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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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Medical Terminology Reference – V

GlobalRPh Medical Terminology Section- Letter V

Prefixes and Suffixes Medical Terminology beginning with V

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 V, and features medical roots, prefixes and suffixes. Introduction to Medical Terminology.

Medical Terminology - Letter V 

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vagus nerve








varicose veins


vessel; duct; vas deferens


vessel (blood)






venereal (sexual contact)


to aerate, oxygenate


belly side of body


ventricle (of heart or brain)


venule (small vein)






to turn


to turn

vers/o, -verse

turn, turning


vertebra (backbone)


urinary bladder


seminal vesicle


vestibule of the inner ear




internal organs




vitreous body (of the eye)






blood volume

volv/o, volut/o

to roll




Word Building and Medical Terms beginning with the letter V

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vaccin/o vaccine

Combining form denoting vaccine. The word vaccine, and vaccination, is derived from the name for the cowpox virus, vaccinia (L. vaccinae = "cow pustules")

A vaccine is a suspension of a dead or weakened form of microbes administered intradermally, intramuscularly, orally, or subcutaneously to fight a pathogen.



Indicating vagus nerve

The vagus nerve, or the 10th cranial nerve (CN X), is the longest of the 12 cranial nerves. The Latin term vagus (from vagary) means "wandering", which is a very appropriate name. Originating in the medulla, it innervates the neck and thorax and terminates at the abdominal regions. Because of its long path through the human body, the vagus nerve is also called the "wanderer nerve".

The vagus nerve is a mixed nerve, as it contains 20% efferent (motor) and 80% afferent (sensory) fibers. The vagus nerve is responsible for cardiac and digestive functions, as well as vasomotor activity, and certain reflex actions, such as coughing, sneezing, and swallowing.




Prefix denoting vagina (L. vagina = sheath or scabbard]

Also referred to as the birth canal, the vagina is the fibromuscular tube that extends from the vulva to the uterus. It is approximately 9 -10 cm long and lies between the urethra (anteriorly) and the rectum (posteriorly). The vagina facilitates menstruation, childbirth, and sexual intercourse.


Vaginitis or vulvovaginitis is a name for itching, burning, or irritation in the vagina and the vulva. Triggers of this most common gynecologic condition include bacteria, viruses, yeast, environmental or chemical irritants, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Vaginal medications 

A cream, foam, tablet, or a suppository inserted into the vagina to treat vaginal infections.




Borrowed from Latin valva, denoting a valve.

Valve, in anatomy, any membranous fold or flaps, especially in the lymphatic and circulatory system, that function as one-way inlets of fluid, blood, for example.


A non-surgical alternative to open-heart surgery for treating a hardened, narrowed valve. It can be used to repair tricuspid, mitral, aortic, or pulmonic valves. In valvuloplasty, a very small, narrow, hollow tube called a catheter with a deflated balloon at its tip is threaded through the stiff valve. The balloon is then inflated until the valve leaflets are open. Once the valve has been opened, the balloon is deflated and removed.


Diseases of the valves, mainly of the aortic and mitral valve. Valvulopathies can occur due to degenerative and functional reasons, an inflammation, or an infection.

Valvular insufficiency 

Occurs when the valves do not close properly, resulting in the backflow of blood. Also called prolapse, incompetent, or regurgitant, or leaky valve disease.



Prefix denoting varix, varicose vein.

Varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins that usually appear on the legs, particularly in women. They may be red, blue, or dark purple, and are often lumpy, or twisted in appearance. Varicose veins develop due to faulty valves, allowing blood to pool in the lower leg. Risk factors for varicose veins include obesity, pregnancy, long periods of standing, and leg injury. Treatment includes ablation therapy, sclerotherapy, compression therapy, and lifestyle changes.




Latin vās = vessel or duct, typically referring to vas deferens 

The vas deferens (or ductus deferens) is a 45-cm (18-inches) long duct that carries sperm out of the epididymis to the ampulla and eventually, to the ejaculatory duct. From the ejaculatory duct, sperm passes through to the prostatic urethra.


vas/o = vas deferens; -ectomy = surgical removal

Permanent male birth control. The vas deferens are cut or blocked off, to prevent sperm from being released during ejaculation, consequently preventing pregnancy.



Prefix denoting a small vessel that circulates blood.


A network of blood vessels supplying a body part or an organ.


A family of nearly 20 autoimmune diseases where the blood vessels are inflamed and narrowed, causing tissue or organ damage. Triggers include an infection (hepatitis B or C), genetic aberration, blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma, and drug allergy.


ven/o vein

Prefix denoting vein.


An elastic blood vessel of the cardiovascular system that carries deoxygenated blood from the body back to the heart; the only exceptions - the pulmonary veins, which carry oxygenated blood from the lungs to the left atrium.


Prefix denoting venereal. Of or relating to sexual contact

Venereal Herpes

A sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus, characterized by blisters and sores on the genital or rectal area. Venereal Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and can be transmitted by sexual contact with an infected person.



Prefix denoting aeration or oxygenation


A machine for artificial respiration. A medical ventilator mechanically supports a patient’s lungs to work. Used when one cannot breathe on their own, especially during surgeries and lung diseases.



Prefix denoting anterior or front side of the body - belly or abdomen.

Ventral cavity 

A fluid-filled space at the anterior side of the body, housing visceral organs. The visceral cavity is subdivided into

  • the thoracic cavity housing the lungs, heart, and the organs of the mediastinum.
  • abdominopelvic cavity which includes two sub-compartments i) abdominal cavity housing the stomach, liver, intestines, and spleen, and ii) pelvic cavity housing reproductive organs, the urinary bladder, and the distal colon.


Prefix denoting the ventricle of the heart.


The lower chambers that form the bulk of the heart. Functionally, the ventricles ensure that the heart pumps properly. The right ventricle ejects the deoxygenated blood through the pulmonary trunk to the lungs for oxygenation. Whereas the left ventricle pumps the oxygenated blood into the aorta which then supplies blood to the rest of the body.

Ventricular fibrillation (VF)

Ventricular fibrillation, or V-fib, a type of arrhythmia affecting ventricles. When VF occurs, the electrical signals make the ventricles quiver. This prohibits the heart from pumping blood, spiking blood pressure and causing collapse and cardiac arrest.

Ventricular tachycardia 

Ventricular tachycardia (VT or V-tach), any rhythm faster than 100 beats per minute, with 3 or more premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) in a row. VT may be sustained (lasting >30 seconds) or non-sustained (lasting <30 seconds).

Ventricular septal defect 

Ventricular septal defect (VSD), hole in the ventricular septum, the wall separating the left and right ventricles. It is a congenital heart defect.



Prefix denoting venule


The smallest vessels, generally 8–100 micrometers in diameter, that collect blood from capillaries. Venules combine to form veins to transport the deoxygenated blood back to the heart.



Prefix denoting Veruca, which means wart.

Verruca vulgaris

Verruca vulgaris, or the common wart, rough papules of 1mm to 1cm occurring on hands or feet. Caused by papillomavirus, warts are transmitted by direct contact or autoinoculation (self-infection).



Prefix denoting vertebra.

Vertebral column 

A flexible, yet tough column extending from neck to tail, made of 33 bones, the vertebrae; also called spine, backbone, or the spinal column. The vertebral column protects the spinal cord and bears and supports the weight of the head and upper body. It also serves as the attachment site for pectoral and pelvic girdles and numerous muscles.



Latin vesica indicates urinary bladder.


Herniation or downward protrusion of the urinary bladder into the vagina; also called prolapsed bladder or cystocele. Stress to the pelvic floor due to vaginal childbirth, heavy lifting, overweight, chronic coughing, and pelvic surgery causes the bladder to drop.

Vesicoureteral reflux

Vesicoureteral reflux (VUR) is when urine flows backward from the bladder, up one or both ureters to the kidneys; also called vesicoureteric reflux. VUR may result from defective ureters, urinary tract infections, or bladder obstruction.



Of or relating to vesicles.

Seminal vesicle

Paired male accessory sex gland located below the bladder and above the prostate gland. The seminal vesicles produce fructose-enriched seminal fluid which contributes approximately 60–80% of the entire ejaculatory volume.



Prefix denoting the vestibule of the inner ear.

The inner ear cavity in the middle of the bony labyrinth. Located between the cochlea and the semi-circular canals, the vestibule assists in equilibrium.



Prefix denoting virus


An ultramicroscopic infectious agent that requires a living cell - animals, plants, or bacteria - to multiply. The name is derived from a Latin word meaning "poison" or "slime".


A branch of microbiology that studies viruses, virus-like agents, and viral diseases. Virologists also study the taxonomy, genetics, and immunology of viruses.



Prefix referring to viscera.

The organs located within thoracic, abdominal and pelvic cavities compose the viscera. Viscus, the singular form of viscera means "internal organ" in Latin.



Prefix denoting life, vitality.

Vital organs 

Organs essential for survival: the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver.



Prefix denoting glassy, glass-like

Vitreous humor

A clear, gel-like fluid, composed of approximately 99% water with trace amounts of hyaluronic acid, proteins, salts, and glucose, located at the back of the eyeball. Along with maintaining the shape of the eye, the vitreous acts as the shock absorber, protecting the lens and retina. It also helps to keep the retina in place and in transmitting light to the retina.


Surgical removal of infected or inflamed vitreous. A vitrectomy may be part of the treatment plan for endophthalmitis, diabetic retinopathy, retinal detachment, or macular hole.



Comes from the Latin term vitrum denoting glass or in a test tube

In-vitro - Within the glass

In-vitro studies 

Controlled studies done in a test tube or glass vessel. In vitro studies allow scientists to isolate and study animal cells, bacteria, and viruses. They are faster, less expensive, and come with fewer ethical and safety concerns.

In-vitro fertilization 

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is infertility treatment. It involves fertilizing an egg outside the body, in a laboratory dish, and then implanting the embryo in a woman's uterus.



Suffix denoting life, living organism

In-vivo - Within the living organism.

In-vivo experiments - Studies done in an organism’s natural environment or in the organism itself.



Suffix denoting blood volume 


Fluid overload, of total body sodium and water, resulting in the expansion of the extracellular fluid (ECF) compartment. Occurs from renal failure, cirrhosis, heart failure, and IV fluids. Also, birth control pills, certain antidepressants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause mild hypervolemia.

Hypovolemic Shock 

A fatal condition that results when one-fifth of the body’s blood or fluid supply is lost. Excessive loss of blood or fluid can result from injury, internal bleeding, endometriosis, and excessive or prolonged diarrhea, and vomiting. Hypovolemic shock can lead to organ failure to death.


volv/o, volut/o 

Prefix denoting "to roll" or "to twist" 


Abnormal twisting of a loop of small intestine around its mesentery supply, resulting in acute or chronic obstruction. The stomach, cecum, and sigmoid colon are also subject to volvulus. Volvulus can lead to bowel necrosis, perforation, peritonitis, or even death. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, and bloody stools. All types of volvulus are surgical emergencies.



Prefix denoting vulva

The collective term denoting all external female genital organs: the labia (minora and majora), clitoris, the external openings of the urethra and vagina, mons pubis, and anus.


Persistent pain, discomfort, or burning in the vulva without an identifiable cause.




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.





Medical Terminology Reference – V