Medical Terminology

Medical Terminology


At the end of the class you will be able to:

  1. Recognize a wide variety of medical terms and abbreviations.
  2. Know the meaning of numerous prefixes, suffixes and stems that combine into medical terms.


Medical terminology is often difficult to understand. This course will provide you with a wide variety of medical abbreviations and medical terms which should be studied and memorized. It will also provide you with an indepth knowledge of many medical terminology prefixes, suffixes and stems that will help you understand the meaning of hundreds of medical terms.


All medical terms can be broken down into word parts. The three word parts that you will be concerned with are the:

  1. prefix
  2. stem or root and
  3. suffix

Usually, only two of these parts are present in a medical term. The stem is the part of the word which gives the basic meaning to the term. The part of the word, "basketball," which gives the basic meaning to the word is "ball." Therefore, "ball" is the stem or the root of the word.

The part of the word which comes before the stem and modifies the meaning of the stem is called the prefix. In the word "basketball," "ball" is the stem and "basket" is the prefix. The prefix is the part of the word which comes before the stem

The part of the word which comes after the stem and modifies the meaning of the root word is called the suffix. In the word "specialist","special" is the stem and "ist" is the suffix.


The musculoskeletal system includes the bones, muscles, and joints. Some of the common stems pertaining to the musculoskeletal system are:

Osteo is a stem which means bone. A person who has osteo-arthritis, for example, has inflammation of the bones and joints.

The stem, arthro, means joint. Arthrodesis means fixation of a joint by fusion.

The stem chondro means cartilage. A person with chondr-itis, for example, has inflammation of the cartilage.

The stem myelo means bone marrow or spine. A person who has myelitis has an inflammation of the bone marrow or spine.

Myo is a stem which means muscle. A myospasm, for example, is an involuntary contraction of a muscle.

Tendo is a stem which means tendon. A person with tend-initis has inflammation of a tendon.

Costo is a stem which means rib. The intercostal space, for example, refers to the space between the ribs.

The integumentary system includes the skin and its appendages, the hair and the nails. Some of the common stems pertaining to the integumentary system are:

Derma is a stem which means skin. A person with dermatophytosis, for example, has a fungus condition of the skin.

Onycho is a stem which means nail. Onychectomy means surgical removal of the nail of a finger or toe.

The respiratory system includes the lungs, pleura, bronchi, pharynx, larynx, tonsils, and the nose. Some of the common stems pertaining to the respiratory system are:

Rhino and naso are stems which mean nose. A person who has rhinitis has inflammation of the nose.

Laryngo is a stem meaning larynx or voice box. A laryngoscopy is an examination of the interior of the larynx.

Tracheo is a stem which means upper windpipe or trachea. A person with tracheitis has an inflammation of the trachea or the upper windpipe.

Broncho is a stem which means lower windpipe or bronchus. A person with bronchitis has inflammation of the bronchus or lower windpipe.

Pulmo and pneumo are stems which mean lung. Pulmonary, for example, means concerning or involving the lungs. A person with pneumonia has an inflammation of the lungs.

Pneumo is a stem which also means air. Pneumonemia is the presence of air or gas in the blood vessel.

Pneo is a stem which means breath or breathing. Pneodynamics is the mechanism of breathing.

The digestive system or gastrointestinal tract begins with the mouth, where food enters the body and ends with the anus, where solid waste material leaves the body. Some of the common stems pertaining to the digestive system are:

The stem stoma means mouth. A person who has stomatitis, for example, has inflammation of the mouth.

Lingua and glossa are stems which mean tongue. Glossitis means inflammation of the tongue.

Lingual means pertaining to the tongue.

Dento and odonto are stems which mean tooth. A person with dentalgia has a pain in the tooth or teeth.

Cheilo is a stem which means lip. A cheiloplasty is the surgical repair of a defect of the lip.

Gingivo is a stem which means gums. A person with gingivitis has an inflammation of the gums.

Gastro is a stem which means stomach. A gastrectomy is the surgical removal of the stomach.

Entero is a stem which means intestine. A person with gastroenteritis has inflammation of the stomach and intestine.

Duodeno is a stem which pertains to the duodenum or first part of the small intestine. A duodenal ulcer, for example, is an ulcer which is located in the first part of the small intestine which is called the duodenum.

Jejuno is a stem which pertains to the jejunum or second part of the small intestine. A jejunectomy, for example, is an excision of a part of or all of the jejunum which is the second part of the small intestine.

Ileo is a stem which pertains to the ileum or third part of the small intestine. Ileitis means inflammation of the ileum which is the third part of the small intestine.

Colo is a stem which means colon. When a colostomy is performed, an incision is made into the colon.

Procto and ano are stems which mean rectum or anus. Proctitis means inflammation of the anus or rectum.

The stem hepato means liver. A person with hepatitis has an inflammation of the liver.

The stem cholecysto means gallbladder. A person who has had an operation called a cholecystectomy, for example, has had his gallbladder removed.

The stems celio and abdomino mean abdomen. A person who has had a celiectomy has had a complete or partial removal of an organ of the abdomen.

Laparo is a stem meaning abdominal wall. A person who has a laparotomy has had an incision made into the abdominal wall.

The cardiovascular system includes the heart and blood vessels. Some of the common stems pertaining to the cardiovascular system are:

The stem, cardio, means heart. The cardiovascular system includes the blood vessels and the heart.

Angio and vaso are stems which mean vessel. An angiogram is a series of X-ray film of a blood vessel.

Phlebo and veno are stems which mean vein. A phlebectomy is the surgical removal of a vein.

Arterio is a stem which means artery. A person who has arteriosclerosis has hardening of the arteries.

Thrombo is a stem which means clot of blood. Thrombophlebitis is an inflammation of a vein with a blood clot.

The hematopoietic system includes tissues concerned in the production of blood. The lymphatic system includes the lymphatic vessels and lymphoid tissues. Some of the common stems pertaining to the hematopoietic and lymphatic systems are:

Cyto is a stem meaning cell. An erythrocyte is one kind of blood cell. It is a red blood cell.

Hema and hemato are stems which mean blood. A hematoma is a tumor filled with blood.

Lympho is a stem which means lymph. A lymphocyte is a lymph cell.

Spleno is a stem which means spleen. A person who has had a splenectomy has had an excision of the spleen.

Phago is a stem which means to eat. A phagocyte is a cell that eats and destroys microorganisms.

The endocrine system is composed of glands which release hormones into the blood stream. Some of the common stems pertaining to the endocrine system are:

Acro is a stem which means extremity. Acromegaly is a disease characterized by enlargement of the bones of the extremities.

Gluco and glyco are stems which mean sugar. A person with glucosuria has sugar or glucose in the urine.

Adeno is a stem which means gland. Adenectomy is a word meaning surgical removal of a gland.

The nervous system along with the endocrine system maintain our adjustments and reactions to internal and environmental conditions. Some of the common stems pertaining to the nervous system are:

Neuro is a stem which means nerve. Polyneuritis means inflammation of many nerves.

Cerebro and encephalo are stems which mean brain. Encephalitis, for example, means inflammation of the brain.

Psycho and mento are stems which mean mind. Psychology is the science that studies the mind.

Mania is a stem which means madness. Pyromania, for example, means fire madness.

Phobia is a stem which means fear. A person with hydrophobia has a fear of water.

Esthesia is a stem which means feeling or sensation. Anesthesia means without feeling or sensation to an area.

The genitourinary system includes the genitals and the urinary organs. Some of the common stems pertaining to the genitourinary system are:

Nephro and rena are stems which mean kidney. A person who has had a nephrectomy has had a kidney removed.

Uretero is a stem which means ureter. A person who has ureteritis has an inflammation of the ureter.

Cysto is a stem which means bladder. A person who has cystitis has an inflammation of the bladder.

Urethro is a stem meaning urethra. Urethritis is an inflammation of the urethra

Orchio is a stem which means testes. Orchiopexy means fixation of the testes.

Uro and uria are stems which mean urine. Urophobia is a term which means fear of passing urine.

Lith is a stem which means stone. Nephrolithiasis is the formation of renal stones.

Gynecology and obstetrics relates to the female reproductive system and birth. Some of the common stems pertaining to gynecology and obstetrics are:

Hystero and metro are stems which mean uterus or womb. A woman who has had a hysterectomy, for example, has had her uterus.

Oophoro is a stem which means ovary. A woman who has had an oophorectomy has had her ovary removed.

Salpingo is a stem which means fallopian tube. A woman who has salpingitis has an inflammation of a fallopian tube.

The sensory organs, as you may know, include the eye and the ear. Some of the common stems pertaining to the sensory organs are:

Oto is a stem which means ear. Otoplasty, for example, means plastic repair of the ear.

Tympano and myringo are stems which refer to the eardrum. A tympanoplasty means plastic repair of the eardrum.

Ophthalmo and oculo are stems which mean eye. Ophthalmology is the science dealing with the eye and its diseases.

Opto is a stem which means vision. An optometrist is a person who is trained to examine eyes in order to determine the presence of vision problems.

Blepharo is a stem which means eyelid. Blepharitis means inflammation of the eyelid.

Kerato is a stem which means cornea. Keratitis means inflammation of the cornea.

Dacryo is a stem which means tear. A person with dacryocystitis has inflammation of the tear sac.

Here are some other stems that are commonly used in medical terminology.

Pyo is a stem meaning pus. The word pyogenic means producing pus.

Lipo is a stem which means fat. A lipoma is a tumor composed of fat.

Febri is a stem which means fever. A person who is afebrile is without a fever or temperature. A person who is febrile has a fever or temperature.

Myco is a stem which means fungus. Mycosis is any disease caused by a fungus.

Necro is a stem which means dead. A necropsy is an autopsy or scientific inspection of a dead body.

Emesis is a stem which means vomit. Hyperemesis is a word which means excessive vomiting.


Prefixes are one or more letters or syllables which come before the stem (at the beginning of a word) to explain or add meaning to the rest of the term. Prefixes may be divided into various categories of meaning depending on how they modify the stem, such as location, time, amount, color, negation, size, or position.

Prefixes relating to location include the following:

The prefix intra- means inside or within. The dash after intra- indicates that the stem comes after the prefix. By combining the prefix intra- with the stem abdominal, it means inside or within the abdomen.

Endo is also a prefix meaning within or inside. Metro is the stem meaning uterus. Endometritis, then, is a word which means inflammation of the inside of the uterus.

Peri- is a prefix which means around or surrounding. Cardio is the stem for heart. Pericarditis, then, is a word which means inflammation around the heart.

Ec- and ecto are prefixes which mean out and outside. An ectopic pregnancy, for example, is a pregnancy which occurs outside of the uterine cavity.

Em- and en are also prefixes which mean within or inside. Empyema, for example, means pus inside or within a body cavity.

Retro- and post- are prefixes which mean behind. Retrocardial means located behind the heart and postnasal means situated behind the nose.

The prefixes sub- and hypo- mean under. Subcutaneous, for example, means under the skin, and a hypodermic needle is one that is inserted under the skin.

Inter- is a prefix meaning between. The stem, costal, means ribs. Therefore, intercostal muscles are muscles which are between the ribs.

We will now study the prefixes that indicate time.

The prefixes ante- and pre- mean before. By combining the prefix ante-with the stem partum, you know that antepartum means before childbirth. A preoperative medication is a medication which is given before surgery.

The prefix post- means after. Consequently, a postoperative complication is a complication which occurred after surgery.

There are also prefixes that relate to negation or "not". These are as follows:

The prefixes a- or -an mean without or absence of. Therefore, afebrile means without a fever.

The stem esthesia means feeling. Therefore, anesthesia means without feeling.

The prefix anti- means against. The term antitoxin means against a toxin or poison.

Below are prefixes that relate to amount.

Uni and mono- are prefixes which mean one or single. Monocyte, for example, refers to a a single cell. A unicycle has one wheel.

Bi- is a prefix indicating the number two. Bi-lateral, then, refers to two sides. A bicycle has two wheels.

The prefix for three is tri. Therefore, the valve in the heart which has three parts is called the tricuspid valve. A tricycle has three wheels.

The prefix quadri- means four. A person with quadriplegia has paralysis in all four limbs.

The prefixes multi- and poly- mean many or much. A person with polyneuritis has inflammation of many nerves.

The prefixes hemi- and semi- mean half. A person with hemiplegia has paralysis on one half of the body. A person who is semiconscious is half or only partially conscious.

The prefix hypo- also means too little, or low. Therefore, a person with hypotension has low blood pressure.

Hyper- is a prefix that is just the opposite of hypo-. Hyper means above or high. A person with hypertension, then, has blood pressure above the normal or high blood pressure. Emesis, as you know, is a word that means vomiting. A word that means excessive vomiting is hyperemesis.

The prefix for fast is tachy-. A person with tachycardia has an abnormally rapid or fast heartbeat.

The prefix for slow is brady-. A person with bradycardia has an abnormally slow heartbeat.

The prefix for little or scanty is oligo-. The stem meaning urine is -uria. Therefore, oliguria means little or scant urine.

We will now study the prefixes that indicate color.

The prefix leuko- means white. A leukocyte, then, refers to a white blood cell.

Erythro- is a prefix meaning red. An erythrocyte, therefore, refers to a red blood cell.

Cyano- is a prefix meaning blue. Cyanosis refers to a blue condition of the skin.

Melano- is a prefix meaning dark or black. A melanoma is a malignant or dark black tumor.

Now, let's study the prefixes that indicate size.

Micro- is a prefix meaning small. A cyte is a stem meaning cell. A microcyte, therefore, is a very small or tiny cell. A word indicating smallness of heart is microcardia.

Macro- is a prefix which means the opposite of micro. Macro- is used in words to mean large. Things that are macroscopic can be seen with the naked eye. Very large cells are called macrocytes.

Mega- is also a prefix which means large. A megacolon is an abnormally large colon.

We will now study the prefixes that indicate position.

Antero- is a prefix meaning anterior part or in front of. Latero- is a prefix meaning side. Therefore, anterolateral means situated in the front and to one side.

Dextro- is a prefix which means to the right. Dextrocardia, therefore, refers to having the heart on the right side of the body.

Levo- is a prefix meaning to the left. Levoversion is a term which means the act of turning to the left

Medio- is a prefix meaning middle. The medial part of the body pertains to the middle.

We will now complete our study of the prefixes with some miscellaneous ones that are used in medical terminology.

Hydro- is a prefix meaning water. Hydrophobia, then, means fear of water.

Dys- is a prefix meaning difficult or painful. A patient with dyspnea would be experiencing painful or difficulty breathing.

Nox- and noct- are prefixes meaning night. Nocturia, therefore, means urination during the nighttime hours.

Mal- is a prefix meaning bad. Malodorous means having a bad odor.

Pan- is a prefix meaning total or all. A panhysterectomy, therefore, is a complete and total hysterectomy.


Suffixes are the final element which we will study in analyzing medical terms. Normally, when reading or breaking down a medical word, begin with the suffix. A suffix is a letter or syllable at the end of a word which adds meaning to the word. Like prefixes, suffixes could be placed into different categories of meaning. Suffixes differ from prefixes, however, in that a suffix comes after the stem.

The suffixes most commonly used to indicate disease are -itis, meaning inflammation; -oma, meaning tumor; and -osis, meaning condition, usually morbid.

Suffixes relating to diagnosis are below.

The suffix -cele means hernia, protrusion, or tumor. A gastrocele, then, is a protrusion or hernia of the stomach.

-Emia is the suffix for blood. A word we are all familiar with is leukemia, which is an abnormal amount of immature white blood cells. Hypoglycemia is a low amount of sugar in the blood.

-Ectasis and -ectasia are suffixes meaning dilation, dilatation, or expansion. Angiectasis, then, is abnormal dilation of a blood vessel.

The suffix for condition, formation of, or presence of is -iasis. Nephrolithiasis, therefore, is a formation of stones in the kidney.

The suffix for inflammation is -itis. Encephalitis, then, is the inflammation of the brain.

The suffix for softening is -malacia. Therefore, chondromalacia is softening of the cartilage.

The suffix for enlargement is -megaly. The stems for liver and spleen, as you will recall, are hepato and spleno. Hepatosplenomegaly, then, is the enlargement of the liver and spleen.

The suffix for hardening is -sclerosis. The stem for artery, as you will recall, is arterio. Arteriosclerosis, then, is hardening of the arteries.

The suffix for tumor is -oma; thus a lipoma is a fatty tumor.

The suffix for condition or disease is -osis. Dermatophytosis, then, is a disease or condition with a fungus of the skin.

The suffix for disease is -pathy. Thus, neuropathy is a disease or abnormality of the nerves.

The suffix for prolapse or downward displacement is -ptosis. The stem for eyelid, as you will recall, is blepharo. Therefore, a blepharoptosis is a downward displacement of the eyelid.

The suffix for rupture is -rrhexis. Cardiiiorrhexis, then, is a rupture of the heart.

The suffix for growth or nourishment is -trophy. The medical term for excessive growth is hypertrophy.

The suffix for fear is -phobia. Hydrophobia, then, is a fear of water.

Now let's look at suffixes related to operations.

The suffix for removal or excision is -ectomy. The stem, salpingo, means tube, and the stem, oophoro, means ovary. A salpingo-oophorectomy, therefore, is the removal of tubes and ovaries. The stem cholecysto, as you recall, means gallbladder. Removal or excision of the gallbladder, therefore, is called a cholecystectomy.

The suffix for inspection or examination is -scopy. A bronchoscopy, then is an examination of the bronchi.

-stomy is the suffix meaning surgical creation of an artificial opening. Therefore, a colostomy is an artificial opening into the colon.

-tomy is the suffix meaning incision or cutting into. A laparotomy, then, is an incision in the abdominal wall.

The suffix for binding or fixation is -desis. Arthrodesis, then, is the medical term for surgical fixation of a joint.

The suffix for suspension or fixation is -pexy. An orchiopexy is suspension or fixation of an undescended testis.

The suffix for repair of is -plasty. Tympano, as you recall, is the stem for eardrum. Tympanoplasty, then, is the term for the repair of the eardrum.

The suffix -centesis means puncture. Arthrocentesis, therefore, means the puncture of a joint for the removal of fluid.

We will now study the suffixes that relate to signs and symptoms.

-algia is a suffix meaning pain. Dentalgia, then, is the medical term for a pain in the tooth or a toothache.

-genic is the suffix for producing or originating. Pyo, as you recall, is the stem for pus. Pyogenic, then, is the term for producing pus.

-lysis is a suffix meaning destruction or breakdown. Hemolysis, therefore, means the destruction of red blood cells.

-rrhagia is the suffix meaning excessive flow or discharge. Thus, hemorrhage is a term meaning the excessive flow or discharge of blood.

Another suffix meaning excessive discharge or flow is -rrhea. Diarrhea is the medical term for excessive discharge of the bowel.

-penia is the suffix meaning decrease or deficiency. Erythropenia means a deficiency or decrease in the number of red blood cells.

-spasm is the suffix meaning involuntary contraction. The medical term myospasm, then, means an involuntary contraction of a muscle.

The suffixes -ic, -ac, -al, and -ar mean pertaining to. Cardiovascular, for example, means pertaining to the heart and vessels.
Here's another example: Intercostal means between the ribs.
Otoscopic means pertaining to an examination of the ear and cardiac means pertaining to the heart.


  A; a before
AAE acute allergic encephalitis
Ab antibodies
abd hyst abdominal hysterectomy
ABE acute bacterial endocarditis
ABP arterial blood pressure
ABR absolute bed rest
ABS acute brain syndrome
ac before meals
ACA adenocarcinoma
ACH acetylcholine
ACI adrenal cortical insufficiency
ACTH adrenocorticotropic hormone
ACVD acute cardiovascular disease
AD right ear
A & D admission and discharge
ADD average daily dose
adhib to be administered
ADL activities of daily living
ad lib as desired
adm admission; admit; admitted
ADS antibody deficiency syndrome
AE above the elbow
AF acid-fast
AFB acid-fast bacilli
afeb afebrile; without fever
AF/F atrial fibrillation and/or flutter
AGG agammaglobulinemia
AHAC American Heart Association Classification
AHD atherosclerotic heart disease
AI aortic insufficiency or incompetence
AID acute infectious disease
AIHA autoimmune hemolytic anemia
AJ ankle jerk
AK amp above the knee amputation
ALMI anterior lateral myocardial infarct
alt die (dieb) alternate days; every other night
alt noc (noct) alternate nights; every other night
ALVF acute left ventricular failure
AMA against medical advice
amb ambulatory
AMI acute myocardial infarction
anti-HAA antibody hepatitis-associated antigen
AOB alcohol on breath
ap before dinner
A & P anterior and posterior
APB atrial or auricular premature beat
APC aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), phenacetin, caffeine
aq water
AS left ear
ASA acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin)
ASHD arteriosclerotic heart disease
ASS anterior superior spine
A-S syndrome Adams-Stokes syndrome
AU both ears
ax axillary
B born
BA blood alcohol
B/A backache
BBB bundle branch block
BC bone conduction
BCP birth control pills
BE barium enema
BH bundle of His
bib drink
bid twice a day
bin twice during the night
B/J; B&J bone and joint
BM bowel movement
BMR basal metabolic rate
bol pill
BOM bilateral otitis media
BP blood pressure
BPH benign prostatic hypertrophy
BPI blood pressure increased
BS bowel or breath sound(s)
BSO bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
BTL bilateral tubal ligation
BUN blood urea nitrogen
BUQ both upper quadrants
BV blood volume
BW body weight
Bx biopsy
C1 to C7 cervical nerves or vertebrae 1 to 7
CI to CXII cranial nerves
c with
CA cardiac arrest
Ca calcium; cancer; carcinoma
CAT Children's Apperception Test
cath catheter
CBC complete blood count
CBD common bile duct
CBS chronic brain syndrome
CBV central blood volume
CC chief of current complaint
CCK cholecytokinin
CDC Center for Disease Control
CF complement fixation
CGTT cortisone glucose tolerance test
CHB complete heart block
ChE cholinesterase
CHF congestive heart failure
CHO carbohydrate
chr chronic
CI cardiac insufficiency
CIS carcinoma in situ
Cl chlorine
CN cranial nerves
CNS central nervous system
CO carbon monoxide
CO2 carbon dioxide
COD cause of death
Compound E cortisone
cong congenital
conj conjunctiva; conjunctivitis
CR closed reduction
CrI to CrXII cranial nerves
CRD chronic respiratory or renal disease
CrP creatine phosphate
CS cesarean section
CSF cerebrospinal fluid
C S resp Cheyne-Stokes respiration
CV cardiovascular
CVA cardiovascular accident
CVC central venous catheter
CVD cardiovascular disease
CVP central venous pressure
CVS cardiovascular system
cytol cytology
D dorsal
D1 to D12 dorsal or thoracic vertebrae or nerves
DA development age
D/A date of accident or admission
DAP direct agglutination pregnancy (test)
DBP diastolic blood pressure
D&C dilatation and currettage or currettement
DI diabetes insipidus
dis disease
disc discontinue
DJD degenerative joint disease
DM diabetes mellitus
DNA deoxyribonucleic acid
DNR dorsal nerve root
DNS deviated nasal septum
DOA dead on arrival
DOE dyspnea on exertion
DOS day of surgery
D/S dextrose in saline
DTR deep tendon reflexes
DU duodenal ulcer
DUB dysfunctional uterine bleeding
Dx diagnosis
EAC external auditory canal
EBL estimated blood loss
ECG; EKG electrocardiogram
E coli Escherichia coli
ECS electroconvulsive shock
EDC estimated date of confinement
EKG; ECG electrocardiogram
EM electron miscoscopy
EMB eosin methylene blue
EMS emergency medical service
GS General Surgery
gt; gtt drop; drops
GU genitourinary
GYN; Gyn gynecology
H hydrogen
H20 water
HA hemagglutinating antigens
HAI hemagglutinating-inhibiting antibody
Hb; Hgb hemoglobin
HBP high blood pressure
Hct hematocrit
HCVD hypertensive cardiovascular disease
hd at bedtime
HEENT head, eyes, ears, nose, and throat
Hgb; Hb hemoglobin
HGH human (pituitary) growth hormone
HLH Human lutenizing hormone
hn tonight
H&P history and physical
HPI history of present illness
HR heart rate
HVD hypertensive vascular disease
Hx history
IH infectious hepatitis
IHD ischemic heart disease
IM intramuscular (injection)
I&O intake and output
IOP intraocular pressure
IQ intelligence quotient
IV intravenous (injection)
jej jejunum
K potassium
kg kilogram
KUB kidney, ureter, and bladder
K-wire Kirshner wire
LBBB left bundle branch block
LD lethal dose
LH luteinizing hormone
LOS length of stay
LP lumbar, puncture
L-S lumbosacral
LTF lipotrophic factor
Lues I, II, III primary, secondary, tertiary syphilis
LV left ventricular
LVN Licensed Vocational Nurse
M meter
M1 M2 mitral first, second sound
MB methylene blue
MBP mean blood pressure
MD muscular dystrophy
MDR minimum daily requirement
ME middle ear
mg milligram
m g millimicrogram
MH menstrual, marital, or military history
mHg milliliters of mercury
MI myocardial infarction
ml milliliter
MMPI Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
MR metabolic rate
mr; mR milloroentgen
MS multiple sclerosis
MV mitral valve
N normal (concentration)
NA Nursing Assistant
NaPent sodium pentothal
NB newborn
NBS normal bowel sounds
NC noncontributory
N/C no complaint
ND normal delivery
NDF no disease found
NE norepinephrine
neg negative
NIH National Institutes of Health
NKA no known allergies
NOR; Noradr noradrenaline
NP neuropsychiatric
NPH no previous history
npo nothing by mouth
NR normal range
nr not to be repeated
NS nervous system
NSA no significant abnormality
NSR normal sinus rhythm of the heart
O eye
OB obstetrics
OBD organic brain disease
OB-GYN obstetrics and gynecology
OHD organic heart disease
OL; OS left eye
omn bih every two hours
omn hor; oh every hour
omn noct; on every night
OPC outpatient clinic
OPD outpatient department
ophth ophthalmology
OR operating room
Orth orthopedics
OS; OL left eye
OT occupational therapy
OU each eye
P phosphorus
P/3 proximal one-third (long bones)
p1, p2, etc. para 1, para 2, etc.
PA Physician's Assistant
P&A percussion and auscultation
PAB, PABA para-aminobenzoic acid
Pap test Papanicolaou's test
Para parous
path pathology
pr per rectum
prog prognosis
ps per second
psi pounds per square inch
Psy psychiatry; psychology
PT physical therapy
pt patient
PTA prior to admission
PULHES physical profile factors:
P- physical capacity or stamina
U- upper extremities
L- lower extremities
H- hearing and ears
E- eyes
S- psychiatric
PVC premature ventricular contractions
PVD peripheral vascular disease
pvt private
qd every day
qh every hour
q2h, q3h, etc. every 2 hours, every 3 hours, etc.
qid four times a day
qn every night
QNS quantity not sufficient
qv as much as you please
R right
r roentgen
RNA ribosomal ribonucleic acid
RA rheumatoid arthritis
Ra radium
RAIU radioactive iodine uptake
RAP right atrial pressure
RAS reticular activating system
RBBB right bundle branch block
RBC red blood cells or corpuscles
RD respiratory disease; retinal detachment
RDS respiratory distress syndrome
rehab rehabilitation
RES reticuloendothelial system
RHD rheumatic heart disease
RHF right heart failure
RN Registered Nurse
RNA ribonucleic acid
RO routine order
R/O rule out
ROM range of motion
ROS review of systems
RR recovery room
R&R rate and rhythm
RT reaction time
RTC return to clinic
RUE right upper extremity
RUQ right upper quadrant
S left
S-1 to S-5 sacral vertebrae or nerves
S-A; SA node sino-atrial node
SAA Stokes-Adams attacks
SB stillborn
SBE subacute bacterial endocarditis
SB test Stanford-Binet test
SC subcutaneous
SCD service connected disability
SCM sternocleidomastoid
SD standard deviation
SDS sudden death syndrome
SEM standard error of the mean
SF spinal fluid
sg specific gravity
SH serum hepatitis
SI seriously ill
sib sibling
SIW self-inflicted wound
SM systolic murmur
SMA superior mesenteric artery
SN student nurse
SNS sympathetic nervous system
SO salpingo-oophorectomy
SOAP progress note format for POMR
S- subjective
O- objective
A- assessment
P- plans
SOB shortness of breath
S-O-R stimulus-organism-response
SQ subcutaneous
staph staphylococcus
stat immediately and once only
STH somatotropic (growth) hormone
Strep streptococcus
STSG split thickness skin graft
sup superior
SVC superior vena cava
sx signs; symptoms
Sz schizophrenia
T Temperature
T&A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
TAH total abdominal hysterectomy
TB; TBC tuberculosis
TBLC term birth, living child
TBV total blood volume
tds to be taken 3 times a day
TFA total fatty acids
TH thyroid hormone
tid three times a day
TL tubal ligation
TM tympanic membrane
TNTC too numerous to count
TOA tubo-ovarian abscess
TT tetanus toxoid
TTH thyrotropic hormone
U/3 upper third (long bones)
UA urinalysis
UE upper extremity
UGI upper gastrointestinal
ULQ upper left quadrant
unk unknown
UQ upper quadrant
UR unconditioned response
URI upper respiratory infection
urol urology; urological
URQ upper right quadrant
USPHS United States Public Health Service
UTI urinary tract infection
UV ultraviolet
V Volume
VA Veterans Administration
vag vaginal
VBP venous blood pressure
VC vital capacity
VD venereal disease
VDG venereal disease-gonorrhea
VDH; VHD valvular disease of the heart
VIG vaccinia immune serum globulin
vit vitamin
VO verbal order
VP venous pressure
VPC volume of packed red cells
VRI viral or virus respiratory infection
VS vital sign
WAIS Wechsler adult intelligence scale
WB whole blood
WBC white blood cell
WCC white cell count
wd ward
WD/WN/BF well-developed, well-nourished black female
WD/WN/BM well-developed, well-nourished black male
WD/WN/WF well-developed, well-nourished white female
WD/WN/WM well-developed, well-nourished white male
WHO World Health Organization
WIA wounded in action
WISC Wechsler Intelligence Scale for children (test)
wk week
WNL within normal limits
WR Wassermann reaction
wt weight
X times
YOB year of birth

Medical Term   Meaning
Acromegaly A     Enlargement of the extremities; giantism
Adenoid Resembling a gland
Afebrile Without a fever
Anesthesia Without feeling or sensation
Arteriosclerosis Hardening of the arteries with plaque
Blepharoptosis B     Downward displacement of the eyelids
Bradycardia Slow heartbeat
Cardiovascular C     Pertaining to the heart and vessels
Cerebroma Tumor of the brain
Chondritis Inflammation of the cartilage
Chondromalacia Softening of the cartilage
Cyanosis Condition of blueness from low oxygen
Cystitis Inflammation of the bladder
Dentalgia D     Toothache/pain
Dermatophytosis Fungus of the skin
Duodenal The first part of small intestine
Dyspnea Difficulty breathing
Encephalitis E     Inflammation of the brain
Endocarditis Inflammation within the heart
Endometritis Inflammation within the uterus
Erythrocyte Red blood cell
Gastroenteritis G     Inflammation of the stomach and intestine
Glossitis Inflammation of the tongue
Glucosuria Sugar in the urine
Hematemesis H     Vomiting of blood
Hematoma Tumor filled with blood
Hematuria Blood in the urine
Hepatic Pertaining to the liver
Hepatitis Inflammation of the liver
Hepatosplenomegaly Enlargement of the liver and spleen
Hydrophobia Fear of water
Hyperemesis Excessive vomiting
Hypertension High blood pressure
Hypertrophy Excessive growth
Hypotension Low blood pressure
Intercostal I     Between the ribs
Intra-Abdominal Inside the abdomen
Keratitis K     Inflammation of the cornea
Lipoma L     Fatty tumor
Monocyte M     Single or one cell
Myalgia Pain in the muscle
Myospasm Involuntary contraction of a muscle
Necrosis N     Dead tissue
Nephrolithiasis Stones in the kidney
Nephrolithiasis Enlargement of the kidney
Nocturia Urination during nighttime hours
Oliguria O     Scant urinary output
Osteoarthritis Inflammation of the bones and joints
Otoscopic Pertaining to the ear
Pericarditis P     Inflammation around the heart
Polyneuritis Inflammation of many nerves
Polyphagia Excessive eating
Postpartum After childbirth
Pyogenic Producing pus
Rhinitis R     Inflammation of the nose
Salpingitis S     Inflammation of the fallopian tubes
Tachycardia T     Rapid heart beat. More than 100 beats per minute
Thrombophlebitis Inflammation of a vein with a clot

Operations or Procedures Meaning
Adenectomy Removal of a gland
Arthrocentesis Puncture of a joint for removal of fluid
Arthrodesis Surgical fixation of a joint
Cheiloplasty Plastic operation upon the lip
Cholecystectomy Removal of the gallbladder
Colostomy Incision into the colon
Gastrectomy Removal of the stomach
Glossorrhaphy Suture repair of the tongue
Herniorrhaphy Suture repair of a hernia
Hysterectomy Removal of the uterus
Laparotomy Incision into the abdominal wall
Laryngoscopy Examination of the larynx with an instrument
Nephrectomy Removal of a kidney
Orchiopexy Fixation of the testes
Otoplasty Plastic repair of the ears
Rhinoplasty Plastic repair of the nose
Thoracentesis Puncture of the thorax
Tympanoplasty Plastic repair of the eardrum




Berman, Audrey, Shirlee Snyder, Barbara Kozier and Glenora Erb. (2010). Kozier & Erb's Fundamentals of Nursing: Concepts, Process, and Practice. 8th Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall.

Copyright 2010 Alene Burke