National Digestive Diseases
Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC)

A service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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Digestive Diseases Dictionary E - K


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E. coli
(ee) (KOH-ly)

see Escherichia coli.


see esophagogastroduodenoscopy.


a procedure that uses an electrical current passed through an instrument to stop bleeding.


chemicals in the body fluids that are parts of salts, including sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride.


see enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


accidental passage of a bowel movement. A common disorder in children.


a small, flexible tube with a light and a camera on the end that is used to look into the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, colon, or rectum. It can also be used to take tissue from the body for testing or to take color photographs of the inside of the body. Colonoscopes and sigmoidoscopes are types of endoscopes.

endoscopic papillotomy
(en-doh-SKOP-ik) (PAP-ih-LOT-uh-mee)

see endoscopic sphincterotomy.

endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
(en-doh-SKOP-ik) (RET-roh-grayd) (koh-LAN-jee-oh-PAN-kree-uh-TOG-ruh-fee)

a test that uses an x ray to look into the bile and pancreatic ducts. The doctor inserts an endoscope through the mouth into the duodenum and bile ducts. Dye is sent through the tube into the ducts, which makes the ducts show up on an x ray.

endoscopic sphincterotomy
(en-doh-SKOP-ik) (SFINGK-tur-OT-uh-mee)

an operation to cut the muscle between the common bile duct and the pancreatic duct. The operation uses a catheter and wire to remove gallstones or other blockages. Also called endoscopic papillotomy.


a procedure that uses an endoscope to diagnose or treat a condition.


a liquid put into the rectum to clear out the bowel or administer drugs.

enteral nutrition
(EN-tur-uhl) (noo-TRISH-uhn)

a way to provide food through a tube placed in the nose, stomach, or small intestine. A tube in the nose is called a nasogastric or nasoenteral tube. A tube may be placed into the stomach or small intestine through a hole called a gastrostomy, percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG), jejunostomy, or percutaneous endoscopic jejunostomy (PEJ). Also called tube feeding.


an irritation of the small intestine.


a hernia in the intestines. See hernia.

enterokinase deficiency
(EN-tur-oh-KY-nayss) (duh-FISH-en-see)

a rare disorder of protein malabsorption.


an examination of the small intestine with an endoscope. The endoscope is inserted through the mouth and stomach into the small intestine.

enterostomal therapy (ET) nurse
(EN-tur-oh-STOH-muhl) (THAIR-uh-pee) (nurss)

a nurse who cares for patients who have an ostomy.


an ostomy, or opening, into the intestines through the abdominal wall.


proteins in the body that control chemical reactions in the body, including energy production and metabolism.

enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
(EN-zym-linkt) (IM-yoo-noh-SOR-bent) (ASS-say)

a type of blood test usually used to measure antibodies.

eosinophilic esophagitis
(EE-oh-sin-oh-FIL-ik) (uh-SOF-uh-JY-tiss)

a disease in which the lining of the esophagus becomes infiltrated with a type of white blood cell called an eosinophil.

eosinophilic gastroenteritis
(EE-oh-sin-oh-FIL-ik) (GASS-troh-en-tur-EYE-tiss)

an irritation of the stomach, small intestine, or large intestine caused by a type of white blood cell called an eosinophil.

epithelial cells
(EP-ih-THEE-lee-uhl) (selz)

one of many kinds of cells that form the epithelium and absorb nutrients.


the inner and outer tissue covering digestive tract organs.


see endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography.


a noisy release of gas from the stomach through the mouth. Also called belching or burping.

erythema nodosum
(AIR-ih-THEE-muh) (NOH-doh-suhm)

swelling or red sores on the lower legs during flare-ups of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. These sores show that the disease is active and usually go away when the disease is treated.

Escherichia coli (E. coli)
(esh-uh-RIK-ee-uh) (KOH-ly)

a family of bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract. Some forms may cause diarrhea.

esophageal atresia
(uh-SOF-uh-JEE-uhl) (uh-TREE-zee-uh)

a birth defect in which the esophagus lacks the opening to allow food to pass into the stomach.

Drawing of a normally developed esophagus with labels pointing to the esophagus and trachea.
Normal esophageal development.

Drawing of one form of esophageal atresia with labels pointing to the esophagus and trachea.
One form of esophageal atresia.

esophageal manometry
(uh-SOF-uh-JEE-uhl) (muh-NOM-uh-tree)

a test to measure muscle contraction in the esophagus.

esophageal perforation
(uh-SOF-uh-JEE-uhl) (PUR-foh-RAY-shuhn)

a hole in the esophagus, which may be caused by a disease or medical procedure.

esophageal pH monitoring
(uh-SOF-uh-JEE-uhl) (PEE-AYCH) (MON-ih-tur-ing)

a test to measure the amount of acid in the esophagus.

esophageal reflux
(uh-SOF-uh-JEE-uhl) (REE-fluhks)

see gastroesophageal reflux disease.

esophageal spasms
(uh-SOF-uh-JEE-uhl) (SPA-zumz)

muscle contractions in the esophagus that cause pain in the chest or trouble swallowing.

esophageal stricture
(uh-SOF-uh-JEE-uhl) (STRIK-choor)

a narrowing of the esophagus often caused by acid flowing back from the stomach or cancer. This condition may require surgery.

esophageal ulcer
(uh-SOF-uh-JEE-uhl) (UHL-sur)

a sore in the esophagus caused by long-term inflammation, infection, pills, or cancer.

esophageal varices
(uh-SOF-uh-JEE-uhl) (VAIR-ih-seez)

large veins in the esophagus that occur when the liver is not working properly. If the veins burst, the bleeding can cause death.


an irritation of the esophagus, usually caused by acid that flows up from the stomach.

esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)

an exam of the upper digestive tract using an endoscope. See endoscopy.


the organ that connects the mouth to the stomach. Also called the gullet.


see extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy.

ET nurse
(EE-TEE) (nurss)

see enterostomal therapy nurse.


when the body gets rid of waste.

extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL)
(EKS-truh-kor-POH-ree-uhl) (shok) (wayv) (LITH-oh-TRIP-see)

a method of breaking up bile stones, gallstones, and pancreatic and renal stones that uses a specialized tool and shock waves.

extrahepatic biliary tree
(EKS-truh-heh-PAT-ik) (BIL-ee-air-ee) (tree)

the bile ducts located outside the liver.


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failure to thrive
(FAYL-yoor) (too) (thryv)

a condition that occurs when a child grows at a slower-than-normal rate.

familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
(fa-MIL-ee-uhl) (AD-uh-NOH-muh-tuhss) (PAHL-ee-POH-siss)

an inherited disease characterized by the presence of 100 or more polyps in the colon. The polyps lead to colorectal cancer if not treated.


see familial adenomatous polyposis.


  1. one of the three main nutrients in food. Foods that provide fat are butter, margarine, salad dressing, oil, nuts, meat, poultry, fish, and some dairy products.
  2. a greasy liquid or solid material found in the human body, animals, and some plants. In the body, excess calories are stored as fat, providing a reserve supply of energy.

fatty liver
(FAT-ee) (LIV-ur)

see steatosis.

fecal fat test
(FEE-kuhl) (fat) (test)

a test to measure the body's ability to break down and absorb fat by examining stool for fat.

fecal incontinence
(FEE-kuhl) (in-KON-tih-nenss)

being unable to hold stool in the colon and rectum.

fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
(FEE-kuhl) (uh-KUHLT) (bluhd) (test)

a test to see whether there is blood in the stool that is not visible to the naked eye. A sample of stool is placed on a chemical strip that changes color if blood is present. Hidden blood in the stool may be a sign of colorectal cancer.

Drawing of hands holding a card containing a stool sample with the stool sample labeled. A drop of liquid is being applied to the stool sample to test for fecal occult blood.
Fecal occult blood test.


the solid waste that passes through the rectum as a bowel movement. Feces are undigested food, bacteria, mucus, and dead cells. Also called stool.


the process of bacteria breaking down undigested food and releasing alcohols, acids, and gases.


see fulminant hepatic failure.


a substance in foods that comes from plants. Fiber helps keep stool soft so that it moves smoothly through the colon. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is found in beans, fruit, and oat products. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and is found in whole-grain products and vegetables.


an abnormal passage between two organs, or between an organ and the outside of the body, caused when damaged tissues come into contact and join together while healing.


excessive gas in the stomach or intestine that can cause bloating and flatus.


gas passed through the rectum.


see fecal occult blood test.

foodborne illness
(FOOD-born) (IL-ness)

an acute gastrointestinal infection caused by food that contains harmful bacteria or toxins. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and chills.

fulminant hepatic failure (FHF)
(FUL-mih-nuhnt) (heh-PAT-ik) (FAYL-yoor)

liver failure that occurs suddenly in a previously healthy person. The most common causes of FHF are acute hepatitis, acetaminophen overdose, and liver damage from prescription drugs.

functional disorders
(FUHNK-shuhn-uhl) (diss-OR-durz)

disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome that are of unknown cause. Symptoms such as gas, pain, constipation, and diarrhea come back repeatedly but without signs of disease or damage. Emotional stress can trigger symptoms. Also called motility disorders.


a mold or yeast such as Candida that may cause infection.


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a type of sugar in milk products and sugar beets. The body also makes galactose.


a buildup of galactose in the blood caused by the lack of one of the enzymes needed to break down galactose.


the organ that stores the bile made in the liver and that is connected to the liver by bile ducts. The gallbladder can store about 2 tablespoons of bile. Eating signals the gallbladder to empty the bile through the bile ducts to help the body digest fats.


the solid masses or stones made of cholesterol or bilirubin that form in the gallbladder or bile ducts.

Drawing of the biliary system including the gallbladder with gallstones. Labels point to the liver, small bile duct, gallbladder with stones, pancreas, and duodenum. Gallstones are shown in the labeled hepatic duct, cystic duct, common bile duct, pancreatic ducts, and greater duodenal papilla, also called ampulla of Vater.

Gardner's syndrome
(GARD-nurz) SIN-drohm)

a condition in which many polyps form throughout the digestive tract. Because these polyps are likely to become cancerous, the colon and rectum are often removed to prevent colorectal cancer.


air that results from the normal breakdown of food. The gases are passed out of the body through the rectum (flatus) or the mouth (burping).


an operation to remove all or part of the stomach.


related to the stomach.

gastric hypersecretion
(GASS-trik) (HY-pur-see-KREE-shuhn)

the oversecretion of gastric acid and the hallmark symptom of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.

gastric juices
(GASS-trik) (JOO-sez)

liquids produced in the stomach to help break down food and kill bacteria.

gastric resection
(GASS-trik) (ree-SEK-shuhn)

an operation to remove part or all of the stomach.

gastric ulcer
(GASS-trik) (UHL-sur)

an open sore in the lining of the stomach. Also called stomach ulcer.


a hormone released after eating that causes the stomach to produce more acid.


inflammation of the stomach lining.

gastrocolic reflex
(GASS-troh-KOL-ik) (REE-fleks)

an increase of muscle movement in the gastrointestinal tract when food enters an empty stomach. It may cause the urge to have a bowel movement right after eating.


an infection or irritation of the stomach and intestines, which may be caused by viruses or by bacteria or parasites from spoiled food or unclean water. Other causes include eating food that irritates the stomach lining and emotional upsets such as anger, fear, or stress. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping. See infectious diarrhea and traveler's diarrhea.

Some Causes of Gastroenteritis

  • Bacteria
    • Escherichia coli
    • Salmonella
    • Shigella
  • Viruses
    • Norwalk virus
    • Rotavirus
  • Parasites
    • Cryptosporidia
    • Entamoeba histolytica
    • Giardia lamblia


a doctor who specializes in digestive diseases.


the field of medicine focusing on the function and disorders of the digestive system.

gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
(GASS-troh-uh-SOF-uh-JEE-uhl) (REE-fluhks) (dih-ZEEZ)

a condition in which stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus. GERD happens when the muscle between the esophagus and the stomach (the lower esophageal sphincter) is weak or relaxes when it should not. It may cause esophagitis. Also called esophageal reflux or reflux esophagitis.

gastrointestinal (GI)

related to the gastrointestinal tract.

gastrointestinal duplications
(GASS-troh-in-TESS-tin-uhl) (DOO-plih-KAY-shuhnz)

rare, smooth cystic structures attached to the border of the intestines, which are most commonly seen in the ileum.

gastrointestinal tract (GI tract)
(GASS-troh-in-TESS-tin-uhl) (trakt)

the large, muscular tube that extends from the mouth to the anus, where the movement of muscles, along with the release of hormones and enzymes, allows for the digestion of food. Also called the alimentary canal or digestive tract.


nerve or muscle damage in the stomach that causes slow emptying, vomiting, nausea, or bloating. Also called delayed gastric emptying.


an artificial opening from the stomach to a hole (stoma) in the abdomen where a feeding tube is inserted. See enteral nutrition.


see gastroesophageal reflux disease.


see gastrointestinal.


an infection of the parasite Giardia lamblia caused by spoiled food or unclean water. It can cause diarrhea. See gastroenteritis.

Gilbert syndrome
(zheel-BAIR) (SIN-drohm)

a buildup of bilirubin in the blood caused by the lack of a liver enzyme needed to break it down. See bilirubin.

GI tract
(JEE-EYE) (trakt)

see gastrointestinal tract.

globus sensation
(GLOH-buhss) (sen-SAY-shuhn)

a constant feeling of a lump in the throat that is usually related to stress.


a simple sugar the body manufactures from carbohydrates in the diet. Glucose is the body's main source of energy. See carbohydrates.


a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. In people with celiac disease, gluten damages the lining of the small intestine or causes sores on the skin. See celiac disease.

gluten intolerance
(GLOO-tuhn) (in-TOL-ur-uhnss)

see celiac disease.

gluten sensitive enteropathy
(GLOO-tuhn) (SEN-sih-tiv) (EN-tur-OP-uh-thee)

a general term that refers to celiac disease and dermatitis herpetiformis.


the stored form of sugar in the liver and muscles that releases glucose into the blood when cells need it for energy. Glycogen is the chief source of stored fuel in the body.

glycogen storage diseases
(GLY-koh-jen) (STOR-uhj) (dih-ZEEZ-iz)

a group of birth defects that changes the way the liver breaks down glycogen.


a type of immune reaction seen in some diseases.

granulomatous colitis
(GRAN-yoo-LOM-uh-tuhss) (koh-LY-tiss)

another name for Crohn's disease of the colon.

granulomatous enteritis
(GRAN-yoo-LOM-uh-tuhss) (EN-tur-EYE-tiss)

another name for Crohn's disease of the small intestine.


see esophagus.


see intestines.


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H2 blockers

medicines that reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces. Histamine2 (H2) signals the stomach to make acid. Examples of H2 blockers include cimetidine, famotidine, nizatidine, and ranitidine. (Brand names: Tagamet, Pepcid, Axid, Zantac.) They are used to treat ulcer symptoms. Nonprescription H2 blockers are Zantac 75, Axid AR, Pepcid-AC, and Tagamet-HB.


see hepatitis B immunoglobulin.

heartburn (HART-burn)

a painful, burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid flowing back into the esophagus. Changing the diet and other lifestyle habits can help prevent heartburn. Heartburn may be a symptom of GERD. See gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Tips to Control Heartburn

  • Avoid foods and beverages that worsen symptoms or irritate the esophagus lining, such as fried, spicy, and acidic foods.
  • Lose weight if overweight.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Elevate the head of the bed 6 inches.
  • Avoid lying down 2 to 3 hours after eating.
  • Take an antacid.

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
(HEL-uh-koh-BAK-tur) (py-LOR-eye)

a spiral-shaped bacterium found in the stomach. H. pylori damages the stomach and tissue in the first part of the small intestine, causing ulcers. Previously called Campylobacter pylori.


a disease that occurs when the body absorbs too much iron or receives many blood transfusions. The body stores the excess iron in the liver, pancreas, and other organs and can cause cirrhosis. Also called iron overload disease.


an operation to remove hemorrhoids.


swollen blood vessels in and around the anus and lower rectum. Continual straining to have a bowel movement causes them to stretch and swell. They cause itching, pain, and sometimes bleeding.

Drawing of the rectum and anus with an internal hemorrhoid and an external hemorrhoid labeled.


related to the liver.

hepatic coma
(heh-PAT-ik) (KOH-muh)

see hepatic encephalopathy.

hepatic encephalopathy
(heh-PAT-ik) (en-SEF-uh-LAW-puh-thee)

a condition that may cause loss of consciousness and coma. It is usually the result of advanced liver disease. Also called hepatic coma.


an irritation of the liver that sometimes causes permanent damage. Hepatitis may be caused by viruses, medicines, or toxins.

hepatitis A
(HEP-uh-TY-tiss) (ay)

a virus most often spread through unclean food and water.

hepatitis B
(HEP-uh-TY-tiss) (bee)

a virus commonly spread through sexual intercourse, blood transfusion, sharing needles with infected people, or from mother to newborn at birth. Hepatitis B is more common and much more easily spread than the AIDS virus and may lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HBIg)
(HEP-uh-TY-tiss) (bee) (IM-yoo-noh-GLOB-yoo-lin)

a vaccination that gives short-term protection against hepatitis B.

hepatitis B vaccine
(HEP-uh-TY-tiss) (bee) (vak-SEEN)

a vaccination to prevent hepatitis B. The vaccine leads the body to make its own protection (antibodies) against the virus.

hepatitis C
(HEP-uh-TY-tiss) (see)

a virus spread by blood transfusion (prior to July 1992) and possibly by sexual intercourse or sharing needles with infected people. Hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis C used to be called non-A, non-B hepatitis.

hepatitis D
(HEP-uh-TY-tiss) (dee)

a virus that occurs mostly in people who share needles with infected people. Only people who have hepatitis B can get hepatitis D.

hepatitis E
(HEP-uh-TY-tiss) (ee)

a virus spread mostly through unclean water. This type of hepatitis is common in developing countries. It has not occurred in the United States.


a doctor who specializes in liver diseases.


the field of medicine focusing on the functions and disorders of the liver.

hepatorenal syndrome
(HEP-uh-toh-REE-nuhl) (SIN-drohm)

unexplained kidney failure seen in people with severe liver or biliary tract disease.


refers to damage a medicine or other substance does to the liver.


the part of an internal organ that pushes through an opening in the organ’s wall. Most hernias occur in the abdominal area. For an example, see inguinal hernia.


an operation to repair a hernia.

hiatal hernia
(hy-AY-tuhl) (HUR-nee-uh)

an opening in the diaphragm that allows the upper part of the stomach to move up into the chest. It may cause heartburn from stomach acid flowing back up through the opening. See diaphragm. Also called hiatus hernia.

Drawing of a hiatal hernia with the esophagus, diaphragm, and hiatal hernia labeled.
Hiatal hernia.

Hirschsprung disease
(HURSH-spruhng) (dih-ZEEZ)

a birth defect in which some nerve cells are lacking in the large intestine, causing the intestine not to move stool and become blocked. It causes the abdomen to swell. See megacolon.


a natural chemical produced in one part of the body and released into the blood to trigger or regulate particular functions of the body. The digestive system makes a large number of different hormones.

H. pylori
(aych) (py-LOR-eye)

see Helicobacter pylori.

hydrochloric acid
(HY-droh-KLOR-ik) (ASS-id)

an acid made in the stomach that works with pepsin and other enzymes to break down proteins.


an odorless, colorless, flammable gas that combines chemically to form water.

hydrogen breath test
(HY-droh-jen) (breth) (test)

a test for lactose intolerance that measures breath samples for hydrogen levels. The body makes too much hydrogen when lactose is not broken down properly in the small intestine.


see parenteral nutrition.


the condition of having too much bilirubin in the blood, which occurs when the liver does not work normally or blood breaks down too quickly. Symptoms include jaundice.


having too much hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

hyperplastic polyps
(HY-pur-PLASS-tik) (POL-ips)

the most common form of polyps, usually found in the sigmoid colon and rectum. These polyps are not thought to progress to cancer.

hypoproteinemic hypertrophic gastritis
(HY-poh-PROH-teen-EE-mik) (HY-pur-TROF-ik) (gass-TRY-tiss)

see Ménétrier disease.


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see inflammatory bowel disease.


see irritable bowel syndrome.


related to the ileum, the lowest end of the small intestine.

ileal pouch
(IL-ee-uhl) (pouch)

see ileoanal reservoir.


see Crohn's disease.

ileoanal pouch anastomosis
(IL-ee-oh-AY-nuhl) (pouch) (uh-NASS-toh-MOH-siss)

an operation to remove the colon and inner lining of the rectum. The outer muscle of the rectum is not removed. The bottom end of the small intestine (ileum) is pulled through the remaining rectum and joined to the anus, allowing stool to pass normally. Also called ileoanal pull-through intestine.

ileoanal pull-through intestine
(IL-ee-oh-AY-nuhl) (PUL-throo) (in-TESS-tin)

see ileoanal pouch anastomosis.

Drawing of an ileoanal pouch anastomosis with the ileum, ileal reservoir, rectal cuff, anus, and anal sphincter labeled.
Ileoanal pouch anastomosis.

ileoanal reservoir
(IL-ee-oh-AY-nuhl) (REZ-ur-vwar)

a colonlike pouch created from the last several inches of the ileum. The pouch allows stool to exit through the anus after the colon is removed. Also called a J-pouch or pelvic pouch.

ileocecal valve
(IL-ee-oh-SEE-kuhl) (valv)

one or more flaps of tissue between the lower part of the small intestine (ileum) and the upper part of the large intestine (cecum).


irritation of the lower part of the small intestine (ileum) and the beginning part of the colon.


an operation that attaches the small intestine to an opening in the abdomen called a stoma. An ostomy pouch, attached to the stoma and worn outside the body, collects stool.


the lower end of the small intestine.


when an object is trapped in a body passage. Examples are stones in the bile duct, hardened stool in the colon, or food in the esophagus.

imperforate anus
(im-PUR-foh-rayt) (AY-nuhss)

a birth defect in which the anal canal fails to develop. The condition is treated with an operation.


see dyspepsia.

infectious diarrhea
(in-FEK-shuhss) (DY-uh-REE-uh)

diarrhea caused by infection from bacteria, viruses, or parasites. See traveler's diarrhea and gastroenteritis.

infectious gastroenteritis
(in-FEK-shuhss) (GASS-troh-en-tur-EYE-tiss)

see gastroenteritis.

inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
(in-FLAM-uh-toh-ree) (boul) (dih-ZEEZ)

long-lasting disorders that cause irritation and ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract. The most common disorders are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

inguinal hernia
(ING-gwih-nuhl) (HUR-nee-uh)

a condition in which intra-abdominal fat or part of the small intestine bulges through a weak area in the lower abdominal muscles.

Drawing of an inguinal hernia with the small intestine, internal inguinal ring, external inguinal ring, spermatic cord, and testes labeled.
Inguinal hernia.

intestinal adhesions
(in-TESS-tih-nuhl) (ad-HEE-zhuhnz)

bands of fibrous tissue that can connect the loops of the intestines to each other, to other abdominal organs, or to the abdominal wall. These bands can pull sections of the intestines out of place and may block the passage of food.

intestinal flora
(in-TESS-tih-nuhl) (FLOH-ruh)

the bacteria, yeasts, and fungi that normally grow in the intestines and colon.

intestinal mucosa
(in-TESS-tih-nuhl) (myoo-KOH-suh)

the inner surface lining of the intestines where the cells absorb nutrients.

intestinal pseudo-obstruction
(in-TESS-tih-nuhl) (SOO-doh-ob-STRUHK-shuhn)

a disorder that causes symptoms of blockage, but no actual blockage, such as constipation, vomiting, and pain. See obstruction.


also called the gut. See large intestine and small intestine.


a reaction to a food, drug, or other substance.


a disorder that causes part of the intestines to fold into another part, causing blockage. It is most common in infants and can be treated with an operation.

iron overload disease
(EYE-urn) (OH-vur-lohd) (dih-ZEEZ)

see hemochromatosis.


cleansing of a cavity or tube with fluid. Example: when an enema is given through a colostomy stoma to cleanse the large bowel.

irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
(IHR-ih-tuh-buhl) (boul) (SIN-drohm)

a disorder of unknown cause that is associated with abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel habits. Also called spastic colon or mucous colitis.

ischemic colitis
(iss-KEE-mik) (koh-LY-tiss)

irritation of the colon caused by decreased blood flow. It may cause bloody diarrhea.


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a sign of many disorders. The skin and eyes turn yellow from too much bilirubin in the blood. See hyperbilirubinemia.


an operation to create an opening, called a stoma, between the jejunum and the abdomen. See enteral nutrition.


the middle section of the small intestine between the duodenum and ileum.


see ileoanal reservoir.


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a plant-derived adhesive used in ostomy appliances.

Kupffer's cells
(KOOP-furz) (selz)

cells that line the liver. These cells remove waste such as bacteria from the blood.

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Page last updated May 10, 2012

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