Word roots for organs

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Before we start learning specific medical terms for various systems of the body, we need to know word roots that identify major organs in the body. Note in each example, I have used some prefix or suffix you have already been introduced to. I am not going to give you the meanings! If you are unsure, go back and review and return to this page.

Stomato = mouth stomatitis
Dento = teeth dentist
Glosso/linguo = tongue glossitis, lingual nerve
Gingivo = gums gingivitis
Encephalo = brain encephalitis
Gastro = stomach gastritis
Entero = intestine gastroenteritis
Colo = large intestine colitis, megacolon
Procto = anus/rectum proctitis, proctologist
Hepato = liver hepatitis, hepatomegaly
Nephro/rene = kidney nephrosis, renal artery
Orchido = testis orchiditis, orchidectomy
Oophoro = ovary oophorectomy
Hystero/metro =uterus hysterectomy,
Salpingo = uterine tubes hysterosalpingogram
Dermo = skin dermatitis
Masto/mammo = breast mammography, mastectomy
Osteo = bones osteoporosis
Cardio = heart electrocardiogram (ECG)
Cysto = bladder cystitis
Rhino = nose rhinitis (runny nose!)
Phlebo/veno = veins phlebitis, phlebotomy
Pneumo/pulmo = lung pneumonitis, pulmonologist
Hemo/emia = blood hematologist, anemia

Note that some organs have more than one word root. Example: “masto” and “mammo”. Typically, one is derived from the Greek and one from Latin. Go figure! But, you need to know both roots because you may see either of them used.

The word ending “-itis” is going to be used repeatedly. It means inflammation, and I want to make sure you know what that means. An infected cut is an inflammation. “Pink eye” is an
inflammation. But, four things must be present to define inflammation: pain, redness, heat and swelling (dolor, rubor, calor and tumor in Latin!). But, inflammation of an internal organ such as the stomach or kidney must be defined by a physician relying on signs and symptoms, and, possibly, the need for a biopsy (tissue sample) to examine under a microscope by a specialist in identifying the causes of diseased tissues, a pathologist.

Are we learning anything yet? Take the self-assessment quiz on the next page and find out. Before you do, you might want to back up and review, especially, all those organ word roots. You will see them again soon!

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