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What does it mean?

18 July 2016

In this article we go through a series of terms you may hear in your dealings with a medicolegal specialist.

Terminology and Tests

Aggravation
An aggravation is a circumstance or event that permanently worsens a pre-existing or underlying condition.

Exacerbation
This is a re-occurrence or flare up generally implying worsening of a condition temporarily.  It will subsequently return to the baseline. Exacerbation does not equal aggravation.

Atrophy
A wasting or decrease in size or physiological activity of a part of the body. This can be because of disease or other influences. A skeletal muscle may undergo atrophy as a result of lack of physical exercise or neurological/musculoskeletal disease.

Degeneration
The gradual deterioration of normal cells and body functions resulting in loss of function.

Impairment

A loss, loss of use or derangement of any body part, organ system or organ function. Whole person impairment: Percentages that estimate the impact of the impairment on the individual’s overall ability to perform activities of daily living, excluding work.

Disability
An alteration of an individual’s capacity to meet personal, social or occupational demands because of impairment.

X-Ray
A non invasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with x-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionising radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body.

Computer Tomography (CT)
A Computer Tomography Scan is an x-ray examination that uses a special machine, which looks like a dougnut, with a flat table passing through the middle.  The patient lies on the table and slowly passes through the opening. It produces a cross section of the part of the body being examined. Each section gives an excellent image of the organ.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a test for soft tissues including bone, fat, muscles and organs. A series of images are taken through sections of your body in any direction. A Magnetic Resonance Image is different to an x-ray or Computer Tomography Scan because it produces images of soft tissue like nerve endings, muscles, ligaments and cartilage.

Nuclear Medicine
This studies organ function and identifies the presence of disease. It uses small amounts of radioactive substances known as tracers. These are designed to target and image a specific area of the body.

Ultrasound
This test can be performed on most parts of the body. They provide in depth information about many conditions from pregnancy, gall stones and even muscle tears. An Ultrasound works by bouncing sound waves off parts of the body, like a sonar, to give an image.

Are you confused about a medical term or test that isn’t on this list? Let us know and we will add it to the list.