Glossary of Terms


Glossary of Terms

Aetiology - The science, doctrine, or demonstration of causes; esp., the investigation of the causes of any disease; the science of the origin and development of things

Acute – An acute wound is one in which healing occurs as a sequential cascade of overlapping processes that requires the coordinated completion of a variety of cellular activities. These processes are not haphazard but carefully regulated

Aerobic bacteria – Aerobes are bacteria which require the presence of molecular oxygen

Anaerobic bacteria – Anaerobes are bacteria that do not tolerate free oxygen and grow where there is no air or where there is a low oxidation-reduced potential

Angiogenesis – The generation of new blood vessels initially seen at the base of the wound

Ankle flare – Distension of the small vessels which appears around the ankle and heal and is associated with venous hypertension and venous ulceration

Autolysis – The breakdown of devitalised tissue by leucocytes

Chronic – A chronic wound is one in which the normal process of wound healing is disrupted at one or more points in the phases of wound healing. Often a chronic wound is ‘stuck’ in either inflammation or proliferation. These wounds are often impeded by the accumulation of necrotic or sloughy tissue in the wound bed

Collagen – A protein generated by fibroblasts which provides the supportive network of connective tissue

Connective Tissue – Contains collagen and elastic fibres and can be found in the dermis

Delayed primary closure – An anatomically precise closure that is delayed by a few days but before granulation tissue becomes visible

Dermis – This is second principal part of the skin and is composed of connective tissue. The few cells in the dermis include fibroblasts and macrophages.The thickness of the dermis varies depending on anatomical location. Blood vessels, nerves and glands are embedded in the dermis

Epidermis – This is the first layer of the skin and is composed of stratified squamous epithelium and contains four principal cells, the main cell being the keratinocyte. These cells help waterproof and protect the skin and underlying tissues

Epithelium - the cellular covering of internal and external body surfaces, including the lining of vessels and small cavities

Erythema – A painful spreading redness around a wound

Extracellular Matrix – Consists of ground substance and fibres. The ground substance is an amorphous gel like material that fills the spaces between cells and contains interstitial fluid and proteoglycans. The fibres consist of collagen, elastin and reticular fibres.

Fibroblast – The cells that form fibrous tissue

Growth factors – Peptides which are a subset of cytokines vital for cell proliferation

Haemostasis – The stoppage of bleeding

Maceration – A softening or wetting of the skin owing to retention of excessive moisture

Macrophage – Phagocytic cell derived from a monocyte

Neuroischaemia – The neuroischaemic foot is cool, pulseless with poor perfusion associated with peripheral neuropathy. The foot may appear deceptively pink or red.

Neuropathy – The neuropathic foot is a warm, well perfused foot with bounding pulses, sweating is diminished and the skin may be dry and prone to fissures. Callus may be present which is hard and dry. The arch of the foot tends to be raised and the toes may be clawed.

Neutrophil – A type of white blood cell characterised by granular cytoplasm

Primary Intention – When the edges of a wound are approximated and the individual layers of tissue are joined together by suturing, staples or tissue adhesives or a combination of all of these

Protection – The skin covers the body and provides a physical barrier that protects underlying tissues from physical abrasion, bacterial invasion, dehydration and UV radiation

Regulation – the skin regulates temperature by the use of sweating and changes in the blood flow when exposed to extremes of temperature, high or low

Sensation – the skin contains abundant nerve endings and receptors to detect stimuli related to temperature, touch, pressure and pain

Secondary Intention – When a wound has sustained a degree of tissue loss it may seem impossible to close the wound as the edges cannot be bought together or undesirable if infection is still present

Skin – The skin is a large organ covering the whole body, it serves as an organ of protection and regulation

Subcutaneous fatty tissue –This layer lies beneath the dermis and contains areolar and adipose tissues

Wound - a breakdown in the protective function of the skin; the loss of continuity of epithelium, with or without loss of underlying connective tissue (i.e. muscle, bone, nerves)