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Medical terminology is composed of a prefix, root word, and suffix:
Prefix: A prefix is placed at the beginning of a word to modify or change its meaning. Pre means "before." Prefixes may also indicate a location, number, or time.
Root: central part of a word.
Suffix: The ending part of a word that modifies the meaning of the word.
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Alphabetical Listing of Med Terms

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Med terms B- med term prefixes-suffixes

GlobalRPh Medical Terminology Section- Letter B

Prefixes and Suffixes Medical Terminology beginning with B
Word Building Reference [POPULAR REFERENCE]*

Medical terminology is used to precisely describe the human body components, processes, illnesses, medical procedures, and pharmacology. Medical terms are used in the field of medicine, and clinical settings. This section deals with all med terms beginning with the letter B, and features medical roots, prefixes and suffixes. Introduction to Medical Terminology.

Medical Terminology - Letter B 

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bacilli (bacteria)




glans penis


pressure; weight


Bartholin glands


weight, pressure




base; opposite of acid

batho-, bathy-

deep, depth






bile; gall




embryonic; immature cell


immature tumor (cells)






cast; throw










bromine-containing compound, odor


bronchial tube


bronchial tube








bursa (sac of fluid near joints)


cotton dust


Word Building and Medical Terms beginning with the letter


See if you can spot the suffixes, prefixes, and/or root words.



bacill/o bacilli

The Latin word for "stick" or "rod". Indicates Bacillus (bacilli – plural), a large group of rod-shaped, gram-positive. Except for a few members such as the tubercle bacillus Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Bacillus sp. have less pathogenicity. Helpful members of the species are used in the production of enzymes and antibiotics of industrial and pharmaceutical significance.


Combining form for glans penis.


Balanitis is when the head of the penis (the glans) is red, swollen, itchy, and sore. It is a common condition affecting males, especially the uncircumcised ones. Poor hygiene and candida infections are the main causes. Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as genital herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea can also cause balanitis. Treatment depends on the cause. A GP may prescribe a steroid cream, antibiotics, and antifungal creams.


Surgical repair of the glans penis.


Indicating Bartholin glands.

A pair of pea-sized glands on either side of the labia (vaginal lips), near the vaginal orifice. They secrete a small amount of lubricating fluid to protect vaginal tissue during intercourse. A Bartholin's gland cyst develops when the gland becomes blocked. The block may be due to a variety of reasons, such as infection or inflammation.

bary- baro-

Greek combining form meaning "weight" or "pressure". Related forms: bar-, baro-


Specialty concerned with obesity and related disorders. Bariatric treatment involves lifestyle changes, prescription drugs, and surgeries.


Instrument for measuring weight and length of a new-born baby.

Baroreceptor – pressure sensing neurons found in the aortic arch and carotid sinus. Baroreflex reading is vital in assessing the development and progression of heart diseases.

batho-, bathy-

A prefix indicating deep or depth (Greek bathus = deep).

Bathometer - Also referred to as bathymeter, it is a device used to measure the depth of water.

Bathophobia – Fear of depth.


Pertaining to bile or gall (from Latin bilis). Produced by the liver and stored in the gall bladder, bile is a yellowish-green fluid that aids in the digestion of fats.

Biligenesis - the process of bile synthesis.

Biliary tree

A series of gastrointestinal ducts that direct bile from the liver to the duodenum.

Biliary Atresia

A gastrointestinal disorder is characterized by the destruction or discontinuity of all or a portion of the bile duct. This causes bile to remain in the liver, where it causes cirrhosis, and eventually liver failure. Prevalent in infants.


A combining form meaning "immature", "embryo" or "bud".

  • Blastocyte (-cyte = cell) - any one of the thousands of undifferentiated cells that compose a blastocyst. A blastocyst is the name given for human embryo 5-6 days after fertilization.
  • Leucoblast – a developing leucocyte or white blood cell
  • Osteoblast – bone-forming cells
  • Erythroblast – a nucleated precursor cell of erythrocytes or red blood cells.
  • Sideroblast – an erythroblast with ferritin (iron) granules
  • Melanoblast – progenitor cells of melanocytes (melanin-producing cells).


A general term for any tumor of embryonic origin in a group of cancers. Blastoma occurs due to gene mutation during fetal development wherein the embryonic cells fail to differentiate into their intended cell types. For this reason, blastomas are common in children.

Each kind of blastoma, depending on its location in the body, has its specific name. For example,

  • Retinoblastoma – retinal tumor
  • Glioblastoma – a tumor in the astrocytes of the central nervous system
  • Medulloblastoma – a tumor in the cerebellum
  • Nephroblastoma – renal (kidney) tumor. Also referred to as Wilms tumor
  • Neuroblastoma - cancer in neuroblasts, the primitive nerve cells.
  • Osteoblastoma - bone-forming tumor


Prefix denoting eyelid.


A rare eyelid disorder characterized by recurrent, painless edema of the upper and occasionally lower eyelids. Multiple episodes eventually lead to atrophic, wrinkled, and periorbital pigmentation.


blephar/o = eyelid;
-ptosis = drooping

Blepharoptosis also referred to as ptosis, is the medical term for drooping of the upper eyelid. It may affect one or both eyes with drooping occurring on both sides (bilateral) or one side (unilateral).


blephar/o = eyelid;
-spasm = twitching

A rare neurological disorder characterized by involuntary blinking or twitching of the eyelids. More common reasons include stress, high caffeine use, or a dysfunctional basal ganglion. Blepharospasm may run in families.


blephar/o = eyelid;
-itis = inflammation

A common eye condition that makes eyelids red, swollen, and itchy. An allergy, bacterial or viral infections, skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and eczema, or a blocked oil gland are the possible causes of blepharitis.

Blepharitis can be acute or chronic. Though there’s no cure for blepharitis, the best way to prevent is to keep the eyelids clean. Antibiotics, artificial tears, and warm compresses can help manage blepharitis.


Latin and Greek word for the arm.

Brachial artery

The major arterial supply of the upper arm that runs from the shoulder down to the elbow.

Brachial pulse

The pulse of the brachial artery. Palpated just above the crease of the elbow, a brachial pulse is used to measure blood pressure.

Brachial plexus

A network of nerves that controls the motor and sensory functions of the upper limb. The brachial plexus begins at the root of the neck and crosses the upper chest to the armpit. Injury to the brachial plexus can result in complete paralysis or anesthesia.


Denoting something "short". [G. brachys = short].


Also called flat head syndrome, Brachycephaly translates literally to ‘short head’. A brachycephalic skull is flat and vaulted in the rear. Sometimes brachycephaly is congenital but mostly it is positional - when infants spend most of their time on their backs with head resting on a flat surface.

Brachycephaly is also found to be associated with chromosomal aberrations (21-Trisomy), premature closure of the cranial sutures, and skull and limb malformations.


Prefix denoting "slow".


The normal respiratory rate is 12-20 breaths/min in adults. A respiratory rate below 12 is called bradypnea. Bradypnea can be a sign of lung disorders, sleep apnea, sodium azide, and carbon monoxide poisoning, or a drug overdose.


Slower-than-normal heart rate, usually fewer than 60 beats per minute. Bradycardia can occur due to age, congenital heart disease, heart block, a dysfunctional sinoatrial node (SA node), or certain heart medications.


Slow or impaired movement, one of the early signs of Parkinson’s disease. Bradykinesia can also be a side effect of antipsychotics drugs. Bradykinesia can affect one limb, one side of the body, or the whole body.


Slow, or labored perception.


related to bromine.

Bromine is a reddish-brown element that is liquid at room temperature. Bromine vapor has a suffocating odor and is toxic when inhaled. It causes irritation, burn, and cracking of skin on contact. Long-term effects of bromine poisoning include organ dysfunction, central nervous system damage, and even cancer.


Buccae means cheek in Latin. The fleshy sides of the face and are continuous in front of the lips. Cheeks are important for mastication and speech.

Buccal cavity

The mouth, or the oral cavity, is bound by the teeth and gums, jaws, and cheek. It serves as the first portion of the digestive system.


Located in each of the cheeks, the buccinator is a quadrilateral facial muscle. It holds the cheek to the teeth. The sucking reflex of a baby, smiling, chewing, and whistling are all dependent on the buccinator. Speech would be difficult and slurred if the buccinator muscle is damaged.

Buccal medication

Buccal medication administration is one of the ways of giving drugs by mouth. Medicine is placed between the gums and cheek. The buccal area has numerous capillaries which let the drugs go straight into the circulation. Buccal administration is prescribed when,

  • the drug is absorbed slowly in the stomach
  • the drug needs to get into the body quickly
  • the patient has trouble swallowing


A bunion, or hallux valgus, is a bony bump that forms on the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, the joint where the big toe meets the foot. In some cases, a bunion remains painless. Over time, however, it can cause the toes to crowd together – causing pain, swelling, and a permanent deformity. Though the exact cause of bunions is unknown, genetics, foot injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, or polio, are considered the risk factors. Bunion treatment includes lifestyle adaptions (shoe inserts, padding or splinting of the toe) pain killers, cortisone injections, and surgery.


Surgical removal of a bunion. The procedure involves a) toe position correction by removing some of the bone b) removal of swollen tissue from the MTP joint.


From ancient Latin bursa = "a bag".

Lubricated fluid-filled sac or pouch between tendons, muscles, and bony prominences, such as elbow, knee, or shoulder. The bursa acts as a cushion when muscles, tendons, or skin rub against the bone thereby reducing friction and prevent wear-and-tear. There are over 150 known bursae in the human body. Injury to bursa may cause pain to loss of movement.

The three main types of bursa include Synovial bursae (near the synovial membrane of the joints), Adventitious bursae (in soft tissue over bony prominences), and Subcutaneous bursae (between the skin and a bony prominence).


Inflammation of the bursa. An inflamed bursa is usually the result of injury, overuse, infection, age, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis. Most commonly, the hips, elbows, or shoulder are affected; however, inflammation may also develop in the knee and feet.


Surgical removal of the inflamed bursa. Typically done arthroscopically, the procedure is less invasive and the recovery is quicker.


Any disease involving a bursa – bursitis, for example.


From Greek byssinos = of linen, cotton dust.


An occupational lung disease caused by prolonged inhalation (10 years or more) of cotton dust. Studies show that the endotoxin released from the cell wall of gram-negative bacteria within cotton fibers inflames bronchioles and stimulates histamine release and constricts the airways.

Also referred to as cotton worker's lung, brown lung disease, Monday fever, and mill fever. Chest tightness, dyspnea, and wheezing are common symptoms. Byssinosis is more common among textile workers, who often get exposed to cotton, jute, hemp, and flax fibers.


Bilirubin is a dark orange-yellow bile pigment, which gives urine its distinctive yellow color. Roughly, 80% of bilirubin comes from the breakdown of hemoglobin in red blood cells, and prematurely destroyed erythroid cells in the bone marrow. The remainder is from heme-containing proteins (myoglobin) and enzymes (catalase, peroxidase, and tryptophan pyrrolase).

Healthy adults make 250 -350 mg bilirubin a day.

Once synthesized, bilirubin is carried to the liver by albumin protein - a form called unconjugated or indirect bilirubin. Once in the liver, the pigment becomes ‘conjugated’, meaning it is water-soluble and can be excreted.

Excess bilirubin (hyperbilirubinemia) is the main cause of jaundice. A bilirubin test is done to diagnose hemolytic anemia, hepatitis, or blockages such as gallstones.


indicating or relating to bronchus or windpipe.

Bronchial tubes:

Tube-like extension of the trachea that let air in and out of the lungs, thereby facilitating breathing. They are also referred to as bronchus or air passages. As the bronchial tube pass through the lungs, they branch into smaller bronchioles. The bronchioles terminate at tiny air sacs called alveoli, where the gaseous exchange takes place.


Also known as Bronchial pneumonia, bronchopneumonia is the inflammation of the bronchi and adjacent alveoli. Primarily caused by bacteria (S. pneumoniae, S. aureus, or H. influenzae), but viruses and fungi can also inflame the alveoli and constrict the airways. Bronchopneumonia is the most common clinical manifestation of pneumonia in children under 5 years of age.


It is a condition where the bronchial tubes are irreversibly dilated and destructed. Common causes are severe pneumonia, TB, whooping cough, cystic fibrosis, immune deficiency disorders, and recurrent lung infections.

Bronchogenic carcinoma

A malignant neoplasm that arises from the epithelial lining of the bronchi or bronchioles. It accounts for over 95% of all primary lung cancers.


An endoscopic procedure to view the airways and diagnose tumors, airway obstruction, and lung diseases. It is done with a bronchoscope, a thin flexible tube with a light and a camera at the end.

Bronchography (bronch/o = airway; -graphy = process of recording)

Once common, now rarely used, Bronchography is a radiographic (x-ray) diagnostic procedure used to evaluate the structural and functional abnormalities of the tracheobronchial tree.


A medication that makes breathing easier by relaxing the bronchial smooth muscle and opening the bronchial tubes. The three most widely used bronchodilators are beta-2 agonists (salbutamol and salmeterol), anticholinergics (ipratropium, tiotropium, and glycopyrronium), and theophylline.


Alphabetical Listing of Med Terms

a b c d e f g h i j k l m
n o p q r s t u v w x y z



Increasing your understanding of medical terminology

Additional references:

Word Building Reference- This resource strengthens your understanding of medical terminology. See how common medical terms are created using the various prefixes, suffixes, and root words.

Medical Terminology Intuitive Section hot-anim This section was developed for 'speed learning' of medical terminology. Start by reviewing the meanings for a block of medical terms, and then go back and choose a previous term randomly and try to recall the meaning of that particular medical term before hovering over the term to determine the answer. These frequent mini-tests will accelerate the learning process and in a relatively short period of time, you will be able to quickly recall the meaning of all of the listed medical terms. This method of learning is superior to flash cards because of the frequent exposure and testing of your recall.

Med terms B- med term prefixes-suffixes