After study of this chapter you should be able to:
1. Explain the purpose of medical terminology.
2. Define the terms root, suffix, and prefix.
3. Explain what combining forms are and why they are used.
4. Name the languages from which most medical word parts are derived.
5. Pronounce words according to the pronunciation guide used in this text.
6. Analyze a case study with regard to some concepts of medical terminology.
Medical terminology is a special vocabulary used by health care professionals for effective and accurate communication. Because it is based mainly on Greek and Latin words, medical terminology is consistent and uniform throughout the world. It is also efficient; although some of the terms are long, they often reduce an entire phrase to a single word. The one word gastroduodenostomy, for example, stands for "a communication between the stomach and the first part of the small intestine" (Fig. 1-1).
The medical vocabulary is vast, and learning it may seem like learning the entire vocabulary of a foreign language. Moreover, like the jargon that arises in all changing fields, it is always expanding. Think of the terms that have been added to our vocabulary with the development of computers, such as software, megabyte, search engine, e-mail, chat room. The task seems overwhelming, but there are methods that can aid in learning and remembering words and can even help in making informed guesses regarding the meanings of unfamiliar words. Most medical terms can be divided into component parts—roots, prefixes, and suffixes—that maintain the same meaning whenever they appear. By learning these meanings, you can analyze and remember many words.
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