Tackling The Veterinary Terminology: Suffixes (-itis)

Remember the Spelling Bee? Big words are easier to tackle when you understand how they're put together. Veterinary terms are composed the same way. Just like with any other words, the main parts of veterinary terms are a prefix, a root, and a suffix. The difference is that they typically originate from Greek or Latin.

The suffix is the bit that will tell you about what procedure, condition, disease or disorder you're dealing with.

-itis [i-tihs] from Greek - inflammation

Examples: arthritis, otitis, gastroenteritispancreatitis, dermatitis, hepatitis. The root of the word then refers to what part of the body is inflamed (joints, ears, stomach and intestines, pancreas, skin, liver)

Please note that words ending with -itis are more of an observation than a diagnosis. It tells you that there is an inflammation in the respective part of the body but it doesn't tell you anything about the cause.

It doesn't tell you whether the inflammation is caused by infection, injury, trauma, immune reaction and so on.

Inflammation is merely the body's attempt at self-protection; to remove harmful stimuli and begin the healing process. While sometimes it makes sense to tend to the inflammation itself, to truly treat the problem, the actual cause needs to be determined.

Related articles:
Talk to Me About Arthritis
Gastroenteritis is when ...
The Perplexities of Pancreatitis
Why Is My Dog So Itchy? Top 5 Causes Of Itching In Dogs
Medical Terms That Sound Like A Diagnosis But Really Are Not (Part I)
Medical Terms That Sound Like A Diagnosis But Really Are Not: One-thing-or-anotheritis
Medical Terms That Sound Like A Diagnosis But Really Are Not: Otitis


  1. Ha-ha! I never knew that about the itis part Jana! Thanks for sharing, now I can go to work and tell them I learned something they never taught me!

    1. :-) Cool. This is a new Wednesday column, as we ran out of cartoons.


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