Medical Term Glossary
Abdomen: portion of the body lying between the thorax and pelvis.
Abrasion: a scrape or scratch of the skin, mucous membranes, or cornea.
Abscess: cavity filled with pus.
Acute: of sudden onset; having a short course.
Adipose: fat; fatty.
Adrenal gland: paired glands, located near the kidneys, that produce various hormones
such as epinephrine and cortisol.
Aerobic: able to survive only in the presence of oxygen.
Alimentary: pertaining to food or nutrient, or to the digestive system.
Allergy: hypersensitivity aquired through exposure to a particular substance (allergen).
Alopecia: loss of hair.
Ambulate: to walk.
Anaerobic: able to survive only in the absence of oxygen.
Analgesic: agent that reduces or eliminates pain but does not cause loss of consciousness.
Anemia: condition characterized by lower-than-normal red blood cell count.
Anesthesia: state of being without sensation, especially pain. May or may not be
accompanied by unconsciousness (general anesthesia vs. local anesthesia).
Anesthetic: agent that produces anesthesia, thus abolishing pain.
Anestrus: period of sexual inactivity between two estrous periods.
Anomaly: marked deviation from normal.
Anorexia: lack of appetite.
Anterior: pertaining to the front of the body.
Antibiotic: drug used to kill bacteria and other microorganisms.
Antihistamine: agent that combats the effects of histamine.
Anti-inflammatory: agent that suppresses inflammation.
Antipruritic: agent that prevents itchiness.
Antipyretic: agent that reduces fever.
Antitussive: agent that combats coughing.
Anus: terminal opening or orifice of the alimentary canal (digestive tract).
Aorta: main trunk of the arterial system, originating from the left side of the heart.
Arrythmia: variation from normal heart rhythm.
Artery: vessels through which blood flows away from the heart to various parts of the body.
Arthritis: Inflammation of a joint; osteoarthritis.
Aspirate: to remove fluid or gas from a cavity by suction.
Asthma: a condition in which the bronchi (airways) narrow, causing wheezing and
Asymptomatic: showing no signs of disease.
Atrophy: wasting away of a part. Eg: muscle atrophy.
Auditory: pertaining to hearing.
Autoclave: machine that sterilizes medical instruments and materials by use of super-heated steam under pressure.
Autopsy: Examination of a body after death; see also necropsy.
Avian: pertaining to birds.
Bacteria: a one-celled microorganism that ma
y or may not cause disease.
Barium: a liquid that is radiopaque (cannot be penetrated by x-rays).
Benign: not malignant; with a favorable prognosis.
Bilateral: occurring on two sides.
Bile: fluid that aids in digestion; produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder.
Biopsy: removal of a small amount of tissue from the body for examination, usually microscopic.
Bitch: a female dog.
Bladder: a sac serving as a receptacle for a secretion or excretion. Used alone, it refers to the urinary bladder.
Blood: fluid composed of water, cells, clotting factors and other chemicals, that circulates
through arteries and veins to supply nutrients and remove wastes from body tissues.
Bronchitis: inflammation of the bronchi.
Bronchus: a large air passage in the lungs. Pleural: bronchi.
Calculus: a stone or concretion formed inside the body; can also refer to dental tartar.
Cancer: a malignant tumor.
Canine: pertaining to dogs.
Canine tooth: large fang tooth in carnivores.
Capillary: tiny blood vessels.
Carcinoma: an invasive malignant tumor arising from epithelial tissues.
Cardiac: pertaining to the heart.
Cardiopathy: any disease of the heart.
Carnivore: animal that eats flesh or meat.
Cartilage: a specialized, fibrous connective tissue that provides a model in which most of the bones develop..
Castrate: surgical neutering of the male which involves the removal of both testicles.
Cataract: opacity of the lens of the eye.
Catheter: a tubular instrument used to withdraw fluid from the body (such as urine), or to administer fluids into the body (such as into a vein).
Centesis: tapping a body cavity or organ using a needle, aspirator or trochar.
Cholangiohepatitis: inflammtion of the gall bladder and liver.
Chronic: persisting over a long period of time.
Clot: a semi-solid mass, as of blood cells.
Coagulation: clot formation.
Colitis: inflammation of the colon.
Conjunctiva: membrane that lines the inner eyelids and covers the exposed surface of the eyeball.
Conjunctivitis: inflammation of the conjunctiva.
Contraindication: a circumstance that renders a particular treatment inappropriate or undesirable.
Convulsion: violent, involuntary contraction of muscles, often from a neurological disorder; seizure.
Cornea: the transparent anterior portion of the eye.
Cortisone: a major hormone produced by the adrenal glands.
Cranium: the skull.
Cryptorchid: a condition in which one or both testicles have not descended into the scrotum.
C-section: caesarian section; the surgical delivery of a term fetus.
Cyanosis: bluish discoloration of the mucous membranes and skin caused by poor tissue oxygenation.
Cytology: study of cells.
Debride: to surgically remove foreign matter and devitalized tissues from a wound.
Declaw: onychectomy; the surgical removal in cats of the nails and the nailbed.
Defecation: natural evacuation of fecal matter from the rectum.
Dehydration: excessive loss of water from the body.
Deramaxx: a commonly-used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, prescribed to help alleviate pain or discomfort.
Dermatitis: inflammation of the skin.
Dermatosis: any disease of the skin.
Dewclaw: the "thumb" of dogs and cats.
Diarrhea: abnormal liquidity of the feces and/or increased frequency of defecation.
Distal: away from the center; out toward the end. The hand is distal to the arm.
Diuresis: increased production of urine.
Diuretic: an agent that increases urine production.
Dock: surgical removal of all or part of the tail.
Dorsal: pertaining to the back.
Dose: a specified amount of medication.
Drug: any substance used to prevent, diagnose, or treat disease.
Dysplasia: impaired growth process. See also Hip Dysplasia.
Edema: a swelling of tissue.
Electrocardiogram: tracing produced by electrical impulses associated with contractions
of the heart muscle; often called ECG or EKG.
Elizabethan collar: funnel-shaped piece of plastic placed around the animal's neck to prevent it from chewing on itself.
Emaciation: extreme weight loss.
Embolism: sudden obstruction of a blood vessel by a clot or foreign material.
Emesis: the act of vomiting.
Encephalitis: inflammation of the brain.
Endocarditis: inflammation of the lining of the heart chambers.
Endocrine: relating to ductless glands that secrete hormones into the blood stream.
Endotracheal tube: flexible tube placed into the trachea through the mouth to administer inhalent gases.
Enucleation: surgical removal of the eye.
Epidermis: the most outer layer of skin.
Epilepsy: a disease of the brain characterized by periodic seizures or loss of consciousness.
Esophagus: anatomical tube that connects the mouth to the stomach.
Estrus: the portion of the heat cycle during which the female is ready to breed.
Etogesic: a commonly-used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, prescribed to help alleviate pain or discomfort.
Euthanasia: the painless inducement of death, usually by intravenous injection.
Excise: to cut out or off; to remove surgically.
Excretion: the act of discharging or removing products from the body, such as urine or perspiration.
Feces: waste products discharged from the intestinal tract.
Feline: pertaining to cats.
Femur: bone extending from the pelvis to the knee; the thigh bone.
Fracture: the breaking of a bone.
Friable: easily torn or crumbled.
Fur ball: a hairball; trichobezoar.
Gallbladder: reservoir for bile located near the liver.
Gastritis: inflammation of the stomach.
Gastroenteritis: inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
Geriatrics: branch of medicine dealing with old or aging animals.
Gestation: period of pregnancy.
Gingiva: the gums.
Gingivitis: inflammation of the gums.
Grave: very serious or severe.
Hairball: clump of hair or fur, food, and other debris in the stomach.
Hematocrit: packed cell volume; volume percentage of red blood cells in whole blood.
Hematoma: localized collection of blood in an organ, space, or tissue.
Hemorrhage: escape of blood from a vessel; bleeding.
Hemostasis: arrest of bleeding.
Hepatitis: inflammation of the liver.
Hepatopathy: any disease of the liver.
Hernia: abnormal protrusion of an organ or tissue through a body wall.
Hip dysplasia: malformation of the hip joint; can lead to arthritis.
Histamine: naturally occuring substance found in all body tissues that is a component of the inflammatory reaction.
Histopathology: study of diseased tissues at the microscopic level.
Hives: raised, red patches of skin, often accompanied by itching; aka: urticaria.
Hormone: substance produced by an organ causing a specific effect on other organs or tissues.
Hypertension: high blood pressure.
Hyperthermia: high body temperature.
Hyperthyroidism: disease characterized by elevated thyroid hormone levels.
Hypotension: low blood pressure.
Hypothermia: low body temperature.
Hypothyroidism: disease characterized by decreased thyroid hormone levels.
Hysterectomy: excision of the uterus.
Icterus: yellow discolorations of body tissues caused by increased bile pigments; jaundice.
Idiopathic: of unknown cause.
Incise: to cut.
Incision: wound produced by sharp instrument.
Incisor: blade-like front tooth adapted for cutting.
Incontinent: unable to control urination or defecation.
Infection: invasion of the body by microorganisms.
Inflammation: localized tissue response to injury, characterized by heat, swelling, redness, pain and loss of function.
Injection: introduction of a fluid into a vessel or part.
Intestine: portion of the digestive tract; also called the bowel.
Intramuscular: within a muscle.
Intravenous: within a vein.
Intubate: to insert a tube into a body canal or hollow organ, such as the trachea or stomach.
Iris: colored membrane in the eye, surrounding the pupil.
Irrigate: to wash out or flush.
Jaundice: yellow discolorations of the skin and body tissues caused by increased bile pigments; common in severe liver disorders and some blood disorders; also called icterus.
Joint: junction between bones.
Keratitis: inflammation of the cornea.
Kidney: a paired organ that filters waste products from the blood to produce urine.
Laceration: a wound made by tearing or cutting.
Lacrimal: pertaining to tears.
Lance: to cut open with a pointed knife or scalpel.
Larynx: structure containing the vocal cords.
Lateral: pertaining to the side of the body.
Lesion: any discontinuity of tissue or loss of function.
Lethal: deadly or fatal.
Leukemia: malignant disease of the blood.
Leukocyte: a white blood cell.
Ligament: band of dense, fibrous tissue connecting bones and supporting joints.
Ligate: to tie off.
Ligature: material used to tie off a vessel.
Lingual: pertaining to the tongue.
Lipoma: benign tumor composed of fat cells.
Liver: large abdominal gland responsible for numerous critical metabolic functions.
Lumbar: part of the back between the chest and pelvis.
Lung: organ of respiration located in the chest cavity.
Luxation: dislocation, often to describe an injured joint.
Lymph: transparent, whitish liquid derived from tissue fluids.
Lymphatic: pertaining to a lymph vessel.
Malignant: tending to become progressively worse and result in death. Often refers to potentially fatal tumors.
Malocclusion: improper alignment of the teeth.
Mammary glands: glandular structures in the female that secrete milk.
Mandible: the lower jaw bone.
Mastectomy: excision of mammary tissue.
Medial: a position towards body midline.
Megacolon: an abnormally enlarged colon.
Melanoma: tumor comprised of cells containing melanin, a dark body pigment.
Meningitis: inflammation of the membranes enveloping the brain or spinal cord.
Metastasis: the spread of tumor cells from one area of the body to another.
Muzzle: the nose and upper and lower mouth; a device placed around the snout and jaw to prevent biting.
Narcotic: agent that produces stupor.
Necropsy: examination of a body after death. Necropsy is the preferred term for examination of animal cadavers, autopsy for humans.
Necrosis: death of tissue.
Necrotic: pertaining to dead tissues.
Neonatal: pertaining to the first few weeks after birth.
Nephrosis: any disease of the kidney.
Nerve: cord-like structure, composed of numerous fibers, that carries impulses between the central nervous system and other parts of the body.
Neurology: study of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.
Neuter: to surgically remove the reproductive organs in either the male (castration) or female (spay).
NSAID: an acronym for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, often used for arthritis or post-operatively for surgical patients.
Nutraceuticals: A product that is considered a food additive or a food supplement. These products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration; therefore, efficacy cannot be guaranteed.
Occlusion: the act of closing off an obstruction.
Oncologist: cancer specialist.
Oncology: study of cancer.
Operation: surgical procedure.
Ophthalmic: pertaining to the eye.
Ophthalmology: study of disorders of the eye.
Orifice: the opening, entrance, or outlet of a body cavity.
Orthopedic: pertaining to bones and the skeletal system.
Ovariohysterectomy: surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus; spay.
Ovary: the sexual gland in the female in which ova (or eggs) are formed.
Oviduct: tubular passage that carries ova to the uterus.
Ovum, ova: the female reproductive cell, an egg.
Palate: partition separating the oral and nasal cavities.
Palpation: using the hands to feel body parts during physical examination.
Pancreas: gland that produces digestive enzymes, insulin, and glucagon.
Panleukopenia: viral disease of cats characterized by decreased numbers of white blood cells; feline distemper.
Papilloma: benign skin tumor; wart.
Paralysis: loss of the ability to move body parts.
Paranasal: around or near the nasal passages.
Paraplegia: paralysis of both rear legs.
Parasite: plant or animal that lives on or in another organism at the expense of the host.
Paresis: slight or incomplete paralysis.
Pelvis: the paired hip bones.
Perianal: located around the anus.
Periodontal: pertaining to the area around the tooth.
Pharynx: passage between the nostrils and the esophagus and larynx.
Pleura: membrane that lines the thoracic cavity.
Pleuritis: inflammtion of the pleura.
Pocket pet: refers to small mammalian pets, like gerbils, rats, hamsters, and guinea pigs.
Polydactyl: extra toes.
Posterior: pertaining to the rear or back part of the body.
Postoperative: after surgery.
Preoperative: before surgery.
Prescription: written direction for preparation and dosage of a drug.
Proestrus: period preceding estrus (heat).
Prolapse: protrusion of an organ, often through a normal body opening.
Prophylaxis: prevention of disease.
Prostate: an accessory sex gland in some male animals.
Prostatitis: inflammation of the prostate gland.
Proximal: near the center of the body, as opposed to peripheral or distal.
Pupil: the place in the center of the eye through which light is admitted.
Purulent: consisting of or containing pus.
Pyometra: life-threatening condition characterized by accumulation of pus in the uterus.
Quadruped: animal with four feet.
Queen: process of giving birth in cats; an adult intact female cat.
Radiograph: image on film produced by passage of x-rays through a body part.
Radius: a bone between the elbow and wrist.
Rectum: the distal portion of the large intestine, ending at the anus.
Respiration: the act of breathing.
Retina: the innermost layer of the eye.
Rhinitis: inflammation of the nasal passages.
Rimadyl: a commonly-used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, prescribed to help alleviate pain or discomfort.
Sarcoma: malignant tumor.
Scapel: small surgical knife.
Scapula: shoulder blade.
Sclera: the white, outer part of the eyeball.
Sclerosis: hardening of tissues.
Sedative: agent that reduces activity or decreases excitement.
Serum: the liquid portion of blood.
Sinus: cavity or hollow space.
Sinusitis: inflammation of paranasal sinus.
Spay: see ovariohysterectomy.
Sphincter: ring-like band of muscle that closes a natural body opening.
Spinal: pertaining to the vertebral column.
Spleen: a large organ near the stomach that stores red blood cells.
Sterile: free of microorganisms; unable to reproduce.
Steroid: compound in a group of chemicals that includes the sex hormones, glucocorticoids, mineralcorticoids, and bile acids.
Stethoscope: instrument used to listen to body sounds, like the heart beat.
Stifle: the knee.
Stitch: common term for a suture.
Subcutaneous: beneath the skin.
Superficial: near the surface.
Suture: material used to close a wound or tie off a bleeding vessel.
Systemic: affecting the body as a whole.
Tendon: a fibrous cord by which muscle is attached to bone.
Thoracic: pertaining to the thorax.
Thorax: the chest.
Thrombus: blood clot.
Thyroid: paired gland located in the neck that produces hormones regulating body metabolism.
Tibia: the shin bone.
Tick: an external parasite which feeds on the blood of its host.
Tissue: an aggregation of cells specialized in one function.
Topical: pertaining to a surface area; often refers to medicines used on the skin.
Torsion: twisting or rotation.
Toxemia: presence of bacterial toxins in the blood stream.
Toxicology: study of poisons.
Trachea: tubular airway connecting the larynx to the lungs; the windpipe.
Tranquilizer: drug used to calm an animal or relieve anxiety.
Transfusion: introduction of whole blood or blood components into the bloodstream.
Trauma: a wound or injury.
Tumor: a swelling or pathologic enlargement of tissues.
Tympanic membrane: the ear drum.
Ulcer: a local defect or excavation of the surface of a organ.
Umbilicus: the navel; belly button.
Unilateral: affecting only one side.
Ureter: tubular structure that conveys urine from each kidney to the urinary bladder.
Urethra: tube that conveys urine from the urinary bladder to the exterior of the body.
Urinalysis: laboratory analysis of urine.
Urination: passage or excretion of urine.
Urine: fluid formed in the kidneys, passed to the bladder for storage, and discharged through the urethra.
Urticaria: hives; an allergic condition of the skin characterized by large welts which itch.
Uterus: a hollow muscular organ found in female mammals, in which the fertilized ovum develops.
Vaccine: an agent, that when introduced into the body, stimulates an immune response against certain microorganisms.
Vagina: the canal in females extending from the vulva to the cervix.
Vein: vessel through which blood returns from organs and body parts to the heart.
Venipuncture: puncture of a vein with a needle; blood draw.
Ventral: pertaining to the belly or underside of a quadruped.
Ventricle: a chamber of the heart.
Vertebrate: any animal with a spinal column.
Veterinarian: doctor of veterinary medicine; really cool person.
Veterinary Technician: An animal nurse; also a really cool person.
Virus: a tiny infectious agent that replicates only inside a living cell, and lacks the ability for independent metabolism.
Viscera: any large organs located within the thoracic or abdominal cavities or pelvic canal.
Vomit: to cast up material from the stomach.
Vulva: external genitalia of females.
Wean: to discontinue nursing or suckling a young animal.
Whelp: the process of giving birth in dogs.
Wood's light: an ultraviolet light, often used to detect ringworm on the skin of animals.
Wound: any disruption of the continuity of a normal structure, as from an incision or injury.
X-rays: light rays of high amplitude which are passed by an electric generator through a glass vacuum tube (the x-ray tube). Such rays have special penetrative powers through body tissues.
Zoonosis: any disease of animals that can be transmitted to people under natural conditions.