FEMALE
female
An individual with two X
sex chromo-
somes.
Females are also characterized
by the presence of a vagina and vulva
(see
sexual characteristics, primary).
female catheter
A short
catheter
(flexible tube) that can
be inserted into a wom an’s bladder
through the
urethra
for the purpose of
withdrawing
urine.
feminization
The development of female secondary
sexual characteristics in a male (such
as breast enlargement and fat deposits
beneath the skin and loss of facial
hair). The condition is due either to a
hormonal disorder or to
hormone
ther-
apy. (See also
demasculinization
;
intersex;
masculinization; sex determination; sexual
characteristics, secondary; testicular femi-
nization syndrome.)
femoral artery
A major blood vessel that supplies oxy-
genated blood to the leg. The femoral
artery is formed in the pelvis from the
iliac
artery,
w hich
is
the
terminal
branch of the
aorta.
It then runs from
the groin down the front of the thigh,
and passes behind the knee to become
the popliteal artery, w hich branches
again to supply the lower leg.
femoral epiphysis, slipped
Displacement of the upper
epiphysis
(growing
end)
of the
femur
(thigh
bone). Such displacement is rare; it
usually affects children between the
ages of 11 and 13, and occurs more
often in boys and obese children. There
is a tendency for the condition to run
in families.
During normal growth, the epiph-
ysis is separated from the shaft of the
bone by a plate of
cartilage.
This area is
relatively weak, so a fall or any other
type of injury can cause the epiphysis
to slip out of position. If this happens,
a lim p develops, and pain is felt in the
knee or groin. The leg tends to turn
outwards, and movements of the hip
are restricted.
Surgery is needed to fix the epiphysis
into its correct position; the procedure
is
usually
completely
successful.
In
some cases, however, the other hip may
also need to be stabilized. However, fol-
lowing the injury and repair, the hip
tends to be more susceptible than nor-
mal to
osteoarthritis
.
femoral hernia
A type of
hernia
that occurs in the
groin area,
at the point where the
femoral artery
and femoral vein pass
from the lower abdomen to the thigh.
Women who are overweight or who
have had several pregnancies are at risk
of
femoral
hernia
because
their
abdominal muscles are weakened.
femoral nerve
One of the main nerves of the leg. The
nerve
fibres
that
form
the
femoral
nerve emerge from the lower spine
and run down into the thigh, where
they branch to supply the skin and
front muscles of the thigh. The nerve
branches supplying the skin convey
sensation; the branches supplying the
muscles stimulate contraction of the
quadriceps muscle
,
thereby straighten-
ing the knee.
Damage to the femoral nerve (which
impairs the ability to straighten the
knee) is usually the result of a slipped
disc in the lumbar region of the spine
(see
disc prolapse
) .
Damage may also
result from a dislocation of the hip or
from a
neuropathy
.
femur
The medical name for the thigh bone,
w hich is the longest bone in the body.
The lower end of the femur hinges
w ith the tibia (shin) to form the knee
joint. The upper end is rounded into a
ball (the head of the femur) that fits
exactly into a socket in the pelvis to
form the hip joint.
The head of the femur is joined to
the bone shaft by a narrow piece of
bone called the neck of the femur,
w hich is a common fracture site (see
femur, fracture of
) .
At the lower end, the
bone is enlarged to form two lumps
(the
condyles)
that
distribute
the
weight-bearing load through the knee
joint. On the outer side of the upper
femur
is
a protuberance
called the
greater trochanter.
The shaft of the femur is surrounded
by muscles that move the hip and knee
joints. The shaft is also w ell supplied
w ith blood vessels; therefore, a fracture
can result in considerable blood loss.
femur, fracture of
A break in the femur (the thigh bone).
The symptoms, treatment, and possible
complications of a fracture depend on
whether the bone has broken across its
neck (the short section between the
top of the shaft and the hip joint) or
across the shaft.
FRACTURE OF NECK OF FEMUR
This type of fracture, w hich is often
called a broken hip, is very common in
elderly people,
especially in women
w ith the bone
disorder
osteoporosis
(loss of bone density). It is usually
associated w ith a fall. In a fracture of
the neck of the femur, the broken bone
ends are often considerably displaced;
in such cases there is usually severe
pain in the hip and groin, making
standing impossible. Occasionally, the
broken bone ends become impacted
(pushed together). In this case, there is
less pain, and walking may be possible.
The diagnosis is confirmed by
X-ray
.
If the ends of the bone are displaced,
an operation is necessary,
either to
realign the bone ends and fasten them
together, or to replace the entire head
and neck of the femur w ith an artificial
substitute (see
hip replacement
). If the
bone ends are impacted, the fracture
may heal naturally, but surgery may
still be recommended.
A possible complication is damage
to the blood supply to the head of the
femur, resulting in the disintegration
of the bone in that area (see
avascular
necrosis
) .
Osteoarthritis
may develop in
the hip joint after fracture of the femur
neck. In elderly people,
im m obility
302
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