PICU Glossary

ALARMS: all machines have alarms to signal changes in the patient's condition. The alarms assist the team in responding to changes. Not all alarms signal an emergency.

ANTIBIOTIC: a medication given to treat bacterial infections.

ARTERIAL LINE: a soft plastic catheter that monitors heart rate and blood pressure.

BLOOD GAS: A sample of blood taken from an artery or vein that tells how well your child is breathing. These samples are called an ABG (from an artery), a VBG (from a vein) or a CBG (from a capillary).

BLOOD PRESSURE: a measure of how strongly the heart is pumping to circulate blood around the body.

CAT SCAN (CT): a series of computerized X-rays used to show detailed views of the brain, abdomen and other parts of the body.

CENTRAL LINE: an intravenous tube placed in a large vein to allow administration of medication, nutrition, or measurement of central venous pressure (CVP).

CENTRAL VENOUS PRESSURE (CVP): the pressure in the large vein that brings blood directly to the heart.

CHEST TUBE: a tube that is put in the space next to the lungs, between the ribs to drain air or fluid.

CPT (Chest Physiotherapy): the respiratory therapist uses a soft rubber, cupped device known as a bopper or uses their cupped hands to pat the chest wall for mucous clearance.

ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAM (EEG): a test given to record brain activity using small disks placed on the child's scalp.

ENDOTRACHEAL (ET) TUBE: a soft plastic tube that is inserted through the nose or windpipe, and is connected to a ventilator to help with breathing. Because the tube passes through the vocal cords, your child cannot cry or speak out loud while the tube is in place.

EXTUBATION: removing the ET tube from the windpipe in order to allow the patient to breathe on their own.

FOLEY CATHETER: a soft plastic tube that is inserted in the bladder to drain and measure the amount of urine produced.

INTRACRANIAL PRESSURE (ICP): the pressure inside the brain.

INTRACRANIAL PRESSURE (ICP) MONITORING DEVICE: a sensor that is inserted through the skull to monitor pressure. It is sometimes called an ICP bolt.

INTRAVENOUS (IV) TUBE: a soft plastic tube that is inserted into a vein to provide fluids, nutrition and medication to the child.

INTUBATION: inserting the ET tube into the windpipe in order to use a ventilator to help the child's breathing.

IPV (INTRAPULMONARY PRECUSSOR VENTILATOR): a machine that is attached to the ET tube, a facemask or mouthpiece used for mucous clearance and medication delivery to the lungs. The IPV machine is used for a more aggressive treatment. The machine uses short bursts of air to percuss (vibrate) the airways internally.

MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI): a specific X-ray that uses a magnetic field to show injured areas more clearly.

NASOGASTRIC TUBE (NG TUBE): a soft plastic tube going through the nose and into the stomach; used either to drain fluid, to give formula, or to give medications.

NEURO SIGNS: tests administered to evaluate the child's response to touch, light and sound.

NPO: nothing passes orally, nothing to eat or drink.

OXYGEN (O2): oxygen is a gas to help with breathing. O2 can be given through a mask, a hood, a nasal cannula, or ventilator connected to an endotracheal tube. We breathe 21% oxygen in open air.

OXYGEN SATURATION (O2 SAT): a measure of the oxygen in the blood. When the oxygen level in the blood is too low it is called a desaturation or "desat".

PULSE OXIMETER: a Band-Aid type of device that indirectly measures the oxygen level in the blood. The sensor is fastened to the child's finger or toe.

SUCTIONING: the use of a soft, thin plastic tube that uses suction to clear secretions or mucus from the airway.

TRANSFUSION: giving blood or blood products intravenously to correct a low blood count.

TRANSPYLORIC TUBE (TPT): a tube placed through the nose or mouth that passes through the stomach into the beginning of the small intestine. The TPT is used to feed patients while on ventilators.

VENTILATOR/RESPIRATOR: a machine that is attached to an ET tube that delivers air and oxygen to the child. It is used for patients who cannot breathe effectively on their own.

VITAL SIGNS: measurements of blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature.

WEANING: the process of slowly getting a child off a ventilator or medications as their health improves.