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Surgical terminology

March 29, 2017 Writen by vipha

Doctors and surgeon are using a complex array of medical terms to designate surgeries. Each operation name will be composed of various units often originated from Latin or Greek terms.

The units can be divided in 3 categories:

The root or central part of the word which refers to the location of the operation and the affixes (prefixes and suffixes) which specify the operation.


a* or an*: without in the meaning of deprived of
dys*: to do with an abnormal function or dysfunction
poly*: meaning many
oligo*: meaning a few
hyper*:  means excess or exaggeration
macro*: means large, long or excessive
peri*: around
anti*: against
ante*: before
pre*: before being ready
post*: after
intra*: within, inside
endo*: within
extra*: outside
exo*: means outside or external
Ortho*: straight or correct

Suffixes to identify disease:

*algia: painful condition
*asthenia: loss of strength, energy, can also refer to a condition of debility
*itis: inflammation of an organ
*emesis: meaning to vomit
*emia: related to blood pathology or the presence of substance in the blood
*uria: meaning the presence of substance in the urine
*pathy: meaning disease
*penia: refers to the lack or deficiency
*plegia: meaning paralysis
*pnea: related to breathing, respiration
*plasia: refers mostly to the formation of cells
*lysis: refers to the decomposition, destruction in case such as paralysis but also as liberation, loosening in case of neurolysis
*phage: to eat or consume
*thermia: generation of heat


Suffixes to identify surgery action:

*ectomy: action to remove
*otomy: to cut a part of the body, but not necessarily remove the organ
*scopy: observation often related to visual observation with an endoscope
*plasty: remodel
*graphy: imaging
*stoma/*stomy: create a deviation of a natural flow

Roots to identify specialties or organs:

Chrondo*: refers to cartilage
Cyto*: refers to cells
Lipo*: refers to fat
Angio*: related to blood vessel
Arthro*: joint
Cardio*: refer to the heart
Uro*, ureth*: refer to urine
Pedi*: foot
Oto*: ear
Rhino*: nose
Neuro*: brain, nerves
Cranio*: skull of the brain
Opto*, Opth*: refer to vision
Maxillo: refer to the jaw
Vascular: which convey fluids
Angio*refer to a vessel
Femoral: at or near the femur
Osteo*: refer to the bones
Gyneco*: refer to woman
Laparo*: abdominal

Other medical terms:

Pace: rate of activity
Excision: remove organ
Resection: remove part of an organ
Reduction: bring organ back in position
Grafting: take a piece to another place
Prosthetic: an artificial device to replace a missing body part
Arthrodesis: surgical immobilization of a joint, joining and blocking 2 bones together
Arthroplasty: reconstruction or replacement of a joint
Diathermy: refers to the production of heat in a part of the body to stimulate the circulation to relieve pain, destroy unhealthy tissue, or cause bleeding vessels to clot.
Coronary: refer to the heart
ENT: Ear Nose and throat, also known as Otorhinolaryngology
Varix: permanent abnormal dilation and lengthening of a vein
Obstetric: refer to childbirth