List of 25 Medical terms that Medical Students MUST KNOW

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List of 25 Medical Terms that Medical Students Must Know

If you are a medical student aspiring to become a medical specialist their are certain terms that you will be using in your near future. It better to get familiar with these most used medical terms that medical students must know. When you visit your doctor (physician), somehow it’s difficult to understand correctly what particular information your physician is trying to convey or relay because medical terms are frequently one of the most common barriers to patients and doctor.

The primary purpose of this article is to convey knowledge about a few standard medical terms in a very simple and easy manner. We have tried out best at compiling this list of 25 medical terms that medical students must know before their practice starts. These medical terms not only help you in daily life but in a situation when they matter.

This article is just contains an informative material and is not suitable to diagnose or treat a health problem or diseases by yourself. Consult with your physician if you have any question or queries.

Benign (Tumour)

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Benign is a tumour, but they are non-cancerous growth in our body. A benign tumour is an abnormal growth of cells, but they can’t grab or invade neighboring tissues.

Benign tumours grow slowly. These non-cancerous tumours are found near to blood vessels, brain, nerves and organs. Benign is not dangerous, but rarely it can cause problems without spreading to other parts of your body because benign tumors don’t spread (Metastasized) to other regions.

What is Metastasis?

Metastasis is spreading of diseases from one to another part of your body. The actual cause of Benign tumour is unknown but this tumour might be linked to genetics, any trauma or injury, exposure of radiation or stress.

Are benign tumours dangerous?

If this non-cancerous tumour grew more substantial, it might be dangerous because it presses our vital organs and blocks our channels which convey the signals from the brain to our body parts so, it’s necessary to remove this tumour by surgery. Mostly benign tumours are not harmful; we can leave it, but it is significant to monitor.


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Generally, you heard that anyone had been diagnosed with cancer; they said it’s cancerous.
So, what is meant by the word “Malignant”? Malignant is a tumour which invades in your body, and it can metastasize to your surrounding tissues through blood and lymph nodes. Malignant tumour carry cells that are cancerous and these cells grow abnormally.

Usually, every cell has the ability to divide for making new cells, but when cells become older, they die. However, in malignancy, older cells don’t die, and these cells forget how to stop dividing. Meanwhile, this abnormal growth of cells become a cancerous tumor.

Do Malignant (cancerous) tumours grow in any specific age?

There is no authentic proof that malignant cancer grew in any specific age, i.e. (infant, teenage, younger, and adult). But mostly cancer may start at the age of 20 to 39. The most common cause of malignant cancer is:

  • Breast cancer (in women)
  • Skin
  • Colon
  • Rectum
  • Prostate (in men)


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Inflammation is a condition in which any part of your body is irritant and becomes red, swollen, and painful. Anti-inflammatory is anti-inflammatory drugs which treat to fight against inflammation which might weaken your immunity and can be irritant to your body organs. There are many types of medicines which tend to use for treating swelling, redness, soreness and for reducing the pain.

What’s the best-recommended drug for Anti-inflammatory?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the best-recommended drugs. This medication specifically is useful not just for reducing pain, but also helps to control inflammation and swelling. Although, every drug has both, pros and cons, people should be careful before starting any medications, before using any drug. You should discuss the risk and benefit to your doctor.

Most common NSAIDS prescribe by a doctor is:


This medication is a unique non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Aspirin is regularly usage painkiller for reducing pain such as (periods pain, headache) and is also used to treat cold and flu. If your age is 16 or 16+, you can take this drug with the prescription of your doctor. Brand name of Aspirin is caprin, Dispirin.


This drug belongs to NSAIDs. Ibuprofen works against the chemicals and blocks enzymes which release prostaglandin and helps to reduce inflammation, redness and fever. Side effects of this drug include rashes, nausea, diarrhea and heat burn. Brand name of Ibuprofen which is available is Avil, Motrin, Nuprin.


Naproxen also helps to reduce inflammation, pain in joints (arthritis, osteoarthritis), back pain and periods pain. Naproxen is available as a tablet or as a liquid form which you can drink comfortably. Brand name of Naproxen is Naprosyn, Naprowel.

Who can’t take Naproxen?

Naproxen isn’t suitable for people who have:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Stomach ache.

Body Mass Index

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Body mass index derived from mass (weight) and height. Usually, body mass index measures your weight in kilogram (kg) and your height in meter square (m2). The formula of measuring BMI is,

  • BMI = WEIGHT (kg)/ height (m2)

Recommended ranges of BMI is:

  • For a healthy weight, BMI is: 18.5-24.9
  • Underweight BMI is: less than 18.5
  • Overweight BMI is: 25-29.9
  • Obese BMI is: 30 or high than 30

A certain risk factor of underweight or low BMI may include:

What are the reasons for weight gaining?

Generally, the reason for your obesity or fat is taking more and more calories in your diet and also lacking physical activities in your daily routine, but here are some main reasons for your overweight.

  • Lack of Sleeping: Getting improper sleep makes changes in your hormones and increase high risk of appetite. You may crave food high in calories and carbohydrates.
  • Stress: Stress is the common cause of obesity because internal factors affect your mood and contribute obesity.
  • Medications: Unnecessary use of drugs is also one of the reasons for obesity. It may include, anti-depressant, steroids and diabetic drugs.

By proper sleep and taking a healthy diet, you can control your obesity.


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Bios means “life” and opsis means “a sight (to view)”. The biopsy is the removal of tissues which is taken to examine or inspect the type of diseases. The biopsy usually was taken from a living subject. Mostly doctors suggest biopsy when he performs all initial tests and tissue or cell not functioning correctly.

Why is biopsy done?

A biopsy is frequently done to look after cancer because it can help in identifying many conditions. Imaging test (CT scan, X-ray) just help to determine the affected area, but they can’t differentiate between malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous). The biopsy may be excisional and incisional.

  • EXICISIONAL BIOPSY: when whole mass or lump targeted and removed surgically.
  • INCISIONAL BIOPSY: known as a core biopsy, involves taking a sample of tissue without removing entire lesion or tumour.

What are the possible complications of biopsy?

Any medical procedure which involves in the breaking of skin carries risk or complications, a possible complexity of biopsies are:

  • Excessive bleeding pond
  • Infections
  • Puncture and damage of skin

Mostly people are thinking worried about biopsy because they ponder biopsy allow cancer to become more healthy and develop tumour faster, but this is unlikely according to the current state of medicine.


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Before discussing hypotension, we should know about blood pressure.

What is blood pressure?

When your heart beats, it pumps the blood around your body and also supplies energy with oxygen where needed. The first one is systolic pressure (pressure in the artery when the heartbeat and is filled with blood) and the second is the diastolic pressure (pressure in the artery when heart at rest). The optimal value of BP is 120/80 mmHg.


Hypotension is the pressure of blood which is below to its normal expected value (systolic <90 and diastolic <60) termed as hypotension. Hypotension is caused by low volume (hypovolemia). Usually, everyone’s BP drops at once or many times, but few conditions can cause hypotension and might become dangerous if left untreated. This condition includes, loss of blood due to any trauma or injury, pregnancy, heart diseases and poor intake of nutrition. Hypotension is categorized into following types:

1. Orthostatic Hypotension

When you are sitting or lying down to standby, suddenly your BP drops. This condition is known as orthostatic hypotension.

2. Postprandial hypotension

Postprandial is a type of orthostatic hypotension. In this condition sudden BP drops after eating a meal.

3. Neutrally mediated hypotension

It happens when you stand up after such a long interval of time.

Mostly, younger experience this type of hypotension.


When your pressure of blood forcing your blood to push against the wall of blood vessels constantly and your BP is high to its normal value, this is termed as hypertension. Measurement of BP is categorized into four stages.

  • These are Normal BP: (Systolic<120 and diastolic 80)
  • Elevated BP: (Systolic 120-129 and diastolic 80)
  • Stage1: (Systolic 130-139 and diastolic 80-89)
  • Stage2: (Systolic 240 and diastolic >90)

Is high BP a silent killer?

Yes, high blood pressure is a silent killer because you may not feel anything going wrong in your body, but very quietly they damage or harm your body parts and destroy your health too. The best prevention to control your BP is to change your lifestyle, it may include:

  • stop smoking
  • release your stress
  • control your weight
  • eating healthy food


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There is no designated classification or naming group of the lesion because the definition of the lesion is broad. The lesion is abnormal or traumatic changes in organs, structures or tissues because of any injury or any diseases. These changes present with symptoms, or sometimes it takes place without producing any symptoms. A lesion is both benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous, a biopsy of lesion prove might be it’s malignant or benign. Mostly lesion can be classified according to their size, shapes, pattern and location. The most common cause of lesion is skin lesion by aging, allergies or any other infections.

The lesion may be specified by anatomic (unaided senses), biochemically (chemically), and by histological (microscopic).

How to treat lesion?

Treatment of any type of lesion is somehow complicated. Still, the treatment of some lesions (such as bacterial and meningitis) require antibiotics and steroids because the medication is the first-line treatment to treat any disease, but lesion is infected typically so they need surgery to remove lesions.


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Non-invasive is a procedure or technique which does not require any instrument or incision (no brearking of skin) in your body. The non-invasive technique does not contact with your mucosa or any internal cavity. Non-invasive procedures are used to diagnose the problems, but they don’t require any surgeries.

Types of Non-invasive procedures

There are five broad classes of non-invasive procedures which are listed here:

  • Diagnostic procedure (includes initial test X-ray, CT scan)
  • Propaedeutic procedure (includes Physical examinations)
  • Therapeutic procedure (treatment to repair injuries or diseases)
  • Rehabilitative procedure (treatment to enhance patient’s physical function)
  • Cosmetic procedure (treat skin by the use of medications for physical appearance)


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A patient who just visited the hospital for treatment and he’s not hospitalized for a prolonged time or over a night they just visited the hospital for diagnosing or test. If you can stay at your home, and you are ambulatory (able to walk), outpatient service is the best option for you.

Outpatient care department in hospitals includes:

  • Doctors OPD (where the patient comes for a routine checkup or minor care)
  • Clinics include urgent care, primary care and special care
  • Day treatment centers
  • For tests (X-ray, CT scan, MRI)


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The patient who’s admitted in hospitals for prolong period or overnight because of their illness or they take time to recover, and doctor or health care provider admit patient in the hospital just to ensure a successful recovery.

An inpatient program has benefits to their patient which may include:

  • Receive 24/7 care and support
  • For best recovery
  • For emotional support
  • For physiological support


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Remission is the disappearance of sign and symptoms of any disease. Remission might be temporary or permanent. It is considered as partial remission or complete remission.

Partial remission

Partial remission often refers to cancer, and it’s detectable, but mostly it is small in size. Partial remission also defines as cancer that is controlled 50% or greater than that. Tumour growth found on physical examination, biomarkers (urine, stool test).

Complete remission

Complete remission is the disappearance of all signs and symptoms of cancer in the response of treatment. Patient with complete remission might be cured or recovered.


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The membrane is a thin layer; it makes outer boundaries of cells. The outer boundary is known as the plasma membrane. It has a double layer of lipids and proteins which separate the cytoplasm from its surrounding. Some proteins in the plasma membrane forming the pores called membrane Channel and it allows for diffusion. The membrane is usually flexible although they are strong enough to protect the membrane and it is categorized in connective and epithelial tissues.

What are the functions of the membrane?

  • Firstly, the membrane gives structure to the cells.
  • The membrane is also playing its role in signalling and communication.
  • The membrane acts as a barrier.
  • The membrane keeps toxic substances out of cells.


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Sudden or abrupt onset of diseases is termed as acute. Acute develop symptoms very quickly. Care of acute injuries or illness is divided into three categories:

  • Acute: acute injuries or illness taking 0-4 days to heal
  • Subacute: Illness usually taking 5-14 days to heal
  • Post-acute: post-acute illness usually takes 14 or >14 days to heal

Acute illness always needs urgent care, and it somehow differs from chronic illness because they develop gradually within a month or days. The acute condition resolves quickly by its own self or by some medical treatment. Acute illness might be severe enough that the patient won’t bear the intensity of pain and also won’t survive. Acute illness responds to therapies, but some acute conditions become life-threatening to patients. This may be, heart attack, asthma attack, appendicitis and any organ failure.


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Angina is chest pain or tightness because of insufficiency (lacking) of oxygen; your heart muscles do not get oxygen-rich blood, so because of this pressure builds on your chest. The pain of angina is also known as angina pectoris, and this tightness and discomfort is also felt in your shoulder, legs, arm, neck or jaw. Angina is not a disease but its a sign of heart attack or any heart diseases. Usually, changes in lifestyle and medications control angina, but when angina becomes more critical or serious, you must need surgery.

Can you die from angina?

No, because it’s not a disease, its a sudden condition. If you have angina, it’s necessary you should ask the doctor for treatment of angina properly, then you could live a normal life.

Gastroesophageal reflux diseases (GERD)

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This is also called acid reflux; gastro oesophagal reflux disease is a long term condition. GERD is basically digestive disorder when content from the stomach moves up to the oesophagus (when acidic juices flow in the tube which connects your mouth and stomach). GERD affects all ages of people (infant, teenage, younger and adults). Acid reflux feels burning in your chest also irritates your lungs. If you experience GERD, you will develop sour or bitter taste on your tongue.

In some conditions, GERD results in difficulty to engulfing the food, regurgitation of food and burning sensation.

How to get rid of GERD?

If you have been experiencing acid reflux continuously, you might try these few things to release acid reflux. It includes:

  • Eating sparingly and slowly: when your stomach is full of food, it causes acid reflux so, try to eat small or less meal as compared to three larger meals daily.
  • Stop smoking: try to stop smoking because nicotine is one of the major cause of GERD.
  • Stay up after eating: because it helps to reduce acidity and also remember to stop eating three hours before you go to bed.
  • Stop drinking Beverages: they make you burp, which send acid into the stomach.


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Cellulitis is an inflammation of connective tissue, and it is a bacterial infection just inside or underneath the skin. Cellulitis occurs when bacteria (staphylococcus, streptococcus) enter in the area where the skin is damaged, and broken cellulitis is the most common bacterial infection. This bacterial infection spreads in lymph nodes and into the bloodstream. Most common symptoms of cellulitis are characterized by pain, redness, skin soreness, rashes and fever. If you have serious cellulitis, the symptoms appear chills, fatigue, sweating and muscle ache.

Numbers of reasons increase chances to get cellulitis, but the few are the main risk factors which cause cellulitis, these are:

  • Infections are due to any surgical wounds
  • If any foreign body or object invade in your skin
  • Any punctures or wounds
  • Dogs or cat biting or licking or any pet animal also cause severe cellulitis, especially in those people who have a poor immune system
  • People with liver diseases are also prone to cellulitis.

Is poor hygiene a cause of cellulitis?

Yes, poor hygiene causes cellulitis, because it is very important to keep yourself clean and also keep your skin clean by using good hygiene if your skin is dry you should use moisturizer for preventing dryness and cracking. If your skin is injured than frequently wash your infected area of skin with soap and water. Also, use clean socks and shoes, because dirty socks and shoes also cause cellulitis. Keep your nails and hair clean.

How to treat cellulitis

  • Rest the area where cellulitis occurs
  • We are elevating the infected area to reduce swelling
  • By the suggestion of your doctor use pain killers to relieve the pain and keep your fever down. Because cellulitis must be treated with antibiotics.


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Skin is the largest organ in our body, and the skin is made up of multiple layers of tissues. The epidermis is the thin layer of skin. The epidermis composed of keratinized (epithelium cells filled with keratin protein filaments), stratified (arranges by a system or formation of layers and classes) squamose tissues. The epidermis is the upper outer layer which is visible to naked eyes. The epidermis does not contain any blood vessels. However, the inner layer of skin contains blood vessels, hair follicles and glands.

The epidermis has five layers:

  • Stratum corneum: This is a rough layer. It consists of 20-35 layers of dead flat cells which are filled with protein and keratin. It helps to prevent from microbes and dehydration.
  • Stratum lucidum: This is a smooth translucent layer of epidermis below the stratum corneum. It consists of 2-3 layers of dead keratinocytes tissues. These cells provide a barrier of water.
  • Stratum granulosum: This layer has a grainy appearance, and the cells of this layer are flattened.
  • Stratum Spinosum: This layer is spiny in appearance, and it is composed of 8-10 layers of kerotinocytes, and it works as phagocytosis.
  • Basal layer: This is the bottom layer of the epidermis, and it attaches to the epidermis by a basal lamina.

The functions of the epidermis

  • The function of the epidermis is to protect the body against pathogens.
  • It prevents excessive loss of water.
  • Epidermis also regulates the temperature.
  • The epidermis protects us from sunburns, ultraviolet rays and many harmful chemicals.
  • The epidermis also absorbs water and minerals to make skin healthy.

How you keep your epidermis healthy?

It necessary that we protect epidermis of our skin by doing the following things:

  • Clean of sweat: if your body is sweating excessively, then you should take a bath after doing all activities that make you sweat.
  • Clean wounds: when your skin gets any cuts or sore you should wash your affected area of skin and keep your skin clean and safe.
  • Healthy diet: for keeping your skin healthy and glowing, you should intake good and healthy food (protein, vitamins, calcium).


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Neutrophils are a type of white blood cells (WBCs) which leads the immune system. Neutrophils are making up to 50-70% of WBCs. White blood cells are also called leukocytes. Neutrophils are uniform in size, and its diameter is 9-5 micrometre.

Neutrophils work with esonophils and basophils to make a group of WBCs known as granulocytes and they produce chemicals to fight against the infections in the body. The main role of neutrophil is engulfing of bacteria or micro-organism, which harms the immune system.

What is the reason for increasing neutrophil?

If neutrophil count increases to its normal range is known as neutrophilia. This is a sign of infection in your body.
The reason for increasing neutrophil is infection from bacteria, any injury or acute inflammation, surgery, smoking, stress level and heart attack.

An increasing number of neutrophil in the blood is not usually a problem itself, your doctor focuses on the diseases or find out the cause, which increase the neutrophil. When these underlying diseases are treated, the level of neutrophils come back to its normal value.

What are the reasons for decreasing neutrophils?

When neutrophil count decreases from its normal range, it is known as neutropenia. Neutrophils is produced in bone-marrow and anything that disturbs this process causes neutropenia.

Most commonly neutropenia is caused by: chemotherapy, suppressed immunity, Hepatitis (A, B, C), sepsis and leukaemia.
Treatment of neutropenia is same as neutrophilia, just to treat the underlying cause.


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Edema is swelling due to accumulation of fluid which builds in tissues or their surrounding area, particularly in the skin. Generally, edema occurs in feet, ankle, and legs. Very rarely, it affects the face and hands. Causes of edema include:

  • Weakening in valves of the veins in legs due to this problem it’s difficult for the veins to push blood back to the heart and leads edema.
  • Sitting or standing for a prolonged period.
  • Eating too much food with an excess amount of salt.

Can edema be preventing?

Yes, edema prevents by doing physical activity (exercise, daily work out). By avoiding excess salt in the diet.


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Embolism is obstruction of blood vessels or blood clot which travels through the bloodstream and plugging the vessels. Embolism travels from one place to another part of your body and blocks the flow of blood. Embolism mostly forms blood clots and rarely forms fats or tumour.

Embolism is life-threatening, and this condition needs urgent care. Emboli can be categorized into three types:

  • Arterial Emboli: Arterial emboli are sudden interruption of blood flow due to clot formation, which comes from another part of your body.
  • Gas embolism: Gas embolism also knows as air embolism. It occurs when one or more gases enter in your vein or arteries. This may block the passage of blood.
  • Pulmonary Embolism: Most common embolism is pulmonary embolism; it is due to obstruction or blockage of arteries in the lungs. It can damage the lungs also.


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Suturing is the stitches which joined together open parts of the wounds. The suture is a thread-like material using to sew the tissues together. This is generally involved by using a thread, and a needle for repairing soft tissues either they are cardiovascular or neurological.

Three types of suture can be used:

  • Nylon: A natural monofilament (single manmade fibre) suture.
  • Polypro propylene: A synthetic monofilament suture.
  • Silk: it is a braided (natural) suture.


A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue, and polyp is a mass of tissues which develop inside the hollow organs such as the colon. It is a mostly flat or tiny mushroom-like. The polyp is small and less than half an inch. Causes of polyps vary, but few known causes of polyp are inflammation, any cyst, tumours or mutation in genes.

Types of polyps

Polyps are of two types, which are:

I.Non-Neoplastic: Having the potential to become cancer.
II.Neoplastic: It may risk of developing the cancers.

Compound Fracture

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Fracture of bone is a medical condition in which continuity of the bone is broken. A compound fracture is a fracture in which bone breaks completely and penetrates into the skin. A compound fracture is known as an open fracture. Open fracture is caused by hitting or high energy such as (car crashes, fall from the top, any sports injuries). It is more complicated for healing when the fracture is open.

A compound fracture is a contaminated fracture, because when a bone is broken, it is completely exposed to the outside environment, which leads to infection. Compound fracture takes longer time to heal because of its severity. In compound fractures, the patient needs urgent care, but due to any circumstances if urgent care is delayed, you must take these actions as soon as possible while waiting for medical help.

  • Apply pressure to the wound or injury, but with a sterile bandage or any clothes, you have available in emergency.
  • Immobilize (not moving) the injured or broken area.
  • Apply ice packs to reduce swelling.

Comminuted Fracture

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A comminuted fracture is when a bone is broken into more than two fragments or pieces due to high force or injuries. Community fracture takes several months to heal. The treatment of the comminuted fracture is complicated or might be controversial; it depends on the severity of breaking a bone. For relieving pain, your doctor prescribes anti-inflammatory medication or doctor strictly suggests you to immobilized or often inserts wire, screw or other devices to restrict the movement.