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Glossary of Terms

The information included at this site is for educational or informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute in any way for medical treatment, advice or diagnosis by a healthcare professional. It is recommended that you consult with a qualified professional for specific information suited to your particular disorder or condition.

Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors

Tumors are an abnormal mass of tissue that forms when cells in a specific area reproduce at an increased rate. Also known as neoplasm, they may be either benign (not cancerous), or malignant. Malignant tumors invade surrounding tissues and may also spread via the bloodstream or lymphatic system to form a secondary growth (called a metastasis) elsewhere in the body. Benign tumors may grow large enough to cause damage by pressing on nearby structures, which can be dangerous. Benign tumors tend to remain confined within a fibrous capsule, making surgical removal relatively straightforward. More: Musculoskeletal Tumor Program

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a syndrome of weakness, spasticity, poor coordination of the limbs and other muscles, impaired sensory perception, and sometimes impaired intellect. The cause of cerebral palsy is not always known, although many cases are linked with lack of oxygen during birth. Treatment may include casting and braces to prevent further loss of limb function, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, the use of augmentative communication devices, and the use of medications or botox injections to treat spasticity. More: Children's Orthopaedic and Other Services

Cleft Lip

Cleft Lip is a birth abnormality in which the tissues forming the lip do not completely fuse. The degree of the cleft lip can vary greatly, from mild (notching of the lip) to severe (large opening from the lip up through the nose). Cleft lip may also be seen in conjunction with cleft palate. Fetal cleft lip can be diagnosed by ultrasound before birth. More: Cleft Lip and Palate Program

Cleft lip and palate are completely correctable birth defects

Cleft lip and palate are completely correctable birth defects that affect about one out of every 700 live births. Left untreated, these individuals retain needless lifelong handicaps, including obvious facial deformities, malnutrition, hearing loss, chronic dental and ear disease, severe speech and language impairments and low self-esteem. The cleft palate program at Orthopaedic Hospital utilizes a coordinated Cleft Team, which is unique in this field. The Team works closely with the patient's own pediatrician or primary care physician to ensure a depth of treatment that is unparalleled in its expertise and care. More: Cleft Lip and Palate Program

Cleft Palate

A cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth (the palate) due to a failure of the palatal shelves to come fully together from either side of the mouth and fuse, as they normally should, during embryonic development. This creates a gap in the roof of the mouth that runs along its midline from behind the teeth to the nasal cavity. Many people with cleft palate are partially deaf and may have another birth defect. The opening in the palate permits communication between the nasal passages and the mouth. Surgery is needed to close the palate. Cleft palate is a common physical birth defect, although not as common as a cleft lip.


Clubfoot is a congenital deformity (birth defect) in which the foot is twisted out of shape or position. The cause of this disorder is not fully understood -- the bones, joints, muscles and blood vessels of the limb are abnormal. Clubfoot can be recognized in infants by a physical exam. The foot is turned inward, stiff, and cannot be brought to a normal position. Children with this deformity should be referred to an orthopedic physician with a specialty in lower extremity pediatric disorders. Treatment usually consists of corrective casts applied in infancy to stretch the foot into as corrected a position as possible. Surgery may be indicated to release the stiffness and misaligned joints of the foot. Shoe modifications may be recommended.

Congenital Coxa Vara

This is a deformity of the hip in which the angle between the neck and head (ball) of the femur and the shaft of he femur (thighbone) is reduced, causing shortening of the leg and a limp. Early diagnosis is beneficial. Coxa Vara bears a high incidence for complications such as degenerative joint disease or avascular necrosis. The treatment includes the use of an extension splint as well as decreased physical activity. A pediatric orthopaedic physician will be able to discuss specific treatment options. More : Children's Orthopaedic and Other Services

Congenital Hip Dislocation

The abnormal formation of the hip joint in which the ball at the top of the thighbone (the femoral head) is not stable within the socket (the acetabulum). The ligaments of the hip joint may be loose and stretched. The degree of instability or looseness varies. A baby born with this condition may have the ball of the hip loosely in the socket (subluxed) or the ball of the hip may be completely dislocated at birth. Untreated, the condition may cause legs of different lengths, a "duck-like" walk and lead to pain on walking and early osteoarthritis. More: Children's Orthopaedic and Other Services


All babies have flatfeet because their arches are not yet built up and their feet tend to be plump. This condition may persist into adulthood, or an arch may form as the child grows. Employment that requires a great deal of walking and carrying heavy objects is one example of how flat feet can be acquired. People with flat feet sometimes experience clumsiness and fatigue from prolonged walking or running. People with weakness in the ankles as well as flat feet may find that their feet turn in or roll toward the middle, damaging their shoes and causing discomfort. Shoes with both built-in arch supports and rigid counters (side supports) may be helpful. Exercises may also be useful in reducing discomfort. More: Foot & Ankle Clinic

Fracture Treatment for Children

While community emergency rooms or urgent care centers may stabilize a broken bone (fracture), it is often advisable to have children treated for initial care, casts or surgery at a center that will also provide on-going and follow-up care throughout the recovery period, which in the case of fractures can take months to heal. In addition to a staff of highly specialized pediatric orthopaedists with expertise in children's fracture care, Orthopaedic Hospital offers a special program for children, regardless of their families' ability to pay, through the Special Pediatric Orthopaedic Transfer (Fracture) Program. More: Children's Fracture Care

Fractures -- Elbow (Supracondylar Fractures)

Supracondylar fractures happen most commonly in children between the ages of three and eleven and are the most common fractures in children. They occur when a child falls with an elbow on an outstretched arm causing a posterior displacement. This extension-type fracture counts for 95% of displaced supracondylar fractures. Twenty to thirty percent of all supracondylar fractures exhibit little or no displacement of the fracture; approximately twenty-five percent of supracondylar fractures are of the greenstick type. The collateral ligaments and the anterior capsule in children are quite strong thus ligamentous tears without fractures are quite rare. Orthopaedic Hospital has more expertise and treats more supracondylar fractures than any other facility in the United States. More: Children's Orthopaedic and Other Services

Hemophilia (also called a Goagulation Disorder)

Hemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder caused by low levels, or absence of, a blood protein that is essential for clotting; hemophilia A is caused by a lack of the blood clotting protein factor VIII; hemophilia B is caused by a deficiency of factor IX.

Hemophilia Care

Hemophilia is a set of inherited bleeding disorders in which the ability of the blood to clot is impaired. Hemophiliacs suffer recurrent bleeding, most often into their joints. Bleeding may occur spontaneously, and/or after an injury. When a child reaches weight-bearing age as a toddler, bleeding episodes are painful, and unless treated promptly can lead to crippling deformities of the knee, ankle and joints. More: Hemophilia Treatment Center

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis

Arthritis in the child who may present with a fever, rash as well as joint pain or swelling (systemic onset). There are two other forms of JRA: when 1-4 joints are involved it is pauciarticular arthritis; when 5 or more joints involved it is polyarticular arthritis.

Legg-Calve Perthes Disease

This is a hip disorder in children due to interruption of the blood supply to the head of the femur (the ball in the ball-and-socket hip joint). The reason for the loss of circulation to the head of the femur is unknown. This disorder occurs more frequently in boys than girls, from age three to eight. Many of these boys tend to be shorter than their peers, suggesting some delay in bone growth and maturation. Children with Perthes disease may have a painful hip and a painful limp. Some patients may not exhibit these symptoms; however upon reaching adulthood may experience hip arthritis. Active treatment may not be needed, but this should be discussed with a pediatric orthopaedic physician. Sometimes physical therapy or traction is recommended or surgery (hip adductor release) is performed to correct the tightness. More: Children's Orthopaedic and Other Services

Ligament Injuries

These injuries include sprains (stretched or partially torn) and complete tears or ruptures to the pieces of fibrous tissue that connect one bone to another. Also see Meniscal Tears.

Limb Salvage

Until recently amputation was virtually the only option for most malignant bone and soft tissue tumors. Today, using the latest specialized surgical techniques and recent advances from ongoing research, the vast majority of patients are candidates for limb salvage surgery instead of amputation. Consult an orthopaedic surgeon to discuss this procedure. More: Musculoskeletal Tumor Program

Meniscal Tears

These are injuries to the crescent-shaped rubbery wedge of fibrous cartilage -- the meniscus -- which is located between the shinbone (tibia) and the thigh bone (femur). The meniscus acts as a cushion for the knee joint and helps to stabilize the knee during twisting motions. Injury to the meniscus results in a tear.

Metatarsus Adductus (also called Metatarsus Varus

This a common, congenital (present at birth) foot deformity that causes the front half of the foot, or forefoot, to turn inward.

Muscular Dystrophy

Muscular Dystrophy is one of several conditions that affect muscles and nerves, causing muscle weakness and movement difficulties. All are caused by a genetic defect, and in some cases the gene has been identified. There is no cure for any form of muscular dystrophy yet, but experimental gene therapy is currently being investigated. Many treatments are available to overcome specific problems associated with these conditions. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, assistive technology, and in some cases surgery can all help patients improve and retain physical abilities. More: Children's Orthopaedic and Other Services

Osgood-Schlatter Disease

This is an overuse condition or injury of the knee that causes pain and swelling below the knee area.


Osteomyelitis is an infection in the bones, sometimes caused by the salmonella bacteria or staphylococcus. Osteomyelitis is sometimes a complication of surgery or injury, although infection can also reach bone tissue through the bloodstream. Both the bone and the bone marrow may be infected. Symptoms include fever and deep pain and muscle spasms in the area of inflammation. High-risk individuals (diabetic, have a recent injury, etc.) should see a physician promptly if there are signs of infection anywhere in the body. Symptoms can include pain in the bones, tenderness, local swelling and warmth, fever, nausea, a general ill feeling or drainage of pus through the skin in chronic infection. Symptoms may also include sweating, chills, back pain, swelling in the ankles, feet or legs. A physical exam will help diagnose osteomyelitis as well as a blood test and blood culture to determine white blood cell count and the causative organism. Consult a physician as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.

Osteosarcoma (also called Osteogenic Sarcoma

Osteosarcoma is a cancer which affects the bone.

Physical Therapy / Occupational Therapy

The goal of physical therapy is to return every patient to the highest level of health and function possible. Orthopaedic Hospital offers advanced therapy services to identify, correct, alleviate and prevent prolonged dysfunction of anatomic or physiological origin. More: Rehabilitation: Physical and Occupational Therapy

Rocker Bottom Foot (Vertical Talus)

Congenital Vertical Talus (CVT) is an uncommon rigid foot deformity that represents the most severe form of congenital flatfoot. It requires early identification and aggressive treatment. It is in essence a dislocation of the talonavicular joint. In the neonatal period, the appearance is not as striking as one might think. The foot has a convexity of the sole, which is the reverse of the normal arch. It does not yield much when it is plantar flexed. There is a crease on the lateral side of the dorsum of the foot. By walking age a callous forms on the sole of the foot under the talar head. If left untreated, it progresses to a painful rigid flatfoot by adolescence or early adulthood. Gait becomes awkward when wearing shoes. The patient bears weight on the talus and the heel does not touch the ground. This classic gait is called "peg-leg gait" and is associated with minimal forefoot push off. More: Foot & Ankle Clinic


Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine with a rotational deformity. Its may start in infancy, but is most frequently seen in adolescence, affecting twice as many females as males. The most common form of Scoliosis is idiopathic Scoliosis (of unknown cause). Severe Scoliosis can cause significant disfigurement, back pain and postural fatigue and may be associated with heart failure. Scoliosis is diagnosed through observing the deformity, followed by x-rays (with the patient in an upright position). When spinal growth is still occurring, a brace may be used to correct the deformity. If the Scoliosis is severe enough, surgery may be indicated to prevent the further progression of the curve; to control the curve if brace treatment failed; to improve undesired cosmetic appearance; and for reasons of discomfort or postural fatigue. An orthopaedic physician will evaluate and treat spinal conditions like Scoliosis. More: Children's Orthopaedic and Other Services

Sickle Cell Anemia

An inherited blood disease that occurs primarily in blacks and, less commonly, in individuals of Mediterranean origin. The red cells are abnormal, resulting in a chronic, very severe form of anemia (reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood). Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath on exertion, pallor and jaundice More: Hemophilia Treatment Center

Sickle Cell Disease

This is a hereditary blood disorder characterized by sickle-shaped red blood cells that clump easily, causing severe pain. More: Hemophilia Treatment Center

Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis

Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) is a hip problem that begins when part of the growing end (the epiphysis) of the thighbone (femur) slips off from the top of the thighbone. SCFE may develop in one leg or both legs. The cause of SCFE isn't known. SCFE is typically divided into two types, stable and unstable. Symptoms include knee and hip pain, leg turning outward, restricted hip movements, hip stiffness and difficulty walking (may have a limp). A physical exam will show the decreased hip motion and an x-ray can show the displacement. If surgery is indicated, it can realign the bone and pins can stabilize the area to provide effective repair of the displacement and prevent further damage to the femur. More: Children's Orthopaedic and Other Services

Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida (Myelomeningocele) is a congenital disorder where the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth. It is one of the most common birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. The spinal cord and the covering membranes (meninges) may protrude out of the child's back. Protrusion of the spinal cord and meninges damages the spinal cord and nerve roots, causing a decrease or lack of function of body areas controlled at or below the defect. More: Children's Orthopaedic and Other Services

Sports Medicine

At Orthopaedic Hospital, treatment of patients with sports-related injuries includes proven research techniques to improve patient care. Treatment is targeted to individuals with active lifestyles. The Sports Medicine Service at the Hospital includes: comprehensive physical therapy specializing in sports injuries; assessment of individual fitness levels and performance potential to maximize a personalized training program; prevention of future injuries and improvement of athletic performance.

Tumors from Simple Cysts to Fibrous Dysplasia and Malignancies

Monostotic fibrous dysplasia is excessive growth of hard, fibrous tissue that replaces normal bone tissue in a single bone. It is sometimes associated with certain endocrine disorders. Symptoms include pain and fracturing of the bones. Polyostotic fibrous dysplasia is excessive growth of hard, fibrous tissue that replaces normal bone tissue in more than one bone. It is sometimes associated with certain endocrine disorders. Symptoms include pain and fracturing of the bones. Also see Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors. More: Musculoskeletal Tumor Program