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Many terms frequently used in science and medicine are derived from latin words. By combining the root words with, prefixes and suffixes many of the meanings of the terms can be deciphered.

Use the following resources to better understand medical terms:

Medical Roots or Stems
Prefixes commonly used in medical terms
Suffixes commonly used in medical terms

Complete Glossary of Medical Root Words

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abdomen area between the chest and the hips that contains the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, pancreas and spleen
abdominoscopy type of surgery that uses a laparascope which is inserted into one or more small incisions
ablation elimination or removal
absorption the way substances pass into tissue as nutrients from food move from the small intestine into the cells of the body
accessory movement joint movements that cannot be performed voluntarily
accomodation ability to focus eyes
acetylcholine chemical in the brain that acts as a neurotransmitter
acquired deafness loss of hearing that occurs or develops after birth
action tremor a tremor that increases when the hand is moving voluntarily
adenocarcinoma a cancer that develops in the lining or inner surface of an organ
adenoma benign growth starting in glandular tissue
adjuvant treatment treatment that is added to other therapies to increase effectiveness
adrenal cortex outer portion of adrenal gland
advanced cancer stage of cancer in chich the disease has spread from the primary site to other parts of the body
aerophagia condition that occurs when a person swallows too much air (causes gas and belching)
aguesia loss of taste sense
akinesia no movement
alactasia inherited condition involving the lack of the enzyme needed to digest milk
alimentary canal digestive tube
allodynia non-painful stimuli to evoke pain
allogenic bone marrow transplantation a procedure in which a person receives stem cells from a compatible donor
alternative medicine any form of therapy used alone
amenorrhea absence or cessation of menstrual periods
amyloidosis a rare disease which causes the build-up of amyloid, a protein and starch, in tissues and organs
androgen a hormone that promotes the development and maintenance of male sex characteristics
anesthesia loss of feeling or sensation as a result of drug or gases
anesthetics drugs that cause loss of sensation to pain or awareness
angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor a medication that lowers blood pressure
anosmia absence of the sense of smell
antibiotic chemical substances, produced by living organisms or synthesized in laboratories for the purpose of killing other organisms that cause disease
anticholinergics medicines that calm muscle spasms in the intestines
anticoagulant keeps blood from clotting
antidiarrheals medicines that help control diarrhea
antiemetic drug that prevents or relieves nausea and vomiting
antihistamine group of drugs that block the effects of histamine
antihypertensive medication or therapy that lowers blood pressure
anti-inflammatory reuce the signs of swelling or inflamation
antioxidants compounds that protect against cell damage
aorta blook vessel that delivers oxygen-rich blood to the body
aortic valve valve that regulates the flow of blood from the heart into the aorta
apex top
aphasia loss of speech
aphonia loss of voice
areola dark skin around the nipple
artery blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart
arthralgia pain in joint

joint replacement


artificial ventilation process of supporting breathing by manual or mechanical means
atherectomy procedure that removes plaque from the inside of arteries
atherosclerosis build up of plaque in the inner lining of an artery
artesia lack of opening
atrium upper chambers in the heart
atrophy a decline in tissue or body part, following period of disuse or immobility
atypical abnormal
augmentative devices tools that help people communicate that have limited speech or communication abilities
autoimmune process

process where the body's immune system attacks and destroys tissue that it mistakes as foreign

autologous transplant a procedure where patients bone marrow is removed and treated, then returned tot he patient
autopsy examination of body after death
avascular necrosis death of tissue due to poor blood supply
avulsion when a muscle is extended beyond its freely available range of motion
axilla armpit
axillary dissection procedure in which lymph nodes are removed from the armpit and examined
axon hair like extension of a nerve cell that carries the message to a nearby nerve cell




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