Medical Terms: What do they mean?

The terms that medical professionals use in diagnostic reports, such as scans and x-rays, can be confusing, but when you understand some of the more common terms used to describe the human body, you may be better equipped to make sense of the next piece of medical jargon that comes your way!


The prefix ‘Arthro’ comes from the Greek word ‘arthron’ for joint and gives us terms such as:

  • Arthroplasty – joint reconstruction
  • Arthrodesis – artificial fusion of a joint
  • Arthroscopy – a surgical procedure to scope (look at) the joint
  • Arthritis – joint inflammation
  • Arthralgia – joint pain
  • Arthrocentesis or joint aspiration – the removal of joint fluid


‘Itis’ is the suffix attributed to diseases characterised by inflammation.

Examples include:

  • bronchitis
  • appendicitis
  • bursitis
  • gingivitis
  • osteomyelitis
  • osteoarthritis
  • laryngitis
  • polyarthritis
  • myocarditis