Digestive system medical terms

A Digestive Health Glossary

If you or a member of your family has a digestive health issue, going to the doctor for help can be confusing if you don’t know the medical terminology of digestion and digestive diseases. Here is a glossary of digestion anatomy and medical terms that can help you make sense out of your digestive problems.

Abdomen: The medical term for your belly. Your abdomen contains all the digestive organs between your chest and your pelvis.

Aerophagia: The digestive term for swallowing too much air.

Alimentary: This word comes from the Latin word for nourishment. The alimentary canal is the medical term for your entire digestive tract.

Amylase: An enzyme (a protein molecule that speeds up a chemical reaction in your body) used by the body to break down starch. Amylase levels may be increased in people with the digestive disease pancreatitis.

Bile: The fluid that is made in your liver and stored in your gallbladder. Bile is important for the digestion of fats.

Bowel: When your doctors use the word bowel, they are talking about your intestines. The large intestine may be called the colon or the large bowel.

Cecum: This pouch marks the beginning of the large intestine and is located in the lower right part of your abdomen.

Chyme: The partially digested food that passes from your stomach into the upper part of your small intestine.

Colonoscopy: If you have a digestive problem involving your colon, your doctor may do this testing procedure. It involves inserting a flexible viewing tube called a colonoscope into your rectum to examine your colon from the inside.

Diverticulitis: This digestive disease is caused by inflammation of finger-like pouches that form inside the colon. These pouches, or diverticula, tend to develop in older people.

Duodenum: The upper part of your small intestine. If you have a digestive health problem called a duodenal ulcer, this is where it will form.

Dysphagia: A medical term for difficult or painful swallowing.

Endoscopy: Endoscopes are lighted tubes that doctors use to diagnose a problem from the inside. In digestive health, endoscopy usually refers to inserting a flexible scope down the throat to see the upper digestive areas.

Fecal impaction: Fecal comes from the term feces, which is another word for stool. A fecal impaction is the accumulation of hard stool inside the rectum that obstructs a normal bowel movement.

Functional gastrointestinal disorders: These are digestive health issues that cannot be explained by an infection, an inflammation, or a structural problem. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an example of a functional digestive problem.

Gastritis: The medical term gastric means anything to do with the stomach. Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach lining.

Ileum: The last part of the small intestine before it reaches the cecum and the colon.

Jejunum: The middle part of the small intestine that connects the duodenum to the ileum.

Lactose intolerance: Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and other dairy products. People who can’t digest lactose have lactose intolerance and may experience symptoms like gas and bloating.

Liver: This is your largest digestion organ. The liver sits in the upper right part of your abdomen and it secretes the bile that is stored in your gallbladder, which sits just underneath it.

Malabsorption: The inability to absorb the essential nutrients in your food from your intestines.

Motility: This term refers to the ability of your digestive system to move what you eat through the system. Digestive health requires a complex system of nerves and muscles to propel the products of digestion from the throat all the way through to a bowel movement.

Pancreas: This digestive organ empties enzymes into the duodenum. Your pancreas is about six inches long and stretches across the upper part of your abdomen.

Pepsin: A type of enzyme that is secreted in your stomach to break down food proteins.

Peristalsis: Similar to motility, peristalsis refers to the wave-like muscular movements that push digesting food through the digestive tract.

Peritonitis: Your peritoneum is the inside lining of your entire abdomen. Inflammation of this lining is called peritonitis.

Sigmoid: The part of the large intestine, or colon, that leads down into the rectum. When your doctor examines this part of your colon with a scope, it is called a sigmoidoscopy.

Medical Terminology for Common Gastrointestinal Conditions

  • Aphthous stomatitis: Canker sores in mouth

  • Bruxism: Grinding teeth involuntarily, often while sleeping

  • Cleft palate: Congenital split in the roof of the mouth or upper lip

  • Dental caries: Cavities in the teeth (caries means “decay”)

  • Dysphasia: Difficulty speaking

  • Edentulous: Without teeth

  • Gingivitis: Inflammation of gums

  • Halitosis: Bad breath

  • Herpes simplex: Cold sore or fever blister on lip or nose due to herpes virus

  • Leukoplakia: White plaques or patches of mouth mucosa

  • Sublingual: Under the tongue

Your baby teeth are also called the primary teeth. Your first teeth (20 in all) include 8 incisors, 4 cuspids, and 8 molars. Your permanent teeth number 32, with 8 incisors, 8 premolars, 4 canines, and 12 molars.

The esophagus is the next stop on your tour of gastrointestinal conditions. Many of the following conditions result in discomfort both in swallowing (deglutition) and in the digestion process:

  • Aphagia: Inability to swallow

  • Dysphagia: Difficulty swallowing

  • Esophageal varices: Just like varicose veins in the legs; boggy veins with inefficient valves that allow venous backflow, resulting in stagnant blood in bulging veins

  • Esophagitis: Inflammation of the esophagus

  • Heartburn: Burning sensation caused by reflux or flowing back of acid from the stomach into esophagus

To keep dysphasia and dysphagia straight, remember the s in dysphasia for “speak,” and the g in dysphagia for “gag.”

Moving south, you find the stomach, an area full of possibility when it comes to conditions. Gastroenterology is the study of the stomach and intestines, and a gastroenterologist is the physician who treats conditions of the stomach and intestines.

Many of the conditions that eventually affect the esophagus or intestines start in the stomach. So, have your antacids ready for these:

  • Dyspepsia: Difficult digestion

  • Emesis (vomiting): Stomach contents expelled through the mouth

  • Eructation: Act of belching or raising gas from stomach

  • Gastric ulcer: Lesion on wall of stomach; also known as peptic ulcer

  • Gastritis: Inflammation of the stomach

  • Gastrodynia: Pain in the stomach

  • Hematemesis: Vomiting of blood

  • Hiatal hernia: Protrusion of part of the stomach through the esophageal opening into diaphragm

  • Hyperemesis: Excessive vomiting

  • Nasogastric: Pertaining to nose and stomach

  • Nausea: Urge to vomit

  • Regurgitation: Return of solids and fluids to mouth from stomach

  • Ulcer: Sore or lesion of mucous membrane or skin

The liver, pancreas, and gallbladder all experience their own specific conditions, the most common of which is good, old-fashioned, often-painful gallstones.

  • Calculus (plural is calculi): Stones

  • Cholelithiasis: Condition of having gallstones

  • Duodenal ulcer: Erosion or ulceration in the lining of the duodenum (first portion of the small intestine)

  • Gallstones: Hard collections of bile that form in gallbladder and bile ducts

  • Hepatomegaly: Enlargement of liver

  • Hepatoma: Tumor of liver

All the twists and turns of both the large and small intestines can make for some interesting and often complicated conditions. The sheer length of these organs makes diagnosis and treatment a long and winding road. Start the journey with these intestinal conditions:

  • Ascites: Abnormal accumulation of fluid in peritoneal cavity caused by cirrhosis, tumors, and infection

  • Borborygmus: Rumbling, gurgling sound made by movement of gas in intestine

  • Cathartic: Strong laxative

  • Colonic polyposis: Polyps, small growths protruding from mucous membrane of colon

  • Constipation: Difficult or delayed defecation caused by low peristalsis movement, over-absorption of water as contents sit too long in the intestine, or by dehydration

  • Diarrhea: Frequent discharge of liquid stool (feces)

  • Diverticula: Abnormal side pockets in hollow structure, such as intestine, sigmoid colon, and duodenum

  • Flatus: Gas expelled through the anus

  • Hemorrhoids: Swollen or twisted veins either outside or just inside the anus

  • Hernia: A protrusion of an organ or part through the wall of the cavity that contains it

  • Ileus: Intestinal obstruction that can be caused by failure of peristalsis following surgery, hernia, tumor, adhesions, and often by peritonitis

  • Inguinal hernia: A small loop of bowel protruding through a weak place in the inguinal ring, an opening in the lower abdominal wall, which allows blood vessels to pass into the scrotum

  • Intussusception: Telescoping of the intestine; common in children

  • Laxative: Medication encouraging movement of feces

  • Melena: Black stool; feces containing blood

  • Polyposis: Condition of polyps in the intestinal wall

  • Pruritus ani: Intense itching of the anal area

  • Steatorrhea: Excessive fat in feces

  • Volvulus: Twisting of intestine upon itself

Additional Medical Terms-digestive system – Medical Terminology(Adaptive*)

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The following are additional medical terms related to the digestive system. Recognizing and learning these terms will help you understand the connection between common signs, symptoms, and diseases and their diagnoses as well as the rationale behind the method of treatment selected for a particular disorder.

Signs, Symptoms, and Diseases


Inflammation of the appendix, which is usually acute and caused by blockage of the appendix followed by infection

Treatment for acute appendicitis is appendectomy within 48 hours of the first symptom. When left untreated, appendicitis rapidly leads to perforation and peritonitis as fecal matter is released into the peritoneal cavity. (See Figure Appendectomy.)


Abnormal accumulation of serous fluid in the peritoneal cavity

Ascites may be a symptom of inflammatory disorders in the abdomen, venous hypertension caused by liver disease, or heart failure (HF)

Borborygmus:Gurgling or rumbling sound heard over the large intestine that is caused by gas moving through the intestines

Cirrhosis:Chronic liver disease characterized by destruction of liver cells that eventually leads to ineffective liver function and jaundice

diverticular disease:Condition in which bulging pouches (diverticula) in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract push the mucosal lining through the surrounding muscle


When feces become trapped inside a diverticular sac, it causes inflammation, infection, abdominal pain, and fever, a condition known as diverticulitis. (See Figure Diverticular disease.)

Diverticular disease.

inflammatory bowel disease (IBD):

Ulceration of the colon mucosa

Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis are forms of IBD.

Crohn disease:Chronic IBD that usually affects the ileum but may affect any portion of the intestinal tract

ulcerative colitis:Chronic IBD of the colon characterized by episodes of diarrhea, rectal bleeding, and pain

Common locations of hernias.

irritable bowel syndrome(IBS):

Condition characterized by gastrointestinal signs and symptoms, including constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bloating, all in the absence of organic pathology; also called spastic colon

Contributing factors of IBS include stress and tension. Treatment consists of dietary modifications, such as avoiding irritating foods or adding a high-fiber diet and laxatives if constipation is a symptom. It also includes antidiarrheal and antispasmodic drugs as well as alleviating anxiety and stress.


Yellow discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes, and sclerae of the eyes caused by excessive levels of bilirubin in the blood (hyperbilirubinemia)


Condition in which a person accumulates an amount of fat that exceeds the body’s skeletal and physical standards, usually an increase of 20 percent or more above ideal body weight More severe obesity in which a person has a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, which is generally 100 or more pounds over ideal body weight

morbid obesity:

Morbid obesity is a disease with serious medical, psychological, and social ramifications.


Small, tumor like, benign growth that projects from a mucous membrane surface

Polyps have potential of becoming cancerous, so they are checked frequently or removed to detect any abnormalities at an early stage. Colonic polyps have a high likelihood of becoming colorectal cancer.

colonic polyposis:

Condition in which polyps project from the mucous membrane of the colon


Condition in which polyps develop in the intestinal tract


Open sore or lesion of the skin or mucous membrane accompanied by sloughing of inflamed necrotic tissue

An ulcer may be shallow, involving only the epidermis, or it may be deep, involving multiple layers of the skin. Examples of ulcers are peptic ulcer, duodenal ulcer, and pressure ulcer (decubitus ulcer).


Twisting of the bowel on itself, causing obstruction

Volvulus usually requires surgery to untwist the loop of bowel.

Diagnostic Procedures:

barium enema (BE):

Radiographic examination of the rectum and colon after administration of barium sulfate (radiopaque contrast medium) into the rectum

BE is used for diagnosis of obstructions, tumors, or other abnormalities, such as ulcerative colitis.

barium swallow:

Radiographic examination of the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine after oral administration of barium sulfate (radiopaque contrast medium); also called upper GI seriesStructural abnormalities of the esophagus and vessels, such as esophageal varices, may be diagnosed using this technique.

computed tomography(CT):

Radiographic technique that uses a narrow beam of x-rays that rotates in a full arc around the patient to acquire multiple views of the body that a computer interprets to produce cross-sectional images of that body part

CT scans are used to view the gallbladder, liver, bile ducts, and pancreas and diagnose tumors, cysts, inflammation, abscesses, perforation, bleeding, and obstructions. A contrast material may be used to enhance the structures.


Visual examination of a cavity or canal using a specialized lighted instrument called an endoscope

The organ, cavity, or canal being examined dictates the name of the endoscopic procedure. A camera and video recorder are commonly used during the procedure to provide a permanent record.

Endoscopy of the esophagus (esophagoscopy), stomach (gastroscopy), and duodenum (duodenoscopy)

upper GI:

Endoscopy of the upper GI tract is performed to identify tumors, esophagitis, gastroesophagealvarices, peptic ulcers, and the source of upper GI bleeding. It is also used to confirm the presence and extent of varices in the lower esophagus and stomach in patients with liver disease.

Endoscopy of colon (colonoscopy), sigmoid colon (sigmoidoscopy), and rectum and anal canal (proctoscopy) (See Figure Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. A colonoscopy involves examination of the entire length of the colon; a sigmoidoscopy involves examination of only the lower third of the colon.)

lower GI:

Endoscopy of the lower GI tract is used to identify pathological conditions in the colon. It may also be used to remove polyps. When polyps are discovered in the colon, they are removed and tested for cancer.

magnetic resonanceimaging (MRI):

Radiographic technique that uses electromagnetic energy to produce multi planar cross-sectional images of the body

In the digestive system, MRI is particularly useful in detecting abdominal masses and viewing images of abdominal structures.

stool guaiac:

Test performed on feces using the reagent gum guaiac to detect presence of blood in feces that is not apparent on visual inspection; also called hemocculttest

ultrasonography (US):

Imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) that bounce off body tissues and are recorded to produce an image of an internal organ or tissue

Ultrasound is used to view the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas, among other structures. It is also used to diagnose digestive disorders, locate cysts and tumors, and guide insertion of instruments during surgical procedures.

Medical and Surgical Procedures

bariatric surgery vertical bandedgastroplastyRoux-en-Y gastricbypass (RGB):

Group of procedures that treat morbid obesity Commonly employed bariatric surgeries include vertical banded gastroplasty and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. (See Figure Bariatric surgery.)

Bariatric surgery in which the upper stomach near the esophagus is stapled vertically to reduce it to a small pouch and a band is inserted that restricts and delays food from leaving the pouch, causing a feeling of fullness (See Figure Vertical banded gastroplasty.)

Bariatric surgery in which the stomach is first stapled to decrease it to a small pouch and then the jejunum is shortened and connected to the small stomach pouch, causing the base of the duodenum leading from the nonfunctioning portion of the stomach to form a Y configuration, which decreases the pathway of food through the intestine, thus reducing absorption of calories and fats

RGB is performed laparoscopically using instruments inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. When laparoscopy is not possible, gastric bypass can be performed as an open procedure (laparotomy) and involves a large incision in the middle of the abdomen. RGB is the most commonly performed weight loss surgery today. (See Figure Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.)

Lithotripsyextracorporeal shockwavelithotripsy (ESWL):

Procedure for eliminating a stone within the gallbladder or urinary system by crushing the stone surgically or using a noninvasive method, such as ultrasonic shock waves, to shatter it

The crushed fragments may be expelled or washed out.

Use of shock waves as a noninvasive method to destroy stones in the gallbladder and biliary ducts

In ESWL, ultrasound is used to locate the stone or stones and monitor their destruction. The patient usually undergoes a course of oral dissolution drugs to ensure complete removal of all stones and stone fragments.

Bariatric surgery. (A) Vertical banded gastroplasty. (B) Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

nasogastric intubation:

Insertion of a nasogastric tube through the nose into the stomach

Nasogastric intubation is used to relieve gastric distention by removing gas, gastric secretions, or food. It is also used to instill medication, food, or fluids or obtain a specimen for laboratory analysis.

Description of the digestive system

Also known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, the digestive system begins at the mouth, includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (also known as the colon) and rectum, and ends at the anus. The entire system — from mouth to anus — is about 30 feet (9 meters) long, according to the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE).

Digestion begins with the mouth. Even the smell of food can generate saliva, which is secreted by the salivary glands in the mouth, contains an enzyme, salivary amylase, which breaks down starch. Teeth, which are part of the skeletal system, play a key role in digestion. In carnivores, teeth are designed for killing and breaking down meat. Herbivores’ teeth are made for grinding plants and other food to ease them through the digestion process.

Swallowing pushes chewed food into the esophagus, where it passes through the oropharynx and hypopharynx. At this point, food takes the form of a small round mass and digestion becomes involuntary. A series of muscular contractions, called peristalsis, transports food through the rest of the system. The esophagus empties into the stomach, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The stomach’s gastric juice, which is primarily a mix of hydrochloric acid and pepsin, starts breaking down proteins and killing potentially harmful bacteria, according to ASGE. After an hour or two of this process, a thick semi-liquid paste, called chyme, forms.

At this point the pyloric sphincter valve opens and chyme enters the duodenum, where it mixes with digestive enzymes from the pancreas and acidic bile from the gall bladder, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The next stop for the chyme is the small intestine, a 20-foot (6-meter) tube-shaped organ, where the majority of the absorption of nutrients occurs. The nutrients move into the bloodstream and are transported to the liver.

The liver creates glycogen from sugars and carbohydrates to give the body energy and converts dietary proteins into new proteins needed by the blood system. The liver also breaks down unwanted chemicals, such as alcohol, which is detoxified and passed from the body as waste, the Cleveland Clinic noted.

Whatever material is left goes into the large intestine. The function of the large intestine, which is about 5 feet long (1.5 meters), is primarily for storage and fermentation of indigestible matter. Also called the colon, it has four parts: the ascending colon, the transverse colon, the descending colon and the sigmoid colon. This is where water from the chyme is absorbed back into the body and feces are formed primarily from water (75 percent), dietary fiber and other waste products, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Feces are stored here until they are eliminated from the body through defecation.

Diseases of the digestive system

Many symptoms can signal problems with the GI tract, including: abdominal pain, blood in the stool, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, incontinence, nausea and vomiting and difficulty swallowing, according to the NIH.

Among the most widely known diseases of the digestive system is colon cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 51,783 Americans died from colon cancer in 2011 (the most recent year for available data). Excluding skin cancers, colon and rectal cancer, or colorectal cancer, is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

Polyp growth and irregular cells, which may or may not be cancerous, are the most common development paths for colorectal cancers (also referred to as CRC), and can be detected during a routine colonoscopy, according to Dr. John Marks, a gastroenterologist affiliated with the Main Line Health health care system.

“The best news is that, if caught early enough, they can also be removed during the colonoscopy — eliminating the possibility that they grow further and become cancer,” Marks said.

For those patients whose cancer has already spread, there are various minimally invasive surgical options that have extremely good prognoses. It is recommended that asymptomatic patients without a family history begin getting tested regularly between the ages 45 and 50, according to Marks. “Symptoms which may suggest that you need a colonoscopy at an earlier age include rectal bleeding and stool/bowel habit changes which last for more than a few days.”

While CRC gets a great deal of attention, many diseases and conditions of the digestive system — including irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, GERD (acid reflux) and Crohn’s disease — can be chronic and are difficult to diagnose and treat, according to Dr. Larry Good, a gastroenterologist affiliated with South Nassau Communities Hospital. “With many of these diseases, blood work and colonoscopies all looks normal, so there is an absence of red flags.”

Many of the diseases of the digestive system are tied to the foods we eat, and a number of sufferers can reduce their symptoms by restricting their diets, Good said. “Of course no one wants to hear that they can’t eat certain foods, but many times, eliminating acidic things from the diet, such as tomatoes, onions, and red wine, can have an impact,” Good said.

There are a number of tests to detect digestive tract ailments. A colonoscopy is the examination of the inside of the colon using a long, flexible, fiber-optic viewing instrument called a colonoscope, according the American Gastroenterological Association. Other testing procedures include upper GI endoscopy, capsule endoscopy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography and endoscopic ultrasound.

Study of the digestive system

Gastroenterology is the branch of medicine focused on studying and treating the digestive system disorders. Physicians practicing this specialty are called gastroenterologists. The name is a combination of three ancient Greek words gastros (stomach), enteron (intestine) and logos (reason). It is an internal medicine subspecialty certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

To be certified as a gastroenterologist, a doctor must pass the Gastroenterology Certification Examination and undergo a minimum of 36 months of additional training.


References to the digestive system can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians. Some milestones in the study of the gastrointestinal system include:

  • Claudius Galen (circa 130-200) lived at the end of the ancient Greek period and reviewed the teachings of Hippocrates and other Greek doctors. He theorized that the stomach acted independently from other systems in the body, almost with a separate brain. This was widely accepted until the 17th century.
  • In 1780, Italian physician Lazzaro Spallanzani conducted experiments to prove the impact of gastric juice on the digestion process.
  • Philipp Bozzini developed the Lichtleiter in 1805. This instrument, which was used to examine the urinary tract, rectum and pharynx, was the earliest endoscopy.
  • Adolf Kussmaul, a German physician, developed the gastroscope in 1868, using a sword swallower to help develop the diagnostic process.
  • Rudolph Schindler, known to some as the “father of gastroscopy,” described many of the diseases involving the human digestive system in his illustrated textbook issued during World War I. He and Georg Wolf developed a semi-flexible gastroscope in 1932.
  • In 1970, Hiromi Shinya, a Japanese-born general surgeon, delivered the first report of a colonoscopy to the New York Surgical Society and in May 1971 presented his experiences to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
  • In 2005, Australians Barry Marshall and Robin Warren were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of Helicobacter pylori and its role in peptic ulcer disease.

Editor’s Note: If you’d like more information on this topic, we recommend the following book:

Diseases and conditions that affect the colon and the digestive system:

  • Acid Reflux (GERD): Symptoms & Treatment
  • Appendicitis: Signs & Symptoms
  • Celiac Disease: Symptoms & Treatment
  • Crohn’s Disease: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
  • Diarrhea: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
  • Gallstones: Causes, Treatment and Prevention
  • Hemorrhoids: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Symptoms & Treatment
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention
  • Lactose Intolerance: Symptoms, Treatment & Coping Strategies
  • Listeria Infection: Symptoms & Treatment
  • Stomach Ulcers: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments
  • Tapeworms: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
  • Ulcerative Colitis: Symptoms & Treatment

Human anatomy

  • Human Body: Anatomy, Facts & Functions
  • Circulatory System: Facts, Function & Diseases
  • Endocrine System: Facts, Functions and Diseases
  • Immune System: Diseases, Disorders & Function
  • Lymphatic System: Facts, Functions & Diseases
  • Muscular System: Facts, Functions & Diseases
  • Nervous System: Facts, Function & Diseases
  • Reproductive System: Facts, Functions and Diseases
  • Respiratory System: Facts, Function & Diseases
  • Skeletal System: Facts, Function & Diseases
  • Skin: Facts, Diseases & Conditions
  • Urinary System: Facts, Functions & Diseases

Parts of the human body

  • Bladder: Facts, Function & Disease
  • Human Brain: Facts, Anatomy & Mapping Project
  • Colon (Large Intestine): Facts, Function & Diseases
  • Ears: Facts, Function & Disease
  • Esophagus: Facts, Function & Diseases
  • How the Human Eye Works
  • Gallbladder: Function, Problems & Healthy Diet
  • Human Heart: Anatomy, Function & Facts
  • Kidneys: Facts, Function & Diseases
  • Liver: Function, Failure & Disease
  • Lungs: Facts, Function & Diseases
  • Nose: Facts, Function & Diseases
  • Pancreas: Function, Location & Diseases
  • Small Intestine: Function, Length & Problems
  • Spleen: Function, Location & Problems
  • Stomach: Facts, Function & Diseases
  • The Tongue: Facts, Function & Diseases

When interpreting complex medical terms, it is best to learn root words and word endings individually. When the words are combined, understanding the meanings will be much simpler.

Medical Terminology

gastr- stomach

  • gastrectomy (gastr/ectomy) the surgical removal or excision of all or parts of the stomach.

enter- intestines

  • enteric (enter/ic) means pertaining to or of the intestines.

hepat- liver

  • hepatomegaly (hepat/o/megal/y) denotes an enlargement of the liver.

gingiv- gums

  • gingivoplasty (gingiv/o/plast/y) denotes the plastic or surgical repair of the gums.


  • cholecystectomy (chole/cyst/ectomy)- is the surgical removal or excision of the gallbladder

ostomy- to create an opening

  • gastroenterostomy (gastr/o/enter/ostomy) is the surgical creation of an opening between the stomach and the intestines.

proct- anus

  • proctoplasty (procto/plast/y) the surgical repair of the anus/rectum

glosso- tongue

  • glossoscopy (glosso/scop/y) refers to the observation or inspection of the tongue.

dent- teeth

  • dental (dent/al) means pertaining to the teeth

emesis- vomiting

  • cholemesis (chol/emesis) denotes vomiting of bile.

odont- tooth

  • odontic (odont/ic) pertains to the tooth

cheil- lip

  • cheilocarcinoma (cheil/o/carcin/oma) is a canceroud tumor of the lip

cele- hernia, tumor or swelling

  • myocele(my/o/cele) is a herniated tumor of a muscle

celio- abdomen

  • celiotomy (celi/otomy) is the surgical procedure of making an incision or cut into the abdominal cavity.

lingua- tongue



  • circumoral (circum/or/al) refers to the area around the mouth

stoma- mouth or opening

umbilic- navel

lapar- abdominal wall

  • laparogastrostomy (lapar/o/gastr/ostomy) is the creation of a permanent opening to the stomach through the abdominal wall.

phage- to eat, swallow


moment-covering of internal abdominal organs

fistul- pipe, narrow passage





cec- blind passage

  • cecum (cec/um) is a large pouch having only one opening located at the beginning of the large intestines.

pyle/pyloro- gate

osis- condition of

  • gastrosis (gastr/osis) kondition of the stomach

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