Introduction to Medical Terminology


What is medical terminology? Different professions have different languages. Medical terminology is the technical language of health care professions. Medical workers use terms to describe the objects and situations encountered in their fields. Like every other language, medical terminology has changed over time. The basis for medical terms, however, remains the same. The majority of medical terms are derived from Latin and Greek How Does Medical Terminology Work? Word Parts Are the Key Learning medical terminology is much easier once we understand how word parts are combined to make medical terms. Important Word Parts:
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Word roots / combining forms contain the basic meaning of the term. A single word root (combining form) cannot stand alone. Suffixes usually but not always indicate the procedure, condition, disorder or disease. A suffix comes at the end of the word. Prefixes come at the beginning of a word. They usually indicate location, time, number or status.

- Combining Vowels - To make medical terms easier to pronounce, a combining vowel may be needed between a word root and another word root or a suffix. - The letter O is the most commonly used combining vowel. - When a word root is shown with a slash and a combining vowel it is called a combining form, i.e. cardi/o, hemat/o

Combining Forms: A combination of a root and a combining vowel: hepat/o , arthr/o , cardi/o , hemat/o Suffixes: Suffixes can be used to indicate the following meanings: - pertaining to: -al in cerebral, -ac in cardiac, -ic in gastric or –eal in coccygeal
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noun endings: -um in cranium, pericardium abnormal condition: -osis in thrombosis, psychosis suffixes related to pathology: -algia / pain as in arthralgia, -dynia / pain as in gastrodynia, -itis / inflammation as in arthritis, -malacia / softening as in chondromalacia, -megaly / enlargement as in cardiomegaly, -necrosis / death of tissue as in arterionecrosis, sclerosis / hardening as in arteriosclerosis and –stenosis / narrowing as in arteriostenosis suffixes related to procedures: -centesis / surgical puncture to remove fluid as in amniocentesis, -ectomy / excision as in gastrectomy, - graphy / process of recording a picture as in arteriography, -plasty / surgical repair as in mamoplasty and –scopy / visual examination as in laparoscopy The Double RRs : -rrhage and –rrhagia / bursting forth as in hemorrhage or menorrhagia, -rrhaphy / to suture or stitch as in myorrhapyhy, -rrhea / flow or discharge menorrhea and –rrhexis / rupture as in myorrhexis

Prefixes: Prefixes can be used to indicate: - Location: sub- / under as in subcostal, hypo- / under- as in hypodermic, epi- / above as in epidermis
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Time and events: Pre- / before as in prenatal, post- / after as in postnatal

Number: bi- two as in bicuspid , tri- / three as in tricuspid, uni- one as in unilateral

Look-Alike / Sound-Alike Terms:
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arteri/o / artery , ather/o / plaque , arthr/o / joints, erythr/o red ileum / part of the small intestines, ilium / part of the hip bone -pnea / air, breathing , -penia / deficiency Myel/o / bone marrow or spinal cord , my/o muscle Urethr/o urethra, ureter/o ureter, uter/o uterus

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