Medical Jargon

Jargon Booth


c-section – shorthand for cesarean section, which is surgical delivery of a baby through the abdominal wall
c-spine – shorthand for cervical spine, or the neck
calcium oxalate stone – a kidney stone
Calot’s triangle – the cystic duct, the common duct, and the liver
calyx – a cup-shaped part of the kidneys
capillary refill – when a fingernail is pressed, the nail bed turns white. Capillary refill refers to the return of the nail bed to pink color. Good cap refill is two seconds or less
capoten – see captopril captopril – an antihypertensive and ACE inhibitor prescribed for high blood failure and congestive heart failure. It is also sold under the trade name capoten (captopril is the drug’s generic name)
carboxyhemoglobin – a substance formed when the poisonous gas carbon monoxide combines with hemoglobin in the blood. Carboxyhemoglobin is incapable of transporting oxygen to the body’s organs. Large amounts of this compound are found in carbon monoxide poisoning
cardiac effusion – see pericardial effusion
cardiac enzymes – creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase, and aspartate transaminase
cardiomyopathy – a disorder of the heart muscle that can often be fatal
cardiac tamponade – compression of the heart from fluid such as an effusion or blood
CAT scan – Computerized axial tomography
catcher’s mask – a device used for a patient with bleeding varices in the throat that allows a tube with two balloons attached to be positioned securely in the throat and inflated. The balloons then put pressure on the enlarged veins in order to stop the bleeding
CBC – abbreviation for complete blood count, which is an all-purpose blood test; combining diagnostic evaluations of red blood cell count, white cell count, erythrocyte indices, hematocrit, and a differential blood count
cc – abbreviation for cubic centimeters
cecum – a pouch at the junction of the large and small intestine. The lower end bears the vermiform appendix
ceftriaxone – a cephalosporin antibiotic
cellulitis – a skin infection
central line – the central location in the circulation of the vein used, usually in the internal jugular and subclavian veins in the neck, or the femoral veins in the groin. This has the benefit of being able to send more fluid into the body
cephalosporin – an antibiotic
cesarean section – surgical delivery of a baby through the abdominal wall
champagne tap – a successful lumbar puncture with no red blood cells found, which means it is as clean as possible. So-called because the supervising resident has to, by custom, buy the student a bottle champagne
Chem 7 – a battery of blood chemistry tests; the seven parts of a Chem 7; sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, and glucose
chest film – a chest X-ray
CHF – abbreviation for congestive heart failure, see pulmonary edema
claudication – limping caused by impaired blood supply to the legs
coag panel – a blood test used to determine the clotting factors of a patient’s blood
code brown – term used when a patient doesn’t make it to the bathroom in time
compazine – a drug (prochlorperazine) prescribed for severe nausea and vomiting and also for treatment of psychotic disorders and anxiety
cordotomy – surgical severing of the nerves in the spinal cord to relieve intractable pain in the pelvis and lower limbs
crasher – a person who passes out in the ER, often not a patient but a family member who is upset over what’s going on with a loved one
cricothyroidotomy – a procedure used to surgically establish an airway in the patient’s throat when intubation isn’t possibly because of swelling or bleeding
cricothyrotomy – see cricothyroidotomy
crispy critter – irreverent ER slang for a seriously burned patient
crit – short for hematocrit
CPK – creatine phosphokinase, an enzyme that elevates in the blood when a heart attack occurs, used as a confirmation of a heart attack and as a gauge of damage
CT scan – See CAT scan
CVA – abbreviation for cerebrovascular accident, ie stroke
cyanotic – when a patient’s skin and mucous membranes are bluish in color from an inadequate supply of oxygen in the blood
cystic fibrosis – a lung disease that causes the production of thick mucus in the lungs, hampering breathing