Medical Devices, Medical Procedures, and Foreign Bodies:
Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Definitions
by Tim B Hunter, MD, MSc and Mihra S. Taljanovic, MD, PhD
The abbreviations, acronyms, and definitions included in this glossary represent medical device and procedure terminology found in everyday practice. Also included are many colloquial terms and abbreviations frequently encountered on requisitions for radiological services; or they are terms heard in daily conversation. Many terms were purposely included because they are often not defined in standard medical texts or dictionaries. The definitions presented herein are the authors’ own, but we believe they conform to general usage.
Some meanings vary from locale to locale and from specialty to specialty. Where there is conflict between terms used in different specialties, we have tried to document this fact, though we admit the terms are presented from a radiological point of view. For example, radiologists use the abbreviation CT to refer to computed tomography, while surgeons may use the abbreviation to refer to cardiothoracic surgery.
Often terms now in general medical usage originated from the name of a manufacturer or inventor of a particular device. Over time these terms have acquired a generic meaning of their own, being applied to a class of devices with the original meaning lost. Examples of this phenomenon include the Jackson-Pratt drain, the Hickman catheter, the Broviac catheter, the Dobbhoff tube, and the Kirschner wire (K wire). It is surprising that many terms are not defined or listed in leading medical specialty textbooks or websites. The package inserts supplied with devices frequently do not cite references that deal with the device’s origin, even when the device carries an inventor’s name.
The definitions and terms included in this glossary are derived from the authors’ own experience, from discussion with many colleagues, and from information contained in many excellent medical terminology texts. This glossary is also an extension of glossaries found in Radiologic Guide to Medical Devices and Foreign Bodies (St. Louis, MO; Mosby-Year Book, 1994), Medical Devices, Abbreviations, Acronyms and Eponyms: A PocketGuide (St. Louis, MO; Mosby, 1994), and RadioGraphics 2003; 23:195-213.
We welcome comments, corrections, and additions to this glossary.