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A Veterinarian's Guide to Common Medical Terms - Suffixes

This article originally appeared on my ongoing series of articles for Flexcin International, Inc as A Veterinarian's Guide to Common Medical Terms - Suffixes

All too often people leave the veterinarian's office more confused than before they walked in.  The terminology used in the medical field can be very confusing, especially for those without a medical degree.  I'm here to help you better understand your pet’s health in a clear and concise manner.  As the second part of our guide to common medical terms, we introduce to you common suffixes.


To facilitate your comprehension of the information provided by your veterinarian, I’ve put together a list of common terms I'll be diving into two parts, prefixes and suffixes.  Today, we'll discuss suffixes.

Veterinary Medical Suffixes

  • -itis- inflammation of.  Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin and its associated structures.
  • -emia- associated with the blood.  Anemia is a deficiency in blood, typically the red blood cells.
  • -ectomy- surgical removal of an organ or body part.  Splenectomy is a surgery where the spleen is removed from the abdominal cavity.
  • -megaly- enlargement. Also -mega and -megalo.  Splenomegaly is enlargement of the spleen that may indicate a disease necessitating a splenectomy.
  • -metra- related to the uterus.  Pyometra is a life-threatening condition affecting female cats and dogs where the bacterial infection of the uterus causes it to be filled with ‘pus’.
  • -oma- pertaining to swelling, tumors, and other abnormal growths.  Glaucoma is elevated pressure inside the eye.  Papilloma is a wart-like growth on the skin or mucous membranes (gums, genital tissue, etc) caused by a virus.  Osteosarcoma is a malignant tumor of bone.
  • -pathy- a disorder of a particular body part or system.  Hepatopathy is a disease or disorder of the liver.

Hopefully, this list will provide some help in translating a diagnosis given to your cat or dog by your veterinarian.  Many other suffixes exist, but I chose to share those I felt were most relevant for pet owners.

If you don’t understand what is going on with your pet based on the information presented by your veterinarian, always ask for clarification.

Is there a medical term you heard your veterinarian say that wasn’t quite clear or a pet health issue about which you are confused?  Please share your perspective or questions in the comments section.


Thank you for reading this article.  Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).

Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.

Copyright of this article (2012) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.


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