Common Veterinary Medical Terminology for Laypersons

Veterinary medical terminology can be confusing and overwhelming, simply because the terms are not broken down into simplified wording. It is very important for an animal owner to understand the veterinary medical terminology in order to make an informed decision in the care of his pet. Here is some of the more common medical terminology that veterinarians use in the care of their patients:

  • Benign – This term means that the tissue or tumor was non-cancerous.
  • Biopsy – This is a surgical procedure in which a tissue sample is cut away and sent to a laboratory for testing, to determine whether it is benign or cancerous.
  • Blood Work – The process of extracting blood and then submitting it for laboratory testing for certain enzymes, bacteria or other substances. Blood work is done to determine the presence of a disease as well as its absence in order to determine the true diagnosis.
  • Cancer – Cancer appears in a multitude of forms and can travel or metastasize throughout the body. Cancer is when cells multiply rapidly and out of control, overwhelming the body instead of replacing old cells, as the case should be. Not every cancer is a death sentence. When caught early enough, an animal can live out a full and productive life.
  • Chemotherapy – The use of chemicals to treat various forms of cancer. Chemotherapy can be use in conjunction with other treatments in order to maximize a beneficial outcome. Chemicals are injected into the patient. This may produce severe side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of hair.
  • Diagnosis – The process of collecting certain data through blood or urine tests and determining the cause of the disease or medical condition based upon the test results.
  • IV – The use of intravenous fluids to either combat a disease or help nourish the body with the lacking vitamins and minerals needed to remain healthy.
  • Invasive – The use of a procedure, such as surgery, that involves inserting objects into the body for the diagnosis or treatment of a medical condition or disease.
  • Metastasize – The cancer has spread throughout nearby surrounding tissues instead of staying confined within the original cells containing the cancer.
  • NSAIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used to decrease inflammation caused by a medical condition such as arthritis, without the side effects that steroids can cause.
  • Noninvasive – A procedure that does not involve the use of surgery or any other intrusive action.
  • Prognosis – The outcome or result of treatments of a medical condition or disease.
  • Radiation Therapy – The use of radiation in order to treat certain forms of cancer. This form of treatment involves using a concentrated laser beam to kill cancerous cells. It may kill some healthy cells as well. Side effects can include nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Urinalysis – The testing of urine in a laboratory for the presence and/or absence of certain substances in order to draw a conclusion as to the medical condition or disease present.

There are other medical terms that are not used as often. It is important that an owner understand the treatment of his pet and should ask the veterinarian any questions if he does not understand any term used. Without this understanding, an owner cannot properly treat his pet.