Video: Anatomical terminology for healthcare professionals | Episode 8 | Digestive system
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Did you know anatomical terminology is the number one cause of heartburn and indigestion among healthcare professionals? Ah, okay, I lied. Maybe it's not the number one cause, but it's true that tr... Read more
Did you know anatomical terminology is the number one cause of heartburn and indigestion among healthcare professionals? Ah, okay, I lied. Maybe it's not the number one cause, but it's true that trying to digest complicated anatomical and medical terms can get our guts in twists at the best of times. Well, no need for proton pump inhibitors here. A healthy diet of our awesome terminology series will just do the trick.
Welcome to Anatomical Terminology for Healthcare Professionals – getting your teeth into digestive system terminology.
So at this stage, we are more than halfway through learning the terminology of the systems of the body and today we are taking one step further by learning how to handle some of the most common terminology related to the digestive system. As always, we're going to be tackling the terminology here by learning about the smaller word parts which come together to form larger, more complex terms – talking, of course, about the roots, prefixes, and suffixes of digestive terminology.
Luckily for us, many of the word parts we're going to see today are similar to the names of the various parts of the digestive tract, so you shouldn't find it too difficult. However, there are some terms which are not so obvious, yet still important to know. So, let's dive right into it and I guess the obvious place for us to begin our terminological tour of the digestive system is at the entry point – the oral cavity.
Let's start with the root word 'or-' or 'or/o-' with the O at the end which comes from the Latin 'oris' meaning mouth. You'll see it used in terms like oronasal fistula which is an abnormal opening or connection between the oral and nasal cavities. Another root word sometimes used for mouth which comes from the Greek is 'stoma-' or 'stomat-' or 'stomat/o-' with the O at the end such as stomatology which is the study of the structure, functions, and diseases of the mouth. We'll also see a different use for this term later in this tutorial but more on that later.
Now staying in the region of the mouth, we have several other root words which pertain to specific parts or structures here. For example, 'bucc-' or 'bucc/o-' with the O at the end which refers to the cheeks. For instance, the buccal cavity is the space between the teeth and cheeks. 'Lingu-' or 'lingu/o-' with the O at the end or 'gloss-' or 'gloss/o-' with the O at the end are both root words pertaining to your tongue. For example, linguoversion is the displacement of the tooth towards the tongue while glossoncus describes swelling of the tongue.
'Gingiv-' or 'gingiv/o-' with the O at the end comes from the Latin word 'gingiva' meaning gums. You'll probably hear it most commonly in relation to gingivitis which is inflammation of the gums. 'Dent-' with an O, I, or U at the end, of course, refers to our teeth. 'Palat-' or 'palat/o-' with the O at the end refers to the palate of the mouth, as in palatoschisis – a clinical term for a cleft palate.
And finally, we have two-word roots which refer to the lips of the mouth. The first of these is kind of obvious which is 'labio-' which comes from the Latin 'labia' as in lip as we have in labiomycosis. We also have the lesser known 'cheilo-' which comes from Greek. For instance, a cheilocarcinoma is a malignant tumor of the lip.
After being chewed or masticated, food leaves our oral cavity via the pharynx before arriving into the esophagus for which related conditions contain the root word 'esophag-' or 'esophag/o-' with the O at the end. To give you an example, esophagology is the study of the structure and diseases of the esophagus.
Moving along the digestive tract, we know that our next major organ of interest is, of course, the stomach. Terminology related to the stomach most often centers around the root word 'gastro-' which comes from the Greek 'gaster' meaning belly. For example, we have gastroparesis, gastroplegia, or gastroparalysis – all of which refer to weakness or paralysis of the muscular coat of the stomach.
If you're aware of the various parts of the stomach, you'll already know that the most proximal part is known as the 'cardia-'. It gets this name due to the fact that it sits directly beneath the heart and although we generally assume terms containing cardiac to relate to the heart, they sometimes can be related to this part of the stomach instead. For instance, cardiac achalasia is a condition in which constriction of the esophagogastric sphincter and cardia prevents food from entering the stomach.
As we move on to the small intestine now, we once again can see that each of its parts land themselves as roots for more complex terms; for example, duodenorrhaphy, jejunotomy, ileopexy. Easy-peasy, right?
Similarly, the large intestine, also known as the colon, we use root words 'colo-' or 'colono-' or 'colonic-' when describing structures, procedures, and disorders associated with this region. For instance, a coloptosis describes a prolapse or downward displacement of the colon.
On the topic of the intestines, a common root word which you might not be familiar with is 'enter-' or 'entero-', which comes from the Greek word for this part of the digestive tract. The most common example you'll probably hear of this is gastroenteritis which is inflammation of the stomach and intestine which often causes vomiting, or enterocleisis, which is a blockage or occlusion of the intestine. You'll also see this root word appearing in the adjectives – enteral or enteric.
Coming up on the rear-ended GIT terminology, quite literally, we finish the digestive journey at the rectum and anus and, unsurprisingly, the root words which specifically deal with these two organs are 'rect-' or 'rect/o-' with the O at the end as in rectoperineal, and 'an-' or 'an/o-' with the O at the end like in anoscopy. That being said, there is another term which is also commonly used in terms related to the rectum and anus and that is 'procto-' which comes from the Greek translation of anus. A proctologist is a doctor who specializes in disorders of the rectum and anus.
Okay, so we've made it through the digestive tract, but let's not forget about the equally important accessory digestive organs which are the salivary glands, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas.
Let's begin with the terminology of the salivary glands where we have two main root words to consider. The first and more common of these is 'sial-' or 'sial/o-' with the O at the end as in sialoangiitis which is the inflammation of the duct of a salivary gland, or sialorrhea, which is the excessive flow of saliva. The other root word which we associate with salivary gland is 'ptyal-' with the P silent which comes from the Greek verb to spit. For instance, we have ptyalin which is a type of amylase enzyme occurring in saliva.
Moving onto terminology of the liver, you're probably already familiar with a key root word here which is 'hepat-' or 'hepat/o-' with the O at the end, taken from the Greek translation 'hepar'. An example of this could be hepatocarcinogen. One critical component produced by the liver for digestion is bile and you'll often encounter conditions related to it containing the root words 'chol-' or 'chole-' with the E at the end or 'cholo-' with the O at the end – all of which come from the Greek word for bile. For example, a cholemia is a condition in which bile salts are present in circulating blood.
Three important extensions of the root 'chol-' are 'cholecysto-', which refers to gall bladder, or 'cholangio-', which refers to any of the bile ducts, and finally, 'choledocho-' which specifically relates to the common bile duct. Another root word pertaining to bile is less common but more obvious 'bili-' as in biliuria – the presence of bile salts in urine.
Let’s finish up this section with one last root word which does not specifically relate to the anatomy of the digestive system, but rather its function. The root word I'm talking about is 'peps-' or 'pept-' which comes from the Greek verb for digestion. Pepsins are a well-known group of protein enzymes which are the principal digestive component of gastric juice. Bradypepsia, on the other hand, is a term used to describe a slowness of digestion.
Now that we've covered some of the most common terminology related directly to the anatomy of the digestive system, let's turn our attention to some related clinical terminology which you're likely to encounter.
Halitosis is a clinical term for bad breath or foul odors caused by oral pathology or hygiene or in addition to other GI pathologies. Next term is aphagia which you should already be familiar with if you watched our video on the nervous system. It refers to a difficulty in eating or swallowing food. Moving forward along the digestive tract, let's look at an extremely common disorder known as GERD whose meaning might not be so obvious at first; however, if we break it down, we can see it describes a disorder in which the contents of the stomach flow backward into the esophagus.
Celiac disease is a chronic disorder characterized by a sensitivity to gluten and malabsorption in the small intestine due to inflammation. An intestinal diverticulum is a sac or pouch formed by the protrusion of the mucous membrane through the muscular coat of the intestine. In a clinical setting, you will see this mentioned with the condition diverticulosis, which is the process of the formation of the sacs, or diverticulitis, which is inflammation of these pouches.
Our last condition is another abbreviated term, IBS, which stands for irritable bowel syndrome. It's mainly characterized by increased motility of the intestines resulting in bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence, alternating diarrhea and constipation, and mucus in stools.
And that is it. We've reached the end of our overview of the terminology of the digestive system. We're now one step closer to reaching our goal of becoming terminological whizzes of healthcare. Now test your knowledge right now with our five-word challenge using the information we have learned today. Can you decipher the meaning of the following words?