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Introduction to Medical Terminology . Medical Terminology Unit 1. Objectives. Identify the three types of word parts found in medical terms Define the commonly used prefixes, word roots and suffixes Discuss the rules for combining medical terms

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introduction to medical terminology

Introduction to Medical Terminology

Medical Terminology

Unit 1

  • Identify the three types of word parts found in medical terms
  • Define the commonly used prefixes, word roots and suffixes
  • Discuss the rules for combining medical terms
  • Recognize the importance of correctly spelling medical terms
  • Recognize how to change a medical term to its plural form.
  • Recognize the importance of using correct abbreviations for medical terms
  • Differentiate between terms and word parts that look-alike or sound-alike
  • Acquire strategies for using a medical dictionary
  • Define basic medical terms
the keys
The Keys
  • Learning Medical Terminology is easy
    • Know definitions of word roots (combining forms “/o”)
    • Know definitions of prefixes
    • Know definition of suffixes
    • Understand how to put word parts together
    • Know how to define medical terms
types of word parts
Types of Word Parts
  • Word Roots
  • Suffixes
  • Prefixes
word roots
Word Roots
  • Also known as combining forms
  • Foundation of most medical terms
  • Contain basic meaning of the word
  • Usually indicate body part involved
  • Cannot stand alone
    • Suffix must be added
  • Some indicate color
example word roots
Example Word Roots
  • Ot/o – Ear
  • Hepat/o – Liver
  • Rhin/o – Nose
  • Oste/o - Bone
  • Cardi/o – Heart
  • My/o – Muscle
  • Neur/o - Nerve
  • Must be added to all words
  • Rules for using combining vowels apply
  • Always added to end of word root
  • Indicate
    • Procedure
    • Condition
    • Disorder
    • Disease
  • A prefix always comes before word Root
  • Usually indicates
    • Location
    • Time
    • Number
    • Status
  • Changes the meaning of the word
combining vowels
Combining Vowels
  • Added between root & suffix or between two word roots
  • Make it easier to say medical term
  • Most common vowel is “o”
  • Combining Form Examples
    • Cardi/o
    • Leuk/o
combining vowel rules rule 1
Combining Vowel RulesRule #1
  • Combining Vowel is NOTused when the suffixbegins with vowel (a,e,i,o,u)
  • Root Suffix

Neur/o -itis = Neuritis

  • itis begins with ‘i’ (vowel)
  • Combining vowel not used – o is dropped
rule 2
Rule #2
  • Combining vowel is used when the suffix begins with consonant
  • Root Suffix

Neur/o -plasty = Neuroplasty

  • Combining Vowel ‘o’ is used
rule 3
Rule #3
  • Combining vowel is always used when joining two or more roots
  • Root Root Suffix

gastr/o enter/o -itis = Gastroenteritis

  • Roots gastr/o & enter/o are added together
    • Combining vowel ‘o’ used
  • Root enter/o & suffix -itis
    • Combining vowel not needed-suffix starts with vowel
rule 4
Rule #4
  • A prefix does not require the use of a combining vowel.
  • The prefix is added to the front of the first word root
  • Prefix word root suffix

peri- cardi/o -centesis = pericardiocentesis

  • No combining form is used after the prefix peri, but is used after the word root cardi/o, because the suffix –centesis starts with a consonant.
suffixes meaning pertaining to
Suffixes Meaning…Pertaining to
  • Completes term by changing root to an adjective form
  • ac - al - ar - ary - eal - ical - ial
  • ic - ine - ior - ory - ous - tic
suffixes meaning condition of
Suffixes meaning…condition of

Noun endings

  • Completes term by changing root to noun form.
  • a - e - um - us - y – ia – ism
suffixes related to pathology
Suffixes related to pathology
  • Describes specific disease conditions
  • algia - dynia - itis - malacia
  • megaly - necrosis - sclerosis
suffixes related to procedures
Suffixes related to procedures
  • Identify procedure performed on body part
  • -centesis / -ectomy / -graphy

-gram / -plasty / -scopy

double rr s suffixes
Double RR’s suffixes
  • -rrhage& -rrhagia
    • A bursting forth, An abnormal excessive fluid discharge or bleeding
      • Hemorrhage- Loss of large amount of blood in a short time
  • -rrhea
    • Abnormal flow or discharge of body fluids
      • Diarrhea-abnormally frequent loose watery stool


    • To suture or stitch
      • Myorrhaphy- To suture a muscle wound
  • -rrhexis
    • Rupture
      • Myorrhexis- Rupture of a muscle
determining meaning of term
Determining Meaning of Term
  • Knowing meaning of WORD Parts helps in figuring out meaning of a term
  • Separate term into word Parts

Example: prenatal

Prefix Root Suffix

pre- nat/o -al

before birth pertaining to

  • Begin your definition with the suffix, follow with the prefix and then the word root.

Definition: pertaining to the time before birth

more examples
More examples
  • otorhinolaryngology

Root RootRoot Suffix

ot/o rhin/o laryng/o -ology

ear nose throat study of

Definition: study of the ears, nose & throat

  • tonsillectomy

Root Suffix

tonsill/o -ectomy

tonsil Surgical removal of

Definition: surgical removal of tonsils

Remember to start you definition first with the suffix, then the prefix (if one) and finally the word root.

medical dictionary
Medical Dictionary
  • Used to assist with term definition
  • Helps to master correct use of terms
  • Helps to determine correct meaning of word
  • Helps to identify correct spelling of term
unsure how to spell it
Unsure how to spell it??????
  • Write term down
  • Could be alternate spelling for same sound
  • Sounds Like May begin with EX

F F flatus

PH phlegm

J G gingivitis

J jaundice


Sounds Like May begin with Example

K C crepitus

CH cholera

K kyphosis

QU quadriplegia


Sounds Like May begin with Example

S C cytology

PS psychologist

S serology

Z X xeroderma

Z zygote

  • Spell all Medical Terms accurately
  • Changing just one letter can completely change meaning
  • Could mean life or death to patient
  • Example: ileum (part of small intestine) or ilium (part of pelvis)
  • Used as a medical shorthand
  • Can lead to confusion & errors
  • Caution when using or translating them
  • BE Below elbow & Barium enema
  • Be familiarwithinstitution guidelines
  • “When it doubt…write it out. (write out the words if you think there could be any misinterpretation of an abbreviation.
basic medical terms
Basic Medical Terms
  • Sign
    • Evidence of disease - Fever, Cough
      • Observed by Patient & Other
      • Objective: Evaluated & Measured by others
  • Symptom
    • Felt by patient only - Headache / Pain
    • Subjective: Evaluated by Patient only


    • Set of Signs & Symptoms
    • Occur together
    • Part of a Specific Disease
    • Examples
      • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
      • Fatigue Syndrome


    • Identification of the disease
      • Congested Heart Failure / Appendicitis
      • Upper Respiratory Disease / Hepatitis B
  • Differential Diagnosis
    • Attempt to diagnosis which of several possible diseases all producing same symptoms
    • Hepatitis A, B, or C
  • Prognosis
    • Prediction or Forecast of the probable course or outcome of disease
  • Acute
    • Rapid Onset / Severe Course / Short Duration
      • Appendicitis / Upper Respiratory Infection
  • Chronic
    • Long duration / Usually controlled
      • Hypertension / Diabetes / Cardiac Disease


    • Partial or Complete Disappearance of Symptoms of disease without a cure
    • Usually Temporary
    • Leukemia / Cancer
how are terms named
How are terms named?
  • Named for Condition
    • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Eponym (EP-oh-nim)
    • Named: Person who Discovered-Described it
    • Ex: Alzheimer’s Disease: Neurologist
  • Acronym

Word formed by using initial letter(s) of compound term

    • Ex: LASER


Amplification by


Emission of


look alike sound alike
Look-Alike & Sound-Alike

Confusing Medical Terminology

  • Arteri/o = Artery
  • Ather/o = Plaque or Fatty Substance
  • Arthr/o = Joint
  • Ileum = Part of Small Intestine
  • Ilium = Part of the Hip Bone

Infection = Invasion of body by pathogenic organism, local or systemic

  • Inflammation = Local response to injury or destruction of tissue
  • Laceration = Torn, Ragged wound
  • Lesion = Pathological change of tissue due to injury or trauma

Mucous (adj.) = Specialized membranes that line body cavities

  • Mucus (n.) = Substance secreted by the mucous membranes
  • Myc/o = Fungus
  • Myel/o = Bone Marrow or Spinal Cord
  • My/o = Muscle

-ologist = Specialist

    • Radiologist-MD reads X-Rays
    • Cardiologist- MD treats conditions of heart
  • -ology = Study of
    • Radiology – Study of X-Ray therapy
    • Cardiology – Study of the Heart conditions
    • Neonatology – Study of newborn conditions

-ostomy= Creation of artificial opening

    • Tracheostomy – Creating opening in Trachea
    • Colostomy – Creating an opening in Colon
  • -otomy = Surgical Incision
    • Thoracotomy – Incision in Chest cavity
    • Colotomy - Incision into Colon

***these two word parts are VERY commonly confused. Take extra time to memorize these


Palpation- to examine the patient with one’s hands

  • Palpitation- a pounding or racing heart

Prostate = Male Gland under the urinary bladder

  • Prostrate = To collapse or lying Flat
  • Supination = Rotation of arm with palm of hand forward
  • Suppuration = Formation or discharge of pus

Suturing = Act of closing a wound or incision by stitching

  • Ligation = Act of binding or tying off blood vessels or ducts
  • Triage = Medical Screening of patients to determine priority of need
  • Trauma = Wound or Injury

Viral = Pertaining to a virus

  • Virile = Possessing masculine traits
miscellaneous terms
Miscellaneous terms
  • Hypotension: low blood pressure
  • Hypertension: high blood pressure
  • Addiction: a strong dependence on a drug or substance.
  • Edema: Excessive build-up of fluid
  • Intramuscular: within the muscle
  • Phalanx: Finger or toe (plural phalanges)
  • Gerontology: study of aging (old age)
  • Gerontologist: specialist in the treatment of aging individuals.

The End

There is no substitute for daily preparation! Review your flashcards every day.