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MEDICAL TERMINOLOGY

A good medical vocabulary is one of your most important tools. Medical


terminology is the professional language of those who are directly or indirectly
associated with the art of healing.
It is not difficult to acquire a good working knowledge of medical terminology.
Most medical terms are composed of certain roots or stems, derived from Greek
or Latin and used in combination with prefixes and suffixes. Greek forms are
correctly used with Greek prefixes and suffixes, and Latin forms with Latin
prefixes and suffixes. Many "hybrids" are in use, however; a well-known example
is the noun "appendicitis" which is made up of the Latin "appendix" and the
Greek suffix "-itis.
The first step in acquiring a useful medical vocabulary is to learn to analyze
words - to break them down and then determine the meanings of the component
parts. The next step, of course, is to assemble these meanings and thus
establish the full definition of the word that is under study. A practical way to start
this study is to select a few words that relate to a product or products being
detailed to physicians. Analyze these words, develop their full meaning and
correct usage, and then use them in the proper place and association. With a
little practice and after memorizing a relatively small list of stems or roots, a
vocabulary of frequently used medical terms is easily acquired; building it up
becomes an interesting and fascinating study.
ELEMENTS OF MEDICAL TERMINOLOGY
The analysis of medical terms is a systematic breaking up of the words into their
component parts - PREFIXES, SUFFIXES and ROOTS (STEMS).
Word roots or stems are the simple elements that constitute the basis on which
words are formed. Those used in medical terminology generally indicate an
organ or part of the body. They are modified by combining them with prefixes or
suffixes or both. For example in the word "arthritis" which means "inflammation
of the joints, the basic term or root is "arthr-, from the Greek "arthron" meaning
joint. It is modified by adding the suffix "-itis" denoting "inflammation. By placing
the prefix "peri-" before the word we get "periarthritis, a term meaning
inflammation of the tissues around (peri) the joint.
Prefixes are the most frequently used elements in the formation of medical terms
and usually consist of one or two syllables placed before a word to modify its
meaning; e.g. "hypo-, a Greek word meaning under or below, combines with "dermic" (from the Greek "derma" -the skin) to form the frequently used term
"hypodermic. Most prefixes have a final vowel which is dropped if the stem or
root which follows it begins with a vowel, e.g. hypo and adrenia combine to form
"hypoadrenia, meaning adrenal insufficiency.

The Latin derived word "subcutaneous" is formed with the prefix "sub-" (under)
and cutaneous (from "cutis: -the skin). It is the equivalent of the Greek term
"hypodermic.
Suffixes are added at the end of a word to produce nouns, adjectives or verbs.
Examples: "ot-" (from "otos" -the ear) plus the suffix "itis" forms the noun otitis.
The same stem, plus the suffix "-ic" gives us the adjective "otic. The word
"crystal" (from crystallos) plus the suffix "-ize" produces the verb "crystallize.
True suffixes are abstract syllables attached at the end of a word, root or stem.
For instance in the word parenteral, the end syllable "-al" denoting of or
pertaining to, or belonging to, is a true suffix, an abstract element at the end of a
word serving a formative or inflectional function only. The prefix "par" from the
Greek "para" means beyond or apart from, or other than and the root "-enter"
from the Greek "enteron" means intestine. Parenteral, therefore is an adjective
meaning not (or other than) pertaining to the intestine and is commonly used to
indicate the route of administration of therapeutic agents - NOT via the intestinal
canal as when taken orally, but by subcutaneous, intramuscular or intravenous
injection. Many endings are not true suffixes but are nouns or adjectives added to
the root to form compound words and may be referred to as "combining forms.
They have a concrete sense as in "adenoma" ("aden" -gland plus "oma" -tumor,
forms "adenoma" -a glandular tumor).
The following tables present a number of suffixes, roots and prefixes, selected on
the basis of frequent usage, and arranged in a manner to facilitate study, The
suffixes are classified according to their meanings into diagnostic, operative and
symptomatic suffixes and combining forms. For each word-element, the
meaning is indicated , followed by an example of a word in which it appears.
With this as a starting point the way should be clear for developing other terms,
using the same element in combination with others to form a word.

DIAGNOSTIC SUFFIXES and COMPOUNDING ELEMENTS


Suffix:
-asthen
-cele
-emia
-iasis
-itis
-oma
-osis

Meaning:
weakness (a-neg. and
sthen-strength)
swelling, hernia,
protrusion
blood
presence of, or condition
of
inflammation
tumor
a condition, usually
morbid; also indicates an
increase

-path;
-pathy
-phobia

disease, suffering

-ptosis

downward displacement, falling


rupture
growth
turning toward, changing

-rrhexis
-tropho
-tropic

persistent, abnormal fear

Example
neurasthenia; nervous prostration
gastrocele; hernial protrusion of the
stomach
anemia; deficiency of red blood cells
cholelithiasis: presence of calculi
(stones) in the gallbladder
dermatitis; inflammation of the skin
carcinoma: a malignant growth
neurosis: functional dis-order of the
nervous system.
leucocytosis: increased white cell
count.
cardiopathy: any disease of the
heart.
claustrophobia: fear of being closed
in
gastroptosis: downward
displacement of the stomach
hysterorrhexis: rupture of the uterus
atrophy: a wasting away
cephalotropic: having an affinity for
(turning toward) brain tissue

OPERATIONAL SUFFIXES and COMPOUNDING ELEMENTS


Suffix:
-centesis

Meaning:
puncture or tapping

-desis
-ectomy
-ostomy
-otomy

binding or fixation
excision; a cutting out
making an opening into
(os-mouth)
incision into

-oscopy

inspection, examination

-pexy

fixation, suspension

-plasty

plastic repair of; surgical


correction

Example:
cardiocentesis: surgical puncture of
the heart
arthrodesis: surgical fixation of a joint
tonsillectomy: removal of tonsils
colostomy: making a more or less
permanent opening into the colon
phlebotomy: opening into a vein
(phlebos)
bronchoscopy: examination of the
bronchi with an endoscope
hysteropexy: fixation of the uterus to
the abdominal wall
hernioplasty: plastic repair of a
hernia

SYMPTOMATIC SUFFIXES and COMPOUNDING ELEMENTS

Suffix:
-algia
-dynia
-genic
-lysis
-oid

Meaning:
pain
pain
producing
breaking down; dissolution
like

-penia

deficiency; decrease

-rhea

flow or discharge

-rrhagia
Root:
adenangio-

excessive flow
Meaning:
gland
vessel

arthrauriblephar-

joint
ear
eyelid

bucca-

cheek

cardicerebrocephalcervi-

heart
brain
head, brain
neck

cheilchir-

lip
hand

chole-

bile

cost-

rib

cranicystocytcutdacry-

skull
bladder; sac
cell
skin
tear

denti-

tooth

Example:
otalgia: pain in the ear; earache
gastrodynia: pain in the stomach
pathogenic: giving origin to disease
keratolysis: separation of the horny
layer of the skin
fibroid: a tumor of fibrous tissue,
resembling fibers
leukocytopenia: decrease in number
of white cells
diarrhea: abnormal frequency and
fluidity of stools
hemorrhage: copious bleeding
Example:
adenitis: inflammation of a gland
angiospasm: Spasmodic contraction
of the blood vessels
arthritis: inflammation of the joints
auris media: the middle ear
blepharoplegia: para-lysis of an
eyelid
buccolabial: pertaining to the cheek
and the lip
cardiodynia: pain in the heart
cerebral: pertaining to the brain
cephalad: toward the head
cervicitis: inflammation of the neck of
the uterus
cheilitis: inflammation of the lip
chiromegaly: enlargement of the
hands
cholangitis: inflammation of the bile
duct
costectomy: excising or resecting a
rib
cranial: pertaining to the skull
cystatrophia: atrophy of the bladder
erythrocyte: red blood cell
cutaneous: pertaining to the skin
dacryocystitis: inflammation of the
tear sac
dentalgia: toothache

derma-

skin

dermatosis: disease affecting the

encephal-

brain

enter-

intestine

gastrglossglyco-

stomach
tongue
sweet(sugar)

hem-

blood

hepathyster-

liver
uterus

gingivkerat-

Gums
Cornea

lacrymalaryng

Tear
Larynx

liplith-

Fat
Stone

meningmyel-

nephr-

Membrane
marrow(the spinal
cord)_
Muscle
ear drum
(membrana tympani)
Kidney

neuroophtalmopt-

Nerve
Eye
vision or sight

os-; (or-)
otosteopalpebrpharyng-

Mouth
Ear
Bone
Eyelid
Throat

phleb-

Vein

true skin
encephalitis: inflammation of the
brain
enteroptosis: downward
displacement of the intestine
gastric: pertaining to the stomach
glossoplegia: paralysis of the tongue
glycosuria: abnormal quantity of
glucose in the urine
hyperemia: excess of blood in any
part of the body
hepatitis: inflammation of the liver
hysteropexy: fixation of a displaced
uterus by a surgical operation
gingivitis: inflammation of the gums
keratocentesis: puncture of the
cornea
lacrimal: pertaining to tears
laryngoscope: instrument for ocular
examination of the larynx
lipoma: a fatty tumor
lithotomy: removal of a stone by
cutting into the bladder
meningeal: relating to meninges
myelitis: inflammation of the bone
marrow or the spinal cord
myalgia: painful muscle
myringitis: inflammation of the ear
drum
nephrotoxic: toxic or destructive to
the kidney
neurasthenia: nervous exhaustion
ophthalmic: pertaining to the eye
optometer: a device for measuring
the power and range of vision
oral: pertaining to the mouth
otitis: inflammation of the ear
osteomalacia: softening of the bone
palpebration: the act of winking
pharyngoplasty: plastic operation of
the pharynx
phlebitis: inflammation of a vein

phren-

(1) the mind

schizophrenia: disturbance of the

myomyring-

(2) the diaphragm


-pnea
pneumoproct-

Breathing
lung; also air or
breathing
Rectum

pulmopyel-

Lung
pelvis (of the kidney)

pyloro-

Pylorus

pyo-

Pus

rhin-

Nose

salping-

Tube

stomo-

mouth; opening

thoracotrache-

Chest
Neck

viscer-

organ (especially
abdominal)

mental functions; phrenohepatic:


pertaining to the diaphragm and the
liver
dyspnea: difficult breathing
pneumothorax: accumulation of air
or gas in the pleural cavity
proctorrhea: a mucous discharge
from the rectum
pulmonary: pertaining to the lungs
pyelonephritis: inflammation of the
kidney and its pelvis
pylorospasm: spasm of the pylorus
or of the pyloric portion of the
stomach
pyoderma: any skin discharge
characterized by pus formation
rhinitis: inflammation of the mucous
membrane of the nose
salpingoscopy: examination of the
eustachian tube
colostomy: surgical formation of an
opening into the colon
thoracic: pertaining to the chest
trachelocystitis: inflammation of the
neck of the bladder
visceral: pertaining to the internal
organs

PREFIXES and COMPOUNDING ELEMENTS


Prefix:
a; an
abad-

Meaning:
without; not
away from; off
near; toward

ana-

upward; backward;
again; excessive

anteanti-

before (time or place)


Against

bi-; dibrady-

two or twice
Slow

co-; con-

together, with

Example:
asthenia: without strength
abduct: to draw away from
adrenal: near the kidney; adduct: to
draw toward
anaphylaxis: unusual or exaggerated
reaction to foreign protein; analysis:
breaking down into component parts
antepartum: before child-birth
antipruritic: relieving or preventing
itching
bis in die (b.i.d.); twice a day
bradysphygmia: abnormal slowness
of the pulse
congenital: born with; hereditary

contra-

against; opposite

dysectoendo-

difficult, painful, bad


Outside
within

epi-

on, upon

erythroexhyper-

Red
away from, outside,
without
above excessive

hypohemi-

beneath, deficient
Half

infrainter-

Below
Between

intraleukomega-;
megaloneo-

Within
White
huge; very large

necro-

relating to a dead body

oligoortho-

scanty; few
straight; normal; correct

parapatho-

beside; around; near;


abnormal
relating to disease

peri-

Around

pro-

in front of; forward

retro-

backward; behind

steno-

contracted or narrow

subsupra-;
super-

under; beneath
above, beyond;
superior

New

contraceptive: anything used to


prevent con-ception
dysmenorrhea: painful menstruation
ectopic: out of the normal place
endocrine: pertaining to internal
secretion
epidermis: outermost layer of the
skin
erythrocyte: red blood cell
expire: to breath out
hypertension: blood pressure above
normal; high blood pressure
hypodermic: under the skin
hemiplegia: paralysis of one half of
the body
infratracheal: beneath the trachea
intermuscular: situated between
muscles
intracutaneous: within the skin
leukocyte: a white blood corpuscle
megalocyte: an extremely large
erythrocyte
neonatal: pertaining to the first four
weeks of life
necroscopy: a postmortem
examination
oliguria: diminished urine secretion
orthopedic: pertaining to the
correction of deformities
paranoia: a mental disease
pathognomonic: characteristic of a
disease
pericardium: membrane enclosing
the heart
prolapse: downward dis-placement of
an organ
retroversion: the tipping backward of
an entire organ
stenocephalia: excessive narrowness
of the head
subcutaneous: under the skin
supraoccipital: situated above the
back part of the skull

syn-; sym-

with, together, beside

tachy-

rapid, swift

trans-

across, over

symphysis: the line of junction and


fusion between bones
tachypnea: excessive rapidity of
respiration
transection: incision across the long
axis; a cross section

MEDICAL TERMINOLOGY
A. DIRECTIONAL TERMS:
SUPERIOR (CRANIAL, CEPHALAD): Directed toward the head
INFERIOR (CAUDAL, CAUDAD): Directed toward the tail
ANTERIOR (VENTRAL): Toward the front
POSTERIOR (DORSAL): Toward the back
MEDIAL (MEDIAL): Toward the midline of the body
LATERAL: Away from the midline of the body, toward the side
PROXIMAL: Toward or nearest the trunk or the point of origin of a part,
closer to any point of reference
DISTAL: Away from or farthest from the trunk or the point of origin of a
part, farther from any point of reference
B. PLANES OF THE BODY:
SAGITTAL PLANE: A lengthwise plane running from front to back dividing
the body or any of its parts into right and left sides
MEDIAN PLANE: Sagittal plane through midline dividing the body or any
of its parts into right and left halves
CORONAL PLANE: A lengthwise plane running from side to side
(FRONTAL PLANE) dividing the body or any of its parts into
anterior and posterior portions
TRANSVERSE PLANE: A crosswise plane dividing the body or any of its
parts into upper and lower parts

CONCEPTUAL APPROACH TO PATHOGENESIS


I. DEFINITIONS
Disease:
Disorder of body function resulting in loss of normal health.
Diagnosis:
Determination of the nature of a disease.
Clinicopathologic correlation:
Process where concepts and disease characteristics are integrated
with clinical information.
Problem-oriented approach:
Based on symptoms, e.g. headache, chest pain
Disease-oriented approach:
Meningitis, myocardial infarction
General pathology:
Refers to the mechanisms and characteristics of the major types of
disease processes.
Systemic pathology:
Refers to the specific diseases affecting individual organs or organ
systems.
II. CHARACTERISTICS OF A DISEASE
A. Epidemiology
a. Incidence, age, sex, race and geographical distributions, and
risk factors
B. Etiology (CAUSE)
a. Agent(s) responsible for series of events leading to a disease
(fecalith, lymphoid hyperplasia can cause acute appendicitis)
C. Pathogenesis (MECHANISM)
a. Mechanism (series of events) by which the causative agent
produces disease
D. Clinical manifestations
a. Signs, symptoms, laboratory and radiographic features)
E. Pathologic manifestations
a. Structural manifestations of disease (gross, histologic,
immunohistochemical and ultrastructural features)
F. Complications of disease
a. Short and long term consequences of disease, both local and
systemic
G. Prognosis:
a. Probable course of a disease

III. EXAMPLES
Disease
Etiology
Pathogenesis
Clin features
Path features
Complications

Appendicitis
fecalith
obstruction
acute inflammation
RLQ pain
transmural inflammation
perforation, peritonitis

Myocardial Infarction
atherosclerosis
ischemia
necrosis
chest pain
infarction
dysrhythmia, failure

IV. GENERAL APPROACH IN CLASSIFICATION


V ascular
I nfectious
T oxic/Metabolic
A utoimmune/ Immune
M echanical/ Environmental
M etabolic
I atrogenic/ Idiopathic
N eoplastic
D evelopmental/ Genetic
V. CLASSIFICATION ON PATHOGENESIS
A. VASCULAR
a. Impaired blood flow
i. Arterial and venous obstruction
ii. Vascular occlusion
iii. CAUSES: atherosclerosis, arteritis, thrombosis
b. Inadequate oxygenation
i. Destruction of lung parenchyma
ii. Decreased flow through lung
iii. CAUSES: heart failure, COPD
c. Decreased oxygen carrying capacity of blood
i. Decreased red cell production
ii. Intrinsic red cell abnormalities
iii. Increased red cell destruction
iv. C hronic blood loss
v. CAUSES: iron deficiency, sickle cell anemia, colon
cancer

B. INFECTIOUS
a. Bacterial
i. Release of enzymes (local tissue destruction)
1. Staph aureus boil
ii. Production of toxin (exotoxin, endotoxin)
1. E coli diarrhea
iii. Abnormal immune response
1. Beta Strep glomerulonephritis
b. Viral
i. Direct cytopathic effect
ii. Immune destruction
iii. Neoplastic transformation
c. Fungal
d. Parasitic
C. TOXIC/ METABOLIC/ NUTRITIONAL
a. Toxic:
i. Drugs, poisons
b. Metabolic
i. Inborn errors of metabolism
ii. Hormonal excess or deficiency
iii. Acid base abnormalities
iv. Electrolyte abnormalities
v. Liver failure
vi. Renal failure
c. Nutritional
i. Primary (dietary deficiency)
ii. Secondary
D. AUTOIMMUNE/IMMUNE
a. Immune
i. Immediate hypersensitivity (Type I)
ii. Cytotoxic (Type II)
iii. Immune complex (Type III)
iv. Delayed hypersensitivity (Type IV)
b. Autoimmune (humoral or cell mediated)
c. Immunodeficiency
i. Congenital
ii. Acquired
E. MECHANICAL/ ENVIRONMENTAL
a. Compression of critical structure
b. Obstruction of viscus
c. Trauma, heat, cold, radiation

F. IATROGENIC/ IDIOPATHIC
a. Steroid therapy- Cushing's syndrome
b. Halothane- liver necrosis
c. Chloramphenicol-aplastic anemia
G. NEOPLASTIC
a. Local growth of tumor
i. Compression of vital structures
ii. Ulceration, perforation
iii. Hemorrhage
iv. Inflammation
v. Seizures
b. Metastases
c. Paraneoplastic syndrome- production of biologically active
compound
H. DEVELOPMENTAL/ GENETIC
a. congenital diseases affect approximately 5% of births
i. malformations (3%)
ii. single gene disorders (1%)
iii. chromosomal disorders (0.5%)
VI. EXAMPLE
A. Diarrhea (problem-oriented)
a. Vascular
b. Infectious
i. Vibrio, E coli, Clostridium (toxins), HIV, Salmonella,
Shigella, E coli, Campylobacter
c. Toxic
i. Drugs, laxatives
d. Autoimmune
i. Inflammatory bowel disease
e. Metabolic
i. Diabetes (autonomic neuropathy), disaccharidase
deficiency
f. Mechanical
i. Short bowel, fistula
g. Iatrogenic
i. Postgastrectomy, postvagotomy
h. Idiopathic
i. Irritable bowel syndrome
i. Neoplastic
i. Gastrinoma, carcinoid, villous adenoma, Vipoma
j. Developmental
i. Meckel's diverticulum

B. Cirrhosis (disease oriented)


a. Vascular
i. Cardiac cirrhosis
b. Infection
i. Viral hepatitis
c. Toxic
i. Alcohol, drugs, (methotrexate)
d. Autoimmune
i. Primary biliary cirrhosis
e. Metabolic
i. Hemochromatosis, Wilsons, galactosemia, "1-antitrypsin
deficiency, cystic fibrosis
f. Mechanical
i. Extrahepatic biliary obstruction (gallstones, strictures,
tumor, cholangitis)
g. Iatrogenic
i. TPN, transfusions
h. Idiopathic
i. Indian childhood, cryptogenic
i. Neoplastic
j. Developmental
i. Biliary atresia

I pass through this world but once


Any good, therefore, that I can do,
Or any kindness that I can show
To any human being,
Let me do it now.
Let me not defer or neglect it.
For I shall not pass this way again.

from the Ethics of the Sages