Appendix A: Medical Terminology and Abbreviations

in Manual for Pharmacy Technicians
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CONTENTS

  • Table A-1. Prefixes
  • Table A-2. Suffixes
  • Table A-3. Word Roots
  • Common Medical Terms and Definitions by Body System
  • Nervous System
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Respiratory System
  • Musculoskeletal System
  • Endocrine System
  • Immune System
  • Hematologic System
  • Gastrointestinal System
  • Urinary System
  • Other Body Systems
  • The Eyes
  • The Ears
  • The Dermatologic System
  • Reproductive System

Familiarity with and understanding medical terms and abbreviations is critical to the success of a pharmacy technician.

Learning medical terminology may seem like learning a whole new language. Most medical terms; however, are built from component parts, called word roots, prefixes, and suffixes. The root is the base component of the word, which is modified by the addition of a prefix or suffix. Prefixes are modifying components placed in front of the word root. Examples include pre-, post-, and sub-. Suffixes appear at the end of the word root and are connected to the root by a combining vowel, for example, -ism, -itis, -ous. Combining vowels (most often ‘o’) are often used to link roots to suffixes and to join roots when a term includes more than one root. These combining vowels are often shown along with the root as a combining form, as in “bronch/o.”

The process of defining a medical term starts with identifying and defining the components and then combining those definitions into a coherent whole. For example, consider the word bronchoscopy. First, divide the word into its components: “bronch/o” and “scopy.” Then, define each of the parts: bronch/o means bronchus, and -scopy means the process of viewing. Therefore, bronchoscopy means the process of viewing the bronchus.

What is the definition of electrocardiogram? First, break the word into its parts: “electro-,” “cardi/o,” and “ gram.” Second, define each part: electro- means electricity; cardi/o means heart; and -gram means record. Finally, put the definitions together to get the complete definition of the word: recording the electrical activity of the heart.

Tables A-1, A-2, and A-3 include the meanings of many of the most common word roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Familiarity with these components parts will help you understand medical terminology.

After you have reviewed the meanings of component parts, read through the common medical terms by body system. Each term is accompanied by its pronunciation, definition, and an analysis of term structure.

Table A-1.

Prefixes

PrefixMeaning
a-; an-; ana-no; not; without
ab-away from
ante-before; forward
anti-against
auto-self
bi-two; double; both
brady-slow
carcin-cancerous
contra-against; opposite
dys-difficult; painful
ect-outside; out
en-within; in
endo-within
epi-above; upon
ex-out
gynec/o-woman
hemi-half
hyper-above; excessive
hypo-below; deficient
infra-below; inferior
inter-between
intra-within
iso-same; equal
macro-large
mal-bad; poor; abnormal
meta-change; after; beyond
micro-small
multi-many
neo-new
non-not
oligo-few; less
pan-all
para-near; beside
per-through
peri-around; surrounding
poly-many; excessive
post-after
pre-before; in front of
primi-first
retro-behind; backward; upward
semi-half
sub-below; under
super-above; over; excess
supra-above, on top of
sym-with
syn-together; with
tachy-fast
tri-three
uni-one
xero-dry
Table A-2.

Suffixes

SuffixMeaning
-ac; -al; -ar; -arypertaining to
-algiapain
-blastgerm or bud
-celehernia; herniation
-centesissurgical puncture
-crineto secrete
-critto separate
-cytecell
-cytosiscondition of cells
-desisbinding together
-ectomysurgical removal; excision
-emesisvomit
-emiablood
-genesis; -genic; -genorigin; producing; forming
-globin; -globulinprotein
-gramrecord
-graphinstrument for recording
-graphyprocess of recording
-ia; -iac; -icpertaining to
-iasisformation or presence of
-ismcondition
-itisinflammation
-iumstructure or tissue
-lepsyseizure
-lysis; -lyticbreak down
-malaciasoftening
-megalyenlargement
-metryprocess of measuring
-oidresembling; like
-(o)logistspecialist in the study or treatment of
-(o)logystudy of
-omatumor
-osisabnormal condition
-ostomycreation of an opening
-otomyincision into
-ouspertaining to
-paresisparalysis
-pathydisease
-peniadecreased number
-pepsiadigestion
-pexysuspension or fixation
-phagiaeating; swallowing
-phobiaabnormal fear
-phoniavoice; sound
-phoresiscarrying; transmission
-phoriafeeling; mental state
-plastysurgical repair
-plegiaparalysis
-pneabreathing
-poiesisformation
-r/rhage; -r/rhagiabursting forth
-rrheaflow; discharge
-rhexisrupture
-sclerosishardening
-scopeinstrument for viewing
-scopyprocess of viewing
-somnia; somn/osleep
-spasminvoluntary contraction or twitch
-stasiscontrol; stop
-stenosisnarrowing
-therapytreatment
-thoraxchest; pleural cavity
-tocia; toc/olabor; birth
-tripsycrushing
-trophygrowth; development
-tropinnourish; develop; stimulate
Table A-3.

Word Roots

RootMeaning
abdomin/oabdomen
aden/ogland
adip/ofat
amnioamnion
andr/omale; man
angi/ovessel
aque/owatery
arteri/oartery
arteriol/oarteriole
arthr/ojoint
ather/ofat; fatty plaque
audi/ohearing; sound
aur/oear
balan/oglans penis
bilibile; gall
blephar/oeyelid
bronch/obronchus
bronchiol/obronchiole
bucc/ocheek
burs/ojoint
calc/icalcium
capniacarbon dioxide
carcin/ocancer
cardi/oheart
carp/owrist bones
cephal/ohead
cerebr/ocerebrum
cirrh/oyellow
chol/ebile; gall bladder
cholangi/obile duct
cholecyst/ogall bladder
chondr/ocartilage
coagul/oclotting
cochle/ocochlea
col/ocolon
colp/ovagina (sheath)
conjuctiv/oconjunctiva
cor/o; coron/oheart
corne/ocornea
cost/orib
crani/ocranium; skull
cry/ocold
cut/o; cuti; cutane/oskin
cyan/oblue
cyst/obladder; sac
cyt/ocell
dacry/otears
denttooth
derm/o; dermat/oskin
dipl/otwo; double
dips/othirst
duoden/oduodenum
dur/adura mater
electr/oelectricity
embry/oembryo
encephal/obrain
enter/ointestines
eosin/o; erythr/ored
epididym/oepididymis
episi/ovulva
esophag/oesophagus
esthesi/osensation
fasci/ofascia
femor/ofemur
fet/o; fet/ifetus
fibul/ofibula
fund/ofundus
gastr/ostomach
gingiv/ogums
glauc/osilver; gray
gli/onerve cell
glomerul/oglomerulus
gloss/otongue
gluc/o; glyc/oglucose; sugar
gonad/osex glands
gravid/a; gravid/opregnancy
gyn/o; gyn/e; gynec/owoman
hemat/o; hem/oblood
hemangi/oblood vessel
hepat/oliver
hidr/osweat
hormone/ohormone; an urging on
humer/ohumerus
hydr/owater; fluid
hyster/outerus
ile/o; ili/oileum
immune/oprotection
jejun/ojejunum
kal/ipotassium
kerat/ocornea
ket/o; keton/oketone bodies
kinesi/omovement
lacrim/otears
lact/omilk
lapar/oabdominal wall
laryng/olarynx
ligament/oligament
linguatongue
lip/ofat
lith/ostone
lumb/olower back
lymph/olymph
mamm/o; mast/obreast
melan/oblack
men/omenses; menstruation
mening/o; meningi/omeninges (membrane)
metacarp/ohand bones
metatars/ofoot bones
morph/oform; shape
muc/omucus
my/omuscle
myc/ofungus
myel/obone marrow; spinal cord
myring/oeardrum
narc/osleep
nas/onose
nat/o; natalbirth; delivery
nephr/okidney
neur/onerve
noct/o; nyctal/onight
ocul/o; ophthalm/o; opt/oeye
onych/onail
oophor/oovary
or/omouth
orch/o; orchi/o; orchid/otestis; testicle
orth/ostraight
oste/obone
ot/oear
ovari/oovary
oxioxygen
pachy/othick
pancreat/opancreas
par/o; part/obear; labor; childbirth
patell/okneecap
pector/ochest
pedchildren
pelv/ipelvis
perine/operineum
peritone/operitoneum
phag/oeat or swallow
phalang/ofinger and toe bones
pharyng/opharynx
phleb/ovein
phot/olight
phren/omind or diaphragm
pil/ohair
pneum/olungs; air
pod/o; podifoot
presby/oold age
proct/orectum
psych/o; psych/imind or soul
pub/opubis; pubic bone
pulmon/olungs
py/opus
pyel/orenal pelvis
quadr/ifour
radi/oradius
rect/orectum
ren/okidney
reticul/oa net
retin/oretina
rhabdomy/oskeletal muscle; striated muscle
rheumwatery discharge
rhin/onose
salping/oeustachian or uterine tube
sarc/oflesh
schiz/osplit
semin/osemen
septibacteria
sial/osaliva
sinus/osinus
somat/obody
sperm/o; spermat/osperm
spher/oround
sphygm/opulse
spir/obreathe; breath
splen/ospleen
spondyl/overtebra; vertebral column
steth/ochest
stoma; stomat/omouth
synovi/ojoint
tars/oankle bones
ten/o; tend/o; tendon/o; tendin/otendon
test/o; testicul/otestis; testicle
thorac/ochest
thromb/oclot
thyr/othyroid gland
trache/otrachea
tympan/oeardrum
urethr/ourethra
ur/ourinary tract
vas/o; vascul/ovessel
ven/ovein
xanth/oyellow

Common Medical Terms and Definitions by Body System

Nervous System

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Cardiovascular System

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Respiratory System

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Musculoskeletal System

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Endocrine System

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Immune System

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Hematologic System

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Gastrointestinal System

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Urinary System

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Other Body Systems

The Eyes

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The Ears

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The Dermatologic System

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Reproductive System

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