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LACTOSE

Milk sugar found only in mammalian milk and produced by the mammary glands.  People with a low activity of the enzyme lactase, or none at all, cannot absorb lactose, a condition called lactose intolerance

 

LAPAROSCOPY

The use of a laparoscope to examine the organs in the abdominal cavity.  Carbon dioxide is injected into the cavity to expand it before the laparoscope is inserted.  In addition to being used purely for observation, a laparoscope is also useful for taking a biopsy, sterilizations, and for collecting ova for in vitro fertilization.

 

LAXATIVE

A substance that is taken to evacuate the bowel or to soften stools.  Typical laxatives include castor oil, senna, and its derivatives.

 

LIBIDO

The sexual drive, often associated with psychiatric illnesses.  Lack of libido may be due to illness or lack of sex hormones due to an endocrine disorder.

 

   

 

 

LIVER

A very important organ of the body, with many functions critical in regulating metabolic processes.  It is also the largest gland in the body weighing around I kg. It occupies the top right hand part of the abdominal cavity and is made up of four lobes.  It is fastened to the abdominal wall by ligaments and sits beneath the Diaphragm, and on the right Kidney, Large Intestine, Duodenum and Stomach.  There are two blood vessels supplying the Liver:  the hepatic artery delivers the oxygenated blood, while the hepatic portal vein conveys digested food from the stomach.  Among its functions, the liver converts excess glucose to glycogen for storage as a food reserve; excess amounts of amino acids are converted to urea for excretion by the kidneys; bile is produced for storage in the gallbladder and lyposis occurs; some poisons are broken down (detoxified) hence the beneficial effect of the hepatic portal vein carrying blood to the liver rather than it going around the body first.  The liver also synthesizes blood -clotting substances such as fibrinogen and prothrombin and the anti-coagulant heparin; it breaks down red blood cells at the end of their life and processes the hemoglobin for iron, which is stored; vitamin A is synthesized and stored and it also stores vitamins B-12, D, E and K.  In the embryo it forms red blood cells.  Such is the chemical and biochemical activity of the liver that significant heat energy is generated and this organ is a major contributor of heat to the body.

 

LYMPHATIC SYSTEM

The network of vessels, valves, nodes etc. that carry lymph from the tissues to the bloodstream and help maintain the internal fluid environment of the body.  Lymph drains into capillaries and larger vessels, passing through nodes and going eventually into two large vessels (the thoracic duct and right lymphatic duct) which return it to the bloodstream by means of the innominate veins.

 

 

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