Useful Medical Terms
Although this is not an exhaustive list, below are some terms and definitions to help you understand documents and communicate accurately.
TERMS OF POSITION AND DIRECTION
- Superior (cranial, cephalic)
- towards the upper end of body; above another structure. Example: the lungs lie superior to the kidneys.
- Inferior (caudal)
- towards the lower end of body; below another structure. Example: the kidneys lie inferior to the lungs.
- Anterior (ventral)
- towards the fron; in front of. Example: the trachea lies anterior to the esophagus.
- Postanterior (dorsal)
- towards the rear; behind. Example: the esophagus lies posterior to the trachea.
towards the mid-line of the body. Example: the abdominal aorta lies medial to the kidneys.
towards the right or left sides of the body. Example: the lungs lie lateral to the heart.
towards the surface of the body. Example: the skin is located external to the muscles.
towards the interior of the body. Example: muscles are deep to the skin.
nearest to the trunk or point of origin. Example: the shoulder is proximal to the arm.
farthest from the trunk. Example: the forearm is distal to the arm.
relating to the opposite side; as when pain or paralysis occurs on the side opposite to that of the lesion.
referring to the palm of the hand.
referring to the sole of the foot.
conducting outward as lymphatic fluid or a nerve impulse.
Conducting inwards as fluid or a nerve impulse.
TERMS OF LOCATION
- Cranium part of the skull that encloses the brain, braincase.
- Calvarium braincase, sometimes just the top of the cranium.
- Skull bones of the head including the lower jaw and face.
- Mandible bones of the lower jaw.
- Caput, capit head
- Capitulum small head (of something)
- Os, Osseus bone.
- Coll/um, -i neck.
- Cervi/x, -cal neck.
- Brachi/um, -al arm, upper arm.
- Antebrachium forearm.
- Manus hand.
- Carp/us, -al wrist
- Metacarpus bones after or beyond the wrist bones.
- Corona/ry crown, relating to the arteries which form a crown around the heart.
- Limb/us, -ic border, rim of an arch.
- Annulus ring, circle.
- Cor, card/ium, -iac heart.
- Hepa/r, -tic liver.
- Gast/er, -ric stomach.
- Lien, -al spleen.
- Ren/es kidney.
- Dors/um, -al back.
- Thora/x, -cic chest.
- Abdom/en, -al abdomen.
- Perineum external outlet of the pelvis, passage for urogenital docuts and rectum.
- Peroneal relating to the fibula.
- Pub/es, -ic the lower part of the abdomen, (hypogastric region)
- covered with hair in the adult.
- Glut/eus, -eal buttock.
- Fem/ur, -oral thigh
- Cru/s, -ral leg.
- Pe/s, -dis, -dal foot.
- Tars/us, -al ankle.
TERMS DESCRIBING MOVEMENT
- Flexion bending of a joint to approximate the parts it connects.
- Extention the act of extending or straightening a limb; the opposite movement of flexion.
- Adduction movement towards the central axis of the body.
- Abduction movement away from the central axis of the body.
- Rotation turning or movement of a body around its axis.
- Pronation to rotate the forearm in such a way that the palm of the
- hand faces downwards.
- Supination to rotate the forearm in such a way that the palm of the
- hand faces upwards.
- Eversion to turn the sole of the foot outwards (laterally).
- Inversion to turn the sole of the foot inwards (medially).
- Protraction to move a part forward as the jaw or shoulder.
- Retraction to move a part backwards as the jaw or shoulder.
- Dorsiflexion flexion of foot upwards (restricted to ankle movement).
- Plantar flexion flexion of foot downwards (restricted to ankle movement).