Breaking Down Medical Terms

If you haven’t already done so, we highly suggest printing our free lists of exterior root words, interior root words, prefixes, and suffixes. There are links to the printable lists on the last page of this course. By utilizing the lists, you should be able to identify each medical term or condition listed on the chart at the bottom of this page.

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A complex medical term is like a small jigsaw puzzle.  The puzzle is already put together and you need to take the pieces apart. The pieces are the prefix, root word, and suffix.  Remember that not all words have both prefixes and suffixes. Some have one or the other but don’t have both.

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Let’s break down a common medical term – appendicitis. We all know what appendicitis is but let’s break down the word so we can see the method involved. The root word appendic tells us the affected body part is the appendix. The suffix itis means inflammation of. Appendicitis means inflammation of the appendix.

 

Common Medical Terms and Conditions
Abduction moving a body part away from the point of origin
Amenorrhea without a menses or period
Anovulatory ovaries not ovulating
Anti-inflammatory against or opposing inflammation
Bilateral both sides
Bradyarrhythmia slow, irregular heart beat
Bradycardia slow heart rate
Cardiogram film created by a cariography
Cardiography process of recording heart activity
Cardiomegaly enlargement of the heart
Colotomy surgery of the colon
Dissection cut or slice into two parts
Dysfunctional painful or difficult menstruation
Endoscope instrument used for internal examination
Endoscopy visual examination using an endoscope
Erythrocytes red blood cells
Erythrocytosis increase erythrocytes
Euthyroid normal thyroid (eu means normal)
Febrile having a fever
Gastritis inflammation of the stomach
Gastrodynia a pain in the stomach (-dynia means pain)
Hyperemesis excessive vomitting
Hypertension high blood pressure (hyper means high)
Hypotension low blood pressure (hypo means low)
Infraumbilical beneath or below the umbilicus
Mammogram record of a mammography
Mammography examination of the breast
Melanocytes pigmentation cell in skin layer
Microscopic can only be seen with a microscope
Neuritis inflammation of a nerve
Neuropathy a nerve condition
Neuroplasty reconstruction of a nerve
Oligomenorrhea low menstrual flow
Oliguria infrequent urination
Periurethral around the opening of the urethra
Polyuria excessive urination
Postoperative before an operation
Premenstrual before the menstrual period begins
Prenatal before giving birth
Preoperative after an operation
Pseudocyst mass that resembles a cyst
Pseudopregnancy false pregnancy
Salpingectomy removal of a fallopian tube
Splenomegaly enlargement of the spleen

 

The above words were just a teaser. Try to break down as many of the words are you can by identifying the root word, prefix, and suffix.


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