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.

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when your body causes your baby to be born

process of childbirth, beginning with the rhythmic contractions of the uterine muscles, which open the cervix to allow a baby to be born, and ending with the expulsion of the placenta.


cut, tear


ragged cut or tear in your skin


back or neck operation (surgery)

surgery to remove the back of 1 or more spinal vertebrae

laparoscopic surgery

a doctor makes small cuts in your body to put in a small camera to look at the area or they can put in instruments to operate

a type of minimally invasive surgery or procedure

large intestine

part of your bowel

the part of the intestine which contains the colon, rectum and anus. It absorbs water and stores solid waste (bowel movement)


swelling of your voice box (larynx) that can cause a hoarse voice and trouble speaking


voice box

part of the body that contains vocal cords which are used for speaking

latent labour

when you begin to sense contractions

first and longest phase of labour during which the cervix effaces and dilates to three centimetres.


cut, injury, wound, sore


cancer of your blood or bone marrow

life-limiting illness

a bad illness that is expected to get worse and to end the life of the patient


tissue that connects bones together


an operation to close off a blood vessel or other tube in the body


things you can't do

limited use code (LU code)

special code that is needed for some medications to be paid for by Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB)

code required for certain drugs to indicate that a patient meets specific criteria for coverage.


on your tongue

live vaccine

a vaccine that has a weakened form of the virus in it


a section of an internal organ (for example brain, lungs, liver and kidneys)



in a small area only, only in one place


find, place


place, spot


after your baby is born you may have bleeding and discharge from your vagina, called lochia

vaginal discharge and bleeding that resembles a heavy period and continues after delivery for about six weeks before tapering off.


for a long time, over a long period 

loop (loop recorder)

a small device inserted under the skin by the collar bone to record the hearts electrical activity.

lower respiratory infection



clear, thinking clearly 

lung function

measure of how strong your lungs are


organs to breathe with


a clear fluid that flows through our bodies and carries white blood cells

lymph nodes (lymph glands)

nodes or glands spread throughout your body

Your lymph nodes, also called lymph glands, play a big role in how your body fights infections. They work as filters, trapping viruses, bacteria and other causes of illnesses before they can infect other parts of your body. Common areas where you might notice swollen lymph nodes include your neck, under your chin, in your armpits and in your groin.


lymphatic system

tissues and organs that help your body get rid of waste 


white blood cells, lymph cells

white blood cells that are part of your immune system. They are involved in transplant rejection


cancer of the lymph system