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Medical Terminology

General terminology

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) Caused by the human immune deficiency virus (HIV), which destroys part of the body’s immune system and leaves victims unable to defend themselves against opportunistic infections and certain cancers.
Acquired immunity Not present at birth but obtained during life.
Active immunity Obtained by the development of antibodies resulting from an attack of infectious disease. Active immunity can also be obtained artificially after a vaccination with a weakened form of the virus.
Acute Disease or symptom that has rapid onset (eg chickenpox).
Afebrile Without fever; temperature normal.
Allergy Hypersensitive state acquired through exposure to a particular allergen.
Anaphylactic shock Fatal allergic reaction to a foreign protein, such as a drug, food, chemical, insect venom, etc.
Angiocardiography A diagnostic procedure using radiopaque dye and chest X-rays to show dimension of heart and large blood vessels. The resulting film is called an angiocardiogram.
Angiography Radiographic study of the blood vessels after the introduction of a contrast medium. The resulting film is called an angiogram.
Arthrocentesis Surgical puncture of joint space to remove synovial fluid.
Arthrodesis Surgical fusion of bones.
Arthroendoscope Instrument for visualising the joint cavity.
Arthrogram X-ray picture of a joint.
Arthrography X-ray of joint after injection of contrast medium.
Arthrolysis Surgical loosening of an ankylosed joint.
Arthroplasty Operation for formation of artificial joints eg in a hip replacement where the natural joint is replaced with a metallic prosthesis.
Arthroscopy (arthro = joint, scopy = to look) Visual examination of the internal structure of joint
Asymptomatic Without symptoms.
Autoimmune disorders Body’s defences (lymphocytes) attack its own tissues.
Balloon angioplasty A catheter containing an inflatable balloon is inserted into a narrowed blood vessel and the balloon is inflated and moved along the lining. Any fatty plaques are displaced and the flow of blood through the vessel is restored.
Benign Describes a condition that is not serious; non-cancerous
Biopsy Removal of living tissue so it can be examined to assist with diagnosis.
Blood transfusion Whole blood cells are taken from a donor. Once the blood is tested for matching, the whole blood or cells are infused into a patient.
Bronchoscope A modified fibre optic endoscope used for visual examination of the inside of the bronchi.
Capillary puncture When a small amount of blood is needed as a specimen for a blood test.
Cardiac catheterisation A radiographic study in which a radiopaque dye is introduced through a catheter into a vein or artery and is guided into the heart to detect pressures and patterns of blood flow.
CT or CAT scan Computer technique to construct a cross-sectional view of the body.
Chronic Disease or symptom that lasts for a long time.
Colonoscope (colon = colon, large intestine; scope = instrument for visual examination) Instrument used for examining the colon.
Defibrillator An instrument used for giving electrical shock to the heart
Degeneration Deterioration in function or quality.
Diagnosis (dia = through, gnosis = knowing) Process of determining the cause of a disease.
Digital subtraction A similar technique to angiography.
Echocardiography A diagnostic procedure using ultrasound to evaluate the heart structure.
Electrocardiogram (ECG) A tracing, on a screen or on paper, of the electrical activity of the heart. To make an ECG, electrodes are placed on the skin at various sites on the chest, legs and arms.
Electromyography (EMG) Records the strength of muscle contraction as the result of electrical stimuli.
Endemic Persistent presence of a disease within a population eg common cold.
Endoscope (endo = inside, scope = instrument for visual examination) Instrument to view inside. Endoscopes are fibre optic tubes that can be inserted into body cavities or into small incisions made in the body wall.
Endotracheal intubation The passage of a tube through the mouth, pharynx and larynx into the trachea.
Epidemic A sudden and widespread outbreak of a disease within a population, eg measles.
ERCP or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography A technique for making an X-ray of the pancreatic vessels and bile duct by passing a catheter (tube) backwards (retrograde) into them using an endoscope. Dye is injected through the catheter to outline the vessels and ducts on the X-ray.
Etiology (etio = cause, logy = study) The study the cause of a disease.
Exacerbation An increase in the severity of the symptoms of a disease.
Febrile Relating to a fever; having a high temperature
Fibroma Tumour of fibrous tissue.
Gastroenteroscope (gastr/o = stomach, enter = small intestine, scope = instrument for visual examination) Endoscope used for examining the stomach and intestine.
Gastroscope (gastr/o = stomach, scope = instrument for visual examination) Endoscope used for examining the stomach.
-gram Refers to an X-ray picture, paper recording or to a trace on a screen.
-graph Used in medicine for the name of an instrument which carries out a recording. Occasionally it is used to mean the recording itself.
-graphy Technique or process of making a recording, eg an X-ray or tracing. It can also refer to a written description.
Haemocytometer Device used to count the number of blood cells.
Haemoglobinometer Instrument used to estimate the haemoglobin in blood.
Ileostomy A permanent opening made when the whole of the large intestine has been removed. This acts as an artificial anus. The ileum opens directly on to the abdominal wall and the liquid discharge from it is collected in a plastic ileostomy bag.
Immunisation The process by which the patient acquires immunity to a disease.
Immunity State of being resistant or not susceptible to a disease.
Intubation The insertion of a tube, usually for the passage of air or fluids.
Kyphosis Hunchback, abnormal increase in outward curvature of thoracic spine.
Laminectomy Excision of degenerated intervertebral discs. This requires the removal of a thin layer of bone from the vertebral arch.
Laparoscope (lapar/o = abdomen, scope = instrument for visual examination) Endoscope used for examining the abdominal cavity through the abdominal wall.
Laparotomy A type of exploratory operation. The laparoscope is passed through a small opening into the abdominal cavity to view the internal organs.
Laryngoscope A modified fibre optic endoscope used for visual examination of the larynx (vocal cords).
Laryngoscopy Visual examination of larynx by using a laryngoscope.
Latent A disease not visible nor active but which still has the potential of being active and visible.
Localised Limited in area or spread.
Lordosis Increase in forward curvature of lumber spine.
Lumbago Lower back pain.
Lymphadenography Technique of making an X-ray of a lymph node.
Lymphangiography Technique of making an X-ray of lymph vessels.
Lymphogram X-ray picture of lymphatic system
Lymphography Technique of making an X-ray of lymphatic system.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) Imaging technique to obtain cross-sectional images of any part of the body.
Malignant Description of a tumour that is likely to become progressively worse and result in death.
Manifestation A set of signs or symptoms through which a condition makes itself known, eg manifestation of a heart attack is chest pain.
Manometer (man/o = pressure) Instrument used to measure the pressure of liquids or gases.
Meniscectomy Removal of crescent shaped cartilage in the knee joint.
-meter An instrument that measures.
-metry The technique of measuring by using a measuring instrument.
Mortality Death.
Myogram Trace/recording made by a myograph.
Myography The technique of recording muscular contraction.
Myoparesis A weakness or slight paralysis of a muscle.
Myrorrhaphy Repair of a muscle.
Nasogastric intubation The passage of a tube through the nose into stomach.
Opportunistic infections s Caused by normally non-pathogenic organisms in a debilitated host whose resistance has been decreased by a different disorder, eg candidiasis – infection caused by a fungus.
Orthotics Knowledge or use of orthoses.
Osteomyelitis Inflammation of bone and bone marrow.
Osteopetrosis Spotty calcification of bone which becomes brittle.
Osteophyte Bony outgrowth at joint surface.
Osteotome Instrument to cut bone.
Othrosis Structures or appliances used to correct deformities
Pandemic A disease occurring world-wide eg AIDS.
Panendoscopy This is when all the upper digestive system is being examined at the same time. Examination of oesophagus, stomach and duodenum at the same examination.
Paralysis Loss of sensation and voluntary muscle movements. It may be temporary or permanent.
Paraplegia Paralysis of both legs and lower part of the body.
Passive immunity Immunity passed from mother to child through the placenta before birth, or through colostrum (first breast milk) immediately after birth.
Pathology The study of the cause and the nature of disease.
Pharyngoscope A modified fibre optic endoscope used for visual examination of the pharynx.
Phlebotomy (vein puncture) Use of a needle to puncture a vein to remove blood for diagnostic purposes or to administer drugs for intravenous therapy.
Plasmapheresis The technique of removing plasma from whole blood.
Polymyositis Inflammation of several muscles at once.
Proctoscope (proct/o = anus, rectum; scope = instrument for visual examination) Endoscope used for examining the rectum.
Prognosis Prediction of probable course and outcome of a disorder.
Progressive Continuing development of severity of symptoms of a disease.
Pulmonary function tests A group of tests used to measure lung volume during a specified period.
Quadriplegia Paralysis of all four limbs.
Remission A partial disappearance of the symptoms of a chronic or malignant disease.
Rhinoscope A modified fibre optic endoscope used for visual examination of the interior of the nose.
Scoliosis Abnormal lateral curvature of the spine.
Sequestrectomy Surgical removal of dead bone.
Sigmoidoscope (sigmoid/o = sigmoid colon, scope = instrument for visual examination) Endoscope used for examining the rectum and sigmoid colon.
Sign Evidence of disease observed by someone (eg fever).
Speculum An instrument used to hold the walls of a cavity apart so that the interior can be visualised.
Sphygmodynamometer Instrument used to measure force of the pulse.
Sphygmomanometer (sphygmos = pulsation) Instrument used to measure the pulse and blood pressure which can be felt in arteries nearer to the surface of the body
Spirograph Instrument for recording breathing movements of the lungs.
Spirometer Instrument which measures the capacity of the lungs.
Spirometry The technique for using a spirometer.
Splenoportogram X- ray picture of spleen and portal veins.
Stethoscope (stethos = breast, skopein = to examine) Instrument used to listen to the sounds from the chest.
Symptom Pain observed by patient only (eg headache).
Syndrome A set of symptoms that occur together.
Systemic Relating to or affecting the body as a whole.
Tendinitis Inflammation of a tendon.
Thoracoscope A modified fibre optic endoscope used for visual examination of the thorax.
Thrombolytic therapy Some enzymes are used to dissolve blood clots. The drug streptokinase causes breakdown of the clot when injected into the coronary vessels, and thereby restores the coronary circulation.
Tongue depressor The nose and pharynx can be examined with a tongue and nasal speculum.
Tonsillotome Instrument for cutting tonsils.
Torticollis Stiffness of neck due to spasmodic contraction of sternomastoid muscle.
Tracheostomy Cutting an opening into the trachea and inserting a tube to facilitate the passage of air or the removal of secretions.
Created by: Kirky