top of page

Glossaries - V

We've defined thousands of terms related to health care. This page discusses glossary terms with the letter V.

Vagal (VAY-gal)

pertaining to the vagus nerve, which supplies sensory connections to the ear, tongue, and pharynx.

Vagotomy (vay-GAH-tuh-mee)

An operation to cut the vagus nerve. This causes the stomach to make less acid.

Vagus Nerve (VAY-gus nurv)

The nerve in the stomach that controls the making of stomach acid.


inflammation of a blood vessel.


a narrowing of the blood vessels.


a widening of the blood vessels.

Vestibular system (ves- TIB-you-lahr)

the organ of the inner ear containing several three semicircular ducts at right angles to one another; helps keep the body balanced.

Villi (VIL-eye)

The tiny, fingerlike projections on the surface of the small intestine. Villi help absorb nutrients.

Vinca Alkaloid

a pharmacologically active substance (e.g., vinblastine and vincristine) obtained from the genus Vinca , which includes the periwinkles.

Viral Hepatitis (VY-rul heh-puh-TY-tis)

Hepatitis caused by a virus. Five different viruses (A, B, C, D, and E) most commonly cause this form of hepatitis. Other rare viruses may also cause hepatitis.

Hepatitis A

A virus most often spread by unclean food and water.

Hepatitis B

A virus commonly spread by sexual intercourse or blood transfusion, or from mother to newborn at birth. Another way it spreads is by using a needle that was used by an infected person. Hepatitis B is more common and much more easily spread than the AIDS virus and may lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Hepatitis C

A virus spread by blood transfusion and possibly by sexual intercourse or sharing needles with infected people. Hepatitis C may lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis C used to be called non-A, non-B hepatitis.

Hepatitis D

A virus that occurs mostly in people who take illegal drugs by using needles. Only people who have hepatitis B can get hepatitis D.

Hepatitis E

A virus spread mostly through unclean water. This type of hepatitis is common in developing countries. It has not occurred in the United States.


the presence of virus in the bloodstream.


a mature infectious virus particle existing outside a cell.


a microorganism composed of a piece of genetic material -- RNA or DNA -- surrounded by a protein coat. To replicate, a virus must infect a cell and direct its cellular machinery to produce new viruses.

Volvulus (VAHLV-yoo-lus)

A twisting of the stomach or large intestine. May be caused by the stomach being in the wrong position, a foreign substance, or abnormal joining of one part of the stomach or intestine to another. Volvulus can lead to blockage, perforation, peritonitis, and poor blood flow.

bottom of page