Nitin Chhoda shares how to use prefixes, suffixes and roots to determine the anatomy of medical terminology.
Most people know the meaning of IV and stat, but medical terms are notoriously difficult to spell and decode, making it essential that a medical billing and coding specialist has a working knowledge of the terminology used within the practice.
They can accomplish that by learning the three-part combinations that comprise medical terms.
Medical Terms Are a Combination of Prefixes, Suffixes and Root Words
Medical terminology is comprised of prefixes, root words and suffixes stemming from Greek and Latin. Prefixes appear at the beginning of words. The pre means before, as in preschool, but the prefix can also be used to designate a location, number or time.
The root portion of a medical term forms the central part of the word. An example would be the word premature, as in premature aging. Mature is the root word and the “pre” suffix is used to indicate an individual is demonstrating symptoms of aging that’s at odds with the subject’s chronological age.
Suffixes are used at the end of a word to change the meaning, as in hopeless. It means the absence of hope and reverses the entire meaning. It’s often used to describe a condition, disease, disorder or procedure.
Root words, prefixes and suffixes are combined to create medical terms. Broken down into its component parts, the term myocarditis translates into muscle heart inflammation – or inflammation of the heart. An idiosyncrasy of medical terminology is that the words can be somewhat out of order from what most people are used to seeing.
Prefixes of medical terms work independently of root words and specific prefixes will always refer to one thing. For example, the prefix endo will always refer to inner. It’s essential for billing and coding specialists to be familiar with common prefixes and suffixes used in medical professions.
It’s also helpful to know something of anatomy, as many terms refer to a specific area of the body.
A Tried and Tested Technique for Learning Medical Terms
The best way students in all branches of the medical profession have devised for learning medical terminology is to learn groups of three roots, prefixes and suffixes.
For those with a limited knowledge of anatomy, it helps to learn the root words of common body parts and then associating prefixes and suffixes with a specific part of the body.
Medical terminology sounds extremely complicated, but many people have heard and retained information about medical terms without even realizing it.
Some even use the terms, but without fully understanding how prefixes and suffixes reflect a diagnosis. Learning a few medical terms at a time is more effective than trying to memorize dozens all at once and suffer information overload. Those who approach the task by learning small groups will be surprised at how fluent they become in a very short time.