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1. the anterior or superior part of a structure or organism.
2. in vertebrates, the part of the body containing the brain and the organs of special sense. Called also caput.
articular head an eminence on a bone by which it articulates with another bone.
head injury traumatic injury to the head resulting from a fall or violent blow. Such an injury may be open or closed and may involve a brain concussion, skull fracture, or contusions of the brain. All head injuries are potentially dangerous because there can be a slow leakage of blood from damaged blood vessels into or around the brain. Such a process will gradually increase pressure within the skull and compress the surrounding brain (see hematoma).

One of the most common complications of head injury is subdural hematoma, resulting from the oozing of blood from the cortical veins and the small blood vessels that lie between the arachnoid and the dura mater. A less common but more serious complication that constitutes an extreme surgical emergency is epidural hematoma, a collection of blood in the space between the skull and the dura mater. The leaking of blood into the epidural space is the result of the rupture of a large meningeal artery. It progresses rapidly and therefore requires immediate treatment. A third complication that may occur following head injury is herniation of either the brainstem or a part of the cerebellum through the tentorial hiatus (transtentorial herniation). This is an extreme emergency demanding immediate relief of pressure against the blood vessels serving the brain stem and cerebellum.

Long-term effects of head injury include chronic headache, disturbances in mental and motor function, diabetes insipidus, and a host of other symptoms that may or may not be psychogenic. Organic brain damage and posttraumatic epilepsy resulting from scar formation are possible sequels to head injury.
Treatment. The method of treatment will depend on the kind and amount of damage inflicted on the brain and surrounding membranes. Surgical procedures to relieve intracranial pressure include the drilling of burr holes in the skull to aspirate accumulated blood, and intracranial surgery to remove hematomas. Edema of brain tissue may be reduced by the intravenous administration of mannitol. dexamethasone(Decadron), a steroid antiinflammatory agent that has little salt-retaining action, is often used. If no immediate surgery is indicated, the physician may choose to treat the head injury conservatively, with rest and quiet and the careful monitoring of the patient for signs of change in the neurologic status.
Patient Care. Continuous monitoring of the vital signs and assessment of the patient's neurologic status are essential to the care of the patient with a head injury. Fluid intake and output are measured and recorded and are limited according to the degree of edema present. Intravenous fluids must be given with caution and oral liquids allowed as soon as the patient is able to swallow. An excessively large urinary output is reported immediately, as this may indicate damage to the hypothalamus and suppression of antidiuretic hormone.

Any one of the following symptoms should be reported to the physician: (1) changes in the patient's blood pressure, pulse, or respiratory rate, especially slowing of the pulse with a rising blood pressure; (2) extreme restlessness or excitability following a period of comparative calm; (3) changes in the level of consciousness; (4) headache that increases in intensity; (5) vomiting, especially persistent, projectile vomiting; (6) unequal size of pupils; (7) inability to move one of the extremities; (8) leakage of spinal fluid (clear yellow or pink-tinged) from the nose or ear.

When leakage of spinal fluid is suspected, this can be verified by using a Clinistix test for sugar. If it is positive, the leaking fluid is spinal fluid rather than mucus. When there is leakage of spinal fluid through the nose, the patient must be warned not to blow the nose. Leakage of spinal fluid from the nose or the ear demands absolute bed rest with the head elevated 30 degrees to maintain neutral intracranial pressure and promote healing.

Patients who are unconscious must be watched closely for respiratory difficulty or inability to swallow. If the patient cannot swallow, the head must be turned to the side and the mouth and trachea suctioned as necessary to prevent aspiration of mucus into the lungs. A tracheostomy set and ventilator should be readily at hand in case severe respiratory embarrassment occurs.

Side rails are applied and the headboard of the bed is padded with pillows or a blanket if the patient is delirious or if convulsions are anticipated. An accurate record of the patient's intake and output is kept and the patient is observed for signs of retention of urine, incontinence, or abdominal distention.
Some mechanisms of head injury. Head injury results from penetration or impact. A, A direct injury (blow to skull) may fracture the skull. Contusion and laceration of the brain may result from fractures. Depressed portions of the skull may compress or penetrate brain tissue. B, In the absence of skull fracture, a blow to the skull may cause the brain to move enough to tear some of the veins going from the cortical surface to the dura. Subsequently, subdural hematoma may develop. Note the areas of cerebral contusion (shaded in red). C, Rebound of the cranial contents may result in an area of injury opposite the point of impact. Such an injury is called a contrecoup injury. In addition to the three injuries depicted, secondary phenomena may result from the injury and cause additional brain dysfunction or damage. For example, ischemia, especially cerebral edema, may occur, elevating intracranial pressure. From Polaski and Tatro, 1996.
sperm head (head of spermatozoon) the oval anterior end of a spermatozoon, which contains the male pronucleus and is surrounded by the acrosome. See illustration at spermatozoon.


(hed), [TA]
1. The upper or anterior extremity of the animal body, containing the brain and the organs of sight, hearing, taste, and smell.
2. The upper, anterior, or larger extremity, expanded or rounded, of any body, organ, or other anatomic structure.
3. The rounded extremity of a bone.
4. That end of a muscle that is attached to the less movable part of the skeleton.
Synonym(s): caput [TA]
[A.S. heāfod]


1. The uppermost or forwardmost part of body of a human or other vertebrate, containing the brain and the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and jaws.
2. The analogous part of an invertebrate organism.
3. The pus-containing tip of an abscess, boil, or pimple.
4. The proximal end of a long bone. The end of a muscle that is attached to the less movable part of the skeleton.


1. The upper or anterior extremity of the animal body, containing the brain and the organs of sight, hearing, taste, and smell.
2. The upper, anterior, or larger extremity, expanded or rounded, of any body, organ, or other anatomic structure.
3. The rounded extremity of a bone.
4. That end of a muscle that is attached to the less movable part of the skeleton.


[AS. heafod]
Enlarge picture
Enlarge picture
MUSCLES OF THE FACE AND NECK: (Right lateral view)
1. The upper segment of the body, which is shaped by the skeletal structure called the skull, which contains the brain and the specialized sense organs (of the eyes, ears, nose, and tongue), and through which external matter (eg, food and air) is internalized. See: illustration
2. The larger extremity of any organ.


An abnormal fixation of the head may be caused by postpharyngeal abscess, arthritis deformans, swollen cervical glands, rheumatism, traumatism of the neck, sprains of cervical muscles, congenital spasmodic torticollis, caries of a molar tooth, burn scars, or eye muscle imbalance (hyperphoria). An inability to move the head may be due to caries of the cervical vertebrae and diseases of articulation between the occiput and atlas or paralysis of neck muscles.

Abnormal movements of the head include habit spasms such as nodding. Rhythmical nodding is seen in aortic regurgitation, chorea, and torticollis. A retracted head is seen in acute meningitis, cerebral abscess, tumor, thrombosis of the superior longitudinal sinus, acute encephalitis, laryngeal obstruction, tetanus, hydrophobia, epilepsy, spasmodic torticollis, strychnine poisoning, hysteria, rachitic conditions, and painful neck lesions at the back.

after-coming head

Childbirth with the head delivered last.

articular head

A projection on bone that articulates with another bone.


  1. the upper or front part of the body in vertebrates, that contains and protects the BRAIN, eyes, mouth, nose and ears when present. There is usually a concentration of sense organs in the head, such as eyes, tentacles, antennae and mouth parts. The head has probably developed because of forward locomotion, as a well-developed head is absent in organisms lacking unidirectional movement (e.g. sea urchin).
  2. the corresponding part of an invertebrate animal. See also CEPHALIZATION.
  3. the foremost part of a sperm cell containing the ACROSOME.


1. [TA] Upper or anterior extremity of animal body, containing brain and organs of sight, hearing, taste, and smell.
2. [TA] Upper, anterior, or larger extremity, expanded or rounded, of any body, organ, or other anatomic structure.
3. Rounded extremity of a bone.
Synonym(s): caput.

Patient discussion about head

Q. What is the cause of my head rash? I have a rash on my head. It is red and itchy, what could it be from?

A. A head rash can be caused from lots of different things. I found a website that helps you diagnose it with charts:

Q. Head aches terrible I am suffering with bad headaches everyday for the past week, so i thought i would check up on it from you guys. When the day nears the noon, my head ache becomes worse. No common cold. Kindly give me a solution.

A. Anyone who suffers from headaches knows they can put a damper on everyday life. But not all headaches are alike. Learn what type of headache you have.

Q. Why do they think that the pain is all in my head? Is there any chance which may wrongfully lead doctor to conclude that our symptoms are of a psychological nature? Why do they think that the pain is all in my head?

A. It may happen very rarely and if he is new to his profession. It doesn’t mean that all those are new to their profession does these mistakes. Doctors cannot "see" and may not understand the sources of your pain or fatigue. However, what they do observe is your anxiety and frustration with having to deal with these symptoms around-the-clock, which may wrongfully lead them to conclude that your symptoms are of a psychological nature. Also, the old school of thought regarding pain is that it is produced by tissue injury, and there is no obvious source of tissue injury in patients with fibromyalgia. Regardless, if your doctor does not believe that your symptoms are real, you owe it to yourself to find another doctor who believes in you and will work with you to help reduce your symptoms.

More discussions about head
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