Medical Terminology Q and A

Here is a short list of medical terminology that often shows up in Hematology articles. Where the medical authors get there vocabulary is a mystery. It really doesn't need to be so confusing. Most of the terms consist of two or three parts. A prefix, like hyper or hypo meaning too much or too little, a root word that is usually a common word translated into Greek or Latin like "natremia (sodium) or "kalemia" (potassium) and a suffix adding a modifier to the first two or providing the proper ending so it sounds Latin or Greek, in this case, the "ia".

If you use Stimate you probably saw a warning about hyponatremia, (too little sodium). That warning is there because Stimate is a drug that retards urination and the user can fill up with drinking water decreasing the sodium levels in the blood. If they had used plain language, a user might be sure to have a few saltines in the 12 hours following Stimate. (not a lot, just a few!) So read on if you are so inclined and add your own favorite terms to the list.

Platelets.... little objects that circulate in the blood. There are many varieties and they do many things. Von Willebrands Factor and Factor VIII (8), are the ones we deal with. There are other platelets that help with immune responses to disease and assist with other aspects of coagulation .

Thrombo.... having to do with blood clotting.

cyto... little cell particles including platelets. Thrombocytopenia means insufficient platelets for coagulation

lysis... suffix meaning "killed" as in hematolysis, a process that destroys blood particles

...penia suffix meaning "lack of or poverty of"

...hemat... meaning blood related...

...mega... large as in splenomegaly= enlarged spleen, megakarocyte large karocyte

karocyte... a cell with a nucleus. megakaroycyte= a large cell in bone marrow like a stem cell or B cells that produces blood platelets for clotting. Thrombokaryocyte is the fancy word.

hyper... above average

hypo.... below average

spleen, spleno.. having to do with the spleen (which filters stuff out of the blood)

sequestration... a fancy word for holding something out of reach perhaps with a chemical bond

....poesis a suffix meaning to generate what comes in front as in hematopoesis = making hemoglobin

Hepato... liver related

renal... kidney related

gastro... digestive system

distal... far from the body

proximal... near the body

nadir... low point

peak... high point..

...angio... having to do with blood vessels

.....dys.... incorrect as in dysfunction

....plasia growth or cell growth

....genisis generation of prefix- angiogenisis making blood veins

angiodysplasia... incorrect blood vessel growth

purpura... large purple spots that don't turn white when pushed.

ideopathic... of no known cause

iatrogenic caused by the treatment or medical personnel (MRSA infection in my case)

ideopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.... purple spots of no known cause due to lack of some platelets (ITP)

immune response ... the bodies reaction to foreign substances. The body produces blood proteins called antibodies that attack proteins it thinks are strangers. Occasionally the body gets confused and attacks itself, that is an auto-immune response. The antibodies can attack things like VWF and Factor VIII leading to coagulation issues. Sometimes this happens after treatment with blood products like packed red blood cells, P-Humate, Alphanate, Novo-seven and apherized blood.

IVIG treatment.... Intraveneous immunoglobulin treatment. Large quantities of globulin proteins (IgG) types, are infused into the body. The donor proteins swamp the body's supply of bad antibodies and the thrombocytes or other "cytes" are somewhat restored to normal. There are many other types of immunoglobulins and many are associated with orphan diseases when too many or too few are present.

If you read this far... add some of your favorites or post a query about some confusing term you have run into. We should have a prize for the most obscure and meaningless medical term we can come up with!

John the elder

Thanks, John, this is a very helpful discussion.

Most informative John!

Dear Dave,

I hope you won't be sorry you asked!!!!

Whew!!! what a collection! No wonder the Pharmacists appreciate computer checked prescriptions!

John the elder

dkel9307 said:


I have always been intrigued re medical dosage terms - e.g. "bd". Can you please share a list of the main ones and what they mean? Thanks:-)