MVP   Healthgrades Glossary

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Cardiac Care Link:
The Bridges to ExcellenceŽ (BTE) Cardiac Care Link program seeks to improve the quality of care for cardiac patients by recognizing and rewarding physicians for demonstrating the delivery of high quality cardiac care. For Cardiac Care Link Recognition, physicians must meet standards associated with processes and outcomes in caring for patients with ischemic vascular disease or who have had a stroke. The performance measure areas, developed by American Heart Association/American Stroke Association and the performance assessment organizations, include:
  • Blood pressure control
  • Cholesterol control
  • Complete lipid profile
  • Use of aspirin or another antithrombotic
  • Smoking status and cessation advice or treatment
BTE recognized physicians in this program receive one of three designations:
  • Level 1 Recognition means that the physician performance ranks "above average" based upon a total score of the cardiac performance measures listed above.
  • Level 2 Recognition means that a physician meets all of the Level 1 Recognition requirements and meets high standards on specific key measures, which include blood pressure control, cholesterol control, and use of aspirin or another antithrombotic. These key measures are critically important to the very good treatment and management of patients with ischemic vascular disease and/or stroke.
  • Level 3 Recognition means that a physician meets the highest standards of cardiac care and is using advanced processes to deliver all the right care to their patients. Level 3 recognized physicians are considered "best in class" in providing excellent care to their patients with ischemic vascular disease and/or stroke.
For Cardiac Care Link, a physician may or may not have received recognition as part of a practice or group. For more information on BTE's Cardiac Care Link program, go to

Cardiac Surgery:
Cardiac surgery involves surgery on the heart or heart valves. A cardiac surgeon performs heart surgery, also known as coronary artery bypass surgery, on patients who have heart disease or heart valve disorders. Reasons that may make heart surgery necessary are: coronary artery disease, congenital heart defects, disease of the heart valves, or heart attack. Some heart conditions can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle, and can be fatal.

Cardiology is the treatment of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. A cardiologist is a physician who specializes in treating heart conditions such as abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, congenital heart defects, and disease of the heart valves. A cardiologist can inform your doctor about new drugs or tests that may be beneficial to you.

Some heart conditions can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle, and can be fatal. Methods that cardiologists use to study heart conditions include stress tests, a monitor to record your heart rate and rhythm, a biopsy, which studies a tiny piece of heart tissue, and an echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to show a picture of how your heart works.

Cardiothoracic Surgery:
Cardiothoracic surgery involves the heart and other areas within the chest. A cardiothoracic or thoracic surgeon provides care for patients with diseases within the chest area. This encompasses treating heart disease and abnormalities of the heart's vessels and valves, lung cancer, tumors within the chest area, diseases of the diaphragm, chest injuries, and trachea and airway problems. Thoracic surgeons have exceptional knowledge of diagnostic and surgical techniques and physiology of the heart, lungs and respiratory system.

Chemical Pathology:
Chemical pathology is the study of the cause and progress of diseases by using chemistry and other laboratory study. A chemical pathologist uses biochemical data from the study of tissues, cells and fluids from the body to aid in detecting, confirming and monitoring diseases. This specialist can act as a clinical consultant in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Clinical Biochemical Genetics:
Genetics is the study of the chemistry of cells, tissues and organs associated with heredity. Clinical biochemical genetics involves the biochemical analysis of chromosomes as they relate to inherited tendencies. A clinical biochemical geneticist performs and interprets tests done for genetic purposes, such as diagnosing a genetic disease or disease risk. The geneticist can analyze biochemical laboratory tests to determine the diagnosis and management of genetic diseases and inherited disorders.

Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology:
Cardiac electrophysiology refers to the use of technical equipment to diagnose abnormal heart rhythms. A cardiac electrophysiologist, who is a specialist in the field of cardiovascular disease, evaluates the results of detailed technical procedures to determine heart rhythms, and designs treatments appropriate for abnormal heart rhythms.

Clinical Cytogenetics:
Genetics is the study of the chemistry of cells, tissues and organs associated with heredity. Cytogenetics is a combination of cytology (the study of cells) and genetics (the study of inherited variations). Through cytogenetics, scientists learn how genetic material, especially chromosomes, can affect future generations. A clinical cytogeneticist performs tests on genetic material in a laboratory, and analyses and interprets the results to determine whether a patient will have an inherited disease or a disease risk.

Clinical Genetics:
Genetics is the study of the chemistry of cells, tissues and organs associated with heredity. A clinical geneticist performs tests to diagnose and manage genetic disorders, and offers counseling services. A clinical genetic study involves tests of genetic material to determine possible genetic disorders in future generations.

Clinical Lipidology:
Clinical lipidology is a branch of medicine focusing on lipid and lipoprotein metabolism and associated disorders. A physician who specializes in the field of lipidology treats patients with lipid disorders and cardiovascular disease. This physician specialist studies and treats cholesterol, triglycerides and lipoproteins in the blood, all of which contribute to heart disease and atherosclerosis. The field of lipidology is growing rapidly because of the number of patients diagnosed with coronary heart disease, obesity and diabetes mellitus.

Clinical Molecular Genetics:
Genetics is the study of the chemistry of cells, tissues and organs associated with heredity. A molecular geneticist performs laboratory tests of genetic material and interprets those tests regarding inherited disorders. Using test results, a geneticist can provide counseling to patients and their families, with information about their condition and the risk of a genetic disorder in the family. This can help patients make informed decisions.

Clinical Neurophysiology:
Clinical neurophysiology is the study of nervous system disorders. A neurophysiologist is a neurologist or psychiatrist who specializes in the diagnosis and management of nervous system disorders using a combination of clinical evaluation and technical device testing, such as electroencephalography (EEG) or electromyography (EMG). These test results are interpreted by the neurophysiologist and communicated to the patient to treat nervous system disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or a ruptured disc in the spine causing sciatica.

Clinical Pathology:
Clinical pathology is the laboratory study of cells and tissues. A pathologist identifies the causes and processes of diseases through microscopic study. Some human samples studied under a microscope include tissue specimens, cells, body fluids and secretions. Information gathered from the laboratory study of these samples from the body allow the pathologist to diagnose, confirm and monitor diseases.

Clinical Pathology and Anatomic Pathology:
Clinical and anatomic pathology is the study of the causes and processes of diseases. A pathologist uses techniques in chemistry, biology and physical science. The pathologist inspects specimens of tissues, cells and body fluids under a microscope to diagnose, monitor and treat diseases.

Colon Surgery and Rectal Surgery:
Colon and rectal surgery deals with the intestinal tract, the colon, rectum and anal canal. A colon and rectal surgeon diagnoses and treats various diseases of these areas of the body by medical and surgical means. This specialist may deal with other organs and tissues that are affected by intestinal disease, such as the liver, urinary, and female reproductive system.

A colon and rectal surgeon can also diagnose and manage conditions such as hemorrhoids, abscesses and fistulae (infections located around the anus and rectum), Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory conditions. They also use technical procedures to evaluate and treat cancer, polyps, and other anorectal diseases.

Cost of Service:
Cost of service is an average of what Medicare pays physicians in an area for performing a procedure or treating a condition. Area is based on the physician's primary ZIP code. This reimbursement data is for a physician only; it does not include other related charges such as hospital costs or other specialists involved in the care. These costs estimates are based upon the most recent year of data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Medicare provides healthcare coverage for over 43 million beneficiaries-those who are 65 years or older and those who otherwise qualify for benefits due to a disability. Because insurance companies (including Medicare) negotiate a discount on behalf of their beneficiaries, the amount they reimburse physicians (and hospitals) is much lower than the "list prices" doctors (and hospitals) charge. In fact, Medicare - the largest health plan in the country - negotiates the largest discounts and typically pays the least amount for healthcare provider services.

The cost of service may be different than what you ultimately pay. High and low range costs estimates indicate the variation in costs depending on the complexity of treatment.

Keep in mind that your physician may not perform all procedures listed here.

What this means to you.
By understanding how much physicians are typically paid for their services, you are in a better position to plan financially for your healthcare and to discuss with your physician lower payment options for non-insured services. You may want to ask your physician about less costly choices or whether all tests and procedures are necessary.

Critical Care Medicine:
Critical care medicine deals with life support or organ support for patients who are critically ill. A critical care physician diagnoses, treats, and supports patients who may be in an intensive care unit, or who may have multiple organ dysfunction. Patients who receive intensive care treatment are usually critically ill patients who are treated after major surgery and require intensive monitoring. The critical care or intensive care physician may also communicate with the patient's primary physician, other specialists, and the critical care staff to coordinate treatment and care.

Critical Care Surgery:
Critical care surgery is surgery on patients in the emergency unit or critical care unit of a hospital. A critical care or trauma surgeon is a physician who performs emergency surgery on patients who are critically ill. The critical care surgeon may also communicate with the patient's primary physician and other specialists, and the critical care staff to coordinate treatment and care. This surgeon has a comprehensive surgery background, and is knowledgeable in a wide variety of surgical procedures and life-threatening injuries.

Cytopathology is the laboratory study of cells and tissues. A cytopathologist diagnoses diseases after microscopic study of cells from tissue samples, cells, and fluids and secretions from the human body. An important part of the cytopathologist's work is interpreting cells from the female reproductive system, using the "Pap test," and being a consultant to other physicians in the diagnosis and monitoring of diseases.