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Making Sense of Disease Names Using Roots, Prefixes, and Suffixes

When trying to decipher medical terminology, it can be helpful to break the word up into the prefix, root, and/or suffix. In the linked blog posts, we review the common prefixes, roots, and suffixes. In this post, we combine that knowledge with a number of examples. Most words will not have a prefix, root, and suffix but a combination of two of these items. You can find information about commonly used medical prefixes, suffixes, and root words here:

Common Disease Prefixes

Common Disease Suffixes

Root Words in Disease Names

Combining the Parts of Disease Names

Word Prefix Root Suffix Meaning
Adipsia A- (without)   -dipsia (thirst) Symptom where the
patient has no
thirst sensation
Angiography   Angio (blood
vessels)
-graphy
(recording)
An x-ray of the
blood vessels
Aphasia A- (without)   -phasia (speech) Symptom of
being unable to
speak
Bradycardia Brady- (slow) Cardi (heart)   Slow heart rate
Cyanosis   Cyan (blue) -osis (condition) Condition
characterized by
bluish shin
Dysphagia Dys- (difficult)   -phagia (swallow) Symptom of
difficulty
swallowing
Encephalocele   Encepha (brain) -cele (herniation) Protrusion of the
brain through
the skull
Gastritis   Gast (stomach) -itis (inflammation) Inflammation of
the lining of
the stomach
Hematuria   Hema (blood) -uria (urine) Symptom of blood
in the urine
Hemiplegia Hemi- (half)   -plegia (paralysis) Paralysis of one
side of the body
Hyperlipidemia Hyper-
(excessive)
Lip (fat) -emia (blood
condition)
Condition of too
much fat in the
blood
Nephrectomy   Nephr (kidney) -ectomy (surgical
removal)
Surgical prodedure
where the kidney
is removed
Osteosclerosis   Osteo (bone)
Sclero
(hardening)
-osis (condition) A condition of
abnormal hardening
of the bone
Otitis   Ot (ear) -itis (inflammation) Infection and
inflammation of
the ear
Pneumonia   Pneumo (lung) -ia (condition) Infection of the
lung
Pre-carcinogenic Pre- (before) Carcin (related
to cancer)
-genic (causing) Something capable
of causing future
cancer
Scleroderma   Sclero
(hardening)
  Disease involving
hardening of the
skin and connective
tissues
Tachypnea Tachy- (fast)   -pnea (breathing) Fast breathing
Thoracoscopy   Thoraco (chest) -scopy (visual
examination)
Procedure involving
visual examination
of the chest cavity
Thrombolysis   Thrombo (clot) -lysis
(destruction of)
Treatment to
dissolve and
destroy clots
Vasculopathy   Vasculo (blood
vessels)
-pathy (disease) A disease of the
blood vessels

Medical Prefixes, Roots, Suffixes

Recent Posts

Common Disease Prefixes

As you enter the medical field, the terminology may seem overwhelming. …

Common Disease Suffixes

In addition to prefixes and root words, the breakdown of common medical…

Root Words in Disease Names

In medical terminology, a root word will often be paired with another r…


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