Video: Anatomical terminology for healthcare professionals | Episode 12 | Lymphatic system
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When working in a healthcare profession, we make sure to get vaccinated against a host of serious and sometimes deadly diseases which we might encounter. Getting vaccinated against the dreaded term... Read more
When working in a healthcare profession, we make sure to get vaccinated against a host of serious and sometimes deadly diseases which we might encounter. Getting vaccinated against the dreaded terminological fever of anatomy is, unfortunately, not an option. Or is it? What if I told you that there is a way to boost your defenses and inoculate your mind against pesky complicated terms? Trust me – this won't even hurt.
So welcome to the twelfth and final episode of the Kenhub series, Anatomical Terminology for Healthcare Professionals – finding immunity with the lymphatic system terminology.
Now that we're on the final stretch of our series, I'm sure you know the score by now. We don't believe in memorizing long lists of complicated and tongue-twisting terminology. Instead, we teach you how to dissect terms into little, manageable, and understandable word parts that we now know and love which are prefixes, roots, and suffixes, and getting grips with these is what makes you a terminology pro.
As we work our way through this topic, keep in mind that if you want to learn more about any of the structures mentioned in this video, you can head over to kenhub.com where you have plenty of detailed articles and beautiful illustrations to complement your learning.
If you study the lymphatic system, I'm pretty sure the word complicated comes to mind. If there ever was an unloved child of anatomy, it has to be the lymphatic system. It's true. Learning about lymphatics can be really difficult. Luckily for us, however, learning its terminology is not. With the lymphatic system terminology, what you see is what you get. Be prepared to see root 'lymph-' or 'lymph/o-' with the O at the end in pretty much everything, so we're going to start with the basics here and the lymphatic system has two main functions.
The first is to collect extracellular fluid, proteins, and waste from your tissues, and reintroduce them to the bloodstream for processing. The other is protecting the body from various invaders. These two functions lend themselves to two similar, yet different terms which come up often when talking about the system. These are lymphatic and lymphoid. So, what is the difference between them?
Well, although there isn't one definite consensus, it is generally agreed that the term lymphatic most often refers to circulation of lymph and the lymphatic vessels whereas lymphoid is used for the organs made up of lymphoid tissue which form a large part of our immune system. Lymphoid tissue can be divided into two separate categories – dense lymphoid tissue and diffuse lymphoid tissue. This dense tissue is mainly found in the form of lymphoid organs. These are subdivided into primary lymphoid organs where lymphocytes are produced and mature while secondary lymphoid organs are where lymphocytes are activated.
Now from this list, we're going to start with the terminology associated with the primary lymphoid organs. The first of these is the thymus and it will come as no surprise that the root associated with this organ is simply 'thym-' or 'thym/o-' with the O at the end. And how can you use it in anatomical terms? Well, pretty much in any way your heart desires. An example would be thymoprivic which refers to a condition resulting from atrophy or removal of the thymus.
The other primary lymphoid organ is red bone marrow. The root word related to this is 'myel-' or 'myel/o-' with the O at the end as in myelosuppression – a condition in which the ability of bone marrow to produce blood cells is reduced resulting in an increased risk of infection. But don't get caught off guard with this root because 'myel/o-' can also refer to the spinal cord, medulla oblongata, or even the myelin sheath of nerve cells.
Now, let's continue on to look at some terminology related to the secondary lymphoid organs beginning first with the spleen. This is the largest of the lymphoid organs, and when it comes to terminology, we most often used the root 'splen-' or 'splen/o-' with the O at the end which comes from the Greek 'splen', so no surprises there. We can see it used in terms like splenomegaly, or its inverse, megalosplenia – both of which mean the same thing, enlargement of the spleen.
I want to introduce you to another root associated with the spleen. 'Lien-' or 'lien/o-' with the O comes from Latin and is generally considered to be somewhat obsolete. Why should you know it then? Well, sometimes terms in healthcare are slow to change so you might still encounter them from time to time. An example would be lienomalacia which describes an abnormally soft spleen, but it’s now more commonly known as splenomalacia.
And quickly moving on to our next structure, we'll look at some terminology related to lymph nodes. The root here 'lymphaden-' or 'lymphaden/o-' with the O at the end, the part lymph obviously refers to lymph or the lymphatic system, and if you’ve watched our previous tutorials, you'll already know that 'aden-' or 'aden/o-' refers to a gland.
The function of a lymph node to filter lymph for pathogens relies on the lymphatic vessels going to it and from it. In general, terminology related to these conduits may use the prefix-root combo of 'lymphangi-' or 'lymphangi/o-' with the O at the end. A good example of it in use would be the term lymphangiectasis, which means dilation of lymph vessels.
Now let's quickly touch on another type of lymphoid tissue which we commonly know as the tonsils and their root 'tonsil-' or 'tonsill/o-' with the O at the end. Now, you'll find tonsils in a few different areas along the aerodigestive tract. For example, we have the adenoid, tubal, palatine, and lingual tonsils. But most commonly when talking about tonsils, we’re referring to the palatine tonsils. For instance, a tonsillectomy was a very common procedure to treat infection and inflammation of the palatine tonsils.
And that finishes off the list of discrete lymphoid organs that we're going to look at today. Let's finish up with another type of lymphoid tissue found all over the body known as MALT. But before you say anything – no, it has nothing to do with whiskey. What it actually stands for is mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue which refers to clusters of lymphatic cells associated with the submucosa and various tissues within the body.
There are several variations of this term relating to specific locations of the body. For example, BALT stands for bronchial-associated lymphoid tissue and GALT means gut-associated lymphoid tissue. And that pretty much wraps up the anatomical side of things, but what about the all-important clinical terminology. Let's take a look at that.
Now a lot of the clinical terminology associated with the lymphatic system is related to cancer. The term lymphoma is probably one that you'll encounter the most as it refers to a group of cancers which originate from lymphocytes – the infection-fighting cells of the immune system. A lymphoangiosarcoma also refers to a type of malignancy but of lymphatic vessels rather than lymphoid tissue. It often results in lymphedema – a blockage of the lymphatic vessel which results in poor collection of fluid and swelling.
Now because the lymphatic system is one of the main pathways for cancer to spread, a lot of the cancers in the lymphoid organs will not actually originate in them. The secondary cancers are referred to as metastasis, and even though they can be found in lymphoid tissue, they are generally named after the primary cancer.
And that rounds up our short and sweet run-through the terminology of the lymphatic system.
So there you have it, we explored the terminology of ten major systems of the body. I'll admit, we've packed a whole lot of information into this series so well done for making it to the end. You can pat yourself on the back. Take a bow. You do deserve it.
So, what can you take away after exploring the terminology of the human body? Well, hopefully, the first thing we can do is throw away the myth that anatomical and medical terminology can be a roadblock to your progress in healthcare. The second thing we've learned that the key to mastering groups of large, complex and daunting terms is not stretching your brain to memorize all of them but rather dissecting them into smaller word parts called roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
We have also learned that although the list of medical and anatomical terminology is constantly growing, the reservoir of roots, prefixes, and suffixes from which these words come from generally stays the same. New terms are often just different combinations of already existing smaller words.
Our goal for this series has been to introduce you to as many of these word parts as possible while exploring the systems of the body. After the series, I hope you feel you've truly began to build up your own repertoire of roots, prefixes, and suffixes to use when identifying new terms. Of course, there is lots we didn't have time to look at, but don't underestimate the work you've done to get this far.
The key going forward is to keep adding new word parts to your terminology database. When you encounter new terms which you are unfamiliar with, try to break it down into recognizable word parts or look up the etymology of the word to see the origin of the term as a whole. Doing this overtime is what will help you become a terminology wizard – trust me.
Remember you can also reinforce your learning by making flashcards and cheat sheets of the roots, prefixes, and suffixes you encounter, and if you’re a visual learner like me, why not grab some of the awesome Kenhub illustrations from our website to make learning even easier.
That's a wrap for this series. I hope you've enjoyed watching it as much as we have enjoyed making it. If you're hungry for even more anatomy, don't forget, you're always welcome to check out the hundreds of articles and atlas guides available for free at kenhub.com.