Medical Terminology Basic Elements of a Medical Word
Medical Word Elements • A basic medical word consists of some or all of the following elements: – – Word root Combining form Suffix Prefix • How you combine these elements, and whether all or some of them are present in the medical term, determines the meaning of a word.
Word Root • The foundation of a medical term and contains the primary meaning. • All medical terms have at least one word root. • Most word roots are derived from Greek or Latin language. – Dermatos-Greek word that means skin – Cutane-Latin word that means skin
Word Root (continued) • As a general rule: – Greek roots are used to build words that describe a disease, condition, treatment, or diagnosis. – Latin roots are used to build words that describe anatomical structures – So, cutane describes anatomical structure of the skin, while dermatos describes a disease, condition, treatment, or diagnosis of the skin.
Combining Forms • Is created when a word root is combined with a vowel • The vowel, known as a combining vowel, is usually an O, but sometimes it is an I • It has no meaning, but enables two word elements to be connected – Gastr/o/megaly: enlargement of the stomach
Suffixes • Is a word element placed at the end of a word that changes the meaning of the word. – Tonsill/itis: inflammation of the tonsils – Tonsill/ectomy: removal of the tonsils • In medical terminology, a suffix usually describes a pathology, symptom, surgical or diagnostic procedure, or part of speech.
Prefixes • Is a word element attached to the beginning of a word or word root. • Not all medical terms have a prefix. • In medical terminology, the prefix usually indicates a number, time, position, direction, or negation.
Basic Guidelines for Defining Medical Words • Gastroenteritis – Define the suffix, or the last part of the word • Itis: means inflammation – Define the first part of the word • Gastr/o: means stomach – Define the middle part of the word • Enter: means intestine – So, gastroenteritis means inflammation of stomach and intestine
Basic Guidelines for Building Medical Words • There are three basic rules: – Rule #1: A word root links a suffix that begins with a vowel. • Hepat/itis – Rule #2: A combining form (root + O) links a suffix that begins with a consonant. • Hepat/o/cyte – Rule #3: A combining form links a root to another root to form a compound word. • Oste/o/arthr/itis