Medical Suffixes for Conditions

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  • 0:01 Suffixes
  • 0:33 Diagnosis Suffixes
  • 4:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

This lesson will cover the various suffixes that are used in medical terminology in order to describe conditions that are happening in the body. We will look at examples for each suffix.


Medical terminology is a language all its own that's composed of different word parts. One of the word parts is the suffix. Suffixes are found at the end of a term. A suffix has the job of telling what is happening to the subject of the term, what is being done by the subject of the term, or who is doing something with the subject of the term. The suffixes can be further categorized based on the specific information they provide. We are going to look at suffixes that help to describe a condition.

Diagnosis Suffixes

One of the most commonly used suffixes in the diagnosis of conditions is -itis. This suffix is used to describe inflammation. A frequent diagnosis given that uses this suffix is appendicitis. Appendicitis means that a person has inflammation of the appendix.

Another suffix that describes a condition is -rrhexis. This suffix means rupture. It may be used to describe what will happen if that case of appendicitis isn't treated. That's right, appendorrhexis means rupture of the appendix can be the new diagnosis resulting from an untreated appendicitis.

A person may be diagnosed with the condition osteomalacia. The suffix in this term is -malacia meaning softening of. It is used when you need to describe something that is softening when it shouldn't be getting softer. The term osteomalacia means softening of the bone.

Have you ever been joking with someone and called them a big head because their head was larger than most? Well, there is a medical term that you can use for that. The suffix -megaly is used in the diagnosis of conditions and means enlargement. The term you would use the next time you are joking is cephalomegaly. This means enlargement of the head.

Perhaps you think that one of your children, or someone else's child, is hard-headed. The term for this would be cephalosclerosis meaning hardening of the head since the suffix -sclerosis means hardening of. Of course, they aren't going to have any clue what you mean when you use this term with them, but it will definitely get their attention! In medical terminology, you will see -sclerosis used in atherosclerosis to diagnose hardening of the blood vessels.

Both of the suffixes -ectasis and -ecstasia mean expanding of, or dilation of. If you are like many people, you may feel as though your abdomen has been expanding. This would mean that you have abdominectasia meaning expanding of the abdomen.

Now this isn't how this suffix is commonly used in medicine. It is normally used to describe expanding of various tubes in a body, such as the blood vessels and bronchial tubes. This is seen in the terms angiectasia and bronchiectasis, respectively.

Another suffix used in diagnosis is -iasis meaning formation of, presence of, or condition of. There are two main diagnoses that include this suffix. Most people don't spend much time thinking about their gall bladder until they end up with the formation of gallstones. The term used for this is cholelithiasis.

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