for black fever). A disease of the vicera, particularly the
liver, spleen, bone marrow and lymph nodes, due to infection
be a parasite (called Leishmania). Also known as visceral
Kaposi's sarcoma: A relatively rare type of cancer that develops
on the skin of some elderly persons or those with a weak immune
system, including those with acquired immune deficiency syndrome
Kartagener's syndrome: The trio of sinusitis, bronchitis and
situs inversus (lateral reversal of the position all organs in
the chest and abdomen with the heart and stomach on the right,
the liver on the left, etc.--opposite or "inverted" from their
Karyotype: A standard arrangement of the chromosome complement,
done for chromosome analysis.
Karyotyping: Chromosome study.
Karyotyping, flow: Use of flow cytometry to analyze and/or
separate chromosomes on the basis of their DNA content. Flow
cytometry detects the light- absorbing or fluorescing properties
of chromosomes passing in a narrow stream through a laser beam
and with automated sorting devices can sort successive droplets
of the stream into different fractions depending on the
fluorescence emitted by each droplet.
Kawasaki’s disease: A syndrome of unknown origin, mainly
affecting young children, causing fever, reddening of the eyes
(conjunctivitis), lips and mucous membranes of the mouth,
ulcerative gum disease (gingivitis), swollen glands in the neck
(cervical lymphadenopathy), and a rash that is raised and bright
red (maculoerythematous) in a glove-and-sock fashion over the
skin of the hands and feet which becomes hard, swollen
(edematous), and peels off. Also called mucocutaneous lymph node
Kb: Abbreviation for kilobase.
Keloid: A tough raised scar.
Keratin: Protein in the upper layer of the skin, hair, nails and
animal horns. The word keratin comes from the Indo-European ker
Keratitis: Inflammation of the cornea (transparent structure at
the front of the eye).
Kerato-: A confusing prefix it can refer to the cornea (as in
keratitis and keratocornea) or to "horny" tissue (as in keratin
Keratoconjunctitis: Inflammation of the eye involving both the
cornea and conjunctiva.
Keratoconus: Cone-shaped cornea with the apex of the cone being
forward. Also called conical cornea.
Keratoma: A callus.
Keratoplasty: Corneal transplant.
Keratosis: A localized overgrowth of the upper layer of skin.
Common forms of keratosis include aging (senile keratosis) and
sun exposure (actinic keratosis).
Keratotomy: A surgical incision (cut) of the cornea. A radial
keratotomy is a surgical procedure designed to flatten the
cornea and thereby correct myopia (nearsightedness). It is
called a radial keratotomy because the incisions resemble the
spokes in a bicycle wheel.
Kernicterus: Disorder due to jaundice in a newborn baby with
high blood levels of the pigment bilirubin that is deposited in
the brain resulting in damage. The level of bilirubin is
monitored in newborns to determine whether treatment is needed
to prevent kernicterus. With brain affected, it is also called
Keshan disease: Condition caused by deficiency of the essential
mineral selenium. Keshan disease is a potentially fatal form of
cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle). It was first
observed in Keshan province in China and since has been found
elsewhere (including New Zealand and Finland) in areas where the
selenium level in the soil is low.
Ketoacidosis: Ketosis (accumulation of substances called ketone
bodies in the blood) plus acidosis (increased acidity of the
blood). Ketoacidosis occurs when diabetes is not controlled.
Kidneys: The kidneys are a pair of organs located in the right
and left side of the abdomen which clear "poisons" from the
blood, regulate acid concentration and maintain water balance in
the body by excreting urine. The urine then passes through
connecting tubes called "ureters" into the bladder. The bladder
stores the urine until it is released during urination.
Kilobase: Unit of length of DNA equal to 1000 nucleotide bases.
Kindred: The extended family.
Kinky hair syndrome: Genetic disorder with fragile twisted
("kinky") hair and progressive deterioration of the brain. Due
to an error in copper transport resulting in copper deficiency.
Females are carriers and their sons with the gene have the
disease. Also known as Menkes syndrome.
Kinship: Relationship by marriage or, specifically, a blood tie.
Kissing bugs: Insect vectors (carriers) of the parasite (called
Trypanosoma cruzi) which causes Chagas' disease (American
trypanosomiasis). The reduviid bugs "kiss" people, especially
babies, on the lips while they are asleep infecting them with
their parasite. Over 20 million people in the Americas have
Chagas disease. The parasite can also be transmitted by blood
transfusion and cross the placenta during pregnancy to infect
Kissing disease: A name for infectious mononucleosis ("mono"), a
very common illness caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). By
the time most people reach adulthood, an antibody against EBV
can be detected in their blood meaning they have been infected
with EBV. The illness is less severe in young children. The
infection can be spread by saliva. The incubation period for
"mono" is 4 to 8 weeks. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, sore
throat, and swollen lymph glands. "Mono" can cause liver
inflammation (hepatitis) and spleen enlargement. Vigorous
contact sports should be avoided to prevent spleen rupture.
Klebsiella: A group of bacteria normally living in the
intestinal tract and frequently the cause of nosocomial
infections (infections acquired in the hospital). Named for Dr.
Kleeblattschadel: German for cloverleaf skull
Klinefelter syndrome: The most common single cause of
hypogonadism (underfunction of the gonads) and infertility in
men, Klinefelter syndrome is due to a chromosome abnormality
with XXY (plus additional X or Y chromosomes). It affects about
1 in 500 males and results in small testes (hypogenitalism),
underproduction of testosterone and infertility (hypogonadism),
and a long-limbed, long-trunked, relatively tall, slim build.
Klinefelter boys tend to have learning and/or behavioral
problems. At adolescence there is little growth of facial hair
and a third of boys develop gynecomastia (enlargement of the
male breast). Named for the physician Harry Klinefelter who with
E.C. Reifenstein, Jr. and Fuller Albright (the founder of modern
endocrinology) described the condition in 1942 long before its
chromosomal basis became known.
Klippel-Feil sequence/syndrome: The combination of short neck,
low hairline at the nape of the neck and limited movement of the
head. It is due to a defect in the early development of the
spinal column in the neck (the cervival vertebrae).
Klinefelter syndrome: A condition in males due to XXY sex
chromosomes (plus sometimes additional X or Y chromosomes)
resulting in small testes, insufficient production of
testosterone, and infertility. Klinefelter boys tend to have
learning and/or behavioral problems.
Knee: See genu.
Knee bursitis: A bursa is a fluid-filled sac that functions as a
gliding surface to reduce friction between moving tissues of the
body. There are three major bursae of the knee. Bursitis is
usually not infectious, but the bursa can become infected.
Treatment of non-infectious bursitis includes rest, ice, and
medications for inflammation and pain. Infectious bursitis is
treated with antibiotics, aspiration, and surgery.
Knee jerk: The reflex tested by tapping just below the bent knee
on the patellar tendon to cause the quadriceps muscle to
contract and bring the lower leg forward. It has given rise to
the saying: a knee-jerk reaction. Also known medically as the
Knock-knees: In medicalese: there are no knock-knees. The
condition is genu valgum.
Knuckle: The dorsal aspect of the flexed metacarpophalangeal
joint. Knuckle may be shorter and simpler to say.
Krukenberg tumor: A tumor of the ovary caused by the spread of
Kuru: A slowly progressive fatal disease of the brain (a form of
subacute spongiform encephalopathy) due to an infectious agent
(a virus or subviral particle called a prion) transmitted among
people in Papua New Guinea by ritual canabalism. The discovery
of the basis of Kuru is one of the more interesting detective
stories of 20th-century medicine.
Kussmaul breathing: Air hunger.
Kwashiorkor: The word kwashiorkor comes from the Ivory Coast. It
means the deposed (no longer suckled) child. Kwashiorkor is a
childhood disease due to protein deprivation. Early signs are
vague: apathy (indifference), lethargy (drowsiness) and
irritability. More advanced signs are poor growth, lack of
stamina, loss of muscle mass, swelling, abnormal hair (sparse,
thin, often streaky red or gray in dark-skinned children) and
abnormal skin (darkening in irritated but not sun-exposed
areas). Kwashiorkor disables the immune system so the child is
susceptible to a host of infectious diseases. Kwashiorkor is
responsible for much morbidity (illness) and mortality (death)
among children worldwide. Also known as protein malnutrition.
and protein-calorie malnutrition (PCM).
Kyphoscoliosis: Combination of kyphosis and scoliosis (lateral
curving of the spine). Part of good health maintenance is to
check a child's back (from infancy through adolescence) to make
sure the back looks normal and, if concerned, a doctor is