Many professions have unique and specialized language and symbols. Those used in medicine have long been suspected of serving the purpose of keeping information from the patient about themselves. Justified or not, here is a sampling of explanations of some commonly used word beginnings, endings and abbreviations. A patient deserves to be informed about what the professional are saying or writing about them.
Some common medical prefixes:
Related to the blood vessels
Relating to either the brain or lungs.
Relating to the kidneys.
(A Nephrologist is a doctor who specializes in medical conditions impacting the kidneys.)
4. “Hyster …”
Relating to the uterus.
5. “Gastro …”
Relating to the stomach
Related to muscle tissue
Related to the joints.
(Arthritis, arthroscopic surgery, etc.)
Related to the brain
Some common medical suffixes:
1. Something or other… “itis”
Whatever the ‘something’ is is inflamed and possibly infected.
(Pancreatitis, appendicitis, tonsillitis, etc.)
The removal of whatever body part precedes it.
(Appendisectomy, tonsillectomy, hemorrhoidectomy, hysterectomy, etc.)
3. “… otomy”
A surgical incision into whatever precedes it.
4. “… scentesis”
The surgical puncturing of something – deliberately
(Amniocentesis to draw fluid from the uterine sac to check on the condition of a fetus.)
From a Greek word meaning putrefaction (rotting), as “sepsis” it is used to refer to an infection of the entire system, particularly through the circulatory (blood) system and is considered quite serious.
The opposite, of course, is “Antiseptic”… the purification of something from germs and bacterial contamination.
6. “… ostomy”
The putting a hole in something in the hopes that it will help it function better.
7. “… plasty”
To modify or reshape.
(A “nose job” is a rhinoplasty, etc.)
8. “… oid”
To look (Colonoscopy, sphygmoidoscopy, etc.)
Not only is the handwriting of medical practitioners customarily difficult (or impossible) to decipher by anyone but another doctor, nurse of pharmacist, so their actual language, too, can be confusing and unclear.
A few of the more common abbreviations used on written medical prescriptions:
Most are derived from the Latin, the formal and traditional language or early medical practice. No direct (literal) translations are given, but here is what many of the abbreviations the doctor and pharmacist communicate with on your prescriptions mean:
1. “ad” = up to (defining a limit.)
2. “buss” = Inside the cheek
3. “c” (With a straight line on top of it) = With
4. “cf” = With food
5. “h.s.” = at bedtime
6. “bid”+ twice a day
7. “tid”= three times a day
8. “qd”= daily
9. “o.p.d.”= once per day
10. “q.a.d.” = every other day
11. “q.i.d” = four times a day
12. “sig” = write on label
13. “sl” = sublingually, under the tongue
14. “wf” = with food
None of these lists in complete but each is intended to help you, as a patient, understand more of what is said and written about you by medical professionals. I hope you find it useful.