Top 20 most commonly used prefixes in the medical terminology

The words in medical terminology are composed of a prefix, a root word, and a suffix. Prefix: A prefix is placed at the beginning of a word to modify its meaning. Pre means before. Prefixes can also refer to a location, a number, or a time. Root: The central part of a word.

The commonly used prefixes in the medical terminology

1. A = Without

• Apnoea (A=without, noea= breath)
Definition: Sleep apnoea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. Some people suffer from sleep apnoea due to increasing fat, and increasing age. The soft muscle tissue at the backside of the throat increases and blocks the nasal passage while sleeping, which may result in a lack of oxygen reaching the brain and can ultimately result in death.

achlorhydria (A=without, chlorhydria=hydrochloric acid in the stomach)
Definition: Achlorhydria occurs when there’s an absence of hydrochloric (HCl) acids in the stomach. It’s a more severe form of hypochlorhydria, a deficiency of stomach acids. Both conditions can impair the digestive process and lead to damage to the gastrointestinal system.

• Atony (A=without, tony= muscle tone)
Definition: A condition in which muscle has lost strength might be due to some sock or post-operation or loss of uterine muscle strength after giving birth to a baby which leads to excessive bleeding.)

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2. An = Without

• Anaerobic (An=without, aerobic means lack of oxygen.
Definition: When a metabolic reaction takes place without the presence of oxygen then it is known as anaerobic respiration. Also, there are some anaerobic organisms causing wound infections.
• Anaemia (An=without, aemic=blood.)
It means a low concentration of haemoglobin in the blood which leads to the decreased oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.)

• Anaesthesia (An=without, aesthesia= loss of feeling or sensation.)

3. Anti = against or opposed to something

• Antibiotic (Anti=against, biotic= life. Antibiotic is used to kill bacterial infection.)
• Antiperistalsis (Anti=against, peristalsis= GI moment which moves the food from the oesophagus towards the stomach.) Sometimes due to some disease or during vomiting the bowel moments occurs in opposite direction.
• Anti-inflammatory (Anti=against, inflammatory= inflammation.)

4. Ante=before

  • Antenatal (Ante=before and natal means baby), it simply means the period before birth. or antenatal care.

5. Brady = slow

• Bradycardia (Brady- slow, cardia-heart beat)
Definition: Decreased heartbeat is known as bradycardia. Technically, the heart rate below 60 bpm is known as bradycardia.
• Bradykinesia (Brady- slow, kinesia- moment)
This condition is mostly seen in Parkinson’s disease.

6. Cardia (=Heart)

• Cardiac arrest
Definition: When the heart suddenly stops working.
• Cardiomegaly (Cardio- heart, megaly- enlarged)
Definition: When the heart is enlarged due to drug overuse, high blood pressure, history of a heart attack.
• Cardiology (Cardio-heart and logos- study)
Study of the structure of the heart. Usually, a doctor is known as a cardiologist.

7. Chole (=bile)

(Bile> hepatic duct > Gall bladder) Bile juice is secreted from the liver which then travels down to the duodenum.

• Cholecystectomy (chole= bile, the cyst is generally known as a fluid-filled space= bladder, ectomy- removal)
Definition: Surgical removal of Gallbladder.
• Cholangitis (chole= bile, itis= infection)
Definition: Inflammation of bile ducts, which could happen due to some bacterial infections. Also, the infection might be due to gallbladder stones and some cancer.
• Cholecystitis (Chole=bile, cyst=bladder, iti=inflammation)
The inflammation could be due to inflammation of the cystic duct which could be a result of gall bladder stones. It causes pain in the upper right quadrant of the stomach.

8. Col (=colon)

The large intestine is divided into ascending, descending and transverse colons.
• Colostomy (It is a procedure in which the large interstice opening or colon is made on the abdomen)
• Colectomy (Removal of part of the colon which sometimes happens due to cancer or maybe any other reason)
• Colitis (Inflammation of the colon which could be viral or bacterial infection)
• Coliforms (Types of bacteria normally found in the colon.)

9. Cyst (=Bladder)

• Cystitis – (Cyst-bladder, itis-infection)
Definition: Urinary bladder infection.
• Ovarian cyst
• Cystoscopy (To look into the bladder to detect any type of disease)

10. Endo (=inside)

• Endoscopy (Looking into the body)
• Endocardium (Inside later of the heart)
• Endocarditis (Inflammation of the endocardium)
• Endometrium (Inside layer of the uterus)

11. Enteric (=Intestinal)

• Enteric fever (Is a type of fever that derives from an intestinal infection)
• Entercoated ( A specially coated medicine that directly goes to the intestines)
• Enterovirus (It is a type of virus that infects the intestines.)
• Gastroenterologist ( Gasto-stomach, entero-intestines. Logist- stomach)

12. Dys (=abnormal or painful)

• Dysuria (Painful urination)
• Dysmenorrhoea (Dys-painful, menorrhoea- menstruation)
• Dyspnoea (Dys-painful, pnoea- breathing or difficulty breathing)
• Dysphagia (Dys-painful, phagia- swallowing. It basically means difficulty swallowing)
• Dysphasia (Dys-painful, Phasia- speech. Difficulty with speech after some brain stroke or some issue with the nervous system).






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