Friday, March 14, 2008

Fun Medical Words for the Non-Medical Type: A game the whole family can play!

Ever wish you had a really good excuse for not going to work? Ever wish you had a hellacious conversation starter for that cocktail party? Ever want to drop random words into conversation?

Well this, my friend, is your post.

Observe the wonders of medical terminology and pharmaceutical brand names! To wit:

Mucomyst: No, it's not a faerie land where everyone has bad sinus problems. It's the brand name of a drug (acetylcysteine) that thins and loosens inspissated phlegm. It's also used in cases of Tylenol overdose.

Inspissated: What a lovely word. It means to be hardened due to lack of moisture. Why say your hands are chapped, when you can say they're inspissated?

Whipple procedure: About the furthest thing from squeezing the Charmin you can imagine. In a Whipple procedure, the head (thick part) of the pancreas, the bile ducts, the gallbladder, and the duodenum are all taken out, along with (sometimes) a bit of the stomach. It's not something you necessarily want to undergo. It should be differentiated from...

Whipple's disease: Caused by bacteria, its signs and symptoms include joint pain, diarrhea, and malabsorption. 

Duodenum: Go ahead. Say it over and over: doo-WAH-duh-num. Doo-WAH-duh-num. Your duodenum connects your stomach to your....

Jejunum: That's the central part of your small intestine. The Doo-WAH-duh-num is the first bit and the ileum (which sounds like a town in Greece) is the last.

Zyvox: I wish, I wish this were the name of a Galactic Emperor. Unfortunately, it's not: it's the name of an IV antibiotic. Oh, well.

Melanoma: Sounds like a pretty girl's name, but is actually a nasty, invasive, scarily common form of skin cancer. Do. Not. Want.

Glioblastoma: Another pretty word for an ugly thing: in this case, it's invasive, incurable brain cancer. 

Frenulum: I love this word. It's the name of that little bit of tissue under your tongue (there's another under your upper lip, and several more here and there) that connects your tongue (etcetera) to the bottom of your mouth (and so on). 

Cachexia: Pronounced with a hard "K" sound rather than a "ch" sound. It means "starvation."

Stapes: AKA the "stirrup" bone in your ear. Technically, this bone is an...

Ossicle: a bonelet. No, I'm not making that last term up. "Ossicle" equals "small bone". If you have icicles on your ossicles, you're in deep trouble.

Buboe: Save this one for when you really need it: a buboe is the swollen lymph gland that accompanies bubonic plague.


Penny Mitchell said...

Both my A & P profs pronounced it duo-DENIM, which drove me bug-nuts insane.

Jo said...

DuoDENIM is also correct. It has the added benefit of making you sound like you're British. Combine with "resPIREatory" and "PROgress" (long 'o') for more fun!

Anonymous said...

Re: pronunciation, what do you think about "umbilicus"? Following how I pronounce "umbilical" I usually say "um-BILL-ick-us" but every last one of my nursing professors says "um-bill-LIKE-us". Am I insane? Please advise.

Jo said...

Lynn: UmBILicus is the preferred way to say it, but umbilEYEcus is also correct. And yes, you are insane, but that has nothing at all to do with pronunciation. It has more to do with nursing school.

Penny Mitchell said...

"DuoDENIM is also correct. It has the added benefit of making you sound like you're British. Combine with "resPIREatory" and "PROgress" (long 'o') for more fun!"

I'll put that on the shed-jewel! Tea?

Anonymous said...

First let us post an adVERTisment of the shed-jewel. Tally ho!

Jo said...


shrimplate said...

A "Bundle of His" sounds like something that should have a condom placed upon it. But it doesn't, obviously.

GingerJar said...

Then also figure in added to medical words...doctors accents and you get: todays special: Dr. from Inda wants patient Myastenia Gravis..which the hispanic aide promptly looks up on the computer to find out which room "she" is in. She asks me if that is my patient and I fall on the floor laughing....bearly able to gasp's a diagnosis...not a name! No fib...happened this morning!

daralala said...

Can you please add BORBORYGMI to this list? It's my fave! :)

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog a few days ago and LOVE it. Seriously, stick in a tux and walk it down the aisle--the blog and I are getting married.

I've been recently accepted into a direct-entry master's program, which is awesometastic and leads me to do web searches in nervous soon-to-be-new-student anticipation, and finding wonderful resources like...this blog, soon to be married to me.

In any event, couldn't refrain from posting; worked in clinical trials for novel chemotherapies for glioblastoma patients for my first few years out of college and, damn, are you ever right--pretty word, nasty disease. Sheesh.