How to Combine Word Forms in Medical Terminology

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As the health care industry grows, so will the demand for education to prepare for this field. If you are seeking employment in areas such as medical coding and billing, medical assisting, nursing, health unit coordinating, medical transcription or surgical technician, you must know how to speak the language of the medical industry -- you must know how to combine prefixes, suffixes, and root words to form words used in medical terminology.

Things You'll Need

  • Notebook
  • Medical terminology textbook
  • Medical dictionary
  • Index cards

Make a List of Medical Terminlogy

  • Make a list of the medical terms that you know. Say each word and then write it by dividing it into syllables.

  • Guess the meaning of each root, prefix, and suffix to determine the meaning of the medical term. Use a medical dictionary or a medical terminology textbook for verification.

  • Make a list of other medical terms with the same root words and prefixes but with different suffixes. Guess the meaning of each word and verify its meaning in a medical dictionary.

Practice Combining Rules

  • Use the combining form of the root word between the root words to combine more than one root word. For example, the word cardiogastric, meaning pertaining to the heart and stomach comprises two root words, cardi and gastr. Cardi/o is the combining form of the word.

  • Use the combining form of a root word to join the suffix and root for suffixes that begin with a consonant for better pronunciation. For example, use gastr/o to form gastromegaly which means an enlarged stomach.

  • Do not use a combining form to connect a root word and a suffix that begins with a vowel. For example gastr plus ectomy is combined to form gastrectomy, a surgical removal.

  • Pronounce the word and determine when to use exceptions to the rules. For example, gastr and enter are root words that make up the term gastroenterology, the study of the stomach and intestines. Use the combining vowel o for better pronunciation although the second root word, enter, begins with a vowel.

Practice Pronunciation Rules

  • Place the accent on the first syllable on medical terms with two syllables. Place the accent on gas, pronounced GASS, in the term gastric.

  • Place the accent on the next to last syllable, or on the third to last syllable of words with more than two syllables. For example, place the accent on TRY, the next to last syllable in gastritis, which has three syllables. Place the accent on the third to last syllable, MEG in gastromegaly, which has five syllables.

  • Pronounce the vowel in the accented syllable with the long vowel sound when the syllable ends with the vowel. Say TRY with a long i sound in the term gastritis.

  • Pronounce the vowel in the accented syllable with the short vowel sound when the syllable ends with a consonant. Emphasize KAR and MEG in the term cardiomegaly with the short e sound.

Analyze the Medical Terms

  • Write down a list of medical terms and separate each word into root, prefix, and suffix as you did in the beginning to reinforce the definition and proper way to combine the word elements to form medical terminology.

  • Write each word on the front of an index card and the meaning of the root, prefix and suffix on the back.

  • Write a short meaning of the suffix, prefix, and root word in your notebook without looking at the index card and connect all three definitions for an overall meaning of the medical term and for extra practice in formulating word forms.

Tips & Warnings

  • Spend as much time as possible practicing analyzing and learning the definition of words that combine roots, prefixes, and suffixes to broaden your scope of medical terminology.

References

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