Medical Terminology for Cavities of the Body
The body is not as solid a structure as it appears on the outside. It has five body cavities and medical terms to accompany them. Each cavity contains organs that are organized (no pun intended) in a neat and orderly fashion.
The five body cavities include the following:
The abdominal cavity contains the stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, gallbladder, pancreas, ureters, and kidneys.
The cranial cavity, the cavity inside the skull, or the cranium, contains the brain.
The pelvic cavity contains the urinary bladder, urethra, part of the large intestine, and the rectum, uterus, and vagina in the female, and prostate in the male.
The spinal cavity consists of the spinal column connecting to the cranial cavity.
The thoracic or chest cavity contains the esophagus, trachea, lungs, heart, and aorta. This cavity can be divided into two smaller areas. The pleural cavity surrounds the lungs. (Each pleural cavity is lined with a membrane called pleura.Visceral pleura is closest to the lungs. Parietal pleura is closest to the outer wall of the cavity.) The mediastinum is the area between the lungs. It contains the heart, aorta, trachea, esophagus, and thymus gland.
The cranial and spinal cavities are dorsal body cavities, because they are located on the back part of the body. The thoracic, abdominal, and pelvic cavities are ventral body cavities, as they are on the front or belly-side of the body.
The thoracic and abdominal cavities are separated by a muscular partition called the diaphragm. The abdominal and pelvic cavities are not separated and, to really confuse you, together they are frequently referred to as the abdominopelvic cavity.
|Root||What It Means||Example Term||What It Means|
|Cyt/o||Cell||Cytology||Study of cells|
|Epitheli/o||Epithelium||Epithelioma||Tumor of the skin|
|Fibr/o||Fibrous||Fibrosis||Condition of the fibrous tissue|
|Hist/o||Tissue||Histologist||Physician who studies tissue|
|Lip/o||Fat||Liposuction||Removal of fat cells by suction|
|Myo||Muscle||Myositis||Inflammation of a muscle|
|Neur/o||Nerve||Neuropathy||Condition of the nerve|
|Organ/o||Organ||Organomegaly||Enlargement of an organ|
|Viscer/o||Internal organs||Viscera||Internal organs|
Here are some suffixes pertaining to body structure and organization.
|Suffix||What It Means||Example Term||What It Means|
|-cyte||Cell||Erythrocyte||Red blood cell|
|-gen||Agent that causes||Carcinogen||Agent causing cancer|
|-genic||Producing||Carcinogenic||Has cancer-causing properties|
|-ologist||One who studies/practices||Cytologist||Physician who studies cells|
|-oma||Tumor or swelling||Myoma||Tumor in the muscle|
|-osis||Abnormal condition||Cytosis||Abnormal condition of cells|
|-pathy||Disease||Neuropathy||A disease of the nerves|
|-plasm||Growth or formation||Neoplasm||A new growth|
|-sarcoma||Malignant tumor||Myosarcoma||Malignant muscle tumor|