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Reading: Medical/Cardiovascular Technology

Dr. Stoutmorrill's Campus Innovation Project for the Kellogg Institute

Medical Terminology Roots and Affixes

These root words, prefixes and suffixes come from the American Institute of Medical Sciences & Education blog.

brachi/o

ARM

cardi/o

HEART

derm/a, derm/o, dermat/o

SKIN

encephal/o

BRAIN

gastr/o

STOMACH

hemat/o

BLOOD

hist/o, histi/o

TISSUE

intestin/o

INTESTINE

lapar/o

ABDOMEN, loin or flank

my/o

MUSCLE

neur/o

NERVE

ocul/o

EYE

ophthalm/o

EYES

or/o

MOUTH

ot/o

EAR

pulmon/o

LUNGS

mono/uni-

ONE

bi-

TWO

tri-

THREE

ab-

AWAY FROM 

ad-

TOWARD

ecto/exo-

OUTSIDE

endo-

INSIDE

epi-

UPON

Pain terms end with

-ALGIA

Blood terms end in

-EMIA

Inflammation suffix is

-ITIS

A breaking down is

-LYSIS

Relating to disease is

-OPATHY

Breathing terms end with

-PNEA

If you learn common Greek and Latin roots or bases, prefixes, and suffixes, you can figure out the meaning of almost any medical term by breaking it down into parts. This would be much easier than memorizing whole words. 

For example, the word "pericarditis" means inflammation around the heart. If we look at the whole word broken down into root word and affixes:

prefix + root word + suffix
peri-   card(io)   -itis
around   heart   inflammation

Medical terms can be formed using several combinations, and sometimes use more than one root word:

  • root + suffix
  • prefix + root
  • prefix + root + suffix

For more tips, read the article "Super Easy Tips to Learn Medical Terminology" on the AIMS blog, which links to more resources for medical roots/bases and affixes, including this worksheet from Appalachian State.

Essential Medical Terminology

These are "umbrella" and departmental terms important to know in healthcare, according to the AIMS blog, which has short definitions. Click on the words to hear how they are pronounced.

Anatomy Gynecology
Hematology Microbiology
Neonatal Neurology
Oncology Pathology
Pediatrics Psychiatry
Rheumatology Surgery
Urology  

 

Learning medical terms for each part of the body will help you understand general medical records. Click on the words to hear how they are pronounced.

Abdominal – Abdomen Cranial – Skull
Digital – Fingers and toes Femoral – Thigh
Gluteal – Buttock Inguinal – Groin
Lumbar – Loin Mammary – Breast
Nasal – Nose Pectoral – Chest
Thoracis – Chest Ventral – Stomach

 

This is a list of common medical abbreviations and their meanings. To learn more abbreviations, visit the Taber's Online Medical Dictionary or Medline Plus.

Abbreviation: Stands For:
ACL anterior cruciate ligament (commonly injured part of the knee)
AMI acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)
BP blood pressure
CAT computerized axial tomography (a type of x-ray)
CXR chest x-ray
Dx diagnosis
h/o history of
MMR measles, mumps, & rubella (a vaccine for three diseases)
NSAID non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (drugs like ibuprofen)
Rx prescription
SOB shortness of breath
WBC white blood cell

 

Descriptions for what is happening to patients in both diagnosis and general conversation. Longer lists are available on the AIMS blog and Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary.

Abatement Abrasion
Acute Benign
Chronic Malignant
Edema Etiology
Non-invasive Lesion
Idiopathic Remission
Subcutaneous Syndrome