles (cavities) within the brain and around the surface of the brain and spinal cord.
The CSF is produced by the choroid plexus, a series of infolded blood vessels projecting into the cerebral ventricles, and it is absorbed into the venous system.
If production exceeds absorption, the CSF pressure rises and the result is hydrocephalus. This can also occur if the CSF pathways are obstructed and CSF accumulates.
Pertaining to cognition, the process of knowing and, more precisely, the process of being aware, knowing, thinking, learning and judging. The study of cognition touches on the fields of psychology, linguistics, computer science, neuroscience, mathematics, ethology and philosophy.
“Cognitive” comes from the Latin root “cognoscere” meaning to become acquainted with.
The act of swallowing, particularly the swallowing of food. The muscles of deglutition are the muscles employed in the act of swallowing.
“Deglutition” is a French word, which evolved from the Latin “deglutire” (to swallow down).
Relating to the back or posterior of a structure. As opposed to the ventral, or front, of the structure. Some of the dorsal surfaces of the body are the back, buttocks, calves, and the knuckle side of the hand.
Speech that is characteristically slurred, slow, and difficult to produce (difficult to understand). The person with dysarthria may also have problems controlling the pitch, loudness, rhythm, and voice qualities of their speech.
Dysarthria is a disorder caused by paralysis, weakness, or inability to coordinate the muscles of the mouth. Dysarthria can occur as a developmental disability. It may be a sign of a neuromuscular disorder such cerebral palsy or Parkinson disease. It may also be caused by a stroke, brain injury, or brain tumor.
Treatment of dysarthria is by intensive speech therapy with the focus on oral-motor skill development.
Involuntary movements and prolonged muscle contraction, resulting in twisting body motions, tremor, and abnormal posture. These movements may involve the entire body, or only an isolated area. Symptoms may even be “task specific,” such as writer’s cramp. Dystonia can be inherited, occur sporadically without any genetic pattern, or be associated with medications or diseases (for example, a specific form of lung cancer). The gene responsible for at least one form of dystonia has recently been identified. Some types of dystonia respond to dopamine, or can be controlled with sedative-type medications, or surgery.
A form of toxemia of pregnancy, characterized by albuminuria, hypertension, and convulsions.
A study of electrical current within the brain. Electrodes are attached to the scalp. Wires attach these electrodes to a machine which records the electrical impulses. The results are either printed out or displayed on a computer screen. Electroencephalogram is abbreviated EEG.
A manner of walking. Observation of the gait can provide clues to a number of diagnoses including Parkinson disease, cerebral palsy, congenital dislocation of the hip, andstroke.
The return of stomach contents back up into the esophagus. This frequently causes heartburn because of irritation of the esophagus by stomach acid. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can lead to scarring and stricture of the esophagus, requiring stretching (dilating) of the esophagus. 10% of patients with GERD develop Barrett’s esophagus, which increases the risk of cancer of the esophagus. 80% of patients with GERD also have a hiatal hernia.
A surgical opening into the stomach. This opening may be used for feeding usually via a feeding tube called a gastrostomy tube. This can also be done by percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG). PEG is a surgical procedure for placing a feeding tube but does not necessitate doing an open laparotomy (operation on the abdomen). The aim of PEG (as with any gastrostomy) is to feed those who cannot swallow. PEG may be done by a. surgeon, otolaryngologist (ENT specialist) or gastroenterologist (GI specialist). It is done in a. hospital or outpatient surgical facility. Local anesthesia (usually lidocaine or another spray) is used to anesthetize the throat. An endoscope (a flexible, lighted instrument) is passed through the mouth, throat and esophagus to the stomach. The surgeon then makes a small incision (cut) in the skin of the abdomen and pushes an intravenous cannula (an IV tube) through the skin into the stomach and sutures (ties) it in place. The patient can usually go home the same day or the next morning. Possible complications include wound infection (as in any kind of surgery) and dislodging or malfunction of the tube. Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy may be a mouthful (as a term) but it describes the procedure accurately. A gastrostomy (a surgical opening into the stomach) is made percutaneously (through the skin) using an endoscope to put the feeding tube in place. PEG, when feasible, takes less time, carries less risk and costs less than a classic surgical gastrostomy, which requires opening the abdomen.
The cortex of the brain, which contains nerve cell bodies. The gray matter is in contrast to the white matter, the part of the brain that contains myelinated nerve fibers. The gray matter is so named because it in fact appears gray. The white matter is white because that is the color of myelin, the insulation covering the nerve fibers.
Weakness on one side of the body.
Paralysis of one side of the body.
Bleeding or the abnormal flow of blood.
The patient may have an internal hemorrhage that is invisible or an external hemorrhage that is visible on the outside of the body. Bleeding into the spleen or liver is internal hemorrhage. Bleeding from a cut on the face is an external hemorrhage.
Decreased tone of skeletal muscles. In a word, floppiness. Hypotonia is a common finding in cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular disorders. Untreated hypotonia can lead to hip dislocation and other problems. Treatment is via physical therapy. In some cases braces may be needed to permit a full range of movement despite hypotonia.
Inability to control excretions. Urinary incontinence is inability to keep urine in the bladder. Fecal incontinence is inability to retain feces in the rectum.
The growth of a parasitic organism within the body. (A parasitic organism is one that lives on or in another organism and draws its nourishment therefrom.) A person with an infection has another organism (a “germ”) growing within him, drawing its nourishment from the person.
The term “infection” has some exceptions. For example, the normal growth of the usual bacterial flora in the intestinal tract is not usually considered an infection. The same consideration applies to the bacteria that normally inhabit the mouth.
The establishment of a pathogen in its host during the part of development that takes place in the uterus.
Done other than in accordance with the conscious will of the individual. The opposite of voluntary.
The terms “voluntary” and “involuntary” apply to the human nervous system and its control over muscles. The nervous system is divided into two parts — somatic and autonomic. The somatic nervous system operates muscles that are under voluntary control. The autonomic (automatic or visceral) nervous system regulates individual organ function and is involuntary. Opening the mouth is voluntary while blushing is involuntary.
A joint is the area where two bones are attached for the purpose of motion of body parts. A joint is usually formed of fibrous connective tissue and cartilage. An articulation or an arthrosis is the same as a joint.
Joints are grouped according to their motion: a ball and socket joint; a hinge joint; a condyloid joint (a joint that permits all forms of angular movement except axial rotation); a pivot joint; gliding joint; and a saddle joint.
Joints can move in four and only four ways:
– occurs only between long bones, increasing or decreasing the angle between the bones;
– occurs in joints composed of the head of a bone and an articular cavity, the long bone describing a series of circles, the whole forming a cone; and
– a bone moves about a central axis without moving from this axis.
The word “joint” comes from the Latin “junctio” meaning a joining (as in a junction).
Magnetic resonance imaging
A special radiology technique designed to image internal structures of the body using magnetism, radio waves, and a computer to produce the images of body structures. In magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the scanner is a tube surrounded by a giant circular magnet. The patient is placed on a moveable bed that is inserted into the magnet. The magnet creates a strong magnetic field that aligns the protons of hydrogen atoms, which are then exposed to a beam of radio waves. This spins the various protons of the body, and they produce a faint signal that is detected by the receiver portion of the MRI scanner. A computer processes the receiver information, and an image is produced. The image and resolution is quite detailed and can detect tiny changes of structures within the body, particularly in the soft tissue, brain and spinal cord, abdomen and joints.
The whole range of biochemical processes that occur within us (or any living organism). Metabolism consists both of anabolism and catabolism (the buildup and breakdown of substances, respectively). The term is commonly used to refer specifically to the breakdown of food and its transformation into energy.
An abnormally small head due to failure of brain growth. In precise terms, microcephaly is a head circumference that is more than 2 standard deviations below the normal mean for age, sex, race, and gestation. (Some authorities define microcephaly as more than 3 standard deviations below the mean.)
Microcephaly may be congenital (present at birth) or it may become evident in the first few years of life when the head fails to grow while the face continues to develop at a normal rate, producing a child with a small head, a relatively large face, and receding forehead. As the child grows older, the smallness of the head becomes more obvious.
Microcephaly is often equated with developmental delay and mental retardation. However, not all children with microcephaly are mentally retarded. The development of motorskills and speech may be delayed. Convulsions may also occur in some cases. Motor ability may be impaired and range from clumsiness in some children to spasticquadriplegia in others.
Microcephaly stems from a wide variety of problems that can cause abnormal growth of the brain including infections, radiation, medications, chromosome abnormalities and genetic diseases.
In medicine, having to do with the movement of a part of the body. Something that produces motion or refers to motion. For example, a motor neuron is a nerve cell that conveys an impulse to a muscle causing it to contract. The term “motor” today is also applied to a nerve that signals a gland to secrete. Motor is as opposed to sensory.
Muscle is the tissue of the body which primarily functions as a source of power. There are three types of muscle in the body. Muscle which is responsible for moving extremities and external areas of the body is called “skeletal muscle.” Heart muscle is called “cardiac muscle.” Muscle that is in the walls of arteries and bowel is called “smooth muscle.”
The art and science of caring medically for the newborn.
Nervous system (human)
The sum total of the tissues that record and distribute information within a person, and does so by electrical and chemical means.
The nervous system has two distinct parts
central and peripheral. The central part is made up of the brain and spinal cord. Together they are the central nervous system (CNS). The peripheral part of the nervous system is said to be peripheral because it is outside the CNS. The function of the peripheral nervous system is to transmit information back and forth between the CNS and the rest of the body.
The human nervous system contains approximately 10 billion nerve cells. These neurons are the basic building blocks of the nervous system. Neurons consist of the nerve cell body and various extensions from the cell body. These extensions, or processes, are the dendrites (branches off the cell that receive electrical impulses), the axon (the electrical wiring and conduit tube that conducts impulses), and specialized endings (terminal areas to transfer impulses to receivers on other nerves or muscles).
A doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the nervous system.
the brain’s natural ability to form new connections in order to compensate for injury or changes in one’s environment; also called brain plasticity.
Source: neuroplasticity. (n.d.). Webster’s New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7). Retrieved July 28, 2008, from Dictionary.com
The state of being well above one’s normal weight.
A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are more than 20 percent over their ideal weight. That ideal weight must take into account the person’s height, age, sex, and build.
Obesity has been more precisely defined by the National Institutes of Health (the NIH) as a BMI of 30 and above. (A BMI of 30 is about 30 pounds overweight.)
The BMI (body mass index), a key index for relating body weight to height, is a person’s weight in kilograms (kg) divided by their height in meters (m) squared. Since the BMI describes the body weight relative to height, it correlates strongly (in adults) with the total body fat content. Some very muscular people may have a high BMI without undue health risks.
Obesity is often multifactorial, based on both genetic and behavioral factors. Accordingly, treatment of obesity usually requires more than just dietary changes. Exercise, counseling and support, and sometimes medication can supplement diet to help patients conquer weight problems. Extreme diets, on the other hand, can actually contribute to increased obesity.
Overweight is a significant contributor to health problems. It increases the risk of developing a number of diseases including:
Stroke (cerebrovascular accident or CVA)
Gallstones and gall bladder disease (cholecystitis)
Osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis) of the knees, hips, and the lower back
A licensed health professional who is trained to evaluate patients with joint conditions, such as arthritis, to determine the impact the disease on their activities of daily living. Occupational therapists can design and prescribe assistive devices that can improve the quality of the activities of daily living for patients with arthritis and other conditions of the muscles and joints.
Thinning of the bones with reduction in bone mass due to depletion of calcium and bone protein. Osteoporosis predisposes a person to fractures, which are often slow to heal and heal poorly. It is more common in older adults, particularly post-menopausal women; in patients on steroids; and in those who take steroidal drugs. Unchecked osteoporosis can lead to changes in posture, physical abnormality (particularly the form of hunched back known colloquially as “dowager’s hump“), and decreased mobility.
Paralysis, generally partial, whereby a local body area is incapable of voluntary movement (motor function). For example, Bell’s palsy is localized paralysis of the muscles on one side of the face. The word “palsy” is a corruption (and contracture) of the French word “paralysie” which means “paralysis.”
A doctor who identifies diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope.
Pertaining to children.
A person trained and certified by a state or accrediting body to design and implement physical therapy programs. Physical therapists may work within a hospital or clinic, in a school providing assistance to special education students, or as an independent practitioner.
A branch of rehabilitative health that uses specially designed exercises and equipment to help patients regain or improve their physical abilities. Physical therapists work with many types of patients, from infants born with musculoskeletal birth defects, to adults suffering from sciatica or the after- effects of injury, to elderly post-stroke patients.
The carriage of the body as a whole, the attitude of the body, or the position of the limbs (the arms and legs).
“Postural” pertains to the posture or position. For example, postural hypotension is a drop in blood pressure (hypotension) due to a change in body position (a change in posture) when a person moves to a more vertical position: from sitting to standing or from lying down to sitting or standing.
a form of toxemia of pregnancy, characterized by hypertension, fluid retention, and albuminuria, sometimes progressing to eclampsia.
A birth that takes place before 37 weeks of gestation have passed. Historically, the definition of prematurity was 2500 grams (about 5 1/2 pounds) or less at birth. The currentWorld Health Organization definition of prematurity is a baby born before 37 weeks of gestation, counting from the first day of the Last Menstrual Period (the LMP).
Premature birth carries greater risks the earlier it occurs before that 37-week goal. Many procedures are available to prevent early birth, from bed rest to medications. If premature birth is medically necessary or inevitable, however, it may be accomplished via C-sectionto limit stress on the fetus and protect it from damage.
Occurring or existing before birth.
Prenatal care is the regular health care women should receive during pregnancy from an obstetrician or midwife.
Prenatal development is the growth and development of a single-celled zygote formed by the combination of a sperm and an egg into a baby.
Prenatal diagnosis is diagnosis before birth by techniques such as ultrasound, chorionic villus sampling (CVS), and amniocentesis.
The “medical home” for a patient, ideally providing continuity and integration of health care. All family physicians and most pediatricians and internists are in primary care. The aims of primary care are to provide the patient with a broad spectrum of care, both preventive and curative, over a period of time and to coordinate all of the care the patient receives.
1. The expected course of a disease. 2. The patient’s chance of recovery. The prognosis predicts the outcome of a disease and therefore the future for the patient. His prognosis is grim, for example, while hers is good.
Increasing in scope or severity. Advancing. Going forward. In medicine, a disease that is progressive is going from bad to worse.
Weakness of all four limbs, both arms and both legs, as for example from muscular dystrophy.
Paralysis of all four limbs, both arms and both legs, as from a high spinal cord accident or stroke.
Quality of life
An important consideration in medical care, quality of life refers to the patient’s ability to enjoy normal life activities. Some medical treatments can seriously impair quality of life without providing appreciable benefit, while others greatly enhance quality of life.
Range of motion
The range through which a joint can be moved, usually its range of flexion and extension. Due to an injury, the knee may for example lack 10 degrees of full extension.
Red blood cells
The blood cells that carry oxygen. Red cells contain hemoglobin and it is the hemoglobin which permits them to transport oxygen (and carbon dioxide). Hemoglobin, aside from being a transport molecule, is a pigment. It gives the cells their red color (and their name).
A reaction that is involuntary. The corneal reflex is the blink that occurs with irritation of the eye. The nasal reflex is a sneeze.
The term used when liquid backs up into the esophagus from the stomach.
Having to do with respiration, the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Something that increases a person’s chances of developing a disease.
The degree of scoliosis may range from mild to severe. Scoliosis is often an incidental and harmless finding. People with mild curves may only need to visit the doctor periodically for observation. Persons with more severe scoliosis may require treatment — bracing, casting or surgical correction. Of every 1,000 children, 3 to 5 develop spinal curves that are considered severe enough to need treatment.
Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (“idiopathic” means “of unknown cause”) is the most common type and appears after the age of 10. Girls are more likely than boys to have this type of scoliosis. Scoliosis can run in families so that a child who has a parent, brother, or sister with idiopathic scoliosis should be checked regularly for this condition.
Kyphosis is a related but distinct condition. It is an outward curvature of the spine which results in a humped back.
Kyphoscoliosis refers to a combination of kyphosis and scoliosis in which the spine is twisted and curved both outwardly and sideways.
Uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain, which may produce a physical convulsion, minor physical signs, thought disturbances, or a combination of symptoms.
The type of symptoms and seizures depend on where the abnormal electrical activity takes place in the brain, what its cause is, and such factors as the patient’s age and general state of health.
Seizures can be caused by head injuries, brain tumors, lead poisoning, maldevelopment of the brain, genetic and infectious illnesses, and fevers. In fully half of the patients with seizures, no cause can yet be found.
A state of increased tone of a muscle (and an increase in the deep tendon reflexes). For example, with spasticity of the legs (spastic paraplegia) there is an increase in tone of the leg muscles so they feel tight and rigid and the knee jerk reflex is exaggerated.
The treatment of speech and communication disorders. The approach used depends on the disorder. It may include physical exercises to strengthen the muscles used in speech (oral-motor work), speech drills to improve clarity, or sound production practice to improve articulation.
The major column of nerve tissue that is connected to the brain and lies within the vertebral canal and from which the spinal nerves emerge. Thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves originate in the spinal cord: 8 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, and 1 coccygeal. The spinal cord and the brain constitute the central nervous system (CNS). The spinal cord consists of nerve fibers that transmit impulses to and from the brain. Like the brain, the spinal cord is covered by three connective-tissue envelopes called the meninges. The space between the outer and middle envelopes is filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), a clear colorless fluid that cushions the spinal cord against jarring shock.
1) The column of bone known as the vertebral column, which surrounds and protects the spinal cord. The spine can be categorized according to level of the body: i.e., cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (upper and middle back), and lumbar spine (lower back). See also vertebral column. 2) Any short prominence of bone. The spines of the vertebrae protrude at the base of the back of the neck and in the middle of the back. These spines protect the spinal cord from injury from behind.
A condition in which the visual axes of the eyes are not parallel and the eyes appear to be looking in different directions. In divergent strabismus, or exotropia, the visual axes diverge. If the visual axes converge, it is called convergent strabismus or esotropia. The danger with strabismus is that the brain cones may come to rely more on one eye than the other and that part of the brain circuitry connected to the less-favored eye fails to develop properly, leading to amblyopia (blindness) in that eye.
The classic treatment for mild-to-moderate strabismus has long been an eyepatch, covering the stronger eye with a patch, forcing the weaker eye to do enough work to catch up. However, eyedrops can work as well as an eyepatch in correcting moderate lazy eye and preventing the development of amblyopia (blindness). Atropine eyedrops are instilled daily in the stronger (dominant) eye. The atropine works by blurring rather than blocking vision in the stronger eye.
Severe strabismus may require surgery. The surgery is designed to increase or decrease the tension of the small muscles outside the eye. (These muscles are called the extraocular eye muscles. The six extraocular eye muscles move the eye in all directions.) When strabismus surgery is needed, the sooner it is done, the better the chance of the child achieving normal binocular vision.
Adults sometimes also need strabismus surgery. This can be done in a standard manner, as in children. Or adjustable suture surgery may be done because scarring from old eye surgery, inflammation from eye muscle disease, or neurological eye weakness makes it difficult to gauge how much tension to take up or let out to straighten the eyes. With adjustable suture surgery, it is possible to adjust the tension of the muscles after the surgery.
The sudden death of some brain cells due to a lack of oxygen when the blood flow to the brain is impaired by blockage or rupture of an artery to the brain. A stroke is also called a cerebrovascular accident or, for short, a CVA.
Symptoms of a stroke depend on the area of the brain affected. The most common symptom is weakness or paralysis of one side of the body with partial or complete loss of voluntary movement or sensation in a leg or arm. There can be speech problems and weak face muscles, causing drooling. Numbness or tingling is very common. A stroke involving the base of the brain can affect balance, vision, swallowing, breathing and even unconsciousness.
A set of signs and symptoms that tend to occur together and which reflect the presence of a particular disease or an increased chance of developing a particular disease.
The tissue by which a muscle attaches to bone. A tendon is somewhat flexible, but fibrous and tough. When a tendon becomes inflamed, the condition is referred to astendonitis or tendonitis. Inflamed tendons are at risk for rupture.
Tendons are like ligaments in being tough, flexible cords. But tendons differ from ligaments in that tendons extend from muscle to bone whereas ligaments go from bone to bone as at a joint. Despite their tough fibrous nature, tendons and ligaments are both considered “soft tissue,” that is soft as compared to cartilage or bone.
A tissue in medicine is not like a piece of tissue paper. It is a broad term that is applied to any group of cells that perform specific functions. A tissue in medicine need not form a layer. Thus:
The bone marrow is a tissue; Connective tissue consists of cells that make up fibers in the framework supporting other body tissues; and Lymphoid tissue is the part of the body’s immune system that helps protect it from bacteria and other foreign entities.
Tone (Physiology) the normal state of tension or responsiveness of the organs or tissues of the body.
The organs of the body that produce and discharge urine. These include the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra
The part of the brain that contains myelinated nerve fibers. The white matter is white because it is the color of myelin, the insulation covering the nerve fibers. The white matter is as opposed to the gray matter (the cortex of the brain which contains nerve cell bodies).
Womb (or Uterus)
The womb (or uterus) is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in a woman’s lower abdomen between the bladder and the rectum. The narrow, lower portion of the uterus is the cervix; the broader, upper part is the corpus. The corpus is made up of two layers of tissue. In women of childbearing age, the inner layer of the uterus (endometrium) goes through a series of monthly changes known as the menstrual cycle. Each month, endometrial tissue grows and thickens in preparation to receive a fertilized egg. Menstruation occurs when this tissue is not used, disintegrates, and passes out through the vagina. The outer layer of the corpus (myometrium) is muscular tissue that expands duringpregnancy to hold the growing fetus and contracts during labor to deliver the child.