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Medical Dictionary


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D & C
Dilatation and curettage, a minor operation in which the cervix is expanded enough (dilatation) to permit the cervical canal and uterine lining to be scraped with a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette (curettage).

D and C
Stands for dilatation and curettage. This is a very common gynecologic procedure in which the cervix of the uterus is expanded (dilated) so the cervical canal and endometrium (the uterine lining) can be scraped off with a spoon-shaped instrument called a curet or curette. This is a relatively minor procedure

Abbreviation for Doctor of Osteopathy, an osteopathic physician.

Osteopathy is a system of therapy founded in the 19th century based on the concept that the body can formulate its own remedies against diseases when the body is in a normal structural relationship, has a normal environment and enjoys good nutrition.

Da Vinci, Leonardo
The father of anatomic art. The architect, scientist, engineer, inventor, poet, sculptor and painter, Leonardo da Vinci first became interested in anatomic art when he was asked by a Veronese anatomist named Marc Antonia Della Torre to do the illustrations for a text of anatomy. Della Torre was to do the dissecting and Leonardo the drawings. Della Torre died unexpectedly and Leonardo assumed both tasks. He dissected and drew more than 10 human bodies in the cathedral cellar of the mortuary of Santa Spirito under the secrecy of candlelight, necessitated by the Church's belief in the sanctity of the human body and a papal decree that forbade human dissection. Leonardo recognized that a scientific knowledge of human anatomy could only be gained by dissecting the human body. This was in striking contrast to the pronouncements of Galen and other anatomists. Da Vinci injected the blood vessels and cerebral ventricles with wax for preservation, an anatomical technique still used today. His drawings of the human anatomy have long been considered as unrivaled.

Dactyl-, -dactyl
Prefix or suffix denoting involvement of the digits (fingers or toes).

Swelling of the fingers or toes.

Inflammation of a digit (either a finger or a toe).

Dactyl comes from the Greek "daktylos" meaning "finger." It now refers not only to the fingers but also the toes. Dactyledema is edema (swelling) of the fingers or toes; dactylomegaly is enlargement of the fingers or toes; dactylospasm is a cramp of the fingers or toes, etc.

Daily Prayer of a Physician
A prayer that is said to have been written by the 12th-century physician-philosopher Moses Maimonides. Like the famous oath of Hippocrates, the prayer of Maimonides is often recited by new medical graduates.

This prayer, which is also called the "Prayer of Moses Maimonides", is now thought to have been written, not by Maimonides, but by Marcus Herz, a German physician, pupil of the the German philosopher Immanual Kant, and physician to the great English philantropist Moses Mendelssohn. The prayer first appeared in print in 1793 which may be when it was written.

Irrespective of who wrote it, it is an extraordinary prayer. It reads as follows:

"Almighty God, Thou has created the human body with infinite wisdom. Ten thousand times ten thousand organs hast Thou combined in it that act unceasingly and harmoniously to preserve the whole in all its beauty the body which is the envelope of the immortal soul. They are ever acting in perfect order, agreement and accord. Yet, when the frailty of matter or the unbridling of passions deranges this order or interrupts this accord, then forces clash and the body crumbles into the primal dust from which it came. Thou sendest to man diseases as beneficent messengers to foretell approaching danger and to urge him to avert it.

"Thou has blest Thine earth, Thy rivers and Thy mountains with healing substances; they enable Thy creatures to alleviate their sufferings and to heal their illnesses. Thou hast endowed man with the wisdom to relieve the suffering of his brother, to recognize his disorders, to extract the healing substances, to discover their powers and to prepare and to apply them to suit every ill. In Thine Eternal Providence Thou hast chosen me to watch over the life and health of Thy creatures. I am now about to apply myself to the duties of my profession. Support me, Almighty God, in these great labors that they may benefit mankind, for without Thy help not even the least thing will succeed.

"Inspire me with love for my art and for Thy creatures. Do not allow thirst for profit, ambition for renown and admiration, to interfere with my profession, for these are the enemies of truth and of love for mankind and they can lead astray in the great task of attending to the welfare of Thy creatures. Preserve the strength of my body and of my soul that they ever be ready to cheerfully help and support rich and poor, good and bad, enemy as well as friend. In the sufferer let me see only the human being. Illumine my mind that it recognize what presents itself and that it may comprehend what is absent or hidden. Let it not fail to see what is visible, but do not permit it to arrogate to itself the power to see what cannot be seen, for delicate and indefinite are the bounds of the great art of caring for the lives and health of Thy creatures. Let me never be absent- minded. May no strange thoughts divert my attention at the bedside of the sick, or disturb my mind in its silent labors, for great and sacred are the thoughtful deliberations required to preserve the lives and health of Thy creatures.

"Grant that my patients have confidence in me and my art and follow my directions and my counsel. Remove from their midst all charlatans and the whole host of officious relatives and know-all nurses, cruel people who arrogantly frustrate the wisest purposes of our art and often lead Thy creatures to their death.

"Should those who are wiser than I wish to improve and instruct me, let my soul gratefully follow their guidance; for vast is the extent of our art. Should conceited fools, however, censure me, then let love for my profession steel me against them, so that I remain steadfast without regard for age, for reputation, or for honor, because surrender would bring to Thy creatures sickness and death.

"Imbue my soul with gentleness and calmness when older colleagues, proud of their age, wish to displace me or to scorn me or disdainfully to teach me. May even this be of advantage to me, for they know many things of which I am ignorant, but let not their arrogance give me pain. For they are old and old age is not master of the passions. I also hope to attain old age upon this earth, before Thee, Almighty God!

Daltonism refers to colorblindness of the red-green type (also known as deuteranopia or deuteranomaly). The term "Daltonism" comes from the name of the English chemist and physicist, John Dalton (1766-1844). Born in a village in Cumberland where his father, Joseph, was a weaver in poor circumstances, Dalton was educated by his father and John Fletcher, teacher in a Quaker school. When Fletcher retired in 1778, Dalton took his place. In 1793 he was appointed teacher of mathematics and natural philosophy at New College in Manchester. In 1803 he put forth the facts embodied in his law of partial pressures: the pressure of a mixture of gases is the sum of the pressures which would be exerted separately by the several constituents if each alone were present. Dalton's reputation largely rests upon his great Atomic Theory. It was said of Dalton that, "into society he rarely went, and his only amusement was a game of bowls on Thursday afternoons." In the first scientific paper he published, Dalton described his (and his brother's) affliction of colorblindness with defective perception of red and green (Dalton, J: Extraordinary facts relating to the vision of colours, with observation. Mem Literary Philos Soc Manchester 5: 28-45, 1798). It is the first recognized account of red-green colorblindness.

Tiny scales shed from human or animal skin or hair. Danders float in the air, settle on surfaces and make up much household dust. Cat danders are a classic cause of allergic reactions.