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Medical Terminology. Objectives. Upon completion of this unit you will be able to: Identify and define the four word parts Identify and define a combining form Analyze and define medical terms Build medical terms for given definitions.

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  • Upon completion of this unit you will be able to:
    • Identify and define the four word parts
    • Identify and define a combining form
    • Analyze and define medical terms
    • Build medical terms for given definitions

Mrs. Jones is a 60 y/o admitted thru ER c abdominal pain in the RLQ. CXR, EKG, CBC and ABG’s were done stat. It was decided to perform an exploratory laparotomy, but suspects she will end up needing a bilateral salpingoophorectomy.

origins of medical language
Origins of medical language
  • Current medical vocabulary includes terms built from Greek and Latin word parts, some which were used by Hippocrates and Aristotle over 2000 years ago
Word Parts / Building Blocks
  • Medical terms are built from word parts with some or all of the following components:
  • Word roots
  • Suffixes
  • Prefixes
  • Combining vowels
  • Combining forms
word root
The word root is the foundation of the word

Usually indicates the part of the body involved

All medical terms

must have one or more word roots

Word Root
  • In the word…………………

(play is the word root)

  • In the medical term …………arthr/itis

arthr(which means joint) is the word root

  • In the medical term………….hepat/it is

hepat(which means liver) is the word root

  • Suffix is the word part attached to the end of the word root to modify its meaning.
  • The suffix usually indicates the procedure, disease, or condition
  • All medical terms musthave a suffix.
  • In the medical term…………..hepat/ic

-ic(which means pertaining to) is the suffix

The term hepatic means pertaining to the liver

  • In the medical term ………… hepat/itis

-itis(which means inflammation) is the suffix

The term hepatitis means inflammation of the liver (inflammation being a condition)

  • The prefix is a word part that is attached to the beginning of the word root to modify its meaning.
  • It usually indicates location, time, color, or number
  • Not all medical terms have prefixes
  • In the word ………………

re- is the prefix

  • In the medical term ………sub /hepat /ic

sub- (which means under)

The medical term subhepatic means pertaining to under the liver

combining vowel
Combining Vowel
  • It links the root to the suffix or the root to another root
  • The combining vowel is usually an “O”
  • A combining vowel has no meaning of its own. It just joins word parts and makes them easier to pronounce
combining vowels
Combining vowels
  • Guideline #1:
    • When connecting a root and a suffix a combining vowel is used unless the suffix begins with a vowel
    • Guideline #2:
        • When connecting two word roots, a combining vowel is usually used even if vowels are present at the junction
exercise 1
Exercise 1:

Complete the phrases with the correct word part:

  • A __ is attached at the beginning of a word root
  • ___ are usually an “o”
  • All medical terms contain one

or more ___

4. A ____is attached at the end of a word root.

5. The ______ _____ is the word root with the combining vowel attached

  • True or False
  • There is always a prefix at the beginning of a medical term
  • A combining vowel is always used when connecting a word root and a suffix
  • A prefix modifies the meaning of the word
  • A combining vowel is used to ease pronunciation
  • “I” is the most commonly used combing vowel
  • The word root is the core of a medical term
  • A combining vowel is used between a prefix and word root
  • A combining form is a word part
analyzing and defining medical terms
Analyzing and defining Medical Terms


To analyze a medical term divide it into word parts, label each word parts, and label the combining forms.

Divide the word with slashes:

oste / o/ arthr / o/ pathy

Label each word part by using the following abbreviations:





example of dividing and labeling
Example of dividing and labeling:


Oste / o / arthr /o / pathy


putting it together
Putting it together!
  • To define medical terms apply the meaning of each word part in the term.
  • Begin by defining the suffix, then move to the beginning of the term to complete the definition
root words
Root words
  • Acr/o - extremities
  • angi/o - vessel
common medical root words
Common Medical Root Words
  • cardi/o – heart
  • cephal/o – head
col/o - colon
  • cost/o – ribs
crani/o - skull
  • cyst/o –

sac containing fluid

urinary bladder

          • derm/o, dermat/o, cutane – skin

enter/o - intestines

  • gastr/o - stomach
  • hem/o – blood


neur/o – nerve
  • or/o - mouth
oste/o - bone
  • ot/o – ear
  • pulmon/o, - Lung
rhin/o – nose
  • splen/o – spleen
  • thorac/o - chest
  • cyan/o blue
  • erythr/o red
  • leuk/o white
  • melan/o black
  • xanth/o yellow
common medical suffixes
Common Medical Suffixes
  • -ac, -al, -ic pertaining to
  • -algia pain
  • -ectomy surgical removal
  • -itis inflammation
  • -malacia softening
  • -megaly enlargement
  • -ology the study of
  • -ologist specialist
common medical suffixes1
Common Medical Suffixes
  • -oid -like, resembling
  • -osis - abnormal condition
  • -otomy - cut into
  • -pathy – disease
  • -scope - instrument to visually examine
  • -oma -tumor
common medical prefixes
Common Medical Prefixes
  • a - absence of; without
  • ab- away from
  • ad- toward, in the direction of
  • ante- before
  • anti- against
  • auto - self
  • dys- difficult, painful
  • dors- back
  • endo- within
  • epi- above, upon
common medical prefixes cont
Common Medical Prefixes (cont.)
  • hemi- half
  • hyper- over, above, increased
  • hypo- below, under, decreased
  • inter- between, among
  • intra- within, inside
  • macro- large
  • mal – bad
  • micro - small
  • peri - surrounding, around
  • poly- many
common medical prefixes1
Common Medical Prefixes
  • post - after
  • sub- under, less, below
  • super- above, excessive, beyond
  • tachy - fast

(stop here)

common medical abbreviations
Common Medical Abbreviations
  • c – with
  • s – without
  • a – before
  • p – after
  • po – by mouth
  • prn – as needed
  • NPO – nothing by mouth
common medical abreviations
Common medical Abreviations
  • ASAP – as soon as possible
  • ABG’s - arterial blood gases
  • ac – before meals
  • amb – ambulate or to walk
  • BP – blood pressure
  • BS – blood sugar
  • CBC – complete blood count
  • c/o – complaining of
  • CXR – chest x-ray
common medical abbreviations1
Common Medical Abbreviations
  • DNR – do not resuscitate
  • EKG – electrocardiogram
  • ER - emergency room
  • GI – gastrointestinal
  • ICU – intensive care unit
  • PACU – post-anesthesia care unit
  • PT - physical therapy
  • Pt - patient
  • SOB – shortness of breath
  • VS – vital signs
  • W/C – wheel chair
  • wnl - within normal limits
  • y/o – year old
common medical abbreviations2
Common Medical Abbreviations
  • stat – immediately
  • IV – intravenous (within a vein)
  • q.d. – every day
  • b.i.d. – two times a day
  • t.i.d. – three times a day
  • q.i.d – four times a day
  • Rx – prescription
  • Tx - treatment
communication connection
Communication Connection
  • A medication is to be taken once every day (q.d.), but a health care provider mistakenly writes q.i.d. on the prescription. What will be the result of writing the incorrect abbreviation?

A 76 y/o__ admitted amb. into the ER. c/o SOB and appears to be cyanotic. Tests ordered: ABG’s, CBC, CXR, and EKGSTAT. IV started with 18 gauge butterfly infusing D5W at 20 gtts/min. VSwnl. Pt. to be sent to ICU per w/cASAP. RX of Lanoxin 25 mg to be given poc meals qd