Unit 1 Lesson 2 Medical Terminology

Unit 1 Lesson 2 Medical Terminology and Abbreviations
1. Word building in regards to medical terminology requires a large combination
of three basic vocabulary components known as prefixes, root words with
combining vowels, and suffixes. These three components are the starting
point of your medical vocabulary knowledge; however, not all medical terms
will always have all three components. It will help to remember this
general rule: To analyze a medical term, start with the suffix (ending), back
to the beginning (prefix or root word) and then across. For example:
dermatitis; inflammation (itis) of the skin (dermat)
2. The prefix is the beginning part of a medical term; however, not all medical
terms will have prefixes. When you see a dash (-) behind a component term
this means that it is a prefix! Some common prefixes are as follows:
a-, andi, diaendopropseudoresubtrans-
absence of
across, apart, through, or complete knowledge of
within, in, inner
forward, in front of
back, behind
under, below
across, through, over
3. The suffix is the ending part of a medical term. Most medical terms will have
a suffix. When you see a dash (-) in front of a component term this means
that it is a suffix! Some common suffixes are as follows:
pertaining to
surgical puncture
removal, excision
pertaining to the patient’s condition
pertaining to
the study of
an abnormal condition
process of visual examination
4. The root component in a medical term is the essential meaning of the term.
The root word is the base to which the prefix and suffix will be attached, and
form a meaningful word. The root word is usually the description of the body
organ, area or part. All medical terms must have a root word component.
Without the root word component the term would be meaningless.
Combining vowels connect the root words to suffixes and root words to
other root words. The combing vowel is usually an “O”, and is used between
two root words or between a root word and a suffix to make it pronounceable.
A combining vowel is not used between a prefix and a root word. Some
common root words and combing vowel forms are as follows:
arthr / o
bi / o
cardi / o
cerebr / o
dermat / o
enter / o
gastr / o
hemat / o
hepat / o
neur / o
oste / o
path / o
ren / o
rhin / o
urethr / o
cerebrum, the largest part of the brain
intestines (often the small intestines)
5. Common Medical Abbreviations:
AMA – against medical advice
APGAR – new-born condition scale (appearance-pulse-grimace-activityrespiration)
bpm – beats per minute
CBC – complete blood count
CCU – coronary care unit
COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
cc – cubic centimeter (analogous with ml – millimeter)
cs – chem-stick (blood sugar)
Dx – diagnosis
D5W – dextrose 5% in water
GCS – Glasgow comma scale
MI – myocardial infarction
PEARL – pupils equal and reactive to light
qh – every hour
qd – every day
prn – as needed