Top 10 Medical Terminology Prefixes You Need to Know
by Cathy Parkes March 14, 2022 Updated: December 07, 2022 5 min read 1 Comment
- ex- or extra-
- brady- and tachy-
- en- or endo-
- a- or an-
- hyper- and hypo-
Hi, I'm Cathy with Level Up RN. In this video, I am going to cover the top ten prefixes you need to know to learn medical terminology. And these prefixes have been taken out of our Level Up RN Medical Terminology Flashcard deck, which can be used by nursing students, medical students, and anyone else pursuing a career in a healthcare field. So in addition to sharing the top ten prefixes, you definitely need to know, I will be giving you some examples of medical terms that use those prefixes and our silly ways to remember those prefixes as well.
Number ten is ex- or extra-, this prefix means outside. So some medical terms that use this prefix include extravasation, which means the leakage of IV fluids outside the blood vessel into the surrounding tissue. Another example is an exogenous hormone, which means a hormone that is produced outside the body instead of internally. And then finally we have an extra ocular muscle, this would include one of the muscles that is located outside the eyeball that controls eye movements. So our little Cool Chicken hint on our flashcard to help you remember this particular prefix is when you exit a building, you are going outside.
Number nine is intra-, which means inside or within. And some examples of medical terms that use this particular prefix include intracellular, which means located in or occurring within a cell, intravenous, which means inside a vein, and intraocular, which means occurring inside the eye. So our little hint for remembering that intra means inside, if you think of an organization's intranet, that gives access only to people within the organization.
Number eight is sub-, which means under, and examples of medical terms that use sub include sublingual, so that means under the tongue, a subdural hematoma, which is the accumulation of blood under the dura mater, and a subcutaneous injection, which is an injection that is administered into the layer of fat that is under the skin. So to remember this particular prefix, think of a submarine that goes under the water.
Number seven includes two associated prefixes. We have brady- for slow and tachy- for fast, and some examples of medical terms that use these prefixes include bradycardia and tachycardia, so that means we have a slow or fast heart rate. We also have for bradypnea and tachypnea, which means we have a slow or fast respiration rate. Our little hints here on the flashcard to help you remember these particular prefixes include the fact that Tom Brady doesn't seem to be slowing down as he gets older. So if you're not a Tom Brady fan, then you may want to just turn that around and say, "Tom Brady seems to be slowing down." Either way, think of Brady and slow together. And as far as tachy- is concerned, if you put on your makeup too fast, it will look tacky.
Number six is epi-, which means upon or over. Examples of medical terms that use this prefix include the epidermis, which is the outer layer of skin that rests upon the dermis. Another example is epigastric pain, which is pain that occurs above the stomach. So our little hint here for you to remember this particular prefix is if you think of an earthquake, the epicenter of the earthquake occurs directly over the point of origin.
Number five is en-, or endo-, which means inside or within. Examples of terms that use this particular prefix include endocarditis, which is the infection of the inner layer of the heart, as well as endemic, which means the constant presence of a disease within a geographic area, and endotracheal tube, which is a tube that is placed within the trachea. So our little hint to remember that en or endo means inside, when you think of entering a building, you are going inside the building.
Number four is peri-, which means around or surrounding. Examples of terms that use peri include pericarditis, which is the inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the heart. We also have periorbital edema, which is swelling around the eye. And we have the peritoneum, which is the serous membrane that surrounds the abdominal organs. So our little Cool Chicken hint here for remembering that peri means around or surrounding, if you think about periodically walking the perimeter of your property, then you are walking around your property.
Number three is a- or an-, which means lack of or without. And there are many medical terms that use these prefixes. We have anemia, which is a blood disorder characterized by the lack of red blood cells. We have ataxia, which is the lack of muscle control. We have amenorrhea, which is the lack of menstruation. So a tip to help you remember these prefixes, when you think about an anonymous source, that is a source without a name.
Number two is dys-, which means abnormal, difficult or painful. So examples of medical terms that include dys include dystonia, which means you have difficult or labored breathing, dysphagia, which means you have difficulty with swallowing, or dysmenorrhea, which means you have painful menstruation. So our little hint here for remembering dys, if you think of dyslexia, that involves difficulty with reading.
Before we get to number one, keep in mind that this list contains a small sample of the over 100 prefixes contained in our medical terminology deck. If you disagree with my ranking, or if you have your own silly way to remember a particular prefix, definitely leave it in the comments.
Okay, number one. Number one contains two prefixes that are related. We have hyper- and hypo-. Hyper means above or excessive, and hypo means below or deficient. So examples of medical terms that use these two prefixes include hypertension and hypotension, so that means high blood pressure and low blood pressure. We have hyperkalemia and hypokalemia. That means we have excessive potassium or deficient potassium, and we also have hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. This is where we have excessive or deficient thyroid hormones in the body. Our little Cool Chicken hints here to help you remember these prefixes, when you are hyper, you have excess energy, and hypo and below, they both rhyme, and they both contain the letter O. So you'll think of those two together.
I hope this video has been super helpful for you. If so, be sure to like the video, and if you are new to our channel, be sure to subscribe. Take care and good luck with studying.
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March 15, 2022
the video is very helpful.