Medical Terminology - Northwest Career and Technical
Medical Terminology: The Language of Medicine Word Parts: Roots Medical Terminology Language in the medical field is more extensive than the languages in many other fields. Rapid advances in science and technology continually add new terms. In addition, many medical terms are formed from
Greek or Latin words. It is critical for all health care workers to have a strong knowledge of medical terms in order to perform their jobs well. Word Parts A word root is the basic meaning of a term. A prefix is placed at the
beginning of a term. A suffix is placed at the end of a term. Medical Dictionaries By breaking words into parts, it is often possible to figure out the meaning of a word, even if you have not seen the word before.
However, it is a good idea to check the definition in a medical dictionary to make sure it is correct. Word Roots The root acts as the foundation of a word. In medical terms, it often indicates a body part.
All medical terms must have one or more word roots. Word Parts: Suffixes and Prefixes Suffixes A suffix is added to the end of a word root to complete the term. Suffixes usually
describe what is happening to the word root. They often indicate a procedure, condition, disorder, or disease. Prefixes A prefix is added to the beginning of a word root to change its meaning.
Prefixes describe, modify, or limit the term. They often indicate time, number, or location. Combining Word Parts A word root cannot stand alone; a suffix is always required. But not all medical terms have prefixes. Combining vowels- vowels that are added between
word parts to make the term easier to pronounce. Combining form the word root plus the combining vowel. Combining Word Parts (continued) Do use a combining vowel:
When the suffix begins with a consonant. Anytime two or more word roots are joined. Dont use a combining vowel: When the suffix begins with a vowel. Between a prefix and a word root. Decoding Terms
Decoding a term means to break it into its word parts to figure out the meaning. Use these steps to decode a medical term: Start by defining the suffix. Then define the prefix, if there is one. Then define the word root(s) or combining form(s).
Abbreviations Abbreviations Abbreviations are shortened forms of words, usually just letters. It is the responsibility of the health care workers at each agency to learn and follow the abbreviation policies used at their place of employment.
When workers are unsure about the meaning of an abbreviation, it is best to follow this rule to be safe: When in doubt, spell it out. Anatomic References Body Direction Health care workers need to be able to clearly identify areas of the body. They must do so in order to correctly apply treatments, injections, and
diagnoses. Such directional terms are based on anatomical position. In this position, the body is upright and facing forward, with the arms at the sides and the palms toward the front. Body Planes Body planes are imaginary lines drawn through the body. They
separate the body into sections and are used to create directional terms. The three body planes are: Transverse Midsagittal Frontal Transverse Plane and Related Directional Terms
The transverse plane is horizontal and divides the body into a top half and a bottom half. Body parts above other parts are called superior. Body parts below other body parts are called inferior. Two other terms related to this plane also refer to direction.
Cranial refers to body parts toward the head. Caudal refers to body parts toward the lower end of the spine or feet. Midsaggital Plane and Related Directional Terms The midsaggital plane is also known as the median plane or the midline.
The midsaggital plane is vertical and divides the body into equal right and left halves. Body parts toward this plane are called medial. Body parts away from this plane are called lateral. Frontal Plane and Related Directional Terms The frontal plane is also known as the coronal plane.
The frontal plane is vertical. It divides the body into front and back sections. Body parts toward the front section are called ventral, or anterior. Body parts toward the back section are called dorsal, or posterior. Other Directional Terms
Two other terms are used to describe the location of a body part in relation to the point of attachment, or point of reference. Body parts toward the point of attachment are called proximal. Body parts distant from this point are called distal. Body Cavities Body cavities are spaces
within the body that contain vital organs. The two major cavities in the body are the dorsal and ventral cavities. The dorsal cavity is a long, continuous cavity located on the back of the body. The ventral cavity is located on the front side of the body.
Dorsal Cavity The dorsal cavity is divided into two sections: The cranial cavity contains the brain. The spinal cavity contains the spinal cord. Ventral Cavity The ventral cavity is divided
into three sections: The thoracic cavity contains the trachea, esophagus, bronchi, lungs, heart, and major blood vessels. It is also known as the chest cavity. The abdominal cavity contains the stomach, small intestine, most of the large intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and spleen. The pelvic cavity contains the
reproductive organs, bladder, and rectum. Small Body Cavities The orbital cavity contains the eye structures. The nasal cavity contains the parts that form the nose. The oral cavity, or buccal cavity, contains the teeth
and the tongue in the mouth. Abdominal Regions: Quadrants Because the abdominal cavity is so large, it helps to divide it into regions. One method of division results in quadrants, or four regions:
Right upper quadrant (RUQ) Left upper quadrant (LUQ) Right lower quadrant (RLQ) Left lower quadrant (LLQ) Abdominal Regions: Nine Regions Another method of dividing the abdominal cavity results in nine regions:
Epigastric above the stomach Umbilical near the umbilicus Hypogastric below the stomach Left Hypochondriac below the ribs, left side Right Hypochondriac below the ribs, right side Left Lumbar near the waist, left side Right Lumbar near the waist, right side Left Iliac near the hips, left side Right Iliac near the hips, right side
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