Glossary of Terms

This glossary of terms is meant to help everyone understand medical words. It is a place to quickly find information on medical words.

To find a word or term begin by clicking on a letter in the A-Z list. Then you can browse down the list to find the word you want. You can also type your medical word in the search box in the upper right corner and then click on the little magnifying glass.

This glossary is for information only. It should never be used instead of advice from a healthcare provider.

If you have questions or comments about the Glossary of Terms please let us know.

If there is a word you couldn't find or you have a suggestion, please send an email to @email

Thank you!

IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)

a condition of the lining of your large intestine that causes cramping, pain, gas, diarrhea or constipation


the same


put all the way in, wet, dip, dunk

immune globulin

something in your blood that helps fight disease

a blood product that contains antibodies that protect your body from diseases. When you are given an immune globulin, your body uses antibodies from other people's blood to help prevent illness

immune system

your body's way of fighting infection

system that protects your body from foreign materials such as viruses and bacteria


able to fight off disease, being able to resist a particular disease

immunization (vaccination)

a shot or needle that helps stop you from getting sick


to give you a vaccine (medication) to prevent you from getting a disease or illness


having to do with being able to fight off a disease

immunosuppressant (anti-rejection medication)

medications that help your body to accept an organ from someone else's body

medications that suppress (lower) your body's immune system and help prevent rejection of a transplanted organ, such as a kidney


when your body can't fight a disease or infection


medical treatment that helps your body fight off disease


changed, altered


not normal, not working right


get in the way, slow down


important, urgent, key


hard to see, hidden, can't be seen

implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD)

a small device that's placed in the chest or abdomen. Doctors use the device to help treat irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias


start, begin, put into action, carry out

in accordance, with

the same way, identically, likewise

in an effort, to

try to, in order to, to

in conjunction, with

with, along with, as well as

in excess of

more than, too much

in the absence of


in the course of

during, in

in the event of


in the majority of cases

usually, most often, most of the time

in utero

in the womb, in the uterus

in view of

since, because

in vitro

out of your body, outside of your body, grown in a laboratory

in vitro fertilization

a procedure to help a woman get pregnant by joining a women's egg with a man's sperm outside the body in a lab

in vivo

in your body, inside your body, grown inside a person or animal


can't, not able to


error, not right, mistake

inactive (inactivated) vaccine

a vaccine that uses germs that have been killed


didn't mean to, without meaning to


risky, may be dangerous, unwise


unable, unfit, can't do

incentive spirometer

a device that helps you take deep breaths 

a device consisting of a tube that your child breathes through and three balls which move up and down depending on the force of a breath. This toy-like device helps to open up your child's lungs and prevent pneumonia.


start, beginning


how many people are sick, number of sick people


just beginning, starting, growing




cut, opening


"biting" tooth, at the front of your mouth


harsh, dangerous

incontinent (incontinence)

when you can't control your bladder and/or you bowels


join, put together, combine


wrong, false


more often, more and more

incubation period

the length of time a disease is in your body before you look or feel sick

incumbent upon

must, required

independent dialysis (home dialysis)

when you do your dialysis on your own, at home

peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis done at home are considered “independent” because you have more flexibility about scheduling these treatments at home



show, point out, list, write down, mark, check off


suggest, show, point to


sign, symptom, signal


local to, comes from


person, you, man, woman, one


can't be accepted, does not meet standards, ruled out, disqualified


will happen no matter what, can't be avoided




an area of tissue that dies because of lack of oxygen


spread germs or disease, to make someone sick


disease, illness, sickness

a sickness you get from germs, illness caused by germs

infectious agent

virus, germ

something that makes you sick


sterile, can't have a baby, unable to get pregnant

inflammatory bowel

intestinal problems, digestive system disease

inflammatory bowel disease represents a group of intestinal disorders that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract

influenza (flu)

flu, a virus

a serious disease that can spread easily from one person to another and cause body aches, fever, cough and other symptoms

a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs


to tell, explain


what you need to know, facts, news

informed consent

permission you give to health care providers to receive medications/ treatments, or to allow medical tests or procedures to be done. Before you give verbal or written consent, health care providers must fully explain and make sure that you understand the tests or procedures. You also need to understand any benefits, risks and burdens of that medication, treatment, test or procedure and alternate options.


eating, drinking, swallowing


breathing, breathing in


breathe in, take a breath


breathing medication, device that helps get medication into your breathing tubes

An inhaler is a device holding a medicine that you take by breathing in (inhaling). Inhalers are often used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma



natural, built in


things that pass from parent to child


to stop, slow down


first, earliest, basic


begin, start


to give medication by needle, needle, shot


to give medication by a needle under your skin or into your muscle


safe, harmless



INR (international normalized ratio)

blood test used to check the thinness or thickness of your blood

a health care provider takes a blood sample and tests it to see how long it takes your blood to clot. If you are taking blood-thinning medications you may need to get this test. This is to make sure that your medication is working properly.


put, put into


start, begin, set up


organization, hospital, school


tell, teach


tool, device


not enough, too little


hormone that lowers your blood sugar

a hormone produced in the pancreas, that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood. The lack of insulin causes a form of diabetes

insulin pump

a small pump that sends insulin into your body to help control blood sugar if you have diabetes


combine with, make part of, bring together


goal, aim, plan


on and off

internal organs

inside parts of your body (heart, lungs, stomach, kidneys etc)


stop, break

interstitial lung disease

Interstitial lung disease is the name for a large group of diseases that inflame or scar the lungs. This scarring makes the lung tissue stiff, which can make breathing hard. Symptoms include shortness of breath and coughing.



something that is done to help treat or cure a condition

interventional nurses

registered nurses

registered nurses (RN) who have special training to work in interventional radiology (IVR)

registered nurses with additional training in critical care and IVR procedures. Before, during and after procedures the IVR nurses provide physical and emotional support for the patient. When needed they will administer medications such as the conscious sedation and monitor the patient's vital signs and progress throughout the procedure.

interventional radiologists

doctors with years of special training. They do tests and procedures with few or no incisions (cut or opening). This means less pain during treatment and faster recovery afterwards

doctors who have completed an undergraduate degree, 4 years of medical school, a one year internship, a diagnostic radiology residency program and then a one or two year fellowship in vascular interventional radiology.

interventional radiology (IVR)

an area in the x-ray or imaging department

an area that does tests and procedure using images to diagnose and treat diseases in nearly every organ system

these are typically catheter or needle examinations utilized to "intervene" and diagnose and/or treat a medical situation or condition, while utilizing motion x-ray imaging methods or ultrasound. This encompasses a wide range of examination types, including imaging, diagnosis, and treatment of vascular, GI, urinary, and many other areas and/or medical conditions.



part of your body between the stomach and the anus that helps change what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients. The intestines include your small intestine, large intestine and rectum


intravenous (IV)

putting medications or fluids directly into your blood through a needle into your vein

flexible catheter that is inserted into a blood vessel to provide fluids, medications, blood products and/or nutrition. These may be peripheral (inserted into a small vein in the hand, foot or arm) or central lines (inserted into a larger vein via the neck, groin or chest)


a life-sustaining measure. It is when a breathing tube is put into your airway. The tube is then connected to a ventilator (machine) that will breathe for you


uneven, not usual

occurring at varying intervals


can't be changed, can't be fixed, can't be cured



complaining, grouchy, easily annoyed


something that bothers, pest, problem

ischemic stroke

a stroke that happens when blood is blocked from getting to your brain


to keep away from others

used to prevent transfer of illness to the patient, other patients in the unit or the visitor. One or all of the following may be included: gown, gloves, mask, special isolation room or limited visitors

IUD (intrauterine device)

type of birth control where a T-shaped device is put into a woman's uterus

IV sedation (intravenous sedation)

medication given in your vein to make you sleepy and relaxed during treatment