General Knowledge: Biomedical Engineering Terms

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Types Of Surgeons

  • ENT : Ear, Nose and Throat
  • Breast surgeons: Breast pathology
  • Hepatobiliary surgeons: Liver, bile duct system and pancreas
  • Urologist: Kidneys, ureters, bladder, prostate and urethra
  • Vascular: Blood vessels of the body
  • Neuro: Brain and Spine
  • Maxillofacial: Facial / jaw disease
  • Cardiothoracic: Heart and lungs
  • Gastrointestinal: Oesophagus, stomach and small intestines
  • Orthopaedic: Bones and joints
  • Colorectal: Large bowel and rectum

History of presenting complaint: SOCRATES

  • Site: Where is the pain? Can you point to it?
  • Onset: When did it start?
  • Character: Can you describe the pain?
  • Radiation: Has the pain moved since it first started?
  • Associated symptoms: Any other symptoms?
  • Timing: When does the pain occur?
  • Exacerbating: and relieving factors Anything that makes the pain better/ worse?
  • Severity: On a scale from 1 - 10, rate the pain

Primary Survey (First Aid)

The primary survey is the initial assessment and management of a trauma patient. It is conducted to detect and treat actual or imminent life threats and prevent complications from these injuries. DRSABC is used for basic life support

First Aid Primary Survey Mnemonic: DRSABC

  • Danger: Assess your surroundings for potential danger and get to a safe place, if necessary
  • Response: Check if the person can respond to you. Ask their name, gently shake their shoulder. If not responding, move to the next step
  • Send Help: Call 999 or ask someone else to do it. Follow instructions/questions of the operator
  • Airways: Open airways, look for any obstruction and position the head to open up the airways
  • Breathing: Look, listen and feel for breathing, check if the chest rises. If not breathing, begin CPR
  • Circulation: Once you have established they are breathing, look and check for any signs of severe bleeding. If severe, control and treat the bleeding by applying direct pressure and call emergency services

Secondary Survey (First Aid)

The secondary survey is performed once the patient has been resuscitated and stabilised. It involves a more thorough head-to-toe examination, and the aim is to detect other significant but not immediately life-threatening injuries. SAMPLE is used for asking a patients history.

First Aid Secondary Survey Mnemonic: SAMPLE

  • Signs and Symptoms: Head - to - Tie, Vital Signs and Pain Assessment
  • Allergies: Has the patient ever had a reaction to a specific food or medication?
  • Medication: What are the patients regular prescriptions? Have they taken any illicit drugs? (Remind the patient of the duty of confidentiality)
  • Past Medical History: Has the patient ever experienced these symptoms before? Do they know what's causing their symptoms?
  • Last Ins/Outs: Do they usually have these kinds of meals? Do they usually drink this much/little? How often do they usually go to the toilet?
  • Event History: Did they lose consciousness during the event? Are they feeling better or worse now?


Condition comes on quickly and often lasts a short time e.g. heart attack, the flu or an asthma attack.


The right of patients to make decisions about their healthcare.


Not seriously harmful e.g. a cyst or tumour which is non-cancerous (doesn’t spread or invade other tissues). The opposite of this is malignant (cancerous).


Describes something that tends to be severe and become progressively worse e.g. a cyst or tumour which is cancerous (can invade and kill nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body). The opposite of this is benign (non-cancerous).


Persisting for a long time or recurring e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes or arthritis.


Become progressively worse.


The ability to understand another person's feelings and experience.

Health literacy

Individuals having enough knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence to use health information. This includes computer and numerical literacy and the ability to interpret graphs. It affects people’s ability to engage with self-care, share medical history, navigate the healthcare system, fill in forms, understand probability and risk and evaluate the quality of information online.

Holistic care

Considering all the physical, psychological and social factors potentially impacting a person’s health.


Protecting peoples’ health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect.


Sorting patients based on need of medical treatment.

Utilitarian Approach

Assesses an action in terms of its consequences or outcomes, i.e., the net benefits and costs to all stakeholders on an individual level. It strives to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number while creating the least amount of harm or preventing the greatest amount of suffering.

Tissue Engineering

Biomedical engineering discipline integrating biology with engineering to create tissues or cellular products outside the body (ex vivo) or to use the gained knowledge to better manage the repair of tissues within the body (in vivo).


Tissue is organizational level between cells and organ and is an ensemble of similar cells and their extracellular matrix from the same organ that carry out a specific function.

Stem cells

Stem cells are cells that can differentiate into other types of cells (multipotent), and can also divide in self-renewal to produce more of the same type of stem cells.


A disease of the muscle in which the muscle fibres do not function properly.

Force (N)

A force is a push or pull upon an object resulting from the object's interaction with another object.

Joint Congruence

The measurement of the contact between the two joint surfaces.


The meniscus is a piece of cartilage that provides a cushion between your femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). There are two menisci in each knee joint.

Superior & Inferior

Superior – Towards the head / above

Inferior – Away from the head / below

Anterior & Posterior

Anterior – Towards the / The front of body

Posterior – Near the / The back of body

Medial & Lateral

Medial – Towards the midline of the body/ structure

Lateral – Away from the midline of the body/structure

Ipsilateral & Contralateral

Ipsilateral – On the same side of the body

Contralateral – On the opposite side of the body

Proximal & Distal

Proximal – situated nearer to the centre of the body or the point of attachment to the trunk (Core body)

Distal – Further from the centre of the body or the point of attachment to the trunk (Core body)

Superficial & Deep

Superficial – structures situated or occurring on the skin or immediately beneath it.

Deep – structures closer to the interior center of the body

Flexion & Extension
& Hyper - Extension

Flexion – Movement that decreases the angle between articulating bones (Bending an arm or a leg)

Extension – an unbending movement around a joint in a limb that increases the angle between the bones of the limb at the joint. Opposite of Flexion

Hyper – extension: Extension beyond ‘normal’ extension

Superficial & Deep

Superficial – structures situated or occurring on the skin or immediately beneath it.

Deep – structures closer to the interior center of the body.

Abduction & Adduction

Abduction – movement away from the midline

Adduction – movement towards the midline

Medial Rotation & Lateral Rotation

Medial Rotation – Anterior surface rotates towards midline

Lateral Rotation – Anterior surface rotates away from midline

Inversion & Eversion

Inversion – Sole of foot turns medially

Eversion – Sole of foot turns laterally

Dorsiflexion & Plantarflexion

Dorsiflexion – Bending foot upwards

Plantarflexion – Bending floor down

Supination & Pronation

Supination – Forearm turns palm facing upward

Pronation – Forearm turns palm facing downward


Cells that synthesise bone.


Osteoblasts that have become trapped in bone.


Cells that aid bone reabsorption by breaking down bone tissue.


The science and engineering of interacting surfaces in relative motion.


The unevenness of a surface, given by a materials roughness and ruggedness.

Wolff's law

This law states that your bones will adapt based on the stress or demands placed on them. When you work your muscles, they put stress on your bones. In response, your bone tissue remodels and becomes stronger.


The design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modelled based on biological beings and processes.

Young's modulus

A measure of elasticity, equal to the ratio between the stress on a material and the strain produced.


An artificial substitute for a missing part, such as an eye, limb, or tooth, used for functional or cosmetic reasons, or both.


The existence of a chemical element in two or more forms, which may differ in the arrangement of atoms in crystalline solids or in the occurrence of molecules that contain different numbers of atoms. Example: Graphite, charcoal, and diamond are all allotropes of carbon.

Amphipathic (Molecules)

A molecule, especially a protein, having both hydrophilic and hydrophobic parts and therefore exhibiting both of these behaviours.


The quality of being toxic to cells.

The Tyndall effect

The light scattering by particles when light passes through a colloid (e.g gel), or very fine particles like dust or air.

Mie scattering

A type of Tyndall effect which occurs when the diameters of atmospheric particulates are similar to the wavelengths of the scattered light.

Crepuscular Rays

Crepuscular rays or "God rays" are sunbeams that originate when the sun is below the horizon, during twilight hours.

Rayleigh scattering

The scattering of light by particles in a medium, without change in wavelength. It accounts, for example, for the blue colour of the sky, since blue light is scattered slightly more efficiently than red.

Photoelectric effect

The photoelectric effect is the emission of electrons when electromagnetic radiation, such as light, hits a material. Electrons emitted in this manner are called photoelectrons.

Cardiogenic Shock

Cardiogenic shock is a serious condition that occurs when your heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to the brain, kidneys, and other vital organs. Cardiogenic shock is considered a medical emergency and should be treated immediately. The most common cause of cardiogenic shock is a heart attack.

Hypovolemic Shock

Hypovolemic shock is a life-threatening condition that results when you lose more than 20 percent (one-fifth) of your body's blood or fluid supply. This severe fluid loss makes it impossible for the heart to pump a sufficient amount of blood to your body. Hypovolemic shock can lead to organ failure.

Anaphylactic Shock (Anaphylaxis)

An Anaphylactic shock is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to a trigger such as an allergy. It's when when your blood pressure drops so low that your cells (and organs) don't get enough oxygen.


Angina is a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. Angina is a symptom of coronary artery disease. Angina is often described as squeezing, pressure, heaviness, tightness or pain in your chest. Medicaion for it can inlcude Glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) Spray.

Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)

A myocardial infarction (MI), also known as a heart attack, occurs when blood flow decreases or stops to a part of the heart, causing damage to the heart muscle. The most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort which may radiate into the shoulder, arm, back, neck or jaw. It can lead to cardiac arrest (heart stop).


A bluish discoloration. It's where your skin or lips turn blue, usually caused by low oxygen levels in the red blood cells or problems getting oxygenated blood to your body.

Ischaemic Heart Disease

Ischemic means that an organ (e.g., the heart) is not getting enough blood and oxygen. Ischemic heart disease, also called coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease, is the term given to heart problems caused by narrowed heart (coronary) arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle.

Ischaemic Stroke

This type of stroke is caused by a blockage in an artery that supplies blood to the brain. The blockage reduces the blood flow and oxygen to the brain, leading to damage or death of brain cells.

Transient Ischaemic Stroke

Same as a Ischaemic Stroke but unlike a stroke, they only last for a few minutes or hours. However, it can lead to a permanent stroke.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke is when blood from an artery begins bleeding into the brain. This happens when a weakened blood vessel bursts and bleeds into the surrounding brain. Pressure from the leaked blood damages brains cells, and, as a result, the damaged area is unable to function properly.

Signs of a stroke: F.A.S.T

    While a FAST test is used to identify a stroke, a person can still exhibit properties of a stroke and not be having one, such as if their face is slightly slanted. This could be due to a previous stroke they have had, and that is why it is important to always take the patients history.

  • Face: Can the person smile? Has their face fallen on one side?
  • Arms: Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Is their speech slurred?
  • Time: If you see any of these three signs, it's time to call 999