The following are some of the more common medical abbreviations you are likely to encounter:

@ - at

A & D - admission & discharge

A & P - anterior & posterior

ABG - arterial blood gas

ac - before meals

AD - right ear

ad lib - as desired

ADL - activities of daily living

AIDS - acquired immune deficiency syndrome

am - morning (before noon)

amal - amalgam

amb - ambulate

ant - anterior

AP - apical pulse

approx - approximately

aq - aqueous

ARC - AIDS-related complex

AS - left ear

as tol - as tolerated

ASA - aspirin

ASAP - as soon as possible

ASCVD - arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease

ASHD - arteriosclerotic heart disease

AU - both ears

av - average

AV - atrioventricular

Ax - axilla. axillary

Ba - barium

bacti - bacteriology

B & B - bowel & bladder

BE - barium enema

bid - twice a day

bil - bilateral

Bl - blood

Bl Wk - blood work

BM - bowel movement

BMR - basal metabolic rate

BP - blood pressure

BR - bed rest

BRP - bathroom privileges

BS - blood sugar

bsc - bedside commode

BUN - blood urea nitrogen

bx - biopsy

ºC - degrees centigrade

Ca - calcium

CA - cancer

cal - calorie

Cal - kilocalorie

cap - capsule

 CAT - computerized axial tomography

cath - catheter

CBC - complete blood count

CBR - complete bedrest

cc - cubic centimeter

CC - chief complaint

CCU - coronary care unit or critical care unit

CHD - coronary heart disease

CHF - congestive heart failure

CHO - carbohydrate

chol - cholesterol

CICU - cardiac intensive care unit/ CCU - cardiac care unit

ck - check

Cl - chloride

cl liq - clear liquids

cm - centimeter

CNS - central nervous system

c/o - complains of

CO - carbon monoxide or coronary occlusion

CO2 - carbon dioxide

cont - continued

COPD - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

CP - cerebral palsy

CPAP - continuous positive airway pressure

CPK - creatine phosphokinase

CPR - cardiopulmonary resuscitation

CPT - current procedural terminology

CS - central supply

C & S - culture sensitivity

CSF - cerebrospinal fluid

CSR - central supply room

CT - computerized tomography

Cu - copper

CVA - cerebral vascular accident (stroke)

Cx - cervix, complications

d - day

D & C - dilation & curettage

DAT - diet as tolerated

dc - discharge or discontinued

del - delivery

Diff - differential white blood cell count

dil - dilute

DNR - do not resuscitate

DOA - dead on arrival

DOB - date of birth

DPT - diptheria, pertussis, tetanus

Dr - doctor

dr - dram or drainage

DRG - diagnostic related group

drg - dressing

D/S - dextrose in saline

DSD - dry sterile dressing

DT - delirium tremors

DW - distilled water

dx - diagnosis

ea - each

EEG - electroencephalogram

EENT - eye, ear, nose, throat

ECG/EKG - electrocardiogram

EMS - emergency medical service

ENT - ear, nose, and throat

ER - emergency room

ESR - erythrocyte sedimentation rate

etiol - etiology

ex - examination

exc - excision

esp - exploratory

ext - extraction or external

°F - degrees Fahrenheit

FBS - fasting blood sugar

FBW - fasting blood work

FC - Foley catheter

Fe - iron

FF - force fluids

fl - fluid

fx - fracture

ft - foot

CUO - fever of unknown origin

GA - gastric analysis

gal - gallon

GB - gallbladder

Gc - gonococcus, gonorrhea

GI - gastrointestinal

Gm/g - gram

gr - grain

gtts - drops

GTT - glucose tolerance test

GU - genitourinary

gyn - gynecology

H - hydrogen

H2O - water

H2O2 - hydrogen peroxide

HA - headache or hearing aid

HBV - hepatitis B virus

HCl - hydrochloric acid

hct - hematocrit

HDL - high density lipoprotein (good cholesterol)

Hg - mercury

Hb - hemoglobin

HIV - human immunodeficiency virus

HOB - head of bed

h/hr - hour

HS - bedtime

ht - height

hx - history

hypo - under or hypodermic injection

hyst - hysterectomy

I & D - incision & drainage

I & O - intake and output

IC - intracardiac

ICD - international classification of diseases

ICU - intensive care unit

IH - infectious hepatitis

IM - intramuscular

in - inch

inf - infusion or inferior

ing - inguinal

inj - injection

int - internal

IPPG - intermittent positive pressure breathing

irr - irrigation

isol - isolation

IUD - intrauterine device

IV - intravenous

IVP - intravenous pyelogram

jt - joint

K - potassium

KCl - potassium chloride

kg - kilogram

KUB - kidney, ureter, bladder x-ray

L - lumbar

L & D - labor and delivery

L & W - living and well

L - left

l - liter

lab - laboratory

lap - laparotomy

lat - lateral

lb - pound

LDH - lactose dehydrogenase 

LDL - low density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol)

lg - large

liq - liquid

LLQ - lower left quadrant

LMP - last menstrual period

LOC - laxative of choice

LP - lumbar puncture

LS - lumbosacral

LUQ - left upper quadrant

m - minim

mat - maternity

mcg - microgram

med - medical

mEq - milliequivalent

mg - milligram

Mg - magnesium

MI - myocardial infarction (heart attack)

min - minute

ml - milliliter

mm - millimeter

MN - midnight

mod - moderate

MOM - milk of magnesia

MRI - magnetic resonance imagery

MS - multiple sclerosis or mitral stenosis

N - nitrogen

Na - sodium

NaCl - sodium chloride

NB - newborn

neg - negative

NG - nasogastric

nil - none

no - number

NO - nursing office

NPN - nonprotein nitrogen

NPO - nothing by mouth

N/S - normal saline

nsy - nursery

N/V - nausea and vomiting

NVS - neurological vital signs

O -oxygen

O & P - ova and parasites

Ob - obstetrics

od - overdose

OD - right eye

oint - ointment

OJ - orange juice

OOB - out of bed

OPD - outpatient department

opp - opposite

OR - operating room

orth - orthopedics

os - mouth

OS - left eye

OU - each eye

OV - office visit

oz - ounce

P -pulse or phosphorus

PAC - premature atrial contraction

PAP - Papanicolaou test (Pap smear)

path - pathology

Pb - lead

PBI - protein bound iodine

pc - after meals

PCA - patient controlled analgesia

PCP - patient care plan or primary care provider

PDR - physicians desk reference

PE - pulmonary edema

peds - pediatrics

per - by or through

PET - positron emission tomography

pH - power of hydrogen (measure of acidity or alkalinity)

pharm - pharmacy or pharmacology

PID - pelvic inflammatory disease

PKU - phenylketonuria

pm - after noon

PMC - postmortem care

PMS - premenstrual syndrome

PNS -peripheral nervous system

po - by mouth

PO - phone order

post - after or posterior

post-op - after an operation

PP - postpartum

pre - before

pre-op - before an operation

prn - as needed

psych - psychiatry or psychology

pt - patient or pint

PT - physical therapy

PTT - partial thromboplastin time

PVC - premature ventricular contraction

PVE - peripheral vascular disease

px - prognosis

q - every

qd - every day

qh - every hour

q2h - every two hours

qhs - every night at bedtime

qid - four times a day

qns - quantity not sufficient

qod - every other day

qs - quantity sufficient

qt - quart

R - respiratory or rectal

rt - right

Ra - radium

RBC - red blood cell or count

RDA - recommended daily allowance

REM -rapid eye movement

RHD - rheumatic heart disease

RLQ - right lower quadrant

R/O - rule out

ROM -range of motion

RR - recovery room

RUQ - right upper quadrant

Rx - prescription, take

S - sacral

S & A - sugar and acetone

w/o - without

SA - sino atrial

sc - subcutaneous

SGOT or SGPT - transaminase test

SICU - surgical intensive care unit

SIDS - sudden infant death syndrome

Sig - give the following directions

sm - small

SOB - short of breath

sol - solution

sos - if necessary

spec - specimen

sp gr - specific gravity

spt -spirits or liquor

SSE -soap solution enema

staph - staphylococcus infection

stat - immediately

STD - sexually transmitted disease

strep - streptococcus

sup -superior

supp - suppository

surg - surgery

susp - suspension

sx - sign or symptoms

syp - syrup

T & A - tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy

T or Temp - temperature

tab - tablet

TB - tuberculosis

tbsp - tablespoon

TCDB - turn, cough, & deep breathe

TIA - transient ischemic attack

tid - three times a day

TLC - tender loving care

TO - telephone order

tol - tolerated

TPN - total parental nutrition

TPR - temperature, pulse, and respiration

tinct - tincture

tsp - teaspoon

TUR - transurethral resection

TWE - tap water enema

tx - traction, treatment, or transplant

UA - urinalysis

ung - ointment

ur - urine

URI - upper respiratory infection

UTI - urinary tract infection

UV - ultraviolet

vag - vaginal

VD - venereal disease

VDRL - serology for syphyllis

VO - verbal order

vol - volume

VS - vital signs

WBC - white blood cells or count

w/c - wheelchair

W/P - whirlpool

wt - weight

x - times

x-match - cross match

XR - x-=ray

Zn - zinc

Word Parts

The following are prefixes, suffixes, and word roots and their definitions commonly encountered:

a-, an-: without, not

ab-: from, away

-able-: capable of

-ac, -ic: pertaining to

acr-, acro-: extremities

ad-: to, towards

aden-, adeno-: gland, glandular

aer-, aero-: air

-al: like, similar

alges-, algesi-: oversensitivity to pain

-algia: pain

ambi-: both (ambidextrous)

an-, ano-: anus

angi-, angio-: vessel

ankyl-: crooked, immovable

ante-: before

antero-: in front of (anterior)

anti-: against

append-, appendo-: appendix

arter-, aterio-: artery

arthr-, arthro-: joint

-ase: enzyme

-asis: condition of

-asthenia: weakness

ather-, athero-: fatty, lipid

audi-, audio-: sound, hearing

aur-: ear

auto-: self

bi-, bis-: twice, double

bio-: life

-blast: germ cell, embryonic cell

blephar-, blepharo-: eyelid

brachi-: arm

brachy-: short

brady-: slow

bronch-, bronchi-: air tubes in the lungs

bucc-, bucca-: cheek

calc-, calculus-: stone

carcin-, carcino-: cancer, alignancy

carp--, carpo-: wrist

-cele: swelling, tumor, cavity or hernia

cent-, centi-: one hundred

-centesis: surgical puncture to remove fluid (pericardiocentesis)

cephal-, cephalo-: head

cerebro-: brain

cerv-, cervic-: neck; neck of cervix

cheil-, cheilo-: lip

chem-, chemo-: drug, chemical

chir-, chiro-: hand

chlor-, chloro-: green

chol-, chole-, cholo-: bile or gall; gallbladder

chondi-, chondr-, chondri-: cartilage

chrom-, chromo-: color

-cide: causing death

circum-: around; about

-cise: cut

-clysis: washing or irrigation

-coccus: round

coele-: chamber, enlarged space

col-, colo-: colon, bowel, large intestine

colp-, colpo-: vagina

con-, co-: with, together

contra-: against, counter

costa-, costo-: rib

crani- cranio-: pertaining to the skull

cryo-: cold

crypt-: hidden

cut-: skin

cyan-, cyano: blue

cyst-, systo-, cysti-: bladder, bag, sac

-cyte, cyt- cyto-: cell

dacry-: tear duct, tear

dactyl- dactylo-: finger

dec-, deca-, deci-: ten

demi-: half

dent-, dento-: tooth

derm-, derma-, dermo-, dermat-: pertaining to skin

-desis: surgical union or fixation

dextro-: to the right

di-, diplo-: double, twice

dia-: through, between, part

dis-, disto-: separation

dorsi-, dorso: to the back

duaden-, duodeno-: duodenum

-dynia, -dynic: pain

dys-: difficult, painful, bad

e-, ec-: without

-eal: pertaining to

ec-, ecto-: outside, external

-ectasis: expansion, dilation, stretching

-ectomy: surgical removal of, excision (appendectomy)

electr-, electro-: electrical

-emesis: vomit

-emia: blood

encephal-, encephalo-: brain

endo-: within

enter-, entero-: intestine

epi-: upon, over, upper (epigastric)

erythro-: red

-esis: condition of

-esthesia, aethesio-: sensation, perception, feel

eu-: well, easy

ex-, exo-: outside of

-fascia: fibrous band

-ferous: producing

fibr-, fibro-: fiber, fibrous, connective tissue

fore-: in front of

-form: having the form of, shape

-fuge: expelling, driving away

galacto-: milk

gasti-, gastr- gastro-: stomach

-genesis: development, production, creation

-genetic, genic: origin, producing, causing

genito-: reproductive organs

-genous: kind or type

geront-, geronto-: elderly

gingiv-: gums

gloss-, glosso: tongue

gluc-, gluco-: sweetness, sugar

gly-, glyco-: sugar

-gram: tracing, record

-graph: instrument for recording

gyn-, gynec-, gyno-: women, female

hem-, hema-, hemo-, hemato: blood

hemi-: half

hepato-: liver

herni-: rupture

hetero-: other, unlike, different

hist-, histo-: tissue

homo-, homeo-: same, like

hydro-: water

hyper-: excessive, high, over, increased

hypno-: sleep

hypo-: decreased, deficient, low, under (hypothermia)

hyster-, hystero-: uterus

-ia, -iasis: abnormal or pathological state

-ic, -ac: pertaining to

idio-: peculiar, self-originating

ile-, ileo-: ilium

infra-: beneath, below

inter-: between or among (intercostal)

intra-: within, inside

-ism: condition, theory

iso-: equal, same, alike

-itis: inflammation (peritonitis)

kerat-, kerato-: cornea of the eye

-kinesis, kinetic-: motion

labi-, labia-, labio-: lip

lacrima-: tears

lact-, lacto: milk

lapar-, laparo-: abdomen

layng-, laryngo-: larynx

latero-: side

-lepsy: seizure, convulsion

leuco-, leuko-: white

lingua-, linguo-: tongue

lip-, lipo-: fat

lith-, litho-: stone, calculus

-logy, ology-: study of, science of

lympth-, lympho-: lymph tissue

-lysis, -lys, -lyso: destruction, dissolving of

macro-: large

mal-: bad, abnormal, disordered

malac-, malacia: softening of a tissue

mamm-, mammo-: breast, mammary gland

-mania: insanity, mental disorder

mast-, masto-: breast

med-, medi-: middle, midline

-megaly, mega-, megalo-: large, enlarged

melan-, melano-: black

mening-, meningo: membranes covering the CNS

meno-: monthly, menstruation

mes-, meso-: middle, midline

-meter: measure (thermometer)

-metry: measurement

micro-: small

mono-: one, single

-morten: death

muc-, muco-: mucous

multi-: many

my-, myo-: muscle

myc-, myco-: fungus

myel-, myelo-: bone marrow, spinal cord

myring-, myringo-: eardrum, tympanic membrane

narc-, narco-: sleep, numb, stupor

nas-, naso-: nose

-natal: birth

necr-, necro-: death

neo-: new

neph-, nephr-, nephro-: kidney

neur-, neuro-: nerve or nervous system

noct-, nocti: night

non-: no, none

ocul-, oculo-: eye

-ode, -oid: form, shape

odont-, odonto-: tooth

olig-, oligo-: few, small

-ologist: person who studies

-ology: study or science of

-oma: tumor, swelling

onco-: mass, tumor

oophor-, oophoro-: ovary, female egg cell

opthalm-, opthalmo-: eye

or-, oro-: mouth

orch-, orchido-: testicle, testes

-orrhea, -rrhea: flow, discharge

orth-, ortho-: normal, straight

os-, osteo-, oste-: bone

-oscopy: diagnostic examination

-osis: condition, state

oste-: bone 

-ostomy: creation of opening by surgery

-ous: full of, pertaining to

ovi-, ovario-: egg, ovary, female sex gland

pan-: all, complete, entire

pancreat-, pancreato-: pancreas

para-: near, beside, lower half of body

-paresis: paralysis (hemiparesis)

-partum: birth, labor

path-, patho-, -pathy, -pathia: disease, abnormal condition

ped-, pedia-: child

-penia: lack of, deficiency

pent-, penta-: five

-pepsia, -pepsis: digestion

per-: through, excessive

peri-: around

-pexy: fixation

phag-, phago-: eat, ingest

-phage, -phagia: to eat, swallow, consume

pharyng, -pharyngo: pharynx, throat

-phas, -phasia, -phaso: speech

-phil, -philia, -philic: attraction to

phleb-, phlebo-: vein

-phobia: fear

phon-, phono-: sound, voice

-phylaxis: protection, preventative

-plasty: surgical correction or repair

-plegia: paralysis

-pleuro: side or rib

-pnea: breathing

pneum-, pneumo-: lung, air

pod-, podo-: foot

poly-: many

post-: after, behind (postnatal)

pre-: before, in front of (preoperative)

pro-: forward

proct-, procto-: rectum, rectal, anus

psora-: itch

pseudo-: false

psych-, psycho-: pertaining to the mind

-ptosis: drooping, sagging

pulmo-, pulmono-: lung

py-, pyo-: pus

pyel-, pyelo-: renal pelvis

pyr-, pyro: heat, fever

quad-, quadri: consisting of four

radi, radio: x-rays, radiation

re-: back, again

rect-, recto: rectum

ren-, reno-: kidney

retro-: backward, behind

rhin-, rhino-: nose

-rraphy: suture of

-rrhegia: sudden or excessive flow

-rrhea: flow, discharge

-rrhexis: rupture of

salpingo-: tube, fallopian tube

sanguin-, sanguino-: blood

sarc-, sarco-: malignant connective tissue

-sarcoma: tumor, cancer

scler-, sclero-: hardening

-sclerosis: dryness or hardness

-scope, -scopy: examining instrument, visual examination (bronchoscopy)

-sect: cut

semi-: half, part

sep-, septi-: poison, infection

sinstr-, sinistro: left

soma-, somat-: body

somnni-, somno-: sleep

son-, sono-: sound

-spasm: involuntary contraction

sperm-, spermato-: male germ (sex) cell

splen-, spleno-: spleen

-stasis: stoppage, maintain a constant level

steno-: contracted, narrow

stoma-, stomat-: mouth

stomy: artificial opening

sub-: less, below

super-, supra-: above, over, higher

sym-syn-: joined or fused together

tacho-, tachy-: rapid, fast

tendo-, teno-: tendon

tetra-: four

-theapy: treatment

therm-, thermo-, thermy-: heat

thorac-, thoraco-: thorax, chest

thromb-, thrombo-: clot

thym-, thymo-: thymus gland

thyr-, thyro-: thyroid gland

-tome: cutting instrument

-tox, -toxic: poison

trache-, trachi-, tracho-: trachea, windpipe

trans-: across, over

tri-: three

trich-, tricho-: hair

-trips, -tripsy: crushing by rubbing or grinding

-trophy: nutrition, growth or development

tympan-, tympano-: eardrum

ultra-: beyond, excess

uni-: one

ur-, uro-: urine

ureter-, uretero-: ureter

urethr, urethro: urethra

-uria: urine

uter-, utero-: uterus, womb

vas-, vaso-: vessel, duct

ven-, vena: vein

ventro-: front, abdomen

vertebr-, vertebro-: spine, vertebrae

vesic-, vesico-: urinary bladder

viscer-, viscero-: internal organs

vit-, vita-: necessary for life

xanth-, xantho: yellow

zoo-: animal

Review Questions:

Define the following terms:

  1. What is lithotripsy?
  2. What is encephalomalcia?
  3. What is homeostasis?
  4. What is pseudoarthrosis?
  5. What is spinal stenosis?


Interpret the following prescriptions:

1. Quinine 50 cc

   Sig: 5 gtts qid po w. H2O pc

2. Hydrocodone 7.5mg/500 mg ASA

     Disp # 90

      Sig: 1 tab q 6h prn pain

3. Lab: FBS, CBC plus Fe

            sed rate, 5h GTT

            SGOT, Hb, tot chol, LDL, HDL

4. lower GI BE NPO post-midnight

5. ICDM dx: HIV pos