Yesterday’s vocabulary items

… were the adjective edematous and the N + N compound needle aspiration. We are back in the world of orthopedics.

In the last installment, describing Sunday’s events, I’d failed to make it through an MRI looking at my osteoarthritic hip. Follow-up yesterday, which is where the vocabulary items come from.

There was enough of the MRI to see that my hip joint was edematous, full of fluid; the pressure from this fluid is one of the sources of my pain. In any case, hip replacement is called for, as soon as possible. But first the docs have to make sure that there’s no infection in the fluid. For that, they plunge a needle into the joint, to extract some fluid to culture for bacteria; that’s needle aspiration. (It will happen next Tuesday, and then culturing takes about a week, so I have at least two more weeks of the current arrangeents to get through.)

edema. From NOAD2:

edema (Brit. also oedema )  noun

a condition characterized by an excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body. Also called dropsy.

DERIVATIVES  edematous adjective

ORIGIN late Middle English: modern Latin, from Greek oidēma, from oidein ‘to swell.’

Edema is most common in the tissues under the skin, and that’s probably what the word calls to your mind. But it has much wider applicability.

needle aspiration. This N + N compound can be roughly paraphrased as ‘aspiration by (means of) a needle’; it’s the sense of the head N aspiration that’s the big topic here. Again, from NOAD2:

aspiration  noun

1 (usu. aspirations) a hope or ambition of achieving something: he had nothing tangible to back up his literary aspirations | the yawning gulf between aspiration and reality.

• the object of such an ambition; a goal: fabrics and oriental rugs were my aspirations.

2 Medicine the action or process of drawing breath.

• the action of drawing fluid by suction from a vessel or cavity.

3 Phonetics the action of pronouncing a sound with an exhalation of breath.

DERIVATIVES  aspirational adjective [see] aspiration (sense 1)

All of the senses are traceable back to the ‘breathe’ root spir- of Latin, with metaphorical extensions in different directions, in different contexts. So in the fluid-drawing sense in medicine, the fluid comes out of its source by being sucked out, while in the phonetic sense (as in “aspiration accompanies the voiceless stop at the beginning of tight: [th]”), the fluid — air — comes out of its source by being expelled by the action of the lungs.

Meanwhile, life limps on.

One Response to “Yesterday’s vocabulary items”

  1. synovial « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] of Arnold’s Hip Saga centered on Wednesday’s needle aspiration (term explained here), after weeks of hitches in getting the procedure set up. The point is to insert a needle into the […]

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