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    Medical Terms and Definition - Emphysema

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    Your Aunt Mary has recently been diagnosed with emphysema. You are going to be attending a family function in the near future, and you think that some of your relatives will ask you the meaning of medical terms that they have heard or read about emphysema.

    What terms do you think they might ask you about? Consider terms related to diagnosis, treatment, and research findings.

    Identify at least 5 medical terms and describe what they mean. Why did you select the terms you did?

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    Solution Preview

    If your relatives have read or heard a little about emphysema, then I believe they should have come across the following terms:

    Alveoli: This is the anatomical term describing the small microscopic air sacs at the ends of the lungs. They are the site of gas exchange. Oxygen (that we breathe in) diffuses into the blood in the alveoli. Likewise, carbon dioxide that the cells produce as waste diffuses out of the blood and into the alveoli (so that we can breathe it out). What happens in emphysema is that the supporting structures for the alveoli breakdown and get destroyed. Not only that, but the capillaries that feed into and out of the alveoli collapse and disintegrate. All of these destructive changes in the anatomy of the lung lead to a decreased ability to ...