Medical Terminology

Medical Terminology is a specialised language used by health care practitioners . It’s their very own language and it helps them understand what is happening or what has to be done to help a patient.

Medical terminology is made up of the terms that describe body organs, systems, and their functions, body locations, diseases, clinical, diagnostic imaging, and laboratory testing, together with clinical procedures, surgeries, and diagnoses.

Medical Terms

The majority of medical words are based on Latin and Greek.

  • Generally, terms dealing with diagnosis and surgery have Greek origins.
  • Typically, terms dealing with anatomy have Latin origins.

There are two major categories of medical terms:

Descriptive – describing shape, colour, size, function, etc., and

Eponyms, terms used in medicine which are named after people and occasionally places or things. Examples of eponyms are fallopian tubes (uterine tubes-Gabriello Fallopio) and eustachian tubes (auditory tubes-Bartolommeo Eustachii). The problem with eponyms is that they give no useful information about what is or where to find the item named. In recent times, the trend has been toward replacing eponyms with descriptive names. For this reason, we will not spend time learning them. However, some things are known almost exclusively by their eponym.
For example: we know “paralysis agitans” as Parkinson’s disease.

To understand medical terms, you need to learn a few fundamentals of how medical terminology is constructed as a language.

There are three basic parts to medical terms:

  • a prefix (comes at the beginning of medical term (but not always) and usually identifies some subdivision or part of the central meaning – e.g. indicate the direction, the where, or the when, or the amount)
  • a root word (usually the middle of the word and indicating the body part involved)
  • and a suffix (comes at the end and often is your first hint to the definition of the term. It can indicate a procedure, a condition, or a disease.

A medical term usually describes in one word a disease or condition that, under normal circumstances, would take several words to describe.

An example of this is the word ‘pericarditis.

The prefix is peri- meaning around or enclosing.
The root word – is card meaning heart.
The suffix is – itis meaning inflammation.

Therefore ‘pericarditis’ is the inflammation of the area surrounding the heart.

What is a Prefix

A prefix is a letter or group of letters placed at the beginning of a word to add further meaning to the word.

Common Prefixes
Prefix                            Meaning                            Example
a/anwithout or lack ofasymptomatic (no symptoms of disease)

anemia (literally no blood but means few red cells)
dys-difficult, painful, uncomfortabledyspnoea
antiagainst, opposed to, reversedantibiotic
contraagainst, oppositecontralateral
Prefixes that denote measurement or quantity
Prefix                            Meaning                            Example
micro                             small                                microscopic
Prefixes that denote colour
Prefix                            Meaning                            Example
glauc                          greyglaucoma
Prefixes that denote speed
Prefix                            Meaning                            Example
brady                       slowbradycardia
Prefixes that denote direction
Prefix                            Meaning                            Example
endowithin, inside ofendoscopy (to inspect the inside of an organ or space with a lighted instrument)
periaroundperianal (around the anus)
circumaroundcircumcise (cut around)
retrobehindretrosternal (behind the breastbone)
epiupon, on topepidermis (the top or outermost layer of skin)
transthroughtransurethral (through the urinary exit duct)
intrawithinintravenous (inside the veins, e.g. IV fluids)
subbelowsubclavian (below the clavicle = collar bone)
What are Root Words

The root of a word is the part that contains the essential meaning of the word. Very often the root of the word relates to a body part. Therefore, if you have a good knowledge of root words then you at least understand which area of the body the word or term relates to.

Common Root words

The following are common root words that relate to body parts

Root WordExample
dorsiback or posterior
cysti,bladder or cyst
dipl/odouble, twice
lith/ostone (in gallbladder or kidney)
lymph/olymph vessels
pleur/opleura, rib (side)
thyroid/othyroid gland
Combining vowels

Sometimes medical terms have more than one root word. An example of this is the word leucocyte. The root words are ‘leuc’ meaning white and ‘cyte’ meaning a cell. To join these two words together the combining vowel ‘o’ was used to ensure a smoother flow with pronunciation.

The combining vowel is a word part, usually an o, and is used to ease pronunciation of the medical term. A combining vowel is used to connect two word roots and to connect a word root and a suffix.

There are four very important guidelines that must be followed for the use of combining vowels:

  1. When connecting a root word and suffix, a combining vowel is used if the suffix does not begin with a vowel.
    Example, arthr-itis, leuk-aemia and hyster-ectomy.
  2. When connecting a word root and a suffix, a combining vowel is usually not used if the suffix begins with a vowel.
  3. When connecting two word roots, a combining vowel is usually used even if vowels are present at the junction.
  4. When connecting a prefix and a word root, a combining vowel is not used.
    Example, dysuria.
What is a Suffix

A suffix can be a letter or letters placed at the end of a word that also adds more meaning. In medical words the suffix often describes a condition procedure or a disease process.

Common Suffixes
phagiaeating or swallowingdysphagia
rrhagiaburst forth, excessive flowgastrorrhagia
statisstop or controlbacteriostasis
uriaurination, urinepolyuria
cytosiscondition of cellsmastocytosis
dromerun, running – simultaneous symptoms that depict a disease or condition    syndrome
ismstate of or conditionanadrenalism
itisinflammationtonsillitis, appendicitis
osisabnormal conditioncyanosis (of blueness, due to cold or low oxygen)
omatumour or massmelanoma
Suffixes with similar meanings

The following suffixes all mean ‘relating to’ and form common endings for many medical words.

Suffixes referring to medical procedures
Suffixes                        Meaning                            Example
ostomysurgical openingcolostomy
scopy/ scopiclooking at/examiningcolonoscopy
ectomyremoval oftonsillectomy
otomysurgical incisionosteotomy
graphy/ graphRecording an image
an image
mammography (imaging the breasts) electrocardiograph
gramthe image (X-ray)Mammogram electrocardiogram

Whenever you see these endings, graphy, graph, gram, they relate to recording an image such as an X-ray, CT or MRI scan or a written recording with pen and moving paper. Mammography is the process of recording, i.e. the machine and procedure. Mammogram is the image itself, the X-ray. A recording of heart activity is called an electrocardiogram using an electrocardiograph. A recording of brain activity is an electroencephalogram and the medical procedure and machine is called electroencephalography.

Suffixes                        Meaning                            Example
ology/ ologiststudy, specialise incardiologist, nephrologist (study
the heart, the kidneys)

To see a lung specialist, you would visit a pulmonologist. To see a specialist in nerve and brain disease, make an appointment with a neurologist. If you have a bad eye infection, you may be referred to an ophthalmologist.

Medical Homonyms

Many medical words or phrases sound the same or similar but have quite different meanings. These words are called homonyms. A homonym is a word that is pronounced exactly like another word but has different meaning and different spellings.

In the medical situation extreme care must be taken to ensure that words are used in the correct context.

Here are some examples:

Abduction: Moving the limb or hand away from the body (midline).

Adduction: Moving the limb or hand towards the body (midline).

Aural: It relates to the ear or to the sense of hearing.

Oral: It refers to the mouth or speaking.

Flexor: It is a muscle that serves to flex or bend a part of the body.

Flexure: It denotes the bent portion of an organ or structure. Example: sigmoid flexure, splenic flexure.

Palpation: It is a method of feeling with the fingers or hands during physical examination.

Palpitation: It is the subjective feeling of an irregular or abnormally rapid heartbeat.

Vesical: It refers to the urinary bladder.

Vesicles: These are small, fluid-filled sacs that appear on the skin.

Strategies for tackling new words

An understanding of Medical Terminology is a vitally important trait for individuals working in a number of roles in the medical field, so you need to discover helpful hints to master the language.

With medical terminology, sounds are not always pronounced the same as in English, and sometimes there may be more than one acceptable pronunciation. You should learn how to pronounce phonetically.

See the patterns in words – Most medical terms can be broken down into smaller parts. These parts are typically a combination of a root word (the base of the word), a prefix (the first few letters of a word), and a suffix (the ending of a word). For example, the word pathology means “the study of disease”. How do we know? The root word “patho” means “of or relating to a disease” and the suffix “logy” means “the study of a [certain subject]”. Knowing this, we can then assume that words with similar roots have related meanings. Examples include cardiology (study of the heart), dermatology (study of the skin), and gastroenterology (study of the stomach). Breaking down words in this way reduces the amount of memorization you’ll have to do to master complex medical terms.

You can also download lists or “cheat sheets” that cover the most common medical roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Having this list as a guide and reference point will help you quickly understand any term that comes your way.

Your medical dictionary is one of your best resources for learning correct pronunciation and spelling of medical words. Medical practices generally have a number of medical dictionaries available in either hard copy or electronically.

Practice managers and other experienced staff can also provide assistance where necessary.

It is also possible to install specialised medical terminology spell check software on computers but users will still need to check that terminology has been used in the correct context.

Note: Ensure you are using an Australian medical dictionary.  Words can be spelt differently in other countries such as America.

Body Systems

There are 10 body systems:

  1. Circulatory
  2. Respiratory
  3. Nervous
  4. Muscular
  5. Skeletal
  6. Digestive
  7. Endocrine
  8. Lymphatic, or immune system
  9. Reproductive
  10. Integumentary

Each organ belongs to one of ten human body systems. A body system is a group of parts that work together to serve a common purpose. These body systems are interconnected and dependent upon one another to function. By learning about the different systems working inside the body, you can understand how everything works together to keep a body healthy and strong.

Circulatory System

The circulatory system (also known as cardiovascular) has the job of transporting substances throughout the body. With a system of veins and arteries, blood moves continuously all over the body. Blood carries chemicals to the places they need to go, and it also transports waste products to be eliminated from the body. The circulatory system is very important because it works together with every other system and organ in the body.

The primary function of the circulatory system
  • Is to transport of nutrients, oxygen, and hormones to cells throughout the body and removal of metabolic wastes (carbon dioxide, nitrogenous wastes).
  • Protection of the body by white blood cells, antibodies, and complement proteins that circulate in the blood and defend the body against foreign microbes and toxins. Clotting mechanisms are also present that protect the body from blood loss after injuries.
  • Regulation of body temperature, fluid pH, and water content of cells.
  • The circulatory system works with the lymphatic system to carry water and nutrients throughout the body.
Main organs of the circulatory system

Your heart is the only circulatory system organ. Blood goes from the heart to the lungs to get oxygen. The lungs are part of the respiratory system. Your heart then pumps oxygenated blood through arteries to the rest of the body.

Circulatory System Terms
cardi/oheartendocarditis, myocarditis, pericarditis (inflammation of the lining, the muscle layer, the outer layer of the heart)
brady/tachyslow/fastbradycardia (rate<60) tachycardia (rate>100)
angi/ovesselangiography, angiogram (X-ray of artery)
veno/phleboveinvenogram (X-ray of veins), phlebitis (inflammation of veins)
stasisto stophemostasis (to stop bleeding), hemostat (a clamp-like instrument)
cytecellerythrocytes, leukocytes (red, white blood cells)
hem/o, -emiabloodhypoxemia (low oxygen), hematosalpinx (blood in the uterine tubes)
Common procedures specific to the circulatory system
Echo cardiogramThe use of ultrasound waves to investigate heart function
DopplerInstrument to measure ultrasound waves in blood vessels
Electro-cardiogram (ECG)Measures electrical conduction in the heart
PacemakerBattery operated device that helps control heart rate
AngiogramImaging of blood vessels using a contrast medium and CT scan
Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)Resus consisting of artificial respiration and manual heart compressions
Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)Surgery performed to by-pass a diseased artery
DefibrillationAdministering an electric shock to restore heart rhythm and rate in cases of cardiac arrest
Common conditions relating to the circulatory system
AnginaSevere pain in the chest, often also spreading to the shoulders, arms, and neck
Myocardial infarct (mi)Heart attack
Cardiac arrestA sudden, sometimes temporary, cessation of the heart’s functioning.
HypotensionLow blood pressure
HypertensionHigh blood pressure
PalpitationsA sensation in which a person is aware of an irregular, hard, or rapid heartbeat
ArteriosclerosisThe thickening and hardening of the walls of the arteries, occurring typically in old age.
Mitral valve stenosisNarrowing of the mitral valve of the heart.
Aortic aneurysmAn abnormal bulge in the major blood vessel (aorta) which carries blood from the heart to rest of the body.
Deep vein thrombosisA condition in which blood clots form in veins located deep inside the body, usually in the thigh or lower legs.
Respiratory System

Breathing in air and using the oxygen in it are the most important functions of the respiratory system. The body breathes in air through the nose and the mouth. The air moves through airways to the lungs. In the lungs, fresh oxygen goes into the blood for transport throughout the body. Carbon dioxide moves out of the body as you exhale.

Human respiratory system
The primary function of the Respiratory System

Is to transport air into the lungs and to facilitate the diffusion of oxygen into the blood stream.

The main organs of the Respiratory System are

The main organ of the respiratory system is the lungs. Other respiratory organs include the nose, the trachea and the breathing muscles (the diaphragm and the intercostal muscles).

Respiratory System Terms
Rhin/oNoseRhinitis, rhinorrhea (inflammation of and “runny” nose)
Laryng/oLarynx, “voice box”*Laryngotomy, Laryngectomy (cutting into, surgically removing the larynx)
Trache/oTrachea, “windpipe”Tracheotomy, tracheostomy (temporary and permanent openings)
Bronch/oLung air passagewaysBronchoscopy (looking into the bronchi)
Pne/u, -pneaBreath, air, lungTachypnea, dyspnea, apnea (accelerated, difficult/painful, cessation of breathing)
Pulmo/oLungPulmonary artery
ptysisSpitting (coughing)Hemoptysis (spitting or coughing up blood from lungs)
plastyReconstructionRhinoplasty (surgical reconstruction of nose)
pleuralining of lungspleurisy
Procedures relating to the Respiratory System
TracheostomySurgical incision into the trachea sometimes used for obstructive breathing
LaryngectomyRemoval of the larynx
Lung biopsyA removal of a small portion of tissue from an area of the lung for examination
SpirometerAn instrument measuring the volume of air inhaled and exhaled
BronchoscopyA tube (a bronchoscope) is passed through the trachea and bronchi for investigation or to remove a foreign body
CXRChest x-ray
Peak Flow MeterMeasures expiratory volume
Common conditions of the Respiratory System
URTIUpper respiratory tract infection, is an acute infection involving the nose, throat, pharynx, larynx which is characterised by sore throat, sneezing, stuffy nose and cough.
PleurisyInflammation of the pleura lining of the lungs which impairs their lubricating function and causes pain when breathing
HaemothoraxAn accumulation of blood within the pleural cavity.
PneumothoraxThe presence of air or gas in the cavity between the lungs and the chest wall, causing collapse of the lung.
TuberculosisA contagious chronic lung disease caused by bacteria that mainly affects the lungs but can also affect any other organ including bone, brain and spine.
EpistaxisBleeding from the nose.
CyanosisA bluish discoloration of the skin due to poor circulation or inadequate oxygenation of the blood.
DyspnoeaDifficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
EmphysemaLong-term, progressive disease of the lungs that results in shortness of breath due to destruction and dilation of the alveoli
BronchospasmSudden contraction of the bronchial muscles.
Pulmonary Embolism (PE)A condition in which one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs gets blocked by a blood clot. This causes chest pain, breathlessness and cough.
AsthmaA lung disorder characterised by narrowing of the bronchial airways, the tubes which carry air into the lungs, that are inflamed and constricted, causing shortness of breath, wheezing and cough.
HyperventilateBreathe at an abnormally rapid rate, so increasing the rate of loss of carbon dioxide.
Nervous System

The nervous system is a complex network of nerves and cells that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to various parts of the body.

The primary function of the nervous system

The nervous system acts as the coordinator of all activities of the body. Different parts of your body send messages to the brain through the nerves and spinal cord. Once your brain gets these messages, it responds by interpreting the messages and reacting. The brain can then send instructions out to the body.

Major organs of the nervous system

The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, sensory organs, and all of the nerves that connect these organs with the rest of the body.

Nervous System Terms
cephal/oheadcephalgia (a headache)
encephal/oinside the head (brain)encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) Anencephalic (born without a brain)
mening/omembranes surrounding the brain and spinal cordmeningitis (inflammation of the membranes)
myel/ospinal cordmyelogram (X-ray of the spinal cord)
neur/onerveneuroma (tumor) Neuritis (inflammation)
dysdifficult, painful, abnormaldyslexia (difficulty reading)
celehernia, abnormal protrusion of structure out of normal anatomical positionmeningomyelocele (protrusion of membranes and spinal cord)
pathydisease, abnormalityencephalopathy (disease of the brain) Neuropathy (disease of the nerves)
plasiadevelopment, formation, growthaplasia (no development) hyperplasia (over development)
plegiaparalysishemiplegia (paralysis of one side of the body)
quadriplegia (paralysis of all four limbs)
Procedures used to diagnose conditions of the nervous system
EEGElectroencephalogram measuring electrical activity in the brain
MRImagnetic resonance imaging
Lumbar punctureremoval of fluid from the spinal canal for testing
CT scancomputerised tomography
Common conditions relating to the nervous system
HemiplegiaParalysis of one side of the body.
QuadriplegiaParalysis of all four limbs
ParaplegiaParalysis of the legs and lower body
HaematomaA solid swelling of clotted blood within the tissues.
EpilepsyA neurological disorder that causes seizures or unusual sensations and behaviours.
Alzheimer’s diseaseA type of brain disorder that causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. This is a gradually progressive condition.
DementiaBrain symptoms causing decline in mental ability
Brain tumourA mass of abnormal cells in the brain (can be benign or malignant)
Cerebro-vascular-accident (CVA)Also known as a Stroke, it occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is reduced or blocked completely, which prevents brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients.
Transient Ischaemic-Attack (TIA)Also known as a Mini-Stroke, it is a brief episode of neurological dysfunction resulting from an interruption in the blood supply to the brain or the eye, sometimes as a precursor of a stroke.
NeuritisInflammation of a peripheral nerve or nerves, usually causing pain and loss of function.
EncephalitisAn inflammation of the brain usually caused due to infection that causes flu like symptoms like headache or fever.
NeuralgiaA severe pain due to damaged nerves that causes severe burning pain.
MeningitisInflammation of the meninges in the brain.
HydrocephalusA condition where there is an abnormal amount of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) int eh ventricles of the brain.
Musculoskeletal System

Muscular System

The muscular system has three different kinds of muscles: cardiac, smooth, and voluntary. Cardiac muscles are in your heart, and these muscles have the job of pumping blood. The smooth muscles are the ones that work inside your body for functions like digesting food. Voluntary muscles are the ones that you control with your brain to move your body. The muscular system might weigh as much as one-half of a person’s total body weight. The body has different types of muscles that are designed to perform different types of jobs, some voluntary and others involuntary.

Skeletal System

The bones, tendons, and ligaments in the body make up the skeletal system. This system is in charge of supporting the body and all of the systems in it. Teeth are also part of the skeletal system. Bones are strong so they can protect fragile organs inside the body. The ribs are in place in the chest to protect the heart and lungs. Bones have a tough outer covering and an inner spongy layer that contains marrow.

An adult human body contains 206 bones that are connected by ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.

A baby has approximately 270 bones, some of which will fuse together as a child grows.

The main function of the Musculoskeletal System

The main function of the Muscular System

  • Is movement. Muscles are the only tissue in the body that has the ability to contract and therefore move the other parts of the body.
  • The maintenance of posture and body position.

The main function of the Skeletal System

Support, movement, protection, production of blood cells, storage of minerals and endocrine regulation.

Musculoskeletal system terms
Oste/oBoneOsteitis, osteoma, osteocyte
Chondr/oCartilageChondritis, chondroma, chondrocyte
Arthr/oJointArthritis, arthroplasty
Myel/oBone marrowMyeloma
Ten/o, tendin/oTendon
(binds muscle to bone)
Tendonitis, tenorrhaphy
(binds bone to bone)
Ligamentous injury
Burs/oBursa,“bag”, (shock absorber between tendons and bones)Bursitis
My/o, myos/oMuscleMyoma, myositis
MalaciaSofteningOsteomalacia, chondromalacia
AstheniaWeakness, loss of strengthMyasthenia gravis
TrophyDevelopment, stimulation, maintenanceAtrophy (shrivelling of muscles),
hypertrophy (increase in size and strength of muscles)
Algia, algesiaPainMyalgia, arthralgia, analgesia  (take away pain
Common procedures associated with muscles and bones
Bone scanUsing radioactive dye to illuminate all bones of the body
ArthroscopyExamination of the knee joint using a scope
ArthrocentesisRemoval of fluid from a joint
DiscectomyRemoval of a disc from the spine

Common conditions associated with the musculoskeletal system
KyphosisWeakness of the spine causing a bend in the spine
Carpel tunnel syndromeA condition when the radial nerve is caught between the radius and ulna at the wrist
OsteoarthritisInflammation of a joint
GoutInflammation of joints caused by an increase of uric acid
Scheuermann’s diseaseAn inflammatory condition affecting the spine
Myocardial infarction (MI)An infarction is blockage of blood flow resulting in death of muscle tissue.
Angina pectoris“Pain in chest” Anginal pain indicates not enough blood is getting to the heart muscle
Arrhythmia/dysrhythmiaabnormal heart rates and rhythms all have special names like ventricular tachycardia, fibrillation, but generically are termed arrhythmias or dysrhythmia, meaning “no rhythm” and “abnormal rhythm.”
IschemiaThe heart muscle is not getting enough blood flow, more importantly, the oxygen the blood carries is insufficient to sustain muscle which has a very high metabolic rate, and oxygen demand. The term loosely means “not quite enough blood.” Typically, the patient suffers angina pain.

The most common condition affecting bones is fractures.  The following is a list of words and their meanings that relate to bone fractures.

Colles fractureis a fracture at the distal end of the radius
Greenstickan incomplete break in a bone in children
Comminuted fracturethe bone is broken into more than two pieces
Potts fracture a fracture at the lower end of the fibula
Compound fracturethe skin has been broken
Simple fracturea clean break with little damage to surrounding tissue
NOFneck of femur (the head of the thigh bone) fracture
Digestive System

The digestive system is in charge of taking the food you eat and turning it into the fuel your body needs to function. With every bite of food, saliva begins working immediately to get food ready to swallow. The tongue and teeth also help with this process. After swallowing food, it moves down the oesophagus to the stomach for digestion. Food then moves through the intestines, where the digestive system breaks down and absorbs nutrients for the body to use.

The human digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract plus the accessory organs of digestion. The digestive tract, which passes from the mouth through the oesophagus and onwards through the intestines, has a length of about 5 metres in a normal adult.

The major parts of the digestive system

The major parts of the digestive system

  • Salivary glands
  • Pharynx
  • Oesophagus
  • Stomach
  • Small Intestine
  • Large Intestine
  • Rectum
  • Accessory digestive organs: liver, gallbladder, pancreas
Digestive System
The functions of the digestive system

Functions of the GI system
• Motility: movement through the GI tract
• Digestion: breakdown of food or chyme
• Secretion and absorption: across and epithelial layer either into the GI tract (secretion) or into blood (absorption)
• Storage and elimination

Functions of the Oesophagus
• From pharynx to stomach
• Salivary glands release mucus for lubrication, antimicrobial agents, and amylase to digest starch.
• Epiglottis covers respiratory tract during swallowing
• At end of oesophagus is the lower oesophagus sphincter (LES)
• Propulsion of food occurs through peristalsis: contraction occurs behind the bolus of food and relaxation occurs ahead of the bolus of food.

Functions of the Stomach
• Store food
• Initiate digestion of proteins
• Kill bacteria with the strong acidity (low pH of the gastric juice)
• Make chyme

Functions of the small intestine
The small intestine has three parts: the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. It helps to further digest food coming from the stomach. It absorbs nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins) and water from food so they can be used by the body.

Functions of the large intestine
The purpose of the large intestine is to absorb water and salts from the material that has not been digested as food and get rid of any waste products left over. By the time food mixed with digestive juices reaches your large intestine, most digestion and absorption has already taken place.

Digestive System Terms
gastr/ostomachgastritis, gastrectomy
hepat/oliverhepatitis (inflammation of), hepatoma (tumor of)
chol/egall, bilecholecystitis, cholecystectomy (inflammation of, removal of gallbladder)
emes/ovomitemesis (vomiting), emetic (stimulating vomiting), antiemetic (stopping vomiting)
lith/ostonecholelithotomy (removal of gall stones)
lapar/oabdominal walllaparotomy (cutting into the abdomen)
centesisto punctureabdominocentesis (puncturing and draining)
tripsyto crushcholelithotripsy (smashing gall stones with sound waves)
rrheaflow, dischargediarrhea
abnormal conditioncholelithiasis (presence of gall stones causing symptoms)
Common procedures specific to the digestive system or the GI Tract
Colonoscopyan examination of the colon using a scope
Colostomya surgical procedure diverting the colon to the outside of the abdomen
Hemicolectomyremoval of half of the colon
Laparoscopysmall incision into the abdomen using a scope
Oesophagoscopyexamination of the oesophagus
Common conditions relating to the gastrointestinal tract
GastritisA group of conditions that cause inflammation of the stomach lining.
HepatitisInflammation of the liver, caused by infectious or toxic agents
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid frequently flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach.
HalitosisBad breath can be a sign of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. If you tend to have heartburn or reflux, your bad breath could be related to the excess acid produced by your digestive tract. Those acids can have a sour odour, affecting your breath.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)A chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine causing diarrhoea, abdominal pain, cramps, bloating and flatulence.
DysphagiaDifficulty in swallowing food or liquid.
HaemorrhoidsEnlargement of the normal spongy blood-filled cushions in the wall of the anus
Hiatus herniaThe stomach passes partly or completely into the chest cavity through the oesophageal opening.
HaematemesisVomiting blood
CholelithiasisThe formation of stones in the gall bladder
DyspepsiaA condition where digestion is impaired (indigestion). It causes persistent or recurrent pain or discomfort in the upper abdomen.
Crohn’s diseaseA condition causing inflammation of segments of the digestive tract
Endocrine System

The endocrine system is made up of glands that make hormones. Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. They carry information and instructions from one set of cells to another.

The endocrine system influences almost every cell, organ, and function of our bodies.

The primary function of the Endocrine System

Endocrine glands release hormones into the bloodstream. This lets the hormones travel to cells in other parts of the body.

The endocrine hormones help control mood, growth and development, the way our organs work, metabolism and reproduction.

The endocrine system regulates how much of each hormone is released. This can depend on levels of hormones already in the blood, or on levels of other substances in the blood, like calcium. Many things affect hormone levels, such as stress, infection, and changes in the balance of fluid and minerals in blood.

The major glands that make up the endocrine system

While many parts of the body make hormones, the major glands that make up the endocrine system are the:

  • hypothalamus
  • pituitary gland
  • thyroid
  • parathyroids
  • adrenal glands
  • pineal body
  • reproductive glands (which include the ovaries and testes)

The pancreas is part of the endocrine system and the digestive system. That’s because it secretes hormones into the bloodstream and makes and secretes enzymes into the digestive tract.

Functions of the various glands

Hypothalamus: The hypothalamus is in the lower central part of the brain. It links the endocrine system and nervous system. Nerve cells in the hypothalamus make chemicals that control the release of hormones secreted from the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus gathers information sensed by the brain (such as the surrounding temperature, light exposure, and feelings) and sends it to the pituitary. This information influences the hormones that the pituitary makes and releases.

Pituitary: The pituitary gland is at the base of the brain and is no bigger than a pea. Despite its small size, the pituitary is often called the “master gland.” The hormones it makes control many other endocrine glands.

The pituitary gland makes many hormones, such as:

  • growth hormone, which stimulates the growth of bone and other body tissues and plays a role in the body’s handling of nutrients and minerals
  • prolactin, which activates milk production in women who are breastfeeding
  • thyrotropin which stimulates the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones
  • corticotropin which stimulates the adrenal gland to make certain hormones
  • antidiuretic hormone, which helps control body water balance through its effect on the kidneys
  • oxytocin which triggers the contractions of the uterus that happen during labour

The pituitary also secretes endorphins, chemicals that act on the nervous system and reduce feelings of pain. The pituitary also secretes hormones that signal the reproductive organs to make sex hormones. The pituitary gland also controls ovulation and the menstrual cycle in women.

Thyroid: The thyroid is in the front part of the lower neck. It’s shaped like a bow tie or butterfly. It makes the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine. These hormones control the rate at which cells burn fuels from food to make energy. The more thyroid hormone there is in the bloodstream, the faster chemical reactions happen in the body.

Parathyroids: Attached to the thyroid are four tiny glands that work together called the parathyroids. They release parathyroid hormone, which controls the level of calcium in the blood with the help of calcitonin, which the thyroid makes.

Adrenal Glands: These two triangular adrenal glands sit on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands have two parts, each of which makes a set of hormones and has a different function:

  1. The outer part is the adrenal cortex. It makes hormones called corticosteroids that help control salt and water balance in the body, the body’s response to stress, metabolism, the immune system, and sexual development and function.
  2. The inner part is the adrenal medulla. It makes catecholamines, such as epinephrine. Also called adrenaline, epinephrine increases blood pressure and heart rate when the body is under stress.

Pineal: The pineal body, also called the pineal gland, is in the middle of the brain. It secretes melatonin a hormone that may help regulate when you sleep at night and when you wake in the morning.

Reproductive Glands: The gonads are the main source of sex hormones. Most people don’t realise it, but both males and females have gonads. In males, the male gonads, or testes are in the scrotum. They secrete hormones called androgens, the most important of which is testosterone. These hormones tell a male body when it’s time to make the changes associated with puberty, like penis and height growth, deepening voice, and growth in facial and pubic hair. Working with hormones from the pituitary gland, testosterone also tells a male body when it’s time to make sperm in the testes.

A female’s gonads, the ovaries are in her pelvis. They make eggs and secrete the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is involved when a female starts puberty. During puberty, a female will have breast growth, start to accumulate body fat around the hips and thighs, and have a growth spurt. Estrogen and progesterone are also involved in the regulation of a female’s menstrual cycle. These hormones also play a role in pregnancy.

Pancreas: The pancreas makes insulin and glucagon which are hormones that control the level of glucose, or sugar, in the blood. Insulin helps keep the body supplied with stores of energy. The body uses this stored energy for exercise and activity, and it also helps organs work as they should.

Endocrine System Terms
adren/oadrenal glandsadrenal glands
crin/oto secreteendocrinology
glyc/osugar or glucoseglycogen
pineal/opineal glandpineal gland
pituit/opituitarypituitary gland
Common clinical procedures associated with the endocrine system
AdrenalectomyRemoval of an adrenal gland
HypophysectomyRemoval of the pituitary gland
PancreatectomyRemoval of a portion of the pancreas
PancreatotomyIncision into the pancreas
ParathyroidectomySurgical removal of parathyroid glands
ThyroidectomySurgical removal of the thyroid gland
Common conditions associated with the endocrine system
AdrenalinA hormone released in response to stress
HypothyroidismA condition resulting from decreased production of thyroid hormones. The symptoms vary between individuals.
HyperthyroidismOver production of hormones by the thyroid gland located at the front of neck. It causes rapid heartbeat, sudden weight loss, tremor, difficulty sleeping and changes in menstrual cycle.
HypoglycaemiaLow blood glucose or low blood sugar
HyperglycaemiaAn excess of glucose in the bloodstream, often associated with diabetes mellitus.
Thyroid cancerA cancer that develops when the cells of the thyroid gland grow and divide in an abnormal way. It causes difficulty swallowing hoarseness, lump on the neck, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.
ThyrotoxicosisA toxic amount of thyroid hormone in the blood.
GoitreA swelling of the neck resulting from enlargement of the thyroid gland.
PolydipsiaExcessive thirst
PolyuriaIncreased production of urine.

One of the most common endocrine disorders is diabetes Type I Diabetes (IDDM) Insulin dependent diabetic.

This is a form of early onset diabetes usually first diagnosed in childhood. This form of diabetes is an autoimmune disease. Insulin has stopped being produced by the pancreas. Therefore, insulin injections are needed to control blood sugar levels (BSL).

Symptoms include:

  • polydipsia (increased thirst)
  • polyuria (increased urine production)
  • weight loss
  • lethargy (tiredness)
  • hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose)

Type II Diabetes (NIDDM) Non-insulin dependent diabetic

This is a form of diabetes associated with poor lifestyle choices. People who have Type II diabetes are often overweight and do not exercise regularly. There is often a family history of this type of diabetes. Symptoms may be minimal, or they may be asymptomatic. BSL’S (blood sugar levels) are often very high. The pancreas continues to produce insulin but not in adequate amounts to control BSL’S. The treatment for this form of diabetes is:

  1. Diet
  2. Exercise
  3. Medications/sometimes
  4. Insulin injections/sometimes

90% of people diagnosed with diabetes have Type II.

Gestational Diabetes – This is a form of diabetes occurring during pregnancy and usually resolves itself following the birth.

Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system (also known as the bodies sewerage system) is a network of tissues, vessels and organs that work together to move lymph back into your bloodstream. The lymphatic system is part of your immune system (The immune system protects the body against infection and disease).

Just as we eliminate our wastes into a toilet, each one of your 50+ trillions cells eliminate their wastes into the lymphatic system. These wastes are carried out to the lymph nodes by the lymph vessels, in the same way as the sewer pipes in a house would carry wastes to a septic tank.

The primary function of the lymphatic system

Is to transport lymph, a clear fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells (known as a lymphocyte), throughout the body.  Lymph contains tissue fluid, waste products and immune system cells.

The main organs associated with the lymphatic system

The tissues and organs that produce, store, and carry white blood cells that fight infections and other diseases are the thymus and bone marrow, as well as secondary lymphatic tissues including spleen, tonsils, lymph vessels, lymph nodes, adenoids, skin and liver.

Lymphatic system terms
Common definitions associated with the lymphatic system
  • Antigen: substances that cause anti-body production
  • Antibody: attacks harmful cells
  • Vaccination: produces immunity against disease
  • Allergy: hypersensitivity to a substance
  • Anaphylaxis: emergency caused by an allergen
Common conditions associated with the lymphatic system
Glandular feverAn infectious viral disease characterised by swelling of the lymph glands and prolonged lassitude. Also called infectious mononucleosis.
TonsillitisSwelling of tonsils located at the back of the throat due to infection.
Hodgkin’s diseaseA cancer that develops in the lymphatic system due to abnormal B-cells. It causes enlarged lymph nodes without pain in neck, armpits or groin, fever, fatigue, night sweats, and weight loss.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)An acquired viral infection that destroys important white blood cells and weakens the immune system. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS. When a person becomes infected with HIV, the virus attacks and weakens the immune system.
Male Reproductive System

The male reproductive system is the system of sex organs of male human beings that are a part of the overall reproductive process.

Male reproductive system
The primary function of the male reproductive system
  • To produce, maintain and transport sperm (the male reproductive cells) and protective fluid (semen)
  • To discharge sperm within the female reproductive tract.
  • To produce and secrete male sex hormones.
The main organs of the male reproductive system

Testes, prostate glands, sperm ducts, epididymis, urethra and penis.

Male reproductive system terms
balan/oglans penisbalanoposthitis
test/otestis, testicletestosterone
Common conditions/procedures of the male reproductive system
Testicular cancercancer that develops in a testicle
Vasectomyprocedure where the tubes that carry sperm (vas deferens) are blocked
TURPtrans urethral resection of the prostate
Prostate diseasebenign prostate enlargement and prostate cancer
STIsbacteria or viruses acquired through sexual contact
Infertilitythe inability to achieve a pregnancy in a fertile woman due to low sperm production, blockages or other factors
Female Reproductive System

The female reproductive system is the system of sex organs of female human beings that are a part of the overall reproductive process.

Female Reproductive System
The primary functions of the female reproductive system
  • Produces the female egg cells necessary for reproduction, called the ova or oocytes
  • Prepares to support a developing embryo
    Undergoes changes according to the menstrual cycle
  • Production of sex hormones
The main organs of the female reproductive system

Ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, vagina, vulva, mammary glands and breasts.

Female reproductive system terms
ovari/oophorovaryovarian cyst/oophorectomy
ooegg/ovumoocyte donation
salpingfallopian tubessalpingectomy
Common procedures relating to the female reproductive system
SalpingectomyThe surgical removal of a fallopian tube.
HysterectomySurgical removal of the uterus.
MammogramX-ray film of the breast
Papanicolaou (Pap) smearSample of cells of cervix are harvested and examined under microscopic analysis; the presence of cervical or vaginal carcinoma can be detected.
Common conditions relating to the female reproductive system
DysmenorrhoeaPainful menstruation
AmenorrhoeaAn abnormal absence of menstruation.
MenorrhagiaAbnormally heavy bleeding at menstruation.
Fibrocystic breast diseaseBenign cysts within the breast tissue which give it a lumpy, irregular texture.
PIDPelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is an infection of the female reproductive organs.
Ectopic pregnancyA condition where fertilised egg attaches outside the uterus. If untreated, it may lead to life-threatening bleeding.
EndometriosisTissue usually found in the uterus occurring in other parts of the body
FibroidA benign tumour of muscular and fibrous tissues, typically developing in the wall of the uterus.
Placenta praeviaA condition in which the placenta partially or wholly blocks the neck of the uterus, thus interfering with normal delivery of a baby.
MastitisInflammation of the breast tissue
Integumentary System

The integumentary system is the set of organs that forms the external covering of the body and protects it from many threats such as infection and abrasion.

The primary function of the integumentary system

Is to act as a barrier to protect the body from the outside world. It also functions to retain body fluids, protect against disease, eliminate waste products, and regulate body temperature.

The main organs of the integumentary system

Skin (the largest organ of the body), hair, nails and exocrine glands. 

Skin Structure
Integumentary system terms
melanblack colourmelanocyte
keratthick layerkeratin
Common procedures specific to the skin

Excision: Removal of a skin lesion

Skin biopsy: Removal of a small amount of tissue for examination

Cryotherapy: Application of extreme cold to destroy abnormal cells

Curettage: Scraping of a superficial skin lesion for examination

Common conditions associated with skin damage
DermatitisInflammation of the skin
MelanomaA type of skin cancer which develops from the cells (melanocytes) that control pigment of the skin.
SCC: squamous cell carcinomaA type of skin cancer, which forms in the middle and outer layer of the skin.
BCC: basal cell carcinomaA type of skin cancer which develops in basal cells, a type of cell within the skin t produces new skin cells.
SclerodermaA chronic hardening and contraction of the skin and connective tissue, either locally or throughout the body.
JaundiceYellowish pigmentation of the skin and/or whites of the eyes
ErythemaSuperficial reddening of the skin, usually in patches, as a result of injury or irritation causing dilatation of the blood capillaries.
LipomaBenign tumours of fat, formed between the skin and the underlying muscle. Lipomas can grow anywhere in the body where fat cells are present.
PruritusSevere itching of the skin, as a symptom of various ailments.
CyanosisA bluish discoloration of the skin due to poor circulation or inadequate oxygenation of the blood.
DebridementA procedure to remove debris or infected/dead tissue from a wound.
Pilonidal sinusInfected hair follicle
SebaceousOily glands
Solar keratosisA pre-cancerous area of thick, scaly, or crusty skin.
PsoriasisInflammatory skin condition causes red, itchy, scaly patches
AcneA condition resulting from clogged or plugged hair follicles present under the skin. It presents as small to large, red bumps on the skin which may be painful and pus-filled in some cases.
CellulitisInflammation of tissue caused by a serious bacterial infection of the skin. Usually affects the leg and the skin appears as swollen and red and painful.
UrticarialA rash of round, red welts on the skin that itch intensely, sometimes with dangerous swelling, caused by an allergic reaction, typically to specific foods. Also known as hives
GangreneLocalised death and decomposition of skin, resulting from obstructed circulation or bacterial infection.
Skin damage caused by burns

Burns can be caused from:

  1. chemicals
  2. radiation
  3. electricity
  4. heat

Burns are measured in degrees. The higher the degree, the more severe is the burn. Burns can be 1st degree (superficial), 2nd degree (partial thickness) and 3rd degree (full thickness).

1st degree burns (superficial) are the least severe. There is damage to the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) and the skin may look inflamed, red or both.

In 2nd degree burns (partial thickness) there is damage to the epidermis and the dermis. The skin may be blistered and there may be skin loss. There is also intense pain because there has been damage to the nerves in the dermal layer.

3rd degree burns (full thickness) are by far the more dangerous. There is damage to the epidermis, the dermis and to the deeper sub-cutaneous layers. The skin may appear charred. As the nerve endings are dead, there is often not a lot of pain.

The larger the surface area of the burn the poorer the prognosis.  If large areas of the body are affected, then fluid balance is difficult to maintain. The risk of infection in severe burns is also very high.

Medical Procedures and Equipment

Medical procedures fall into two broad categories: diagnostic and surgical.


Diagnostic procedures are preformed for the purpose of determining the cause of an illness. Examples are:

  • Biopsy
  • Colonoscopy
  • CT scan
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Gastroscopy
  • Eye tests

Surgical procedures are operations performed to treat a medical problem after the diagnosis has been established. Examples are:

  • Heart bypass surgery
  • Joint replacement
  • Broken bone repair
  • Angioplasty and atherectomy
  • Stent procedure
  • Circumcision
  • Hysterectomy
  • Gallbladder removal
Different types of surgery

Surgery types you may need to be aware of include:

  • General surgery
  • Cardiothoracic surgery
  • Colorectal surgery
  • Paediatric surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Vascular surgery
  • Trauma surgery
  • Breast surgery
  • Surgical oncology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Neurosurgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Podiatric surgery
  • Urology
  • Reconstructive surgery

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy might also be considered forms of surgery or surgical processes.

Associated procedures might include non-surgical but invasive treatment/diagnosis processes such as cardiac catheterisation, endoscopy, and placing of chest tubes of central lines.

Terminology related to surgery/surgical processes

Surgical procedures are commonly categorised by urgency, type of procedure, body system involved, degree of invasiveness and special instrumentation.

Terminology related to types of surgery/surgical processes include:

  1. Elective surgery which is surgery carried out at a patient’s request, subject to the surgeons and the surgical facility’s availability. It does not refer to life threatening or emergency surgery needs.
  2. Emergency surgery is life-saving surgery or surgery that is required to save a limb or functional capacity.
  3. Exploratory surgery is surgery performed to aid or confirm a diagnosis.
  4. Therapeutic surgery is surgery that treats a previously diagnosed condition.
  5. Amputation involves cutting off a body part, usually a limb or digit.
  6. Replantation involves reattaching s severed body part.
  7. Reconstructive surgery involves reconstruction of an injured, mutilated, removed or deformed part of the body.
  8. Cosmetic surgery is surgery intended to improve the appearance of an otherwise normal structure (often also elective).
  9. Excision is the cutting out of an organ, tissue or other body part.
  10. Transplant surgery is the replacement of an organ or body part by insertion of another-usually from a different human (or animal).
  11. Removing an organ or body part from a live human or animal for use in transplant is also a type of surgery.
  12. Laparoscopic surgery or angioplasty is minimally invasive surgery involving small outer incisions to insert miniaturised instruments within a body cavity or structure.
  13. Open surgical procedures require a large incision to access the area of interest.
  14. Laser surgery involves use of a laser (light) for cutting tissue- instead of a scalpel or similar
  15. Microsurgery involves the use of an operating microscope for the surgeon to see small structures.
  16. Robotic surgery makes use of a surgical robot, such as the Da Vinci or the Zeus surgical systems, to control the instrumentation under the direction of the surgeon.

When working in a medical/health service practice administrative staff might be asked questions by patients, so they are required to understand the basics of the procedures.

Other relevant information:

  1. When the surgery is performed on one organ system or structure, it might be classes by the organ, organ system or tissue involved. Examples include cardio surgery (performed on the heart), gastrointestinal surgery (performed with the digestive tract and its accessory organs), and orthopaedic surgery (performed on bones and/or muscles).
  2. Excision surgery names often start with a name for the organ to be excised (cut out) and end in –ectomy, e.g. mastectomy.
  3. Procedures involving cutting into an organ or tissue end in –otomy. A surgical procedure cutting through the abdominal wall to gain access to the abdominal cavity is a laparotomy.
  4. Minimally invasive procedures involving small incisions through which an endoscope is inserted end in – oscopy. For example, such surgery in the abdominal cavity is called laparoscopy- in the bowel it is called a colonoscopy.
  5. Procedures for formation of a permanent or semi- permanent opening called a stoma in the body end in – ostomy.
  6. Reconstruction, plastic or cosmetic surgery of a body part starts with a name for the body part to be reconstructed and ends in – oplasty. Rhino is used as a prefix for nose, so rhinoplasty is basically reconstructive or cosmetic surgery for the nose.
  7. Reparation of damaged or congenital abnormal structure ends in – rraphy. Herniorraphy is reparation of a hernia, while perineorraphy is the reparation of perineum.
Common pathology tests
  1. LFT – (Liver function tests) are a group of blood tests that measure some enzymes, proteins and substances that are produced or excreted by the liver.
  2. FBC – (Full blood count) is a common test that is used to diagnose a wide range of illnesses, infections and diseases. It may indicate anaemia, infection or some blood cancers such as leukaemia.
  3. Fe Blood test or Iron studies – iron is needed to help carry oxygen throughout the body. Low iron levels can lead to anaemia leading to fatigue and lack of energy. Too much iron (or haemochromatosis) increases the risk of a number of serious conditions including liver disease, heart failure, arthritis and diabetes.
  4. TSH – (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is performed to screen, diagnose and monitor treatment for thyroid disorders. Thyroid hormones regulate a range of vital bodily functions including breathing, heart rate and body weight, temperature and general energy levels
  5. Urinalysis – A urinalysis is a test performed on a sample of urine to look for some metabolic disorders such as diabetes, kidney disorders and urinary tract infections.
  6. INR (International Normalised Ratio) – Many patients are on a clot-preventing medication called warfarin. People with heart conditions such as an irregular heartbeat or after replacement of a heart valve may need to take this medication.
  7. D Dimer are tests used to help rule out the presence of an inappropriate blood clot (thrombus). Some of the conditions that the D-dimer test is used to help rule out include: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) Pulmonary embolism (PE)
Common instruments used in general medicine

Medical equipment means any instrument, apparatus or machine, intended for use in the clinical diagnosis and treatment of patients.

There are a multitude of medical instruments. Each area of medicine has its own specialised range, for example endoscopes, are instruments that view parts of the body. Colposcopes, hysteroscopes and colonoscopes are all types of endoscope.

Autoclavean apparatus for the sterilisation of materials by steam under pressure
Cannulato create a permanent pathway to a vein (or artery) for the purpose of repeated injections or infusion of intravenous fluids
Cardioverter / Defibrillatorto correct arrhythmias of the heart or to start up a heart that is not beating
Catheterto drain and collect urine directly from the bladder (primary use) also to act as a makeshift oxygen tube etc.
Dialyserto remove toxic materials from the blood that are generally removed by the kidneys; used in case of kidney failure
Electrocardiograph machineto record the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time
Enema equipmentto inject fluid into the lower bowel for several purposes, most frequently for relieving constipation
Endoscopeto look inside the gastrointestinal tract, used mainly in surgery or by surgical consultants
Forcepsa medical tool that is used for grasping or holding
Gas cylinderas a supply of oxygen, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, etc.
Gauze spongeto absorb blood and other fluids as well as clean wounds
Blood Pressure monitorto measure one’s blood pressure
Surgical scissorsused for dissecting or cutting
Hypodermic needle / Syringefor injections and aspiration of blood or fluid from the body
Infection control equipmentas in gloves, gowns, bonnets, shoe covers, face shields, goggles, and surgical masks for preventing nosocomial or healthcare-associated infection
Instrument steriliserto sterilise instruments in absence of an autoclave
Kidney dishas a tray for instruments, gauze, tissue, etc.
Measuring tapefor length, height, head circumference and girth measurements
Medical halogen penlightto see into the eye, natural orifices, etc. and to test for pupillary light reflex, etc.
Medical ultrasoundto create an image of internal body structures
Nasogastric tubefor nasogastric suction or the introduction of food or drugs into the body
Nebuliserto produce aerosols of drugs to be administered by respiratory route
Ophthalmoscopeto look at the retina
Otoscopeto look into the external ear cavity
Oxygen mask and tubesto deliver gases to the mouth/nostrils to assist in oxygen intake or to administer aerosolised or gaseous drugs
Pipette or dropperto measure out doses of liquid, specially in children
Proctoscopeto look inside the anal canal and lower part of the rectum
Radiographyto view internal body structures
Reflex hammerto test motor reflexes of the body
ScalpelA knife with a small, sharp, sometimes removable blade
Sphygmomanometerto measure the patient’s blood pressure
StentA tube devised to be inserted into a vessel or passageway to keep it open
Stethoscopeto hear sounds from movements within the body like heart beats, intestinal movement, breath sounds, etc.
Suction deviceto suck up blood or secretions
Thermometerto record body temperature
Tongue depressorfor use in oral examination
Transfusion kitto transfuse blood and blood products
Tuning forkto test for deafness and to categorise it
Ventilatorto assist or carry out the mechanical act of inspiration and expiration so the non-respiring patient can do so; a common component of “life support”
Watch / Stopwatchfor recording rates like heart rate, respiratory rate, etc.; for certain hearing tests.
Weighing scaleto measure weight
Crocodile Forcepsto remove foreign bodies from ear or nasal cavities.
Major Specialised Areas of Medicine
Area of MedicineType of DoctorArea of study or treatment
AnaestheticsAnaesthetistAdministration of Anaesthetic drugs, pain management
AndrologyAndrologistMale reproductive system
DermatologyDermatologistIntegumentary system (skin, hair and nails)
EndocrinologyEndocrinologistEndocrine system (hormones)
GastroenterologyGastroenterologistDigestive system
GeriatricsGeriatricianThe elderly
GynaecologyGynaecologistFemale reproductive system (including breasts)
ImmunologyImmunologistImmunity to Disease
NeurologyNeurologist, NeurosurgeonNervous system (Brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves and cerebrovascular system)
ObstetricsObstetricianPregnancy and birth process
OncologyOncologistTumours (including cancer)
Oral surgeryOral surgeonMouth, Jaws
Orthopaedic surgeryOrthopaedic surgeonMuscular and skeletal systems
OtorhinolaryngologyOtorhinolaryngologistEar, nose and throat
Plastic (including cosmetic) surgeryPlastic/cosmetic surgeonCorrective or restorative surgery
Psychiatry/psychologyPsychiatristThe Mind
Radiology RadiologistX-Rays
Respiratory medicineRespiratory physicianRespiratory system (lungs)
RheumatologyRheumatologistMuscles, joints & inflammatory disorders
UrologyUrologistUrinary system
Vascular SurgeryVascular surgeonBlood Vessels
Medical Abbreviation, Acronyms & Symbols
A-Z Abbreviations List

Care should be taken with the use and interpretation of abbreviations and symbols as there is often more than one meaning to an abbreviation.  The following examples are generally widely accepted.

AAAAbdominal aortic aneurysm
AAAlcoholics Anonymous
a/aAs above
A1, A2Aortic Valve, 1st sound, 2nd sound
AAROMActive assisted range of movement (physio)
AALAnterior axillary line
ABApex beat
ABBIAdvanced breast biopsy instrumentation
AbdAbduction (physio)
ABGArterial blood gases
ABHAngina bullosa haemorrhagica
ABIAcquired brain impairment/injury
ABPIAnkle brachial pressure index
ABSAcute brain syndrome
A-CAcromioclavicular (physio)
ACATAged Care Assessment Team
ACBTActive cycle of breathing technique (physio)
ACCAcute care certificate
ACCRAged care client record
ACD/ ACPAdvance Care Documents / Advance Care Directive / Advance Care Planning
ACEAngiotensin converting enzyme
ACLAnterior cruciate ligament (physio)
ACMAmbulatory cardiac monitoring
ACTHAdrenocorticotropic hormone
ACSAcute coronary syndrome
ADAutosomal dominant
ADCAIDS dementia complex
ADCATAlcohol and Drug Community Assessment Team
AddAdduction (physio)
ADDAttention deficit disorder
ADHAnti-diuretic hormone
ADHDAttention deficit hyperactivity disorder
ADLActivities of daily living
AdmAdmission / admitted
ADPKDAutosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease
ADRAdverse drug reaction
ADTAdult diphtheria and tetanus
AEAir entry
AEAAbove elbow amputation (physio)
AEBAtrial ectopic beat
AFAtrial fibrillation
A, FIAtrial flutter
AFBAcid fast bacilli
AFIAmniotic Fluid Index
AFOAnkle-foot orthosis (physio)
AGCAssociate genetic counsellor
AggAggravating (physio)
AGNAcute glomerulonephritis
AHAbdominal hysterectomy/ Auditory Hallucinations and Allied Health/ After Hours
AHAAssisted Han Assessment (physio)
AHDArteriosclerotic/atherosclerotic heart disease
AHFAntihaemolytic factor
AIAortic incompetence
AICDAutomated implantable cardioverter-defibrillator
AIDSAcquired immune deficiency syndrome
AIMSAlberta Infant Motor Scale (physio)
AINAssistant in Nursing
AIVRAccelerated idioventricular rhythm
AJAnkle jerk
AJAAshkenazi Jewish ancestry
AKAbove knee
AKAAbove knee amputation
AKIAcute kidney injury
ALAAssisted local anaesthetic
AlbionThe Albion Centre
ALDAlcoholic liver disease
ALLAcute lymphoblastic/lymphocytic/lymphatic leukaemia
ALPAlkaline phosphatase
ALSAmyotrophic lateral sclerosis
ALTAlanine aminotransferase
Alt slyAlternate side lying (physio)
AMActive movement (physio)
AMAAdvanced maternal age
AMDAge-related macular degeneration
AMIAcute myocardial infarction
AMLAcute myeloid leukaemia
AMOAttending/admitting medical officer
AMPAustin Moore prosthesis
AMRIAnteromedial rotary instability
AMSAboriginal Medical Service/Antimicrobial Stewardship
ANAAntinuclear antibody
ANCAntenatal clinic
ANCAAnti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies
ANLLAcute non-lymphocytic leukaemia
ANSAutonomic nervous system
Anti DRh (D) immunoglobulin
Anti HBcHepatitis B core antibody
Anti HBsHepatitis B surface antibody
A/OApplication of (physio)
AODAlcohol and other drugs (mental health)
AODMAdult Onset Diabetes Mellitus
A&PAnterior and Posterior (repair)
APArterial pressure
APCActivated protein C
APDAutomated peritoneal dialysis
APHAnte-partum haemorrhage
APOAcute pulmonary oedema
APQ6Activity and Participation Questionnaire?
APTTActivated partial thromboplastin time
APRAbdominoperineal resection
APSAcute Pain Service
ARAutosomal recessive
ARBDAlcohol related brain damage (mental health)
ARDSAdult/acute respiratory distress syndrome
ARFAcute renal failure
ARMArtificial rupture of membranes
AROMActive range of movement (physio)
ARPKDAutosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease
ARTAntiretroviral therapy
ASAortic stenosis
ASAPAs soon as possible
ASCVDArteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease
ASDAtrial septal defect
ASETAged Services in Emergency Team
ASHDArteriosclerotic heart disease
ASIAnal Sexual Intercourse RASI – receptive
 IASI – insertive
ASNTAbdomen soft, non tender
ASOArteriosclerotic obliterans
ASSAAntenatal Short Stay Assessment
ASVDArteriosclerotic vascular disease
ATFLAnterior tibiofibular ligament (physio)
ATNAcute tubular necrosis
ATNRAsymmetrical tonic neck reflex (physio)
ATOPAustralian Treatment Outcomes Profile
ATORAt time of report
ATSAntitetanus serum
ATSPAsked to see patient
Ausc.Auscultation (physio)
AVAortic valve
 Anteverted (uterus)
AVBAtrioventricular block
AVMArteriovenous malformation
AVNAtrioventricular necrosis
AVOApprehended violence order (mental health)
AVRAortic valve replacement/ repair
AVRTAtrioventricular re-entrant/reciprocating tachycardia
AVNRTAtrioventricular nodal re-entrant/reciprocating tachycardia
A/WAssociated with
A&WAlive and well
AWOLAbsent without leave (mental health)
AWSAlcohol withdrawal syndrome
 Alcohol withdrawal scale
AXRAbdominal x-ray
AZAscheim-Zondek (test)
// barsParallel bars
BADBipolar affective disorder
BAERBrainstem auditory evoked response
BaFTBarium follow through
BALBlood alcohol level
BAwBreast awareness
BAWOBilateral antrum washout
BBABorn before arrival
BBBBundle branch block
BBBBBilateral bundle branch block
BBSBronchial breath sounds
BCBlood culture
BCABalloon catheter angioplasty– never seen used in practice; either PTCA or POBA used instead
BCCBasal cell carcinoma
BCCABilateral common carotid angiogram
BCGBacillus of Calmette and Guerin
BCPABubble continuous positive airway pressure
b.d.Twice a day
BEBarium Enema
B& DBondage and Discipline
BEABelow elbow amputation
B/FBreast feeding
BFPBiological false positive
BGLBlood glucose Level
BhCGBeta human chorionic gonadotrophin
BHDSBirt-Hogg-Dube syndrome
BIBABrought in by ambulance
BIHBenign intracranial hypertension “Born in Hospital”
BilatBilateral (physio)
BIPBenign intracranial pressure
BiPAPBilevel positive airway pressure
BJBiceps jerk
BKBelow knee
BKABelow knee amputation
BMBone marrow
BMATBone marrow aspiration and trephine
BMBBone marrow biopsy
BMDBone Mineral Density
BMHBenign monoclonal hypergammaglobulinaemia
BMIBody mass index
BMPR1ABone morphogenetic protein receptor, type 1A gene
BMRBasal metabolic rate
BMSBare metal stent
BMTBone marrow transplant
BNOBladder neck obstruction
 Bowels not open
BNPBrain naturetic peptide
BOBowels open
B/OBaby of
BOOBladder outlet obstruction
BOOPBronchiolitis obliterans organising pneumonia
Borg RPEBorg rating of perceived exertion (physio)
BOSBase of support (physio)
BPBlood pressure
BPADBipolar affective disorder (mental health)
BPDBronchopulmonary dysplasia / bipolar disorder
BPHBenign prostatic hypertrophy/hyperplasia
BPMBeats per minute
BPSDBehavioural & psychological symptoms of dementia
BPTTBrachial plexus tension test provocation (physio)
BR CaBreast cancer
BRCA1Breast cancer protection gene 1
BRCA1/2Breast cancer protection gene 1&2
BRCA2Breast cancer protection gene 2
BSBowel sounds
BSABody surface area
BSEBreast self examination
BSLBlood stained liquor
 Blood sugar level
BSOBilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
BSSBlack silk sutures
BSLTBilateral sequential lung transplantation
BTBBreak through bleeding
BTFBetween the Flags
B/UBlood urea
BVBacterial vaginosis
BVFBilateral ventricular failure
BWBirth weight body weight
BXOBalanitis xerotica obliterans
CCough (physio)
C/-Care of
C16AChapter 16A Exchange of Information” – used by DCJ , DOCS and DOCAJ
C1-7Cervical vertebrae 1-7
C&CCollar and Cuff
CA125Cancer antigen 125
CABGCoronary artery bypass graft
CACPCommunity Aged Care Package
CADCoronary artery disease
CADEConfused and disabled elderly
CADLCommunity activities of daily living
CAGCoronary artery graft
CAHChronic active hepatitis
Ca in SituCarcinoma in situ
CALChronic airway limitation
CALDChronic alcoholic liver disease
CALDCulturally and linguistically diverse
Call.Callous (podiatry)
CAPDContinuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis
CATComputerised axial tomography
CAVBComplete atrioventricular block
CAVHContinuous arteriovenous haemofiltration
CAVHDContinuous arteriovenous haemodialysis
CBCComplete blood count
CBDCommon bile duct
CBEClinical breast examination
CBSChronic brain syndrome
CBSLCapillary blood sugar level
CBVCord blood vessels
C/CCardiac catheter (coronary angiogram)
CCCancer Council
CCACommon carotid artery
CCBCalcium channel blocker
CCCCancer Care Centre
CCDContinuous catheter drainage
CCFCongestive cardiac failure
CCHCalvary Community Health
CCPDContinuous cyclic peritoneal dialysis
CCSClassical caesarean section
CCTContinuous/controlled cord traction
CCUCoronary care unit
CD4Cellular Differentiation 4 Positive or T- helper lymphocytes
CDECommon bile duct exploration
CDHCongenital diaphragmatic hernia
CDH1E-cadherin type 1 gene
CDTCombined diphtheria and tetanus (vaccine)
CE’sCardiac enzymes
CEACarotid endarterectomy
CESCauda equina syndrome (physio)
CFCystic fibrosis
 Clear fluids
CFACommon femoral artery
CFPCasual female partner
CFSChronic fatigue syndrome
CFTComplement fixation test
CGDChronic granulomatous disease
CGHComparative genomic hybridisation
CHBComplete heart block
CHBchronic hepatitis B
CHDCongenital heart disease
CHCCommunity Health Centre
CHDCongenital heart disease
CHFCongestive/chronic heart failure
CHIClosed head injury
CHLConductive hearing loss
CHxCurrent history (physio)
C/IContraindicated (physio)
CIACommon iliac artery
CIBHChange in bowel habit
CIDPChronic inflammatory demyelination polyradioneuropathy
CINCervical intra-epithelial neoplasia
Circ ObsCirculatory observations (physio)
CISCarcinoma in situ
CKCreatinine kinase
CKDChronic kidney disease
CLDChronic liver disease
ClFlClear fluids
CLLChronic lymphocytic leukaemia
CLOCampylobacter-like organism
CLTContinuous lumbar traction (physio)
CMCertified midwife
CMCCarpometacarpal (physio)
CMLChronic myeloid leukaemia
CMMLChronic myelomonocytic leukaemia
CMPCalcium, magnesium and phosphate
 Casual male partner
CMTCharcot Marie Tooth
CMSClinical Midwife Specialist
CNCClinical nurse consultant
CNEClinical nurse educator
CNHChondrodermatitis nodularis chronica helicis
CNPContinuous negative pressure ventilation
CNPBContinuous negative pressure breathing
CNPUCannot pass urine
CNSCentral nervous system
CNSClinical Nurse Specialist
CNVCopy number variant
c/oComplains of
COCardiac output
CO2Carbon dioxide
Co1-3Coxageal segments (physio)
COBChronic obstructive bronchitis
 Country of birth
C0/C1Atlanto-axial joint (physio)
COCPCombined oral contraceptive pill
COJCardio-oesophageal junction
Compack sCommunity Packages
COPACuffed oropharyngeal airway
COPDChronic obstructive pulmonary disease
CoPMIChildren of parents with a mental illness (mental health)
COPUMCongenital obstructing posterior urethral membranes
COVID- 19Corona virus disease 2019
COWSClinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale
CPChild Protection
CPAPContinuous positive airway pressure
CPB/CP BPCardiopulmonary bypass
CPDCephalopelvic disproportion
cPNETCentral primitive neuroectodermal tumour
CPCTCommunity Palliative Care Team
CPPDCalcium Pyrophosphate Dihydrate (Crystal Deposition Disease)
CPRCardio-pulmonary resuscitation
CPSCentral Pain Syndrome
CRControlled release (used after a drug name)/clinical review
CRBBAComplete right bundle branch block
CRCColorectal cancer
creps.Crepitations (physio)
CRESTabbreviation for calcinosis, Raynaud’s phenomenon,
(syndrom e)esophageal dysfunction, sclerodactyly, and telangiectasis
CRHDChronic rheumatic heart disease
CRLCrown rump length (ultrasound)
CRPSComplex regional pain syndrome
CRRTContinuous renal replacement therapy
CRSCommonwealth Rehabilitation Service
C/SCaesarean section
C&SCulture and sensitivity
CSACentral sleep apnoea
 Childhood Sexual Assault
CSFCerebrospinal fluid
CSHSCentral sleep hypopnea syndrome
CSMClinical Services Manager
CSOMChronic suppurative otitis media
CSUCatheter specimen of urine
CSTCervical Screening Test
CSWCommercial sex worker
CTchlamydia trachomatis
CTComputerised tomography
CTCAComputerised tomography coronary angiogram
CTDCarpal tunnel decompression
 Connective tissue disorder
CTMConnective tissue massage (physio)
CTOCommunity Treatment Order/chronic total occlusion
CTPComprehensive Third Party Insurance
CTPAComputerised tomography pulmonary angiogram
CTRCarpal tunnel release
CTSCarpal tunnel syndrome
CTSPCalled to see patient
CUPChemical use in pregnancy
 Cancer of unknown primary
C/USContinuous ultrasound (physio)
CVADCentral venous access device
CVCCentral venous catheter
CVCentral Venous
CVDCerebrovascular disease
CVPCentral venous pressure
CVSCardiovascular system
 Chorionic villus sampling
CVVHContinuous veno-venous haemofiltration
CVVHDContinuous veno-venous haemodialysis
CWUChild Wellbeing Unit
CXRChest X_RAy
CYFChild Youth and Families
DADecision aid
DADLDomestic activities of daily living (occ. Therapy)
D&ADrug and alcohol (mental health)
DAIDiffuse axonal injury
DamDental dam
DAORDischarged at own risk
DASDevelopmental Assessment Service
DASHDisability of arm, shoulder, hand (physio)
DAREdigital anal rectal examination
DARFDelayed Acute Renal Failure
DASS 21Depression Anxiety Stress Scales
DATDementia of Alzheimer’s type
DBDeep breathing (physio)
DB&CDeep breathing and coughing (physio)
DBEDeep breathing exercises
DBPDiastolic blood pressure
DCDADichorionic Diamniotic
D&CDilatation and curettage
DCISDuctal carcinoma in situ
DCJDepartment of Communities and Justice
DDxDifferential diagnosis
DDDangerous drugs
 Developmental delay
DDDDegenerative disc disorder
Dec.Decreased (physio)
DEMMIde Morton Mobility Index
DESDrug eluting stent
DFDorsiflexion (physio)
DGIDisseminated gonococcal infection
DHSDynamic hip screw
DHxDevelopmental history
DIDiabetes Insipidus
DICDisseminated intravascular coagulation (syndrome)
DIHDirect inguinal hernia
DINDuctal intraepithelial neoplasia
DIPDistal interphalangeal (physio)
DISHDiffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis
DITsDiathermy to inferior turbinates
DIUDeath in-utero
DJDDegenerative joint disease
DKADiabetic ketoacidosis
DLCLDiffuse large cell lymphoma
DLEDisseminated lupus erythematosis
DLTDouble lumen tube
DMDiabetes mellitus
DM1Diabetes mellitus type1
DM2Diabetes mellitus type2
DMLDiffuse, mixed small and large cell lymphoma
DNADid not attend
 Deoxyribonucleic acid
DNSDeviated nasal septum
DNWDid not wait
D/ODay only
DOADead on arrival
DOBDate of birth
DoCSDepartment of Community Services replaced by Family and Community Services (FACS) then by
 Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ)
DODDate of death
DOEDyspnoea on exertion
DOHDepartment of Housing
DONDirector of Nursing
DOPSDiffuse obstructive pulmonary syndrome
DORVDouble outlet right ventricle
DPTDiphtheria, pertussis, tetanus (vaccine)
DREDigital rectal examination
DREZDorsal root entry zone
DSDowns syndrome
D/SDorsal surface (podiatry)
DSADigital subtraction angiography
DSCLDiffuse small cleaved-cell lymphoma
DSHDeliberate self harm (mental health)
DSTDexamethasone suppression test
DSTMDeep soft tissue massage (physio)
DSUDisability Service Unit
DTADeep transverse arrest
DTFDeep transverse frictions (physio)
DTMDeep tissue massage (physio)
DTPDiphtheria tetanus pertussis (vaccine)
dTpaDiptheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis Vaccine
DTDiversional therapist
DTsDelirium tremens
DUDecubitus ulcer
DUADeath under anaesthetic
DUBDysfunctional uterine bleeding
DVDomestic violence
D&VDiarrhoea and vomiting
DVADepartment of Veterans’ Affairs
DVDDouble-vessel disease
DVTDeep venous thrombosis
D/WDiscussed with
DWDaily weight
EACHExtended aged care at home (package)
EExtension (physio)
EAMExternal auditory meatus
EARExpired air resuscitation
EBMExpressed breast milk
EBPElectric breast pump
EBVEpstein-Barr virus
ECCRTLAEqual, concentric, circular, reacting to light and accommodation
ECBDExploration common bile duct
ECCEExtracapsular cataract extraction
ECDCExtracellular diplococci
EC-ICExtracranial to intracranial (Vascular Bypass)
ECMOExtracorporal membrane oxygenation
ECPEmergency contraceptive pill
E ColiEscherichia coli
ECSWLExtracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy
ECTElectroconvulsive therapy
ECTREndoscopic carpal tunnel release
ECVExternal cephalic version
EDEmergency Department
EDBEpidural block
EDCEstimated date of confinement
 Expected date of completion
EDDExpected due date
 Expected discharge date
EDHExtradural haemorrhage
EENEndorsed Enrolled Nurse
EEREstimated energy requirements (dietetics)
EFEjection fraction
EFREstimate fluid requirements
eGFREstimated glomerular filtration rate
EIAEnzyme immunoassay
EILExtension in lying (physio)
EISExtension in standing (physio)
EJVExternal jugular vein
ELBWextremely low birth weight
Elev.Elevation (physio)
ELISAEnzyme linked immunosorbent assay
EMLA (trade name)Eutectic mixture of local anaesthetics-Copyright Astra Pharmaceuticals
eMRElectronic medical records
EMSElderly Mobility Test (physio)
ENEnrolled nurse
 Enteral nutrition
ENTEar, nose and throat
E/OExamination of
 Excision of
EOMExtra-ocular movements
EOLEnd of Life
EOLPEnd of Life Pathway
EOREnd of range (physio)
EPREstimated protein requirements (dietetics)
EPSElectrophysiological studies
EPSEExtra-pyramidal side effects (mental health)
ERExternal rotation (physio)
 Estrogen receptor
ERCPEndoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography
ERPCEvacuation of retained products of conception
ERTEstrogen Replacement Therapy
ESAErythropoiesis-stimulating agents
ESCEnd stage care
ESCRFEnd stage chronic renal failure
ESMEjection systolic murmur
ESRErythrocyte sedimentation rate
ESRDEnd stage renal disease
ESRFEnd stage renal failure
ESWLExtracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy
ESWTEndurance Shuttle Walk Test (physio)
ETCO2End tidal carbon dioxide
ETTEndotracheal tube
EUAExamination under anaesthetic
EUCElectrolytes, urea and creatinine
Ev.Eversion (physio)
EWCElectric wheelchair
Exp.Expiratory (physio)
Ext.Extension (physio)
F&AFoot and ankle (physio)
FACHForceps to after coming head
FAPFamilial adenomatous polyposis
FASFForearm support frame (physio)
FBForeign body
FBCFull blood count
 Female breast cancer
 Fluid balance chart
FCCFamily cancer clinic
FCU/ FVUFirst catch urine/ First void urine
FDFoetal distress
FDIUFoetal death in utero
FESFunctional electrical stimulation
FESSFunctional endoscopic sinus surgery
FETForced expiratory technique (physio)
FEVForced expiratory volume (physio)
FEV1Forced expiratory volume in one second (physio)
FFFormula feeding
FFAFree fatty acids
FFLFree fluids
FFMFast from midnight
FFPFresh frozen plasma
FFFTsFits, faints and funny turns
FGMFemale genital mutilation
FH/FHxFamily history
FHRFoetal heart rate
FHSFoetal heart sounds
FIFor investigation
Fi O2Fraction of inspired oxygen
FILFlexion in lying (physio)
FIMFunctional independence measure (physio)
FISFlexion in standing (physio)
FISHFluorescence in situ hybridisation
FISSFlexion in step standing (physio)
FIVDFixed interval variable dose
FLCLFollicular large cell lymphoma
FLCNFolliculin gene
Flex.Flexion (physio)
FMFoetal movement
FMFFoetal movements felt
FMLFollicular mixed lymphoma
FMOFinancial management order (mental health)
FMSFunctional Mobility Scale (physio)
FnFunction (physio)
FNAFine needle aspirate
FNABFine needle aspiration biopsy
FNBFine needle biopsy
FOFor observation (mental health)
FOBFibreoptic bronchoscopy /faecal occult blood
FOBTFaecal occult blood testing
FOOBFell out of bed
FOOSHFall on outstretched hand
FPAFamily planning association
FPGFasting plasma glucose
FPNSWFamily Planning NSW
FRAMPFalls Risk Assessment and Management Plan
FRAXFragile x syndrome
FRCFunctional residual capacity
FROMFull range of motion (physio)
FRSFamily Referral Service
FSFrozen section
FSCLFollicular small cleaved-cell lymphoma
FSEFoetal scalp electrode
FSGNFocal sclerosing glomerulonephritis
FSHFollicle stimulating hormone
FTFull term
FTAFailure to attend
FTA (Abs)Fluorescent treponemal antibody
FT CaFallopian tube cancer
FTDFull term delivery
FTGFull thickness graft
FTIFree thyroxine index
FTMFractional test meal / Female to male
FTPFailure to progress
FTSGFull thickness skin graft
FTTFailure to thrive
F/UFollow up
FUBFunctional uterine bleeding
FVCForced vital capacity (physio)
FWBFull weight bearing (physio)
4WFFour-wheeled frame
GGravida – No. of pregnancies
GAGeneral anaesthetic
GASGoal Attainment Scale
GAMPGeneral anaesthesia manipulation & plaster
GANTGastrointestinal autonomic nerve tumour
GBPSGated blood pool scan
GBSGroup B Streptococcus
GCGenetic counsellor
GCMSGas chromatography mass spectrometry
GCSGlasgow coma scale
GDMGestational diabetes mellitus
GFRGlomerular filtration rate
GFSHGrowth factor stimulating hormone
GHGrowth hormone
G&HGroup and hold
GHPSGated heart pool scan
GIBGastrointestinal bleeding
GIDDMGestational insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
GIFTGamete intrafallopian transfer
GIHGastrointestinal haemorrhage
GISTGastrointestinal stomal tumour
GITGastrointestinal tract
g/lGrams per litre
GMGrand mal (epilepsy)
GMFCSGross Motor Function Classification Scale (physio)
GNCGeneral nursing care (mental health)
GNIDGram negative intracellular diplococci
GOLDGenetics of learning disability
GORDGastroesophageal reflux disease
GPGeneral practitioner
GPIGeneral paralysis of the insane
Gr 1Grade 1 (etc..)
GRFGround reaction force (physio)
GRHGrowth releasing hormone
GSHGroup, screen and hold
GSWGunshot wound
GTGenetic testing
GTNC+DGeneral treatment, nails cut and drilled (podiatry)
GTNC+FGeneral treatment, nails cut and filed (podiatry)
GTTGlucose tolerance test
GUGastric ulcer
GUSGenitourinary system
GUTGenitourinary tract
GVHDGraft versus host disease
G&XMGroup and cross match
Gx/PyGravida x (number of pregnancies / Para y (number of live births)
 Huff (physio)
HACCHome and Community Care
HADHospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (physio)
Hall.Hallux (podiatry)
HASAHealth and Security Assistant (mental health)
HASIHousing and Accommodation Support Initiative (mental health)
HAVHallux adducto valgus (podiatry)
HBHeart block
1THBFirst degree heart block
HbA1CGlycosylated haemoglobin
HBBHand behind back (physio)
HBCHereditary breast cancer
HBcAgHepatitis B core antigen
HBCViral Hepatitis B
HBCRHereditary bowel cancer register
HBHHand behind head (physio)
HBIGHepatitis B Immunoglobulin
HBOHyperbaric oxygenation
HBOCHereditary breast and ovarian cancer
HBsAgHepatitis B surface antigen
HBVHepatitis B Virus
H&CHuff and cough (physio)
HCHead circumference
H/CHot/cold (physio)
HCAHealth Care Agency (mental health)
HCCHereditary cancer clinic
HCCCHealth Care Complaints Commission (mental health)
HCISHealth Care Interpreter Service (mental health)
hCGHuman chorionic gonadotropin
HCVHepatitis C virus
HCVDHypertensive cardiovascular disease
HCWHealth care worker
 Huntington disease
H/DHeloma durum (podiatry)
HDLHigh density lipoprotein
HDTHead down tilt (physio)
HDUHigh Dependency Unit
HDVHepatitis D virus
HEHigh energy
HEEADSSSHome environment, Education and employment, Eating, peer-related Activities, Drugs, Sexuality,
 Suicide/Depressiong, and Safety from injury and violence
HEHPHigh energy high protein (dietetics)
HENHome enteral nutrition
HEPHome exercise program (physio)
Hep A, B, CHepatitis A, B, C etc..
HER2Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2
HGHHuman growth hormone
HGrHigh grade
HGSHigh grade serous
HHHiatus hernia
HHFNChumidified high flow nasal cannula
HHSHHand held shower hose (occ therapy)
HHTHereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia
HIHead injury
HIBHaemophilus Influenzae type B
HIDAHepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (scan)
HIEHypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy
HIFUSHigh intensity focused ultrasound
HIMAThigh-level mobility assessment tool
HITHHospital in The home
HITSHeparin-induced t thrombotic syndrome
HIVHuman immunodeficiency virus
HIVDHerniated intervertebral disc
HKHyperkeratosis callous (podiatry)
H/KHawkins Kennedy (impingement test) (physio)
HLCHigh level care
HLSAHigh ligation stripping avulsion
HLTHeart/lung transplant
HMDHyaline membrane disease
H/molleHeloma molle (podiatry)
HNPCCHereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer
HNPMHas not passed meconium
HNPUHas not passed urine
H/O, HOHistory of
HOCMHypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy
HONKHyperosmolar nonketotic coma
HPHigh protein
 Hyperplastic polyp
HPCHistory of present condition
HPFHigh power field
HPFHHereditary persistence of foetal haemoglobin
HPIHistory of present illness
HPOHypertrophic pulmonary osteopathy
 Health Promotion Officer/ Hematopietic progenitor cell
HPUHas passed urine
HPVHuman papilloma virus
HPVDHypertensive pulmonary vascular disease
HRHeart rate
H-RHamilton Russell (traction)
H/RHold relax (physio)
HRCHigh risk clinic
HRTHormone replacement therapy
HSHeart sounds
H Sit.High sitting (physio)
HSVHerpes simplex virus
HTLVHuman T-cell lymphotropic virus
HTOHigh tibial osteotomy
HUSHaemolytic uraemic syndrome
HVHome visit
HVSHigh vaginal swab
HWRHealthy weight range (dietetics)
HZVHerpes zoster virus
I ¹³¹Iodine – 131, radioiodine
IABCPIntra-aortIc balloon counterpulsator– never used, IABP instead
IInsertive (sexual intercourse)
IABPIntra-aortic balloon pump
IADHInappropriate antidiuretic hormone
IASDInteratrial septal defect
IBDInflammatory bowel disease
IBSIrritable bowel syndrome
ICInformed consent (physio)
I/CIn Charge
IC¥Informed consent obtained (physio)
ICAInternal carotid artery
ICBIntracerebral bleed
ICCIntercostal catheter
ICCEIntracapsular cataract extraction
ICCSIntercellular cement substance
ICDIntercostal drain/implantable cardioverter defibrillator
 Implantable cardioverter defibrillator
ICEIridocorneal endothelial (syndrome)
IC-ECIntracranial to Extracranial (vascular bypass)
ICFIntravascular coagulation-fibrinolysis (syndrome)
ICPIntracranial pressure
ICSIntercostal space
ICSIIntracytoplasmic sperm injection
ICUIntensive Care Unit
IDIdentification (bands on babies) (obstetrics)
I & DIncision and drainage
IDCIndwelling catheter
 Infiltrating ductal carcinoma
IDMInfant of diabetic mother
IDSInterdigital space (podiatry)
IDUInjecting drug use
IDWInterdigital wedge (podiatry)
IEInspiratory:expiratory (ratio) (physio)
IECIntraepithelial carcinoma
 Injury factor
IFTInterferential therapy (physio)
IGFInsulin-like growth factor
IgGImmunoglobulin G
IGRImpaired glucose regulation
IGTNIngrown toenail
IHIncisional hernia
IHDIschaemic heart disease
IHSSIdiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis
IIImage intensifier
IIMSIncident Information Management System
IJVInternal jugular vein
ILCInfiltrating lobular carcinoma
IM; I/MIntramuscular
IMAInternal mammary artery
IMBIntermenstrual bleeding
IMCIncomplete miscarriage
IMIIntramuscular injection
IMTIsometric muscle testing (physio)
IMVIntermittent mandatory ventilation
In situIn position
INRInternational normalised ratio
Insp.Inspiratory (physio)
Int.Internal (physio)
Inv.Inversion (physio)
I/OInsertion of
IOCIntraoperative cholangiogram
IODMInfant of diabetic mother
IOLInduction of labour
IOPIntraocular pressure
IPDIntermittent peritoneal dialysis
IPFIdiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (physio)
IPHIntrapartum haemorrhage
IPJInterphalangeal joint
IPMAInterpersonal Prevention and Management of Aggression (mental health)
IPOPIntegrated Patient Optimisation Program
IPPBIntermittent positive pressure breathing (physio)
IPPRIntermittent positive pressure respiration
IPPVIntermittent positive pressure ventilation (physio)
IQIntelligence quotient
I&RIntake and review
IRInternal rotation (physio)
IRInterventional Radiology
IRDSInfant respiratory distress syndrome
IRMAIntraretinal microvascular abnormalities
IRPFIdiopathic retroperitoneal fibrosis
IRQInner range quadriceps (physio)
IRVInspiratory reserve volume
ISADHInappropriate secretion of anti-diuretic hormone
ISBARIdentify, Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommmendation
ISCIntermittent self-catheterisation
isqCondition unchanged (in status quo)
ISTInfraspinatus tendon (physio)
ISWTIncremental Shuttle Walk Test (physio)
I/TIntermittent (physio)
I/T C TxIntermittent cervical traction (physio)
I/T L TxIntermittent lumbar traction (physio)
ITPIdiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
IUCDIntrauterine contraceptive device
IUDIntrauterine death
IUFDIntrauterine foetal death
IUGRIntrauterine growth retardation
IUPIntrauterine pregnancy
IVCInferior vena cava/intravenous cannula
IVDIntervertebral disc
IVDAIntravenous drug abuse(remove)– usually iVDU (IV drug user)
IVFIn-vitro fertilisation/ IV Fluids
IVHIntraventricular haemorrhage
IVIIntravenous injection
IVPIntravenous pyelogram
IVSDInterventricular septal defect
IVTIntravenous therapy
IVUSIntravascular ultrasound
IWTImpacted wisdom teeth
JCAJuvenile chronic arthritis
JDMJuvenile diabetes mellitus
JFMJewish founder mutation
JGOSJoint guarantee of Service (mental health)
jjjaw jerks
JJJejunostomy (dietetics)
JMOJunior medical officer
JOJuvenile onset (mental health)
JPSJuvenile polyposis syndrome
JRAJuvenile rheumatoid arthritis
Jt.Joint (physio)
JVPJugular venous pressure
JVPNEJugular venous pressure not elevated
JVPNRJugular venous pressure not raised or JVPNE (not elevated)
kjknee jerks
K10L3DKessler psychological distress scale – Last 3 days
K10LMKessler psychological distress scale – Last month
KMPKnown male partner (casual)
KR/KFKiellands rotation/Kiellands forceps
KRKiellands rotation
KRCKirketon Road Centre
KSKaposi’s sarcoma
KPFKnown female partner
KUBKidney, ureters, and bladder
K WireKirschner wire
L 1-5Lumbar vertebrae 1-5
LALocal anaesthetic
LADLeft axis deviation/left anterior descending (artery)
 Left anterior descending
LAFGLong arm fibreglass (cast) (physio)
LAHBLeft anterior hemiblock
LAMPLocal anaesthesia, manipulation & plaster
LAPILacey Assessment of Preterm Infants (physio)
LAPOPLong arm plaster of paris (physio)
LARCLong-acting reversible contraceptives
LASIKLaser-Assisted In-Situ Keratomileusis
LSILast sexual intercourse
Lat.Lateral (physio)
LAVLymphadenopathy-associated virus
LBBBLeft bundle branch block
LBDLeft border dullness
LBELateral basal expansion (physio)
LBPLow back pain (physio)
LBWLow birth weight
LCLactation Consultant
LCALeft coronary artery
LCCALeft common carotid artery/angiogram
LCCSLow cervical caesarean section
LCISLobular carcinoma in situ
LCLLateral collateral ligament (physio)
LCMLeft costal margin
LCQLiving in the Community Questionnaire
LCxLeft circumflex
LDDDLumbar degenerative disc disorder
LDLLow-Density-Lipoprotein type
LEEPLoop electrosurgery excision procedure
LFLiver failure
LFALeft femoral artery
LFHLeft femoral hernia
LFSLi-Fraumeni syndrome
LFTsLiver function tests
LGALarge for gestational age
LGrLow grade
LGVLymphogranuloma venereum
LHLuteinising hormone
LHFLeft heart failure
LICSLeft intercostal space
LIFLeft iliac fossa
ligs.Ligaments (physio)
LIHLeft inguinal hernia
LIMALeft internal mammary artery
LIQLower inner quadrant (breast)
LLLower lobe/ Lower limb
LLBLower limb brace
LLETZLarge loop excision transformation zone
LLFGLong leg fibreglass (cast) (physio)
LLLLeft lower lobe (lung)
LLPOPLong leg plaster of Paris (physio)
LLQLeft lower quadrant
LMALaryngeal mask airway
LMBLeft main bronchus
LMCALeft main coronary artery
LMLLeft middle lobe (lung)
LMNDLower motor neurone disease
LMOLocal medical officer
LMPLast menstrual period
LMTCLeft message to call
L/NLymph node
LN2Liquid Nitrogen
LNBLymph node biopsy
LNMPLast normal menstrual period
LOALeft occipito-anterior
LOCLoss of consciousness/level of consciousness
LOLLeft occipito-lateral
LOPLeft occipito-posterior
LOQLower outer quadrant (breast)
LOSLength of stay
LOTLeft occipito-transverse
LOWLoss of weight
LPLumbar puncture
LRQLower right quadrant
LPULast passed urine
LRTILower respiratory tract infection
L/SLecithin/sphingomyelin (ratio)
LSCLLong subclavian line
LSCPLeft scapuloposterior
LSCSLow segment caesarean section
LSELeft sternal edge
LSOLeft salpingo-oophorectomy
LSPLeft sacro posterior
l/sulcusLateral sulcus (podiatry)
LSVLeft saphenous vein
LTHRLeft total hip replacement
LTMLong term memory (mental health)
LTSLateral tarsal strip
LULast Use
LULLeft upper lobe (lung)
LUDTLeft undescended testicle
LUQLeft upper quadrant
LUSCSLower uterine segment caesarean section
LVLeft ventricle
LVADLeft ventricular assistance device
LVDLeft ventricular dysfunction
LVEDPLeft ventricular end-diastolic pressure
LVFLeft ventricular failure
LVHLeft ventricular hypertrophy
LVSLow vaginal swab
LVTLeft ventricular tachycardia
LZLower zone (physio)
6MWT6 Minute Walk Test
M1Mitral valve, first sound
M2Mitral valve, second sound
MAMaternal aunt
MACMycobacterium avium complex
MACEMalone antegrade continence enema
MAIMycobacterium avium-intracellulare (infection)
MALTMucosa-associated lymphoid tissue
maneIn the morning
MAOIMonoamine oxidase inhibitors (mental health)
MAPMean airway pressure/mean arterial pressure
 MutYH (MYH) associated polyposis
MARMedication Administration Record
MASMotor assessment scale (physio)
MASTMilitary anti-shock trousers
Max.Maximum (physio)
MBAMotor bike accident
MBCMale breast cancer
MBDMinimal brain dysfunction
MBSModified barium swallow (speech path)
MCAMiddle cerebral artery
MCDAMonochorionic Diamniotic
MCGMicturating cystogram
MCHMean corpuscular haemoglobin
MCHCMean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration
MCLMid-clavicular line
MCLSMucocutaneous lymph node syndrome
MCMAMonochorionic Diamniotic
MCPMetacarpophalangeal (physio)
MCSMicroscopy, culture and sensiitivity
MCVMean corpuscular volume
MCVmolluscum contagiosum virus
MDMuscular dystrophy
MDDMajor depressive disorder (mental health)
MDIMetered dose inhaler
MDMMid-diastolic murmur
MDPManic depressive psychosis
MDR-TBMultidrug-resistant tuberculosis
MDSMyelodysplastic syndrome
MDTMultidisciplinary team meeting
MEMyalgic encephalitis
Mec liqMeconium liquor
Med.Medial (physio)
MEDMinimal erythema dose
MENMultiple endocrine neoplasia
METS; MetsMetastatic
MFCMedial femoral condyle
MFDMid forceps delivery
MFMMaternal Fetal Medicine
MGMycoplasma genitalium
MGAManipulation under general anaesthetic
 Maternal great aunt
Mgenmycoplasma genitalium
MGFMaternal grandfather
MGMMaternal grandmother
MGPMidwifery Group Practice
MGTTModified glucose tolerance test
MGUSMonoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance
MHMental health (mental health)
MHAMental Health Act (mental health)
MHAHSMulticultural HIV and Hepatitis Service
MHDAOMental health and Drug and Alcohol Office (mental health)
MHIManual hyperinflation (physio)
MHOATMental Health Outcome Assessment Tool (mental health)
MHRTMental health review tribunal (mental health)
MHTMental health team
MhzMegahertz (physio)
MIMyocardial infarction
MIDMulti-infarct dementia
MIMSMonthly index of medical specialities
min.Minimum (physio)
MLMiddle lobe (lung)
MLBMonaural loudness balance (hearing test)
MLDMasking level difference (hearing test)
MLH1mutL homolog 2 gene
MMMultiple Myeloma
mmHgMillimetres of mercury
MMKMarshall-Marchetti-Krantz operation
MMPMedication management plan
MMRMeasles-mumps-rubella (vaccine)
 Mismatch repair (genes)
MMSEMini mental state examination
MMTManual muscle testing (physio)
MNDMotor neurone disease
MNGMultinodular goitre
MOMedical officer
 Medical oncology
Mob.Mobilise (physio)
MOCAMontreal cognitive assessment
MODMature onset diabetes
mods.Modifications (occ therapy)
MODYMaturity-onset diabetes of the young
MOWMeals on wheels
m/pMedial plantar (podiatry)
MP1Mallampati 1 (a score for mouth opening in anaesthesia, 1-4 grades)
MPDMucopurlent discharge
MPNSTMalignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour
MPSMyocardial perfusion scan/study
MPVMean platelet volume
MRMitral regurgitation
 Mental retardation
MRAMagnetic resonance angiography
MRCPMagnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography
MRIMagnetic resonance imaging
MRNMedical record number
MROPManual removal of placenta
MRPMotor relearning programme (occ therapy)
MRSAMethicillin/Multiple resistant staphylococcus aureus
MSMitral stenosis
 Multiple sclerosis
MSAMammary specific antigen
MSEMental state examination (mental health)
MSH2mutS homolog 2 gene
MSH6mutS homolog 6 gene
MSHCMelbourne Sexual Health Centre
MSIMicrosatellite instability testing
MSLMeconium stained liquor
MSLTMultiple sleep latency test
MSMMen who have sex with men
MSTMalnutrition screening tool
MSUMid stream urine
m/sulcusMedial sulcus (podiatry)
MTDMuscle tension dysphonia
MTFMale to Female
MTPMetatarsophalangeal (physio) (podiatry)
MUAManipulation under anaesthetic
MULEMultiple upper limb exerciser
Multip.Multipara = more than one live birth
Mut mast/ MMMutual masturbation
MutYHmutY homolog gene
MVMechanical ventilation/mitral valve
MVAMotor vehicle accident
MVDMitral valve disease
MVPMitral valve prolapse
MVRMitral valve replacement
movt.Movement (physio)
MWMallory-Weiss (syndrome)
MWCManual wheelchair
MYHMut Y homologous (gene)
MZMiddle/mid zone
NAATNucleic Acid Amplification Test
NADNo abnormality detected
NAFLDNon-alcoholic fatty liver disease
NAMNutrition as medication
NANBNon-A/Non-B (viral hepatitis)
NATNon Accidental Trauma
NASHNon-alcoholic steatohepatitis
NBACNext Birth After Caesarean
NBCCSNevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome
NBFNeville Barnes forceps (low)
NBMNil by mouth
NBSTNewborn screening test
NCVNerve conduction study
NCATNational Civil and Administrative Tribunal
NCSNerve Conduction Study
N/DNormal delivery
NDIANational Disability Insurance Agency
NDISNational Disability Insurance Scheme
NENot engaged– Nurse Educator
N/ENo effect (physio)
NECNecrotising enterocolitis
NESBNon English-speaking background
NETNeuroendocrine tumours
NETSNSW newborn & paediatric Emergency Transport Service
NF1Neurofibromatosis type 1 / neurofibromin gene
NF2Neurofibromatosis type 2 / neurofibromin gene
NFANo fixed address
NFONo further orders
NFRNot for resuscitation
NGneisseria gonorrhoea
NGONon-government organisation (mental health)
NGTNasogastric tube
NGUNongonococcal urethritis
NHNursing home
NHLNon-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
NHTNursing home type
NIBPNon-invasive blood pressure
NICUNeonatal intensive care unit
NIELNot in established labour
NIHSSNational Institute of Health Stroke Scale (physio)
NIMVNon invasive mask ventilation
NIVNon-invasive ventilation
9-HPTNine-Hole Peg Test (physio)
NIPS/TNon-invasive prenatal screening / testing
NIPVNon invasive pressure ventilation
NJNasojejunal (dietetics)
NKNil known; not known
NKANo known allergies
NKDANo known drug allergies
NLENeonatal lupus erythematosus
NMPNormal menstrual period
NMSNeuroleptic malignant syndrome
NMRINuclear magnetic resonance imaging
NNDNeonatal death
NOACNewer/novel oral anticoagulants
NOADNo other abnormality detected
NocteAt night
NOFNeck of femur
NOHNeck of humerus
NOKNext of kin
NOLDNo osseous lesion detected
NOSNot otherwise specified
NPNon productive (physio) )/nasal prong
 Nasal prongs
NPNurse Practitioner
NPANasopharyngeal airway
NPEPNon-occupational post exposure prophylaxis
NPO2Nasal prong oxygen
npuNot passed urine
NPWTNegative-pressure wound therapy
NRNormal range
NRBNon rebreather (mask)
N/SNormal saline, nursing staff
NSNuclear sclerosis (cataract)
NSPNeedle & syringe program
NSAIDNon steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
NSCNon-sterile cataract
NSCLCNon small cell lung cancer/carcinoma
NSMDANeurosensory Motor Developmental Assessment (physio)
NSRNormal sinus rhythm
NSUNon-specific urethritis
NSTEMINon ST elevation myocardial infarction
NTNuchal translucency
NUMNurse unit manager
N&VNausea and vomiting
NWBNon weight bearing
O:Objective (physio)
OAOccipito-anterior (L or R) /osteoarthritis
O/AOn admission; on arrival
Obs.Observations (physio)
OBSOrganic brain syndrome
O/COnychocryptosis (podiatry)
OCDOsteochondritis dissecans
 Obsessive compulsive disorder
OCPOral contraceptive pill
OCTOptical coherence tomography
O/EOn examination
OFDOrofaciodigital (syndrome)
O/GOnychogryphosis (podiatry)
O&GObstetrics and Gynaecology
OGTTOral glucose tolerance test
OHIOral hygiene instruction
OHSObesity hypoventilation syndrome
OH&SOccupational health and safety
OIOsteogenesis imperfecta
OJOther joints (physio)
OMOtitis media
 Obtuse marginal
O/MOnychomycosis (podiatry)
OMSOntario Modify Stratify (falls risk screening tool)/ Opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome
ONSOral nutrition support
OOHCOut Of Home Care
OOHC HPPOut of Home Care Health Pathway Program
OPCOffice of the Protective Commissioner (mental health)
OPDOutpatients Department
O/R; OROpen reduction / Operating Room
ORIFOpen reduction with internal fixation
ORQOuter range quadriceps (physio)
ORTHINOverdose Response with Take Home Naloxone (intervention)
OSAObstructive sleep apnoea
O2 SatsOxygen saturation
OSHSObstructive sleep hypopnoea syndrome
OSIoral sexual intercourse
OSTOpioid Substitution Therapy
OTOccipitotransverse/operating theatre/occupational therapist
 Occupational therapy
OTAOver toilet aid (occ therapy)
OTPOpioid Treatment Program
OTCOver the counter
Ov CaOvarian cancer
P:Plan (physio)
P1, P2Pulmonary valve, first sound or second sound
PAPer axilla
PACPremature atrial contractions/pressure area care
 Pressure area care / Pre admission clinic
PACEPromoting aphasic’s communicative effectiveness (speech path)
 Patient with acute condition requiring escalation
PACUPost anaesthesia care unit
PADLPersonal activities of daily living (occ therapy)
PADPProgram of Aids for Disabled People (occ therapy)
PAFParoxysmal atrial fibrillation
PAINADPain assessment in Advanced Demntia
Pall CarePalliative care
palp.Palpitations (physio)
PAMSPassive accessory movements (physio)
PAIVMSPassive accessory intervertebral movements (physio)
PANPolyarteritis nodosa
PAPPrimary atypical pneumonia
PAPP-APregnancy-associated plasma protein A
Pap smearPapanicolaou smear test
PARPiPARP inhibitor, polyadenosine ribopolymerase inhibitor
pass.Passive (physio)
pat.Patella (physio)
PATParoxysmal atrial tachycardia
PBCPrimary biliary cirrhosis
P/cPhone call
pcPresenting complaint (physio)
PCPacked cells
PCAPatient controlled analgesia
PCBPost-coital bleeding
PCIPercutaneous coronary intervention
PCKPolycystic kidney
PCLPosterior cruciate ligament (physio)
pCO2Partial pressure of Carbon Dioxide
PCODPolycystic ovary disease
PCOSPolycystic Ovarian Syndrome
PCPPhencyclidine (use/intoxication)
PCRPolymerase chain reaction
PCTPorphyria cutanea tarda
PCTAPercutaneous transluminal angioplasty
PCVPacked cell volume
PDPeritoneal dialysis
PDAPatent ductus arteriosus
 Posterior descending artery
PDPTpatient delivered partner therapy
PDUPatient discharge lounge
PDLPatient discharge lounge
PDMSPeabody Developmental Motor Scale (physio)
PDxProvisional diagnosis
 Principal Diagnosis
PEPhysical examination
 Pleural effusion
 Pulmonary embolism
PEARLPupils equal and reacting to light
PECCRLAPupils equal, concentric, circular, reacting to light and accommodation
PEDIPaediatric Evaluation of Disability Inventory (physio)
PEEPPositive end expiratory pressure (physio)
PEFRPeak expiratory flow rate (physio)
PEGPercutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy
PEJPercutaneous endoscopic jejunostomy
PENSPercutaneous electrical nerve stimulator
PEOProtective Estates Order (mental health)
PEPPost-exposure prophylaxis
percPercussion (physio) /percutaneous
PETPre-eclamptic toxaemia/positron emitted tomography
PFPatellofemoral (physio)
PFCKRPatellofemoral compartment knee replacement
PFOPatent foramen ovale
PFRPeak flow rate
PFTPulmonary function test
PFxPelvic floor exercises (physio)
PGDPreimplantation genetic diagnosis
PGFPaternal grandfather
PGHPituitary growth hormone
PGLPersistent generalised lymphadenopathy
PGMPaternal grandmother
PG-SGAPatient guided subjective global assessment
PHxPast history
PHTPulmonary hypertension
PHxPast / personal / Patient history
PIProthrombin index
PICAPosterior inferior cerebral artery
PICCPeripherally inserted central catheter
PiCCOPulse contour cardiac output
PIDPelvic inflammatory disease
PIEPulmonary infiltration with eosinophilia
PIHPregnancy induced hypertension
PINProstatic intraepithelial neoplasia
PIPProximal interphalangeal (joint) )- Peak Inspiratory pressure
PITPPowered inferior turbinoplasty
PIVCperipheral intravenous catheter/cannula or IVC – intravenous catheter/cannula
PIVDProlapsed intervertebral disc
PJPPneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia
PJSPeutz-Jeghers syndrome
PKBProne knee bend
PKDPolycystic kidney disease
PMPost mortem
PMAPlantar metatarsal area (podiatry)
PMBPost menopausal bleeding
PMHPast medical history
PMN/ PolysPolymorphs on gram
PMPPlantar metatarsal pad (podiatry)
PMRPolymyalgia rheumatica
PMSPremenstrual syndrome
PMS2PMS1 homolog 2 gene
PMTPremenstrual tension
PNPercussion note
PNPartner Notification
PNBProstate needle biopsy
PNCPost natal clinic
PNDParoxysmal nocturnal dyspnoea
 Prenatal diagnosis
PNETPrimitive neuroectodermal tumour
PNFPassive neck flexion (physio)
PNHParoxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria
PNLAPercutaneous needle lung aspiration
PNMHPerinatal Mental Health
PNSPeripheral nervous system
PNTPancreatic neuroendocrine tumour
pO2Concentration of oxygen in solution
p/oProductive of (physio)
POBy mouth, orally
POAPower of attorney
POBAPlain old balloon angioplasty (internationally accepted cardiology abbreviation)
POCProducts of conception/ Point Of care
POCTpoint of care testing
PODPouch of Douglas
PodoPodophyllin/ podophyllotoxin
POFPremature ovarian failure syndrome
POHPoor Obstetric History
POIPrimary ovarian insufficiency
POPPersistent occipito-posterior
 Progestogen only pill
POWPrisoner of War/prince of wales
Post opPost operatively
PPPin prick
P&PPin and plate
PP CaPrimary peritoneal cancer
PPEPersonal protective equipment
PPHPost partum haemorrhage
PPHNPersistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn
PPIProton pump inhibitor
PPIVMPassive physiological intervertebral movements (physio)
PPMPermanent pacemaker
PPNPeripheral parenteral nutrition
pPNETPeripheral primitive neuroectodermal tumour
PRAFAB“Protection, Amount, Frequency, Adjustment, Body
 Image” – used in note PRAFAB Continence Questionnaire
PPROMPreterm premature rupture of membranes
PPUPerforated peptic ulcer
PRPer rectum/paced rhythm
 Progesterone receptor
Pre medPre medication
Pre-opPre operatively
PrepPreparation (mental health)
PrEP(HIV) Pre-exposure prophylaxis
PRFFNBPercutaneous radiofrequency facet nerve block
PRINDProlonged reversible ischaemic neurological deficit
PRKPhotorefractive keratectomy
prnWhenever necessary/as required (pro re nata)
prog.Prognosis (mental health)
PROMPremature rupture of membranes
pro temfor now/in the short term
PRVCPressure regulated volume control
PSPresenting symptoms
 Pressure support
P/SPlantar surface (podiatry)
PSAProstate-specific antigen
PSCPolar senile cataract
PSCPPsychosocial Care Plan
PSDPsychosocial Disability
PSH; PSHxPast surgical history
PSIPrevious sexual intercourse
PSPProgressive supranuclear palsy
PSVPressure support ventilation
PTAPercutaneous transluminal angioplasty
PTAPost-Traumatic Amnesia
PTAVPercutaneous transluminal aortic valvuloplasty
PTBPulmonary tuberculosis
PTCPercutaneous transhepatic cholangiography
PTCAPercutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty
PTCH1Patched 1 gene
PTDPre test discussion
PTEPulmonary thromboemboli
PTENPhosphatase and tensin homologous gene
PTFLPosterior tibiofibular ligament (physio)
PTHParathyroid hormone
PTKPhototherapeutic keratectomy
PTSPulled to sitting/pulled to standing (physio)
PTSDPost traumatic stress disorder
puPassed urine
PUPeptic ulcer
 Paternal uncle
PUDPeptic ulcer disease
PUFPick-up frame (physio)
PUITPassed urine in toilet
PUJPelvi-ureteric junction
PUOPyrexia of unknown origin
PUPPPruritic urticarial plaques of pregnancy
PU/SPulsed ultrasound (physio)
PUVAPsoralen ultraviolet A (therapy)
PVPer vagina
PVBPer vagina bleeding
PVCPremature ventricular contraction
PVDPeripheral vascular disease
PVEPer vaginal examination
PVSPost-viral syndrome
PWBPartial weight-bearing (physio)
PWCPowered wheelchair
PWDPerson with Disability
QRPQuick Response Unit
qidFour times a day
QSQuad stick (physio)
RReceptive (sexual intercourse)
RARheumatoid arthritis
 Right atrium
 Room air
RADRight axis deviation
RAEBRefractory anaemia with excess blasts
RAEB-TRefractory anaemia with excess blasts in transformation
RAFRapid atrial fibrillation
RAHRight atrial hypertrophy (on ECG)
RAMRapid alternating movements (neurology)
RARSRefractory anaemia with ringed sideroblasts
RASRenal artery stenosis
RBBBRight bundle branch block
rbcRed blood cell
RBCRed blood count
RBDRight border dullness
RBGRandom blood glucose
RBGLRandom blood glucose levels
RCRight circumflex
RCARight coronary artery
RCBRelaxed controlled breathing
RCCRed cell count
RCCARight common carotid angiogram/arteriogram
RCMRight costal margin
RCVRed cell volume
RDSRespiratory distress syndrome
RDTRoutine dialysis therapy
RDWRed cell distribution width
Re:Regarding (mental health)
REILRepeated extension in lying (physio)
REISRepeated extension in sitting (physio)
REMRapid eye movement
rep.Repeated (physio)
ret.Retraction (physio)
RFRenal failure
 Rollator frame – two wheels
RFARight femoral artery/recommendation for admission (form)
RFHRight femoral hernia
RFILRepeated flexion in lying (physio)
RFISRepeated flexion in standing (physio)
RFPRight frontoposterior (obstetrics)
 Regular female partner
RFTRight frontotransverse (obstetrics)
RFTsRespiratory function tests
RGPRetrograde pyelogram
Rh -veRhesus factor negative
Rh +veRhesus factor positive
RHDRheumatic heart disease
RHFRight heart failure
RHWRoyal Hospital for Women
RIBReportable incident brief/ rest in bed
 Rest in bed
RICERest, ice, compression, and elevation
RICSRight intercostal space
RIFRight iliac fossa
RIHRight inguinal hernia
RIMARight internal mammary artery
RINDReversible ischaemic neurologic deficit
RIPRaised intracranial pressure/ rest in peace
RJRadial jerk
R-JRobert Jones (bandage)
RKRadial keratotomy
RLFRetrolental fibroplasia
RLIQRight lower inner quadrant (breast)
RLLRight lower lid/ right lower lobe
 Right lower lobe
RLNRecurrent laryngeal nerve
RLOQRight lower outer quadrant (breast)
RLQRight lower quadrant (abdomen)
RMRegistered midwife
RMLRight middle lobe (lung)
RMOResident Medical Officer
RMPRegular male partner
RNRegistered Nurse
RNARibonucleic acid
R/ORemoval of
RORadiation oncology
ROARight occipito anterior (obstetrics)
ROIRelease of information
ROLRight occipitolateral (obstetrics)
ROMRange of motion (physio)
ROPRight occipitoposterior (obstetrics)
ROSRemoval of sutures
ROSHRisk of Significant Harm
rot.Rotation (physio)
ROTRight occipitotransverse (obstetrics)
RPARoyal Prince Alfred Hospital
RPCRetained products of conception
RPFRetroperitoneal fibrosis
RPRRapid plasma reagin
RRRespiratory rate
RRMRisk reducing mastectomy
RRMedRisk reducing medication
RR(B/U)SORisk reducing (bilateral/unilateral) salpingo- oophorectomy
RRTRenal Replacement Therapy – used in note RRT RED ZONE
RSARight sacro-anterior (obstetrics)
RSCPRight Scapuloposterior
RSDReflex sympathetic dystrophy (now CRPS)
RSIRepetitive strain injury
RSORight salpingo-oophorectomy
RSPRight sacroposterior (obstetrics)
RSTRight sacrotransverse (obstetrics)
RSVRespiratory syncytial virus
RSVBRespiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis
RT; R/T; RTxRadiotherapy
RTARegular in time and amplitude
RTBReturn to bed
RTHRRight total hip replacement
RTIRespiratory tract infection
RTLReacting to light
RTSRaised toilet seat (occ therapy)
RTUReturned to unit
RTWReturned to ward
RUDASRowland Universal Dementia Assessment Scale
RUIQRight upper inner quadrant (breast)
RULRight upper lid/right upper lobe (lung)
RUORight ureteric orifice
RUOQRight upper outer quadrant (breast)
RUQRight upper quadrant
RVRight ventricle
 Retro verted (uterus)
RVARight vertebral angiogram
RVADRight ventricular assist device
RVFRight ventricular failure
RVHRight ventricular hypertrophy
RVPRight venous pressure
RVTRenal vein thrombosis
RXTRight exotropia
sserum (as in s bilirubin)
S1-5Sacral vertebrae (1-5)
S. aureusStaphylococcus aureus
SabSabouraud agar
SAFGShort arm fibreglass (cast) (physio)
SAHSubarachnoid haemorrhage
SALSensorineural acuity level (test)
SAPOPShort arm plaster of paris (physio)
SaO2Saturation of arterial oxygen
S/BSeen by
SBAStandby assistance (occ therapy)
SBESubacute bacterial endocarditis– no longer in use; replaced by IE – infective endocarditis
SBOSmall bowel obstruction
SBPSystolic blood pressure
SBRSerum bilirubin
 Strict bed rest
S-B testStanford-Binet test
SBTSharp/blunt test (occ therapy)
SCASickle cell anaemia
SCADSpontaneous coronary artery dissection
scap.Scapula (physio)
SCCSquamous cell carcinoma
 Sudden cardiac death
SCHSubconjunctival haemorrhage
SCISubcutaneous injection
SCIDSevere combined immunodeficiency disease
SCI MH-OATService Contact Info. Mental Health Outcome & Assessment Tools (MH)
SCLCSmall cell lung cancer
SCNSpecial Care Nursery
SCTxStatic cervical traction
SCTATSex cord tumour with annular tubules (of the ovary)
SDATSenile dementia Alzheimer’s type (mental health)
SDHSubdural haemorrhage/haematoma
SDHASuccinate dehydrogenase A complex gene
SDHAF2Succinate dehydrogenase AF2 complex gene
SDHBSuccinate dehydrogenase B complex gene
SDHCSuccinate dehydrogenase C complex gene
SDHDSuccinate dehydrogenase D complex gene
SDTSpeech detection threshold
S/ESubjective examination (physio)
SEMSystolic ejection murmur
sens.Sensation (physio)
SFASuperficial femoral artery
SFDSmall for dates
SFGASmall for gestational age
SFL/RSide flexion left/right (physio)
SGSpecific gravity
SGASmall for gestational age
 Subjective global assessment
SGCSenior genetic counsellor
SGISSide glide in standing (physio)
Sh.Shoulder (physio)
SH; SHxSocial history/ Self harm/ Sexual Health
SHILSexual health info link
SHLSudden hearing loss
SIStress incontinence/ Self Injury
 Sexual intercourse
SIADHSyndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone (secretion)
SIBRStructured Interdisciplinary Bedside Rounds
SIDSSudden infant death syndrome
SIJSacro-iliac joint (physio)
SILSupported Independent Living
SIMVSynchronised intermittent mandatory ventilation
SIRSSystemic inflammatory response syndrome
SISADHSyndrome of inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone
SIWSelf inflicted wound
SLSide lying (physio)
SLAPSuperior labrum anterior-posterior lesion
SLESystemic lupus erythematosus
SLFGShort leg fibreglass (cast) (physio)
SLNSuperior laryngeal nerve
SLPOPShort leg plaster of Paris (physio)
SLRStraight leg raising (physio)
SLSSingle leg stand (physio)
SLTSingle lung transplant
SMStudent midwife
SMASuperior mesenteric artery
SMAD4SMAD family member 4 gene
SMBGSelf monitoring of blood glucose
SMDSenile macular degeneration
SMISustained maximal inspiration (physio)
SMRSubmucous resection (nose)
SNSenile nuclear (cataract)
SnSuction (physio)
SNAPSubacute & non-acute patient
SNAP AROCSubacute and Non-Acute Patient Australian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre
SNMSenior Nurse Manager
SNRISerotonin/Noradrenalin re-uptake inhibitor (mental health)
SNSSympathetic nervous system
s/oSuction out (physio)
 Standing order
SOASwelling of ankles
SOBShortness of breath
SOBARShortness of breath at rest
SOBOEShortness of breath on exertion
SOEOBSitting over edge of bed (physio)
SOLSpontaneous onset of labour
Sol’nSolution (mental health)
SOMSecretary otitis media
SOOBSit out of bed
SPSpeech Pathology
SPCSuprapubic catheter
Spiro.Spirometry (physio)
SPO2Saturation of peripheral oxygen
SPSSingle point stick (physio)
SPPSStable plasma protein solution
SPRED1Sprouty-related gene
SPROMSpontaneous premature rupture of the membranes
SPSSingle point stick (physio)
Sput.Sputum (physio)
SQStatic quadriceps (physio)
SRSinus rhythm
SRSelf Report
SROMSpontaneous rupture of membranes
s-sSide to side (physio)
SSASessile serrated adenoma
SSGSplit skin graft
SSHCSydney Sexual Health Centre
SSISliding scale insulin
SSNHLSudden sensorineural hearing loss
SSP/SSPESubacute sclerosing panencephalitis
SSRISelective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor (mental health)
SSSSick sinus syndrome
SSTSupraspinatus tendon (physio)
SSVShort saphenous vein
STSinus tachycardia
STACSSutherland Transitional Aged Care Team
statimmediately and once only (statim)
Statim/StatImmediately, once only
STDSexually transmitted disease
STEMIST elevation myocardial infarction
STIGMASexually Transmissible Infections in Gay Men Action Group
STISoft tissue injury
 Sexually transmissible infection
STK11Serine/threonine kinase 11 gene
STMShort term memory
STMLShort term memory loss
STOStanding order
STRSoft tissue release (physio)
STSSerology tests for syphilis
 Sit to stand (allied health)
STSGSplit-thickness skin graft
subj.Subjective (physio)
Subscap.Subscapularis (tendon) (physio)
SUDSudden unexplained death
SUDISudden unexplained death in Infancy
Sup.Supination (physio)
Supp.Suppository/ Supplement
SUPPSSubstance Use in Pregnancy and Parenting Support
Surg.Surgery or surgical
Sub USSubaquatic ultrasound (physio)
SVCSuperior vena cava
SVDSeptal ventricular defect
SVGSaphenous vein graft
SVHSt Vincent’s Hospital
SVRSystemic vascular resistance
SVTSupraventricular tachycardia
SWSocial work
SWISHNSW Statewide Infant Screening – Hearing
SW/ SIWSex industry worker
SWOPSWOP Sex Workers Outreach Project
SxSurgery (physio)
SXRSkull x-ray
SZ/SCZSchizophrenia (mental health)
T1-12Thoracic vertebrae (1-12)
TATendoachilles / technical assistant (physio)
 Tubular adenoma
 Take away medication doses for outpatient staged supply
TACPTransitional Aged Care Program
TACSTransitional Aged Care Team
TAFTenofovir Alafenamide
TAHTotal abdominal hysterectomy
TAHBSOTotal abdominal hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
TAPVCTotal anomalous pulmonary venous connection
TATTurnaround time
TBTuberculosis (tubercle bacillus)
TBATo be arranged
TBCTo be confirmed (physio)
TBITraumatic brain injury
TBLCTerm birth living child
TBLITerm birth live infant
TBWTension band wiring
TCATricyclic antidepressant (mental health)
TCCTransitional cell carcinoma
TCITo come in
TCRATransfer of Care Risk Assessment
TCMTranscutaneous monitoring
T-CLLT-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
TCVTalipes calcaneovalgus (physio)
TDTardive dyskinesia (mental health) Transdermal
TDFTenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate
t.d.sThree times a day (ter die sumendum)
TEDThromboembolic deterrent (stockings)
TENTrainee enrolled nurse
TENSTranscutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (physio)
TESTTubal embryo stage transfer
Tet-toxTetanus toxoid
TEVTalipes equinovarus (physio)
TFThickened fluids
TFATransfemoral amputation (physio)
TFGTTreatment focussed genetic testing
TFLTensor fasciae latae (physio)
TFTThyroid function tests
T/FTransfer (physio)
TGATransient global amnesia
TGF-bTumour growth factor – b
THTotal hysterectomy
THATotal hip arthroplasty
THBSOTotal hysterectomy bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
THCTetrahydrocannabinol (marijuana) (mental health)
THRTotal hip replacement
TIATransient ischaemic attack
TIBCTotal iron binding capacity
TIPSTransjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt
TISTranslating and Interpreting Service
TIVATotal intravenous anaesthesia
TJTriceps jerks
TKATotal knee arthroplasty
TKRTotal knee replacement
TKVOTo keep vein open
TLATranslumbar aortogram
TLETemporal lobe epilepsy
TLRTonic labyrinthine reflex (physio)
TMTympanic membrane
TMCThreatened miscarriage
TMJTemporomandibular joint
TMLTrachea midline
TMRTransmyocardial revascularisation
TMTTarsometatarsal (physio)
THNTake home Naloxone
TNBCTriple negative breast cancer
TNFTumour necrosis factor
TNPTransitional Nurse Practitioner
TOCTest Of Cure
TOETransoesophageal echocardiogram
TOFTracheo-oesophageal fistula– Tetralogy of Falot
TOLTrial of labour
TOPTermination of pregnancy
TORTest of reinfection
TORCHToxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex
TOSTrial of scar
TOVTrial of void
TPGTranspulmonary pressure gradient
TPHATreponema pallidum haemagglutination (test)
TPITotally and permanently incapacitated
TPLThreatened premature labour
TPNTotal parenteral nutrition
TPPTime, place and person
TPRTemperature, pulse and respiration
TPTLThreatened pre-term labour
TPWTemporary pacing wire
TP53Tumour protein p53 gene
TrATransversus abdominis (physio)
tract.Traction (physio)
TRAMTransverse rectus abdominis myocutaneous (flap)
traps.Trapezius (physio)
TRHThyrotropin-releasing hormone
Trich/ TVTrichomoniasis
Ts and AsTonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
T/SThoracic spine (physio)
TSETesticular self examination
TSHThyroid stimulating hormone
TSIThyroid stimulating immunoglobin
TSSToxic shock syndrome
TTATranstibial amputation (physio)
TTETransthoracic echocardiogram
TTNTransient tachypnoea of the newborn
TTPTraumatic tension pneumothorax
TTTSTwin to twin transfusion syndome
TUDTransurethral diathermy
TULIPTransurethral ultrasound-guided laser induced prostatectomy
TUNATransurethral needle ablation (of prostate)
TURTransurethral resection
TURPTransurethral resection of prostate
TVTidal volume (physio)
TVATubulovillous adenoma
TVHTotal vaginal hysterectomy
TVPTransvenous pacing/ Transvenous pacemaker
TVRTricuspid valve replacement
TVTTransvaginal tension (tape)
TVUSTransvaginal ultrasound
TWBTouch weight bearing (physio)
TWOCTrial without catheter
TxTraction (physio)/Treatment/ Transplant
TZTransformation zone
T1DMType 1 diabetes mellitus
T2DMType 2 diabetes mellitus
UAUnstable angina
UAPUnstable angina pectoris
UBTUterine balloon therapy
UCUlcerative colitis
U & EUrea and electrolytes (use UEC instead)
UCGUrinary chorionic gonadotrophin
UECUrea, electrolytes and creatinine
ULUpper limb (physio)
ULTTUpper limb tension test (physio)
ULTT1-3Upper limb tension test 1-3 (physio)
UMNUpper motor neuron
U/OUrine output
UPDRSUnified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (physio)
UPPUrethral pressure profile
URIUpper respiratory infection
urol.Urology or urological
URTUpper respiratory tract
URTIUpper respiratory tract infection
UTAUnable to attend (physio)
UTIUrinary tract infection
UTTUp to toilet (physio)
UULEXUnsupported upper limb exercise test (physio)
UVUltra violet
UVPUtero vaginal prolapse
UVRUltraviolet radiation
UWSDUnderwater seal drain
UZUpper zone (physio)
VAVisual acuity
VADVascular access device
VAINVaginal intra-epithelial neoplasia (grades 1-3)
VANViolence and Neglect (state-wide terminology for services. Is being used in community a bit)
VASVisual analogue scale (physio)
VBACVaginal birth after Caesarean
VBIVertebrobasilar insufficiency
VCVital capacity (physio)
VCEVideo capsule endoscopy
V & DVomiting and diarrhoea
VDRLVenereal disease research laboratory
VEVacuum extraction
VE, V/EVaginal examination
VEBVentricular ectopic beats
VEPVisual evoked potential
VFVentricular fibrillation
VFTVentilatory function test (physio)
VHVaginal hysterectomy
VHDValvular heart disease
VHLVon Hippel-Lindau syndrome / gene
vibs/vibes.Vibrations (physio)
VIBVoided in bed
VIN (I, II, III)Vulval intraepithelial neoplasia (grades I, II, III)
VIPVisual Infusion phlebitis score
VIPomaVasoactive intestinal peptide tumour
VIQVerbal intelligence quotient
VLViral Load
VLAPVisual laser assisted prostatectomy
VLBWVery low birth weight
VLDLVery low density lipoproteins
VMOVisiting Medical Officer
VPBVentricular premature beats
VPCVentricular premature contractions
VPSVentriculo-peritoneal shunt
VQ;V/Q;V-Qcalculate airflow and bloodflow
VRVentricular rate
VREVancomycin-resistant enterococci
VSVital signs
VSCVertebral subluxation complex
VSDVentricular septal defect
VSIVaginal sexual intercourse
VTVentricular tachycardia
VTEVenous thrombo-embolism
VUJVesico-ureteric junction
VVVaricose vein
vWDvon Willebrand’s disease
VVCVulvovaginal candidiasis
VZVVaricella zoster virus
WAGRWilms tumour, aniridia, G-U malformations, mental retardation
WAIS-IIIWechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – Version 3 (mental
WBWeight bearing (physio)
 Whole blood
WBATWeight bearing as tolerated (physio)
wbcWhite blood cell
WBCWhite blood count
WBRWhole body radiation
WCWorkers’ compensation
WCCWhite cell count
W/cm²Watts per centimetre squared (physio)
Wee-FIMPaediatric functional independence measure (physio)
WH&SWork Health and safety
WNLWithin normal limits
WOWelfare officer (mental health)
WOBWork of breathing
WPTASWestmead Post-Traumatic Amnesia
WPWWolff-Parkinson-White (Syndrome)
W/SWalking stick
WSWWomen who have sex with women
WTMWill take message
2WWTwo-wheeled walker
4WFFour-wheeled frame (physio)
4WWFour-wheeled walker
XLDX-linked dominant
XLRX-linked recessive
X-matchCross match
 Extended release
XRTX-ray therapy
y/oYears old
Z-NZiehl Neelsen (stain)
Abbreviations that signify time
maneIn the morning
bdTwice a day
statImmediately, with no delay, now
prnAs needed
q.d.Every day
q.i.dfour times per day
q8HEvery 8 hours
x/24Number of hours (example 2/24 = 2 hours)
x/7Number of days (example 2/7 = 2 days)
x/52Number of weeks (example 2/52 = 2 weeks)
x/12Number of months (example 2/12 = 2 months)
Abbreviations that are used for units of measurement
kgKilograms (kilo)
L  Litre
Abbreviation for type of medication or method of drug administration
Type of medication or method of drug administrationAbbreviation
metered dose inhalerMDI
per rectumPR
Common Symbols
Greater than
Less than
Δdiagnosis; change

An acronym is a pronounceable word formed from the first letter or first few letters of each word in a phrase or title.  Most acronyms are expressed in uppercase letters, but not always. For example, laser stands for (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation)

Acronyms and abbreviations are commonly used in the medical world to save time and space whilst writing in the patients’ medical records. As various specialties have evolved, each has developed a collection of commonly used abbreviations within its practice, which may not be recognizable to those not working within the same field.

Here is a very small example list of acronyms.

  • AAC – Ageing and Aged Care
  • ABI – Acquired Brain Injury
  • AMA – Australian Medical Association
  • BMI – Body mass index
  • CAT: Computerised axial tomography (scan)
  • CDAP – Centre for Drug and Alcohol Programs
  • DHA – Department of Health and Ageing
  • DVT – Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • ECG – Electrocardiogram
  • ED – Emergency Department
  • FPA – Family Planning Association
  • GCT – Glucose Challenge Test
  • HCV – Hepatitis C virus
  • HRT – Hormone replacement therapy
  • HICAPS – Health Industry Claims and Payments Service
  • ICU – Intensive Care Unit
  • MA – Medicare Australia
  • MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • NCSP – National Cervical Screening Program
  • OMP – Other Medical Practitioner
  • PBS – Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
  • QoL – Quality of Life
  • RACGP – Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
  • VR – Vocational Registration
Drug Categories and classes

Medical practitioners frequently include references to drugs in their correspondence. They might refer to a drug by its generic name or brand name or they might refer to a category or class of drugs.

MIMS is the leading supplier of trusted, quality, independent medicine information to Australian healthcare professionals. Medical practitioners subscribe to MIMS Online who provides a wide range of Australian medicines information – full product information, abbreviated product information, a drug interaction module and a pill identification module and more.

The difference between the generic and brand name

The generic name – is the drug’s ‘active ingredient’ that makes it work. Generic names are usually typed in lower case.

The brand name – is given by the pharmaceutical company that markets the drug. Brand names are typed with initial capitals.

For example: ibuprofen a generic name Advil is the brand name.

The classes of drugs in Australia include:
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Cannabis
  • Methamphetamines (e.g. MDMA) and other stimulants such as cocaine
  • New psychoactive substances – synthetic drugs
  • Opioids, including heroin
  • The non-medical use of prescription drugs
Drugs can be categorised by the way in which they affect our bodies:
  • depressants – slow down the function of the central nervous system
  • hallucinogens – affect your senses and change the way you see, hear, taste, smell or feel things
  • stimulants – speed up the function of the central nervous system.
Drugs can also be grouped by how or where they are commonly used.
  • Analgesics
  • Inhalants
  • Opioids
  • Party drugs
  • Performance and image enhancing drugs
  • Prescription drugs
The Medicine Cabinet

Below you will find a list of common medications, their purpose and examples of the products used. Note: Brands are the proprietary names and trademarks of the pharmaceutical companies that make and distribute them.

This content is for educational information only. Ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions you may have about taking your medications.


Commonly know as
pain meds

They are used for
headaches, muscle aches and pains

Nurofen (ibuprofen)
Tylenol (acetaminophen)

“Feeling no pain” in Greek. These are some of the most common medications taken. Many are available OTC (over the counter-without prescription). Most all of these drugs work on three things: pain, inflammation, and fever. Each varies in its potency for one of these three complaints. Aspirin and Tylenol are taken for colds, headaches, sinus pain, muscular aches. Aspirin has a strong anti-inflammatory action and is often taken for many problems involving inflammatory reactions: infections, bruising, broken bones and arthritis.

Severe pain, such as after surgery, may require stronger analgesics, narcotics, such as codeine.


Commonly know as
indigestion pills

They are used for

Zantac (ranitidine)

Who hasn’t had “heartburn” after a big, fatty or spicy meal? So called “heartburn” has nothing to do with the heart, but refers to the burning pain felt behind the breast bone related to meals. The cause is gastric acid backing up into the esophagus.

There are three levels of treatment for mild to moderate to severe symptoms. Popping a Rennie or Tums, which contains an alkaline chemical, directly neutralises acid. If heartburn occurs frequently, several times a week, your physician may recommend Zantac or Pepcid which are OTC available histamine blockers. Histamine in the stomach is one of the signals that stimulates acid production. For severe heartburn your physician may prescribe a medication that directly blocks acid production, a proton-pump inhibitor, such as Prevacid (sounds like someone combined “prevent” and “acid”). Each is progressively more effective, but more expensive and with more side effects.


Commonly know as
rheumatism pills

They are used for
rheumatoid arthritis

Aleve (naproxin)
Celebrex (celecoxib)
Humira (adalimumab)
Remicade (infliximab)

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, that is, the immune system attacks joint tissue as if it were foreign tissue leading to joint pain, swelling, redness, warmth (the four criteria of inflammation). Ultimately, joint tissues are damaged. The cause is unknown, but something triggers the inflammatory reaction which becomes chronic and results in destruction of joint structures.

All antiarthritic medications have a common goal, to avoid, suppress or interrupt the inflammatory process. Keep in mind that inflammation is a normal and desirable process when we have an infection. Normally, the inflammatory process, involving bringing in leucocytes (white blood cells) and antibodies does its job and then resolves with the healing process. It is when inflammation develops as a result of an abnormal trigger and/or becomes chronic that normal tissues can be damaged with joint destruction and immobility as a result.

Aspirin and Aleve belong to a category of drugs called NSAIDS (nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs). These medications inhibit synthesis of an intermediary chemical in the inflammatory process called prostaglandins.


Commonly know as
bug killers

They are used for
microbial infections

Amoxil (amoxicillin)
Keflex (cephalexin)
Pen-Vee (Penicillin)
Septra (sulfamethoxazole)
Vibramycin (doxycycline)

There are many of these drugs so only a brief overview can be offered. Two major categories are called broad spectrum meaning many types of microorganisms are affected, and narrow spectrum meaning one or a few microorganisms are affected. First, how do antibiotics work? How can they kill “bugs” but not us? Two examples follow: Humans need folic acid but can’t make it, so we have to get it in our diet as a vitamin. Bacteria can’t take in folic acid, so they must make it. Sulfa drugs block synthesis of folic acid. Voila! Okay for us. Bad for bacteria. Another example is bacteria have an extra layer around themselves called a cell wall. Penicillins block cell wall synthesis. Humans lack a cell wall outside our cell membranes. Okay for us. Bad for bacteria.

Sulphonamides, also called sulpha drugs, were the earliest antibiotics. In those old WWII movies when you see them sprinkling a powder on wounds, that may be a sulpha drug. Over time many organisms have developed resistance to sulpha drugs, so newer antibiotics have to be used. Or, patients develop allergic reactions to sulfa drugs and they must be replaced with other antibiotics. However, they are still used for urinary tract infections and in burn units among other specific uses.

Penicillin is effective against a wide variety of microorganisms including pneumococcal pneumonia, staphylococcal infections, meningitis, syphilis and gonorrhea. How would you know that nafcillin, oxacillin, ampicillin and amoxicillin are all forms of peniCILLIN? Unfortunately, some individuals develop an allergic reaction to penicillins and many microorganisms have become resistant. In this category are newer antibiotics called cephalosporins. Resistant strains have developed against these antibiotics also. What is the nature of antibiotic resistance (more difficult to kill)? In the case of penicillins some microorganisms have developed an enzyme, penicillinase, that inactivates the antibiotic. Microorganisms may also change the chemical structure of their cell walls, the target of penicillins and cephalosporins. Those wily bacteria!

Tetracyclines interfere with bacterial protein synthesis. They effectively stop bacterial growth so our immune system can finish them off. This works because of subtle differences in the protein making machinery of microorganisms and human cells. Tetracyclines are used in chlamydial infections, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, mycoplasma pneumonia, cholera, syphilis, among others. Another inhibitor of protein synthesis is Erythromycin which is the drug of choice for Legionnaires Disease and one of the few antibiotics that can penetrate the prostate gland. Since it covers a similar spectrum of microorganisms as penicillins, it can be used to treat syphilis in patients who are allergic to penicillin.

Why won’t my doctor prescribe an antibiotic when I have a really bad cold? Common colds are caused by viruses. Viruses have neither cell walls nor their own metabolic machinery (they use yours). Consequently, antibiotics don’t work against viruses.


Commonly know as
blood thinners

They are used for
prevent blood clots

Coumadin (warfarin)
Plavix (clopidogrel)

Well, they really don’t make your blood thinner. What they do is make your blood less likely to clot (coagulate) when it is undesirable for clotting to take place like inside your coronary arteries (remember thrombus and embolus?). Since anticoagulants interfere with the clotting mechanism, their use must be carefully monitored to make sure clotting does take place normally with a finger cut, but prevent clots forming after your hip surgery.


Commonly know as
epilepsy drugs

They are used for
prevent seizures

Dilantin (phenytoin)
Neurontin (gabapentin)

Although head trauma or a brain tumor can cause seizures, many times there is no specific cause and it may be inherited. The function of anticonvulsant drugs is to suppress the source of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Dilantin is a first choice drug in controlling many forms of seizures. Dilantin along with Valium (a tranquiliser) are first line drugs for “status epilepticus”, continuous seizure activity which must be stopped quickly. However, there are various anticonvulsants for specific forms of epilepsy, all with differing effectiveness, side effects and potential drug interactions with other medications. Many famous people have had epilepsy: Socrates, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Handel, Charles Dickens, Alfred Nobel and Elton John among many others.


Commonly know as

They are used for
relieve depression

Elavil (amitriptyline)
Prozac (fluoxetine)
Zoloft (sertraline)

All of us have days when we feel “blue” and for some good reason, disappointment or bad news. But, persistent sadness, preoccupation with negative thoughts, insomnia, prolonged loss of concentration at work and loss of interest in personal affairs may signal a need for medical intervention. All these medications elevate mood from feeling “down”. Two major categories of drugs in use for depression are called tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s). Put simply, both medications modify the chemicals (neurotransmitters) that carry signals in our brain. They target brain areas that are associated with emotional feelings and our reactions to them. Feel better? Act better!


Commonly know as
cold and flu pills

They are used for
stops a runny nose, wheezing and itchiness

Allegra (fexofenadine)
Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
Claritin (loratadine)

Histamine is a natural substance produced by many tissues of the body. Histamine release in nasal passages in response to bacteria or virus infection, sensitivity to various pollens results in a runny nose and nasal congestion. Histamine release in lung tissue causes constriction of air passages. Histamine release in the skin produces redness and itchiness. So, the wide distribution of histamine and its unique actions in those tissues account for the variety of reactions that can occur with its release. Antihistamines block the action of histamine at its target organ.


Commonly know as
blood pressure pills

They are used for
lowers high blood pressure

Norvasc (amlodipine besylate)
Captopen (captopril)
Inderal (propranolol)
Lotensin (benazepril)
Tenormin (atenolol)
Zestril (lisinopril)

Cardiac drugs

Commonly know as
heart medicine

They are used for
treats abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, angina pain

Cardizem (diltiazem)
Cordarone (amiodarone)
Inderal (propranolol)
Lanoxin (digoxin)
Nitrostat (nitroglycerin)

There are three major uses for heart medications: regulate an abnormal rhythm (pattern of contractions), strengthen the contractions of a failing heart, respond to cardiac pain.

An irregular heart rhythm can lead to a fatal arrhythmia, sudden cardiac death, that is, the heart pumping action failing and stopping. In the normal heart there is one special area of tissue, the pacemaker, that sets “the beat”, the heart rhythm. If an area of the heart becomes irritable or damaged, it can become an abnormal pacemaker. Antiarrhythmic drugs suppress abnormal, irritable tissue from taking over from the normal pacemaker. A myocardial infarct, “heart attack”, may cause abnormal pacemakers to appear or may disrupt the normal signal conduction pathway through the myocardium. Antiarrhythmic drugs also suppress abnormal conduction pathways. In an oversimplified way, many antiarrhythmic drugs act like a local anesthetic on the myocardium.

The heart may begin to lose efficiency as a pump due to long term hypertension causing back pressure in the heart, a damaged heart valve allowing leakage can cause back pressure or damaged myocardium can result in reduced pumping efficiency following a heart attack. The back pressure in the heart causes fluid to back up in the lungs, hence the name, congestive heart failure (CHF). The failing heart needs a boost, a drug that will strengthen the force of contractions. Digitalis (Lanoxin in cabinet) is a standard drug used in CHF. Diuretics (see that category) and drugs that dilate blood vessels to lower pressure may also be used to reduce the work load on the heart.

Cardiac ischemia produces a unique pain called angina pectoris. It is the heart’s cry for more oxygen due to inadequate coronary artery blood flow. One patient described it “like an elephant sitting on my chest”. A commonly used medication for angina is nitroglycerine. It is not an analgesic, but relieves the cause of the pain, insufficient blood flow to the myocardium. This medication causes the coronary arteries to dilate allowing more blood flow to heart muscle and the anginal pain subsides.


Commonly know as
water pills

They are used for
lowers high blood pressure, treat congestive heart failure

Hydrodiuril (hydrochlorothiazide)
Lasix (furosemide)

“Promoting urine” in Greek. These medications may be used alone or in combination with blood pressure medication. Their purpose is to rid the body of excess fluid which can help lower blood pressure and work demand on the heart. Easing the heart’s work load indirectly prevents fluid accumulation in the air sacs of the lungs which can cause difficulty breathing, especially when lying down. The most common mechanism is to reduce reabsorption of sodium chloride (salt) in the kidneys. More sodium chloride in the urine pulls more water into the urine reducing the body’s fluid volume.

Erectile Dysfunction

They are used for

Cialis (tadalafil)
Viagra (sildenafil)

Erectile dysfunction, what used to be called “impotency”, is the inability to achieve or sustain an erection sufficient to complete intercourse. The three current oral medications for this complaint work by a similar mechanism. Achieving an erection depends upon an hydraulic function of increasing blood flow into the penis at a rate faster than the penile veins can drain it away. Sexual stimulation causes a chemical, nitric oxide, to be released by the lining of the penile arteries which causes relaxation of the muscles of the arterial walls resulting in dilating (widening) of the arteries and increased blood flow. Each of these drugs contain a chemical that slows down the destruction of nitrous oxide so the latter prolongs the dilation of the penile arteries. Note that the medication must act on existing nitric oxide released by sexual stimulation. Popping a pill is not enough. No sexual stimulation. No erection.

Although these drugs work by a similar mechanism, they may differ in their effectiveness in individual patients, side effects and drug interactions.


Commonly know as
sleeping pills

They are used for

Ambien (zolpidemtartrate)
Lunesta (eszopiclone)
Sonata (zaleplon)

Chronic insomnia, not being able to get to sleep, frequent waking up, not getting enough sleep, can ruin your day! People with sleeping problems may feel drowsy, even nod off, during the work day. Chronic fatigue from lack of sufficient rest is physically and emotionally draining. Hypnotics are sleep-inducing drugs. Their activity is similar to anti-anxiety medications (see “downers” in the list), tamping down brain activity so you can more easily fall asleep and stay asleep. Hypnotics differ in emphasis. Some are most effective in helping you fall asleep, but are very short acting, and may not be very effective for staying asleep. Others are more effective in minimising number of awakenings for up to eight hours. All hypnotics have a sedation effect. So, you still may be drowsy during the day, but from medication effects. Your physician can best determine the choice of drug and dosage that will balance a good night’s rest with minimal or no daytime sedation.

Hypoglycemic agents

Commonly know as
diabetic drugs

They are used for
lowers high blood sugar

Diabeta (Glyburide)
Glucophage (metformin)
Glucotrol (glipizide)

Osteoporosis therapy

Commonly know as
Bone pills

They are used for
strengthens bones

Actonel (risendronate)
Boniva (ibandronate)
Fosamax (alendronate)


Commonly know as

They are used for

Valium (diazepam)
Xanax (alprazolam)

From time to time we all feel stressed about our job or what our teenagers are up to, but we manage to get on with our lives. Sometimes, however, we feel constantly on edge and overwhelmed with worry to the point that it interferes with tasks of daily living. The normal “fear” response takes over inappropriately, and we become immobilised with anxiety. These medications may supplement the support from loved ones and professional counseling. The most commonly used tranquilisers (anxiolytics, antianxiety drugs) have two major actions: to reduce anxiety and to sedate (sleep-inducing). The basic mechanism is to inhibit activity in the area of the brain associated with “fear”. The challenge for your physician is to choose a medication that will reduce anxiety without your falling asleep at your work during the day!