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Word Roots for Organs

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= mouthstomatitis
Dento= teethdentist
Glosso/linguo= tongueglossitis, lingual nerve
Gingivo= gumsgingivitis
Encephalo= brainencephalitis
Gastro= stomachgastritis
Entero= intestinegastroenteritis
Colo= large intestinecolitis, megacolon
Procto= anus/rectumproctitis, proctologist
Hepato= liverhepatitis, hepatomegaly
Nephro/rene= kidneynephrosis, renal artery
Orchido= testisorchiditis, orchidectomy
Oophoro= ovaryoophorectomy
Hystero/metro=uterushysterectomy,
endometritis
Salpingo= uterine tubeshysterosalpingogram
Dermo= skindermatitis
Masto/mammo= breastmammography, mastectomy
Osteo= bonesosteoporosis
Cardio= heartelectrocardiogram (ECG)
Cysto= bladdercystitis
Rhino= noserhinitis (runny nose!)
Phlebo/veno= veinsphlebitis, phlebotomy
Pneumo/pulmo= lungpneumonitis, pulmonologist
Hemo/emia= bloodhematologist, 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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