Medical terms/definitions - P

Pancreas - a gland situated behind the stomach that secretes digestive enzymes and hormones that regulate blood glucose levels

Pancreatitis - inflammation of the pancreas that causes severe pain in the upper abdominal area

Paralysis - loss of movement (and in some cases, sensation) due to a nerve or muscle disorder

Parasympathetic nervous system - one of the two divisions of the autonomic nervous system, it maintains and restores energy for example by slowing heart rate during sleep

Parkinson's disease - a progressive neurological disorder that features involuntary tremor, slowness of movements, muscle rigidity, shuffling walk and a stooping posture. The intellect may be affected late in the disease

Pelvic inflammatory disease - persistent infection of the female reproductive organs, it may have no obvious cause but often occurs after a sexually transmitted disease

Pelvis - the basin-like ring of bones to which the lower spine is attached and with which the thigh bones articulate

Peptic ulcer - erosion of the membrane lining of the oesophagus, stomach, or duodenum by excess stomach acid and digestive enzymes, most commonly the result of infection with a bacterium

Pericardium - the tough fibrous two-layered sac that encloses the heart and the roots of the major blood vessels that emerge from it

Peripheral nervous system - all the nerves and their coverings that fan out from the brain and spinal cord, linking them with the rest of the body, the system consists of cranial nerves and spinal nerves

Peristalsis - a coordinated succession of contractions and relaxations of the muscular wall of a tubular structure, such as the intestines, that moves the


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