MVP   Healthgrades Glossary

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Pain Medicine:
Pain medicine specialists work with patients to relieve suffering and discomfort that may be present during a medical or surgical procedure, or because of a disease or condition. An anesthesiologist is a physician who has had special training and is board-certified in pain management. A pain medicine specialist can be an anesthesiologist, neurologist, or psychiatrist. This specialist is either the primary physician, or acts as a consultant, to coordinate a patient's care with other physicians.

For chronic or severe pain, narcotics are often used. Narcotics carry with them a potential for side effects and addiction, so patients and physicians must weigh the level of pain against these concerns in the pain management process.

Pediatric Allergy-Immunology:
Pediatric allergy-immunology is the field of medicine that deals with problems caused by allergies and other disorders of the immune system. A pediatric allergist-immunologist evaluates, diagnoses, and manages disorders of the immune system in infants, children and adolescents. Some conditions that this specialist treats include asthma, rhinitis, eczema, and allergic reactions to drugs, foods and insect bites. Other areas covered by an allergist-immunologist are immune deficiency diseases, problems related to autoimmune diseases, and organ transplantation.

Pediatric Cardiology:
Pediatric cardiology is the study and treatment of children with 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 pediatric cardiologist specializes in treating infants, children and adolescents with cardiovascular problems.

Pediatric Critical Care Medicine:
Pediatric critical care medicine is the field of medicine dealing with infants, children, and adolescents who require advanced life support and are critically ill. A pediatric critical care physician is a pediatrician who diagnoses, treats and supports patients who may be in an intensive care unit, or who may have multiple organ dysfunction.

Pediatric patients who receive intensive care treatment are usually critically ill children who are treated after major surgery, and require intensive monitoring. The critical care or intensive care pediatric physician may also communicate with the patient's primary physician and other specialists, and the critical care staff to coordinate treatment and care.

Pediatric Dermatology:
Pediatric dermatology is the study and treatment of disorders of the skin in infants, children and adolescents. A pediatric dermatologist is a physician who diagnoses and treats skin diseases in children. A dermatologist is knowledgeable regarding skin cancers, moles, tumors of the skin, and allergic reactions to chemicals or other substances. Pediatric dermatologists also treat internal disorders and diseases that affect the skin, and are qualified to perform standard surgical techniques used in the field of dermatology.

Pediatric Developmental-Behavioral Health:
Pediatric developmental-behavioral health deals with the developmental difficulties of children and their families. A pediatric developmental-behavioral health specialist is a pediatrician who uses education, clinical care, and advocacy to prevent and manage problem behavior in children and their family environment. This physician also does research on child growth, development and behavior.

Pediatric Emergency Medicine:
Pediatric emergency medicine deals with critical or emergency care of infants, children and adolescents. A pediatric emergency medicine physician has special knowledge and training in treatment and medications for children who are critically ill because of injury or disease. An emergency physician, also called an intensivist, acts immediately to prevent death or disability to a young patient in a hospital intensive care department or elsewhere if a patient requires emergency care.

Pediatric Endocrinology:
Pediatric endocrinology is the study and treatment of disorders of the endocrine system of infants, children and adolescents. A pediatric endocrinologist is a pediatrician who treats children with diabetes, metabolism disorders, and other hormonal conditions. An endocrinologist treats diseases that result from an abnormality in the endocrine glands (glands which secrete hormones), such as diabetes, growth failure, early or late pubertal development, birth defects and thyroid disorders.

Pediatric Gastroenterology:
Pediatric gastroenterology is the study and treatment children with disorders of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. A pediatric gastroenterologist is a physician who treats diseases of the digestive organs, including the stomach, esophagus, intestines, pancreas, liver and gallbladder. This specialist treats conditions such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, ulcers, diarrhea, cancer in the GI tract, and jaundice in infants, children and adolescents.

Pediatric Infectious Disease Medicine:
Pediatric infectious disease medicine is the science and treatment of infectious disease in infants, children and adolescents. A pediatric infectious disease physician is a pediatrician who deals with infectious diseases of all types in children, including respiratory infections, HIV, parasitic infections, and some allergies. This specialist deals with infectious and communicable diseases caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. In some cases, the physician may use preventive medicine; in other cases, antibiotics may be prescribed for the young patient.

Pediatric Medical Toxicology:
Pediatric medical toxicology is the study of toxic effects of chemicals on infants, children and adolescents. A medical toxicologist studies symptoms, treatments and detection of poisoning. Many substances are toxic only if an excessive amount is ingested, including prescription medication, abused drugs, and household toxins. Drug addiction, chemical poisoning, and abuse of medication all require the expertise of a toxicologist.

Pediatric Nephrology:
Pediatric nephrology is the study and treatment of children with kidney disorders. A pediatric nephrologist is a physician who diagnoses and manages kidney disease and kidney function in infants, children and adolescents. This specialist consults with a surgeon regarding a young patient's kidney transplantation, and will help manage blood pressure, fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, and dialysis procedures. This physician has special training in dialysis physiology, management of renal failure, pharmacology, hypertension, nutrition, and development of the kidney and urinary tract in children.

Pediatric Neurology:
Pediatric neurology is the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system in infants, children and adolescents. A pediatric neurologist is a physician who diagnoses and treats nervous system disorders of the brain, spinal cord and nerves. This specialist deals with children's problems related to brain disease, disorders of the brain and the spinal cord, nerves and blood vessels that provide circulation to these organs. A neurologist also treats specific diseases such as Bell's palsy, cerebellar ataxia and meningitis.

Pediatric Oncology and Pediatric Hematology:
Pediatric oncology/hematology is the study and treatment of blood disorders and cancer in infants, children and adolescents. A pediatric oncologist-hematologist is a physician who specializes in treating children with chemotherapy, and consults with other physicians to coordinate other methods of cancer treatments. This specialist uses a background of pediatrics, hematology and oncology to recognize and manage pediatric blood disorders and cancerous diseases.

Pediatric Otolaryngology:
Pediatric otolaryngology is the field of medicine primarily concerned with problems with the ear, nose and throat in infants, children, and adolescents. A pediatric otolaryngologist is a head and neck surgeon who diagnoses and provides comprehensive medical treatment in children for disorders of the ears, nose, sinuses, throat, respiratory system, and other head and neck systems. This surgeon also treats children's disorders of the larynx (voicebox) and hearing.

Other areas of concern to the otolaryngologist are treatment of diseases, allergies and related disorders of the head. Otolaryngology is commonly called ENT, because it primarily deals with the ear, nose and throat.

Pediatric Pathology:
Pathology is the study of the causes and processes of diseases through microscopic study. A pediatric pathologist studies samples under a microscope, including tissue specimens, cells, body fluids, and secretions from infants, children and adolescents. Information gathered from the laboratory study of these samples allows the pediatric pathologist to diagnose, confirm and monitor diseases in children. This specialist has the knowledge and understanding of normal and abnormal growth and development, along with extensive knowledge of pediatric medicine.

Pediatric Pulmonology:
Pediatric pulmonology is the study and treatment of respiratory diseases and disorders in children. A pediatric pulmonologist is a pediatrician who diagnoses and treats pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory problems in infants, children, and adolescents. This specialist is experienced in growth and development of the lung, airways and respiratory function in children, and uses a variety of invasive and noninvasive diagnostic techniques on young patients.

Pediatric Radiology:
Pediatric Radiology is the use of radiologic imaging used in diagnosing diseases in children. A pediatric radiologist is a physician who treats infants, children and adolescents by using medical imaging technologies to diagnose and sometimes treat disease. A diagnostic radiologist is a physician who may use tests such as X-rays, ultrasound, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), and a CT scan (Computed Tomography), to help diagnose and manage children's diseases. A pediatric radiologist needs to be knowledgeable in children's organ systems as they relate to growth and development, congenital malformations, and diseases specific to infants and children.

Pediatric Rehabilitation:
Pediatric rehabilitation focuses on treatment of childhood disabilities. A physician who practices pediatric rehabilitation may be a pediatrician, and treats injuries or diseases of infants, children and adolescents. This specialist works to assure functional restoration of young patients affected by physical disability. The physician diagnoses, treats and manages congenital and childhood-onset physical impairments.

Pediatric Rheumatology:
Pediatric Rheumatology is the study and treatment of rheumatic diseases and conditions in children. A rheumatologist is a physician who uses non-surgical evaluation and treatment of diseases of joints, muscles, bones, tendons and other areas of the musculoskeletal system. A pediatric rheumatologist diagnoses and treats arthritis, back pain and muscle strains in infants, children and adolescents. Many rheumatic diseases and conditions feature immune system abnormalities, so the rheumatologist may also treat the young patient's immune system.

Pediatric Sports Medicine:
Pediatric sports medicine deals with injuries and many other issues regarding a child or adolescent in involved in sports. A pediatric sports medicine physician is a pediatrician who works with children in the field of sports to prevent injury and illness, and to improve health and fitness. A sports medicine physician promotes the prevention of injury, and has knowledge and background in exercise physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, psychology, physical rehabilitation, emergency medicine, and other areas related to exercise and sports.

Pediatric Surgery:
Pediatric surgery is surgery on fetuses, infants, children and adolescents. Many pediatric surgeons practice at children's hospitals. A pediatric surgeon is a general surgeon who has special training in children's surgical problems. A pediatric surgeon treats patients with many congenital and acquired diseases of childhood using the latest advances in surgical therapies.

Pediatrics is the treatment of disorders and diseases in infants, children and adolescents. A pediatrician is primarily concerned with the influence of disease and dysfunction on a child's development, from preventive care to treatment of diseases. This specialist has background knowledge regarding congenital defects, immunology, oncology, infectious diseases, immunizations, and disorders that are unique to children.

Perinatal Medicine and Neonatal Medicine:
Perinatal medicine and neonatal medicine deal with the diseases and disorders of the newborn. Perinatal refers to the time just before and just after birth, while neonatal refers to the time after the baby is born. A neonatal-perinatal physician has special training, knowledge and skills to treat illness and premature birth of infants. The neonatal or perinatal physician specialist may be a pediatrician, and may consult with an obstetrician to help with a patient who has a higher-than-normal risk for pregnancy complications. The neonatal physician's level of expertise is in patient care and improving the health of newborns.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation:
Physical medicine and rehabilitation, also referred to as rehabilitation medicine, is the medical specialty concerned with diagnosing, evaluating, and treating patients with physical disabilities. A physical medicine physician, also called a physiatrist treats diseases and disorders including neck and back pain, and sports injuries or disorders resulting from trauma, such as spinal cord injury or head injury. The physiatrist works with the patient using X-rays, a physical exam, laboratory study, pain management and/or physical therapy, to achieve rehabilitation. The primary goal of the physiatrist is to achieve maximal restoration of physical, psychological, social and vocational function through comprehensive rehabilitation.

Physician Office Link:
The Bridges to ExcellenceŽ (BTE) Physician Office Link program seeks to improve the quality of care for all patients by recognizing and rewarding physicians for demonstrating the effective use of health information technology solutions to promote the delivery of high quality care. For Physician Office Link Recognition, physician practices must meet standards associated with comprehensive systems in three critical and overlapping areas:

  • Clinical Information Systems / Evidence-Based Medicine: Using information to track patients' treatments, follow up on tests, check medications, and research standards of care.
  • Patient Education and Support: Using resources and referrals to measure and improve quality and to help patients manage their own heath
  • Care Management: Actively helping patients with chronic conditions or very complex problems to maximize their health and prevent hospitalization.
BTE recognized physicians in this program receive one of three designations at the practice level:
  • Level 1 Recognition means that the physician performance ranks "above average." The physician practice demonstrates the effective use of basic information systems such as the use of a patient registry.
  • Level 2 Recognition means that a physician meets all of the Level 1 Recognition requirements, and in addition, the physician practice demonstrates the use of electronic systems to maintain patient records and manage critical information such as referrals, laboratory tests and patient reminders.
  • Level 3 Recognition means that a physician meets the highest standards of care in an office setting. The physician practice demonstrates the use of "interconnected" systems that automatically send, receive and integrate data such as lab results and medical histories from other organizations' systems.
For more information on BTE's Physician Care Link program, go to

Plastic Surgery:
Plastic surgery is surgery to repair or reconstruct physical defects of the skin, head and body. A plastic surgeon performs structural cosmetic surgery for aesthetic reasons to change the shape of features on the head or body, or can perform reconstructive surgery to correct deformities of the head or body caused by injury, disease, or birth defects. This specialist deals with the repair, reconstruction, or replacement of physical defects involving the skin, musculoskeletal system, hand, extremities, breast, trunk and external genitalia. The plastic surgeon uses aesthetic surgical principles not only to improve undesirable qualities of normal structures, but in all reconstructive procedures as well.

Plastic Surgery & Facial Surgery:
Plastic surgery and facial surgery are performed to treat congenital defects or to restructure injured areas of the face, head, and neck. Plastic and facial surgeons can perform structural cosmetic surgery for aesthetic reasons to change the shape of features in the head and neck area, or can perform reconstructive surgery to correct deformities of the head and neck caused by injury, disease or birth defects.

Plastic Surgery within the Head and Neck:
Plastic surgery within the head and neck is performed to treat congenital defects or to restructure injured areas of the head and neck. The plastic surgeon can perform structural cosmetic surgery for aesthetic reasons to change the shape of features in the head and neck area, or can perform reconstructive surgery to correct deformities of the head and neck caused by injury, disease or birth defects.

Positions Held:
Positions held may include positions within academic institutions, management positions within a hospital, or other professional positions that involve additional responsibilities.
What this means to you:
Physicians who hold management positions within a hospital may oversee some of the most challenging clinical cases, which may indicate effective management skills.

Preventive Medicine:
Preventive medicine is the science of promoting health and wellness, and preventing disease. A preventive medicine physician works to protect and maintain health, and to prevent disease, disability and premature death. This physician commonly specializes in one of three areas: public health, occupational medicine, or aerospace medicine. This specialist works with large population groups (in public health medicine) as well as with individual patients to promote health and understand the risks of disease, injury, disability and death.

Procedure/Condition Volume:
Volume is the number of cases for which a physician has performed a procedure or treated a condition during the last year. For more detail, see Volume.

Proctology is the study and treatment of disorders of the rectum, anus, colon and pelvic floor. A proctologist is a physician who treats problems such as hemorrhoids, birth defects of the anal area, cancer of the colon and rectum, and injuries to the anus. Some of these conditions may require surgery. Also treated by this specialist are anal fissures, fecal incontinence, perianal warts or severe constipation conditions.

Psychiatry deals with prevention, assessment, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of mental illness. A psychiatrist diagnoses and treats those with mental and emotional disorders such as schizophrenia, addictions, mood and anxiety disorders, substance-abuse disorders, and sexual and adjustment disorders. After assessment, the psychiatrist can diagnose, treat and manage an illness or problem by medication or various forms of psychotherapy. A psychiatrist is qualified to order diagnostic laboratory tests and to prescribe medications, evaluate and treat psychologic and interpersonal problems, and to intervene with families who are coping with stress, crises and other problems.

Psychosomatic Medicine:
Psychosomatic medicine deals with physical disorders that are also called psychophysiologic disorders, or somatoform disorders. An illness may be considered psychosomatic when it seems to result from strong emotional conditions such as anxiety, trauma, depression, anger or guilt, rather than a physical cause. A physician who specializes in psychosomatic medicine will first test the patient to rule out physical causes. A psychosomatic illness will often respond to pain medication or other medical help, but psychological assessment is required to find the underlying cause of the illness.

Some psychosomatic illnesses are irritable bowel syndrome, upset stomach, muscle aches, tension headaches, panic attacks, colitis and ulcers, and even infertility. Psychological stress can reduce the effectiveness of the immune system and lower energy levels, allowing the body to create or worsen physical diseases. The way a person handles stress often affects the severity of psychosomatic illnesses.

Public Health:
Public health is the science of preventive health of the general public. A public health physician is concerned with prevention of disease by promoting vaccinations and immunizations and other public health services. This physician may have a background in epidemiology, or environmental, behavioral or occupational health. The public health physician may also direct health programs for governmental or private agencies. This specialist analyzes community health trends, and may consult with other physicians, community organizations or welfare agencies.

Pulmonology involves the study and treatment of respiratory diseases and disorders. A pulmonary physician, or pulmonologist, treats diseases of the lungs, airways, and all other respiratory organs. The pulmonologist diagnoses and treats pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory problems, and uses a variety of invasive and non-invasive diagnostic techniques to help patients.