2.3 Suffixes for Treatment Procedures

Suffixes are often used when describing procedures that patients might receive during their course of treatment. Once again, there is high level of variation between how suffixes are used, and this will be elaborated upon below. Examples will be provided that illustrate the manner in which these suffixes are used in various terms related to procedures. As stated in the introduction to this chapter, some of these will be suffixes that were introduced in the previous chapter, but in this chapter their use will be explained in further detail.


Table 2.13. Suffixes

-centesis  surgical puncture to remove fluid abdominal paracentesis


image of thoracentesis
Fig. 2.17
abdominal centesis
Fig. 2.18









Key Concept

Amniocentesis was introduced in Chapter 1, but it is just one form of a “surgical puncture to remove fluid,” or -centesis. Another common procedure is thoracentesis, as shown in Fig. 2.17, which involves removing fluid from the pleural space around the lungs. Fluid accumulating in this area is called pleural effusion and can make it difficult for patients to breath because the fluid compresses their lungs (Cleveland Clinic, 2022).

Fig. 2.18 shows another common procedure called paracentesis, a surgical puncture to remove fluid from the peritoneal cavity. Fluid accumulation in this area is called ascites, and as more fluid develops, the patient will become increasingly uncomfortable (John Hopkins, 2022a). Often this condition can be chronic and is associated with liver failure.


Table 2.14. Suffixes

-ectomy removal, resection, excision hysterectomy


Types of hysterectomy
Fig. 2.19
image of surgeon doing surgery
Fig. 2.20








Key Concept

The suffix -ectomy is used in medical terms that refer to the removal of an organ, tissue, tumour, or gland. Fig. 2.19 is an image of the different types of hysterectomies that a patient might need to have, depending on their diagnosis. The term hysterectomy includes the combining form hyster/o, meaning “uterus,” and the suffix -ectomy, meaning “removal.” Fig. 2.20 is an image of a surgeon in an operating room performing an appendectomy, the removal of the appendix.

Table 2.15 provides an extensive list of surgical procedures that patients might have to undergo. Note that the term excision means “to cut out” or “to remove.” It includes the suffix -cision, meaning “to cut,” and the prefix ex-, meaning “out.”


                  Table 2.15. Excisions

adenectomy excision of a gland
adenoidectomy excision of the adenoids
appendectomy excision of the appendix
cholecystectomy excision of the gallbladder
colectomy excision of the colon
gastrectomy excision of the stomach
hysterectomy excision of the uterus
laminectomy excision of a piece of backbone
lobectomy excision of a single lobe of the lung
mastectomy excision of the breast
myomectomy excision of a muscle tumour
oophorectomy excision of the ovaries
pneumonectomy excision of lung tissue
prostatectomy excision of the prostate gland
salpingectomy excision of the fallopian tubes
splenectomy excision of the spleen
tonsillectomy excision of the tonsils
total pneumonectomy excision of a whole lung


Table 2.16. Suffixes

-gram record arthrogram
-graph instrument used to record electrocardiograph
-graphy process of recording electrocardiography


nurse doing ECG
Fig. 2.22


ECG record
Fig. 2.21





Key Concept

The three suffixes in Table 2.16 are similar; however, they are very different in the way they are used in reference to tests or procedures. When discussing the record that is made as a result of a test, for example, an electrocardiogram as shown in Fig. 2.21, then suffix would be -gram (“record”). However, when discussing the process of actually completing the record, as illustrated in Fig. 2.22, then the suffix -graphy (“process of recording”) would be used. The instrument itself, in this case, would be the electrocardiograph. It is important to differentiate between the three suffixes and how they are used in medical terminology.


                    Table 2.17. Examples of -gram

arthrogram record of the joint
audiogram record of hearing
cystogram record of the urinary bladder
echocardiogram record of heart with sound
electrocardiogram record of the electrical activity of the heart
electroencephalogram record of the electrical activity of the brain
electromyogram record of the electrical activity in muscles
esophagogram record of the esophagus
hysterosalpingogram record of the uterus and fallopian tubes
mammogram record of the breast
myelogram record of the spinal cord
pyelogram record of the renal pelvis
urogram record of the kidney and urinary tract


Table 2.18. Suffixes

-lysis separation, breakdown, destruction hemodialysis
-meter instrument used to measure audiometer
-metry process of measuring audiometry


Fig. 2.23


patient getting audiometry
Fig. 2.24








Key Concept

When a patient’s kidneys begin to fail, they have a few options, including peritoneal dialysis, hemodialysis, or a kidney transplant. Peritoneal dialysis was explained in Chapter 1 and is a procedure in which a tube is inserted through the abdominal wall. A solution is then instilled to help filter the blood. This type of dialysis can be completed in a patient’s home on a daily basis. The other type of dialysis is called hemodialysis and is shown in Fig 2.23 (Kidney Foundation of Canada, 2022). It involves using a dialysis machine to filter a patient’s blood and then return the blood to the patient’s body with the wastes removed. Dialysis is often used until a suitable kidney is found for transplant (Kidney Foundation of Canada, 2022).

Audiometry is an assessment of a person’s hearing. This term has the suffix -metry (“process of measuring”) and the combining form audi/o (“hearing”). Fig. 2.24 shows one manner in which audiometry can be completed.


Table 2.19. Suffixes

-opsy process of viewing biopsy
-plasty surgical repair, surgical correction angioplasty
-scope instrument used to visually exam colonoscope
-scopy process of visual examination gastroscopy


image of arthroplasty
Fig. 2.25
image rhinoplasty
Fig. 2.26









Key Concept

Surgical corrections can be completed for mobility reasons, such as an arthroplasty (Fig. 2.25), or for cosmetic reasons, such as a rhinoplasty (Fig. 2.26). A rhinoplasty can also be done for medical reasons, depending on the patient’s history and pathologies.


Fig. 2.27
Fig. 2.28








Key Concept

There are many different types of -scopy procedures, and a few are listed in Table 2.20 below. It is important to differentiate between how the suffix -scopy (“process of visual examination”) and -scope (“instrument used to visually examine”) are used. The images in Fig. 2.27 and Fig. 2.28 show a colonoscopy and a bronchoscopy, the processes of visualizing the colon and bronchi. These would be performed using a colonoscope, as shown in the first image, and a bronchoscope, as shown in the second image—the instruments used to complete the procedures.


                     Table 2.20. Examples of -scopy

anoscopy process of visual examination of the anus
arthroscopy process of visual examination of the joint
bronchoscopy process of visual examination of the bronchi
colonoscopy process of visual examination of the colon
colposcopy process of visual examination of the vagina and cervix
cystoscopy process of visual examination of the urinary bladder
endoscopy process of visual exam of a body cavity or organ with a narrow, tube-like instrument (endoscope)
esophagogastroduodenoscopy process of visual examination of the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine
esophagoscopy process of visual examination of the esophagus
gastroscopy process of visual examination of the stomach
hysteroscopy process of visual examination of the uterus
laparoscopy process of visual examination of the abdominal cavity
laryngoscopy process of visual examination of the larynx
proctoscopy process of visual examination of the rectum and anus
sigmoidoscopy process of visual examination of the sigmoid colon
thoracoscopy process of visual examination of the surface of the lungs (thoracic cavity)


Table 2.21. Suffixes

-stomy opening colostomy
-therapy treatment cryotherapy


Fig. 2.29

Key Concept

Fig. 2.29 shows one type of -stomy (“opening”), a colostomy that was created for a patient with colon cancer. This procedure can also be done for patients with bowel obstructions. An opening into the colon is created, and a stoma is formed on the abdomen to allow bowel movements to exit the body into a colostomy bag. The opening can be permanent, or if the patient’s condition permits, may be only semi-permanent.

Fig. 2.30
patient getting chemothearpy
Fig. 2.31










Key Concept

Below are three examples of very different ways of the using the suffix -therapy (“treatment)”:

  • chemotherapy: Treatment with drugs (chem/o)
  • cryotherapy: Treatment with cold (cry/o)
  • radiotherapy: Treatment with X-rays (radi/o)

Fig 2.30 shows a cryogun, a common device used in cryotherapy. The cold contents are sprayed on a wart or skin tag, and through a series of treatments, the wart or skin tag is slowly removed. Fig. 2.31 has a patient about to receive a chemotherapy treatment, which is used to treat various forms of cancer.


Table 2.22. Suffixes

-tripsy surgical crushing Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy
-tomy incision, cutting into phlebotomy


Fig. 2.32
image of Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL)
Fig. 2.33









Key Concept

Phlebotomy, withdrawing a blood sample for analysis (Fig. 2.32), is a common procedure that many, if not most, people experience during their lifetime. Another example of the use of the suffix -tomy (“incision” or “cutting into”) would be a craniotomy, a procedure often done to release pressure during brain surgery.

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) is used to assist patients who have stones in their kidneys, ureters, pancreatic, or bile ducts (John Hopkins, 2022b). This procedure is not invasive and breaks down the stones using shock waves with the assistance of X-rays or ultrasound (Fig 2.33). Once broken down, the stones can pass through the urinary system and out of the patient’s body (John Hopkins, 2022b).






Unless otherwise indicated, material on this page has been adapted from the following resource:

Carter, K., & Rutherford, M. (2020). Building a medical terminology foundation. eCampus Ontario. https://ecampusontario.pressbooks.pub/medicalterminology/ licensed under CC BY 4.0



Cleveland Clinic. (2022). Pleural effusion causes, signs and treatment. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17373-pleural-effusion-causes-signs–treatment#:~:text=Pleural%20effusion%2C%20sometimes%20referred%20to,to%20lubricate%20and%20facilitate%20breathing.

John Hopkins. (2022a). Ascites. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/ascites#:~:text=Ascites%20is%20a%20condition%20in,chest%20and%20surround%20your%20lungs.

John Hopkins. (2022b). Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/kidney-stones/extracorporeal-shock-wave-lithotripsy-eswl

Kidney Foundation of Canada. (2022). Dialysishttps://kidney.ca/Kidney-Health/Living-With-Kidney-Failure/Dialysis


Image Credits (images are listed in order of appearance)

Thoracentesis by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Public domain

Blausen 0004 AbdominalParacentesis by BruceBlaus, CC BY 3.0

Hysterectomy by BruceBlaus, CC BY-SA 4.0

US Navy 110427-N-NY820-294 Capt. Beth Jaklic, left, and Cmdr. Eric Gessler perform an open appendectomy on Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Mikhail Gri by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric C. Tretter, Public domain

Normal Sinus Rhythm Unlabeled by Andrewmyerson, CC BY-SA 3.0

Ekg NIH by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Public domain

Hemodialysis-en by YassineMrabet, CC BY 3.0

HearingExam by Flávia Costa, CC BY 3.0

Knee arthroplasty due to a chondrosarcoma by Jmarchn, CC BY 3.0

RhinoplastySplint2 by FacialSurgery, CC BY 3.0

Diagram showing a colonoscopy CRUK 060 by Cancer Research UK, CC BY-SA 4.0

Diagram showing a bronchoscopy CRUK 053 by Cancer Research UK, CC BY-SA 4.0

Colostomie by National Cancer Institute, Public domain

Cryogun by Warfieldian, CC BY 3.0

Patient receives chemotherapy by National Cancer Institute, Public domain

Phlebotomy-practice-university-of-delaware by University of Delaware, Department of Medical Technology, CC BY 3.0

Right kidney hydroureter with stone within by Cerevisae, CC BY-SA 4.0



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The Language of Medical Terminology Copyright © 2022 by Lisa Sturdy and Susanne Erickson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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