spread by nonsexual means, such as
through broken skin or saliva. It occurs
mainly in the Middle East and Africa.
Treatment is with
antibacterial drugs.
syringe An instrument that is commonly
used with a needle for injecting fluid
into, or withdrawing fluid from, a body
cavity, blood vessel, or tissue.
syringe driver A portable device used
to provide continuous pain relief in
conditions such as cancer. The
driver delivers a certain amount of an
(painkiller) over a set period
of time. It is attached to a syringe,
which pumps the drug, via a tube,
through a needle inserted into the skin.
syringing of ears The flushing out of
or a foreign body from
the outer ear canal by introducing water
from a syringe into the ear canal.
syringomyelia A rare, progressive con-
dition, usually congenital, in which a
cavity forms in the
or in the
spinal cord
at neck level and gradually
expands, filling with
cerebrospinal fluid
Symptoms usually appear in early adult-
hood and include lack of temperature or
pain sensation, wasting of muscles in the
neck, shoulders, arms, and hands, and
some loss of the sense of touch. Later,
there is difficulty in moving the legs and
controlling the bladder and bowel.
There is no drug treatment. Surgery can
relieve pressure in the central cavity to
prevent further enlargement, or alterna-
tively, decompress the distended spinal
cord (see
decompression, spinal canal).
system A group of interconnected or
interdependent organs with a common
function, as in the
digestive system
systemic A term applied to something
that affects the whole body rather than a
specific part of it. For example, fever is
a systemic symptom, whereas swelling
is a localized symptom. The term sys-
temic is also applied to the part of the
blood circulation that supplies all parts
of the body except the lungs.
systemic lupus erythematosus See
lupus erythematosus
systemic sclerosis Also known as scle-
roderma, a rare
autoimmune disorder
that can affect many organs and tissues,
particularly the skin, arteries, kidneys,
lungs, heart, gastrointestinal tract, and
joints. The condition is 3 times as com-
mon in women and is most likely to
appear between the age of 30 and 50.
The number and severity of symptoms
varies. The most common symptom is
Raynaud's phenomenon.
Also common
are changes in the skin, especially of the
face and fingers, which becomes shiny,
tight, and thickened, leading to difficulty
with movements. Other parts of the body
may also be affected, leading to difficulty
in swallowing, shortness of breath, palpi-
tations, high blood pressure, joint pain,
or muscle weakness. Progression of scle-
roderma is often rapid in the first few
years and then slows down or even stops.
In a minority of people, degeneration is
rapid, and leads to death from
heart fail-
ure, respiratory failure,
kidney failure.
There is no cure for scleroderma, but
many of the symptoms can be relieved.
systole A period of muscular contraction
of a chamber of the
that alternates
with a resting period known as
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