PTCB Test Prep Therapeutics

Top 50 Medical Prefixes to Know for the PTCB Exam!

Jul 4th, 2020
top 50 medical prefixes

What are Medical Prefixes?

Even if you do not know the answer to a PTCB question, you can often work out the likely answer to a question based on medical prefixes.

Prefixes are used at the beginning of words – for example:

  • Hypo-
  • Brady-
  • An-

These words define the meaning of the word.

For example:

  • hypo- and tension, referring to low blood pressure.
  • hypo- and thyroidism, referring to low thyroid hormone.
  • hypo- and glycemia, referring to low blood sugar.

The opposite of hypo is hyper – which refers to elevated beyond the normal range. Hypertension refers to high blood pressure. Hyperglycemia refers to high blood sugar levels – and hyperthyroidism refers to excessive thyroid hormone levels and its effects on the body.

Suffixes are important, too – but we will explore suffixes in more detail in a future article. Unlike prefixes, suffixes appear at the end of words.

To give some examples, ‘-itis’ is a suffix that refers to inflammation. No matter what word goes before ‘-itis’, it means something is inflamed:

  • Appendicitis – inflammation of the appendix.
  • Glossitis – inflammation of the tongue.
  • Arthritis – inflammation of joints.
  • Gastritis – inflammation of the lining of the stomach.
  • Hepatitis – inflammation of the liver.

Of course, these words combinations of prefixes and suffixes.

In the case of hepatitis, the prefix hepat- always refers to hepatic, or related to the liver. The prefix arth- always refers to bone joints. The list goes on.

By knowing these medicine prefixes and suffixes, it accelerates your knowledge base of disease, anatomy, and pathology. As we alluded to earlier, it equips you with the ability to work out answers when hitherto you may have had no idea at all. On the PTCB exam, students may be asked questions about common disease states and so it’s important that you have the vocabulary to hand to help you answer these test questions.

Below, we have put together some of the most common medical prefixes to learn. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it details the most widespread examples that you will come into contact during your studies and future professional career as a pharmacy technician.

In later articles, we review medical suffixes as well as other important clinical roots used in medicine.

Top 50 Medical Prefixes!

PrefixMeaningExample
A / AnWithoutAnorexia (without appetite)
Ab-Away from / NotAbnormal (not normal)
Ambi-BothAmbidextrous (being about to write with both hands)
Ante-BeforeAntenatal (also known as prenatal care, care before birth)
Anti-AgainstAntidote (against a substance)
Auto-SelfAutonomous (self-control)
Bi-TwoBifocal (lens with 2 parts)
Cata-BreakdownCatabolism (metabolism that breaks complex molecules down)
Con-WithCongenital (with genes at birth)
De-Without / ReversalDecongestant (reversing congestion)
Diplo-DoubleDiplopia (double vision)
Dys-Painful or difficultDyspnoea (difficulty breathing)
Endo-WithinEndoscopy (procedure to look inside the body)
Ecto-OutsideEctopic pregnancy (fertilised egg implants outside the womb)
Epi-AboveEpigastric (above stomach)
Eu-NormalEuthyroid (normal thyroid levels)
Ex-OutwardsExophthalmos (outward protruding of eyes)
Hemi-HalfHemicrania (headache on one side of the head)
Hypo-Lower than normalHypotension (low blood pressure)
Hyper-Higher than normalHypertension (high blood pressure)
Inter-BetweenIntermittent (occurring between irregular intervals)
Intra-WithinIntravenous (injection within the veins)
Juxta-NearJuxta-vesicular (near the bladder)
Macro-LargeMacrophage (a large type of white blood cell)
Mal-BadMalpractice (bad practice)
Mega-Large/greatMegacolon (large colon)
Micro-SmallMicrobiota (small life forms)
Mono-OneMonograph (detailed study of one specific subject)
Morph-ShapeMorphology (shape of organisms)
Multi-ManyMultiform (many different forms)
Neo-NewNeoplasm (new growth)
Nulli-NoneNulliparous (woman who has never given birth)
Oligo-LittleOligospermia (very few sperms)
Pan-AllPanacea (solution to all problems)
Per-ThroughPercutenaous (through skin layer)
Peri-SurroundingPerianal (surrounding the anus)
Poly-ManyPolycystic (many cysts)
Post-AfterPostpartum (after giving birth)
Pre-BeforePrescription (before writing)
Pseudo-False / ResemblingPseudocyst (resembling a true cyst)
Quadri-FourQuadriplegia (relating to all four limbs)
Re-RepeatRe-infection (a repeat infection)
Semi-HalfSemisolid (half solid / half liquid)
Sub-UnderSubcutaneous (under skin)
Supra-AboveSupraspinal (above the spine)
Syn-WithSyncope (fainting; with sudden loss)
Tetra-FourTetracycline (the structure has four cyclic rings)
Trans-ThroughTransdermal (through the dermis layer of the skin)
Un-NotUnconscious (not conscious)
Uni-OneUniparous (producing a single offspring at birth)
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