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Glossary of Terms - Miscarriage

Abdomen. The tummy area from the lower ribs to the pelvis.​​

Amenorrhoea. Is the medical term used for the absence of menstruation/a period.

Anaesthesia.  A medical way of relieving pain.

Anti-D Immunoglobin. Is a medicine given by intramuscular injection that is used to prevent the immunological condition known as haemolytic disease of the newborn. Heamolytic disease of the newborn a severe form of anaemia caused in a fetus or newborn infant by incompatibility with the mother's blood type, typically when the mother is rhesus negative and produces antibodies which attack rhesus positive fetal blood through the placenta.

Antibody. Blood protein that helps fight attacks on the immune system such as those caused by bacteria or viruses.

Antibody screen. Is a blood test done to identify different antibodies in the bloodstream.

Autoimmune. A condition in which a person's immune system begins to attack the healthy organs and cells of his or her own body.

Cervix. The entrance or neck of the womb, at the top of the vagina, it connects the vagina and uterus.

Cervical os. The cervical os is part of the female reproductive system and is located in the pelvis. It is part of the cervix, which is in the lower part of the uterus. The cervix is a cylinder-shaped neck of tissue that connects the vagina and uterus. The cervix is made of cartilage covered by smooth, moist tissue.

Chromosome. The genetic structure within our cells which contain our DNA (the material that carries genetic information).

Complete Miscarriage.  A miscarriage is termed complete when all the pregnancy tissue is passed, and the uterus is empty.

Conception. When an egg is fertilised by a sperm and then starts to grow in the womb.

D&C. Dilation and curettage (D&C) refers to the dilation (widening/opening) of the cervix and surgical removal of part of the lining of the uterus and/or contents of the uterus by scraping and scooping (curettage).

Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit / EPAU/ Aislinn Suite. A clinic that specialises in problems in early pregnancy (under 12weeks) where a woman receives medical care, counselling and treatment as required.

Ectopic pregnancy. A pregnancy in which the fertilised egg (embryo) develops outside the womb, typically in one of the fallopian tubes.

Embryo. An unborn human in the earliest stages of growth when its basic structures are being formed between 5th and 11th weeks gestation.

Emergency Room. A hospital room or area staffed and equipped for the reception and treatment of persons with pregnancy-related conditions requiring immediate medical care.

Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception/ERPC. Is an operation that is performed when you have been diagnosed with a miscarriage if you have some retained products in the womb.

Fallopian tube. Are two hollow tubes leading from the womb to the ovaries allowing the passage of the egg from the ovary to the womb. In natural conception, the fallopian tube is where the egg is fertilised by the sperm.

Fetal tissue. Part of a fetus.  

Fetus. After 11 weeks gestation the embryo is referred to as a fetus.

General anaesthetic. General anaesthesia is a state of controlled unconsciousness. During a general anaesthetic, medications are used to induce sleep so you're unaware of surgery and don't move or feel pain while it's carried out.

Genetic information. The genetic potential of an organism carried in the base sequence of its DNA (or, in some viruses, RNA) according to the genetic code.

Gestation. The process or period of developing inside the womb between conception and birth.

Gestation or gestational age. Gestational age is the common term used during pregnancy to describe the age of the baby in the womb. It is measured in weeks, from the first day of the woman's last menstrual period.


Gestational Sac. The first sign of early pregnancy and can be seen on a vaginal ultrasound scan from 5 weeks of pregnancy

GP. A GP or General Practitioner is a doctor who provides general medical treatment for people who live in a particular area. Like a family doctor.

HbA1c. Is a glycated haemoglobin. It develops when haemoglobin joins with glucose in the blood, becoming 'glycated'. By measuring the HbA1c, clinicians are able to get an overall picture of what our average blood sugar levels have been over a period of weeks/months.

Histological examination. Is the branch of biology dealing with the study of tissues.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). A hormone that is made by the placenta and that acts to prepare the uterus for implantation of the fertilized ovum and to maintain pregnancy. It shows up in a woman’s blood or urine if she is pregnant.

Hydatidiform mole. Growth of an abnormal fertilized egg or an overgrowth of tissue from the placenta.

Hyperprolactinaemia. Hyperprolactinemia is an excessive secretion of prolactin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland.

Hyperthyroidism. A condition where thyroid hormone level is higher than normal limit, usually caused by overactivity of the thyroid gland.

Hysterosalpingogram. An x-ray film of the uterus and the fallopian tubes using gas or a radiopaque substance introduced through 

the cervix to allow visualization of the uterine cavity and the passage of the fallopian tubes.

Hysteroscopy. Hysteroscopy is a procedure that allows a physician to look through the vagina and neck of the uterus (cervix) to inspect the cavity of the uterus.

Ibuprofen. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is commonly used to treat pain, swelling, and fever. 

Implantation. The process through which an embryo attaches to the lining of the womb.

Incomplete Miscarriage. When a miscarriage has started but some pregnancy tissue remains in the uterus/womb.

Internal organs. Organs situated within the body.

Intra-abdominal. Within the abdominal cavity. The abdominal cavity is the part of the body between the thorax and the pelvis.

Intrauterine adhesions. Is a condition where scar tissue develops within the uterine cavity.

Intrauterine pregnancy (IUP).  The medical term describing the pregnancy developing in the uterus.

Keyhole surgery. Same as laparoscopic surgery is a modern surgical technique in which operations are performed far from their location through small incisions (usually 0.5–1.5 cm) elsewhere in the body.

Laparoscopic surgery. A modern surgical technique in which operations are performed using a telescopic microscope (called a laparoscope) through small incisions (usually 0.5–1.5 cm) in the abdomen.

Methotrexate. Methotrexate, formerly known as amethopterin, is an antimetabolite and anti-folate drug. It is used in the treatment of ectopic pregnancy.

Miscarriage. The unplanned ending of a pregnancy before 24 completed weeks.

Misoprostol. A medication used to start labour, induce a miscarriage, prevent and treat stomach ulcers, and treat postpartum bleeding due to poor contraction of the uterus.

Missed Miscarriage. A missed miscarriage is a situation when there is a non-viable fetus within the uterus, without symptoms of a miscarriage.

Molar pregnancy. There are two types of molar pregnancy - partial or complete - neither of which result in a viable pregnancy. 

MRI scan. MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a diagnostic technique that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce a detailed image of the body's soft tissue and bones. 

Ovaries.  A pair of organs, located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond. The ovaries produce follicles from which eggs develop.

Paracetamol. A medication used to treat pain and fever. It is typically used for mild to moderate pain.

Placental tissue. Is a temporary organ that develops in the womb during pregnancy, it links the mother and baby by transferring oxygen and nutrients from the mother to the baby.

Polycystic ovaries.  Ovaries which have at least twice as many follicles as normal ovaries in the early part of the menstrual cycle.

Pregnancy hormone. A steroid hormone that is secreted by the corpus luteum of the ovary and by the placenta and that acts to prepare the uterus for implantation of the fertilized ovum and to maintain pregnancy. 

Pregnancy of unknown location (PUL). When there is a positive urine pregnancy test but the location of the pregnancy (either intrauterine or extrauterine) cannot be located on initial transvaginal ultrasound scan


Pregnancy of unknown viability (PUV). A term given to an intrauterine pregnancy when it is not possible from ultrasound scan to confirm the intrauterine pregnancy as viable or a failed pregnancy

Pregnancy test.  A test to measure the pregnancy hormone in the body called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). It is positive when this hormone is detected in urine or blood and it confirms a pregnancy.

Prophylactic. A preventive measure.

Prostaglandin. The hormone that makes the womb contract during labour.

Rhesus status. Rhesus (Rh) factor is an inherited protein found on the surface of red blood cells. If your blood has the protein, you're RhD positive. If your blood lacks the protein, you're RhD negative.

Saline instillation sonography. Saline infusion sonohysterography (SIS) or saline ultrasound uterine scan is a test where a small volume of saline (salt solution) is inserted into the uterus (or womb). This allows the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to be clearly seen on an ultrasound scan. It is also known as a saline ultrasound uterine scan.

Sperm. Male reproductive cell.

Threatened Miscarriage. A threatened miscarriage is a medical term that is used when vaginal bleeding occurs and the cervix is closed. 

Thrombophilia screen. Is a blood test performed to find out if a person a blood clotting abnormality whereby the blood is more likely to clot than usual.

Thyroid Function Tests. Thyroid function tests are blood tests which help to check the function of your thyroid gland. They are mainly used to detect an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)and an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism). 

Trans-abdominal ultrasound. A scan where the probe is moved across the abdomen.

Trans-vaginal ultrasound (TV). A scan where the probe is placed inside the vagina.

Trimester. A three-month period of time. Pregnancy is divided into three trimesters:

  • First trimester – up to 12 weeks.

  • Second trimester – 13 to 27 weeks.

  • Third trimester – 28 to 40 weeks.

Ultra-sonographer. A healthcare professional who specialises in the use of ultrasound imaging devices to produce diagnostic images, scans, videos, or 3D volumes of anatomy and diagnostic data.

Ultrasound scan. High-frequency sound waves used to provide images of the body, tissue and internal organs.

Uterus (Womb). A hollow, pear-shaped organ that is located in a woman's lower abdomen, between the bladder and the rectum. It is the organ where a baby develops during pregnancy.

Uterine cavity. The space inside the uterus between the cervical canal and the Fallopian tubes.

Uterine perforation. Uterine perforation is a medical term that may be used to describe the accidental puncturing of the uterus. This typically occurs as a result of a medical procedure that involves the uterus.

Vagina. The canal leading from the outer vulva to the inner cervix of a woman’s body.

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