Biomedical Engineering Theory And Practice/Introduction

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The biomedical engineer works with the medical doctors, the nurses,the manufacturers and so on. In order to design new device for healthcare, basical understanding human body is prior. In order to find out the requirement of the special medical devices, therapy and so on, when we read the patents,journals, articles and so on and communicate with medical field people, it would be very helpful. In this chapter, fundamental anatomical terms and medical glossary would be introduced.

Anatomical Terms & Planes[edit]

Anatomical Terms
Anatomical planes in a human

Anatomical Terms[edit]

  • The body is composed of the head, trunk and limbs.
  • The trunk consists of the neck, thorax(chest) and abdomen (belly). The lowest part of the trunk is the perineum. The central axis of the trunk is the vertebral column, and the upper part of it(cervical part) supports the head.
  • The main parts of the upper limb are the arm, forearm and hand. Arm in anatomical form means the part between the shoulder and elbow. But, generally the arm means from the shoulder to before the hand.
  • The main parts of the lower limb are the thigh, leg and foot. Here also leg in anatomical term point out the part from knee to foot.But, generally the leg means from thigh to before the foot.

Anatomical Planes[edit]

  • For the positions of structure in human anatomy, the whole body should stand upright with the feet together and the head and eyes looking to the front with the arms straight by the side and the palms of the hands facing forwards.
  • The ‘Median plane’ is an virtual vertical longitudinal line through the middle of the body from front to back, dividing the body into right and left halves.
  • The ‘Coronal planes’ are imaginary planes at right angles to the median plane.
  • The 'Transverse plane' divides the body into head and tail portions.

Anatomical Movement[edit]

'See also Wikipedia,Anatomical terms of motion.

Body Movements I.jpg

  1. 'Flexion' means a bending movement that decreases the angle between two parts like bending elbow, siting down and so on.
  2. 'Extension' is the opposite of flexion. It is a straightening movement that increases the angle between body parts.
  3. 'Abduction' is a motion that pulls a structure or part away from the midline of the body.
  4. 'Adduction' is a motion that pulls a structure or part toward the midline of the body, or towards the midline of a limb.
  5. 'Elevation' is the movement in a superior direction like raising the arm upwards.
  6. 'Depression' is the movement in an inferior direction, the opposite of elevation.
  7. 'Internal rotation' (or medial rotation) means rotation towards the axis of the body like the arms against the chest.
  8. 'External rotation' (or lateral rotation) means rotation away from the center of the body. For instance, the leg can rotate.

Medical Terminology[edit]

'See also Wikipedia,List of medical roots, suffixes and prefixes

Table of Prefixes[edit]

Prefix Translation of Greek or Latin Examples
A Without, lack of Apathy (lack of feeling); apnea (without breath); aphasia (without speech)
Ab Away from Abductor (leading away from); aboral (away from mouth)
Ad To, toward, near to Adductor (leading toward); adhesion (sticking to); adnexia (structures joined to); adrenal (near the kidney)
Ambi,Amphi,Ampho Both Ambidextrous (ability to use hands equally); ambilaterally (both sides), Amphibious (living on both land and water), Amphogenic (producing offspring of both sexes)
Ana Up, back, again, excessive Anatomy (a cutting up); anagenesis (reproduction of tissue)
Ante Before, forward Antecubital (before elbow); anteflexion (forward bending)
Anti Against, reversed Antiperistalsis (reversed peristalsis); antisepsis (against infection)
Apo From, away from Aponeurosis (away from tendon); apochromatic (abnormal color)
Bi Twice, double Biarticulate (double joint); bifocal (two foci); bifurcation (two branches)
Cata Down, according to, complete Catabolism (breaking down); catalepsia (complete seizure); catarrh (flowing down)
Circum Around, about circumarticular (around joint)
Com, Con With, together Commissure (sending or coming together),Conductor (leading together); concrescence (growing together); concentric (having a common center)
Contra Against, opposite Contralateral (opposite side); contraception (prevention of conception); contraindicated (not indicated)
De Away from Dehydrate (remove water from); dedentition (removal of teeth)
Di Twice, double Diplopia (double vision); dichromatic (two colors)
Dia Through, apart, across, completely Diaphragm (wall across); diapedesis (ooze through); diagnosis (complete knowledge)
Dis Reversal, apart from, separation Disinfection (apart from infection); disparity (apart from equality); dissect (cut apart)
Dys Bad, difficult, disordered Dyspepsia (bad digestion); dyspnea (difficult breathing); dystopia (disordered position)
E, ex Out, away from Enucleate (remove from); eviscerate (take out viscera or bowels); exostosis (outgrowth of bone)
Ec Out from Ectopic (out of place); eccentric (away from center); ectasia (stretching out or dilation)
Em, en. In Empyema (pus in); encephalon (in the head)
Endo Within Endocardium (within heart)
Epi Upon, on Epidural (upon dura); epidermis (on skin)
Exo Outside, on outer side, outer layer Exogenous (produce outside); exocolitis (inflammation of outer coat of colon)
Extra Outside Extracellular (outside cell);
Hemi Half Hemiplegia (partial paralysis); hemianesthesia (loss of feeling on one side of body)
Hyper Over, above, excessive Hyperemia (excessive blood); hypertrophy (over­growth); hyperplasia (excessive formation)
Hypo Under, below, deficient Hypotension (low blood pressure); hypothyroidism (deficiency or underfunction of thyroid)
Im, in In, Into Infiltration (act of filtering in);immersion (act of dipping in); injection (act of forcing liquid into)
Im, in Not Involuntary (not voluntary);immature (not mature); inability (not able)
Infra Below Infraorbital (below eye); infraclavicular (below clavicle or collarbone)
Inter Between Intercostal (between ribs); intervene (come between)
Intra Within Intracerebral (within cerebrum); intraocular (within eyes); intraventricular (within ventricles )
Intro Into, within Introversion (turning inward); introduce (lead into)
Meta Beyond, after,change Metamorphosis (change of form); metastasis change (beyond original position)
Opistho Behind, backward Opisthotic (behind ears); opisthognathous (beyond jaws)
Para Beside, beyond,near to Paracardiac (beside the heart); paraurethral (near the urethra)
Per Through,excessive Permeate (pass through); perforate (bore through)
Peri Around Periosteum (around bone)
Post After, behind Postpartum (after childbirth); postocular (behind eye)
Pre,Pro Before, in front of Premaxillary (in front of maxilla),prognosis (foreknowledge); prophase (appear before)
Re Back, again,contrary Reflex (bend back); revert (turn again to); regurgitation (backward flowing, contrary to normal)
Retro Backward,located behind Retrocervical (located behind cervix); retrograde (going backward); retrolingual. (behind tongue)
Semi Half Semicartilaginous (half cartilage); semilunar(half­moon); semiconscious (half conscious)
Sub Under Subcutaneous (under skin); subarachnoid (under arachnoid); subungual (under nail)
Super,Supra Above, upper, excessive Supercilia (upper brows);suprasternal (above sternum); suprascapular (on upper part of scapula)
Sym, syndrome Together, with Symphysis (growing together); synapsis (joining together); synarthrosis (articulation of joints together)
Trans Across, through, beyond Transection (cut across); transduodenal (through duodenum); transmit (send beyond)

Table of Suffixes[edit]

Suffix Use Example
al, ­c, ­ious Add to nouns to make adjectives expressing relationship, concern, or pertaining to Neural (referring to nerve); neoplastic (referring to neoplasm); cardiac (referring heart); delirious ( suffering from delirium)
ent Add to verbs to make adjectives or nouns of agency Recipient (one who receives); concurrent (happening at same time)
id Add to verbs or nouns to make adjectives expressing state or condition Flaccid (state of being weak or lax); fluid (state of being liquid)
ia, ­ity Add to adjectives or nouns to make nouns expressing quality or condition Septicemia (poisoning of blood); disparity (inequality); acidity (condition of excess acid)
ible, ­ile Add to verbs to make adjectives expressing ability or capacity Contractile (ability to contract); edible (capable of being eaten)
ium, ­olus, ­olum, ­culus, ­culum, ­cule, ­cle Add to nouns to make diminutive nouns Add to nouns to make diminutive nouns
ous Add to nouns to make adjectives expressing material Ferrous (composed of iron); serous (composed of serum); mucinous (composed of mucin)
oid, ­form Add to nouns to make adjectives expressing resemblance Polypoid (resembling polyp); plexiform (resembling a plexus); fusiform (resembling a fusion); epidermoid (resembling epidermis)

Table of Basics Verbal Derivatives From Greek & Latin[edit]

Root Meaning Example
Algia Pain Cardialgia (heart); gastralgia (stomach); neuralgia (nerve)
Cau,caus Burn Caustic (suffix added to make adjective); cauterization; causalgia (burning pain); electrocautery
Centesis Puncture, perforate Thoracocentesis (chest); pneumocentesis (lung); arthrocentesis (joint); enterocentesis (intestine)
Clas, claz Smash, break Osteoclasis (bone); odontoclasis (tooth)
Duct Draw Ductal (suffix added to make adjective); oviduct (egg­uterine tube or fallopian tube); periductal (per means around); abduct (prefix meaning lead away from)
Dynia Pain Mastodynia (breast); pleurodynia (chest); esophagodynia (esophagus); coccygodynia (coccyx)
Ecta,ectas Dilate Venectasia(dilation of vein); cardioectasis (heart); ectatic (suffix added for adjective)
Edem Swell Myo ­ edema (muscle); lymphedema (lymph);(a is a suffix added to make a noun)
Esthes Feel Esthesia (suffix added to make noun); anesthesia (an is prefix)
Fiss split Fissure; fission (suffixes added to make nouns)
Flex,flec Bend Flexion (suffix added to make noun); flexor (suffix added); anteflect, (prefix added meaning before ­ bending forward)
Flu, Flux Flow Fluctuate; fluxion; affluent (abundant flowing)
Iatro, iatr Treat, cure Geriatrics (old age); pediatrics (children)
Kine,kino,kineto,kinesio Move Kinetogenic (producing movement); kinetic (suffix added to make adjective); kinesiology (study)
Liga Bind Ligament (suffix added to make noun) ligat ligature
Logy Study Parasitology (parasites); bacteriology (bacteria); histology (tissues)
Lysis Breaking up, dissolving Hemolysis (blood); glycolysis (sugar); autolysis (self­destruction of cells)
Morph,morpho Form Amorphous (no definite form); pleomorphic (more ­ occurring in various forms polymorphic (many)
Olfact Smell Olfactophobia (fear); olfactory (suffix added to make adjective)
Op,opto See Amblyopia (dull ­ dimness of vision); presbyopia (old ­ impairment of vision in old age); myopia (myein, meaning shut ­ nearsighted);optic
Palpit Flutter Palpitation
Par,partus Labor Postpartum (after birth); parturition (act of giving birth); para i, ii, iii, iv, etc., are symbols of number of births
Pep Digest Dyspepsia (bad, difficult); peptic (suffix added to make adjective)
Pexy Fix Mastopexy (fixation of breast); nephrosplenopexy (surgical fixation of kidney and spleen
Phag,phago Eat Phagocytosis (eating of cells); phagomania (madness ­ mad craving for food or eating); dysphagia (difficult eating or swallowing)
Phan,phas Appear visible Phanerosis (act of becoming visible); phantasia; phantasy; phasmophobia (fear of ghosts)
Phas Speak Aphasia (unable to speak); dysphasia (difficulty in speaking)
Phil Love Hemophilia (blood ­ a hereditary disease characterized by delayed clotting of blood); acidophilia (acid stain ­ liking or staining with acid stains);
Phobia Fear Hydrophobia (fear of water); photophobia (fear of light); claustrophobia (fear of close places
Phrax,phrag Fence off, wall off Diaphragm (across ­ partition separating thorax from abdomen); phragmoplast (formed)
Plas Form, grow Choledochoplasty (common bile duct);neoplasm (new growth); rhinoplasty (nose ­ operation for formation of nose); otoplasty (ear);
Plegia Paralyze Paraplegia (paralysis of lower limbs); ophthalmoplegia (eye); hemiplegia (partial paralysis)
Pne,pneo Breathe Dyspnea (difficult breathing); apnea (lack of breathing); hyperpnea. (overbreathing)
Poie Make Hematopoiesis (blood); erythropoiesis (red blood cells); leukopoiesis ( ' white blood cells)
Ptosis Fall Proctoptosis (anus ­ prolapse of anus); splanchnoptosis (viscera)
Rrhagia Burst forth, pour Menorrhagia (abnormal bleeding during menstruation); menometrorrhagia (abnormal uterine bleeding); hemorrhage (blood)
Rrhaphy Suture Herniorrhaphy (suturing or repair of hernia); hepatorrhaphy (Jiver); nephrorrhaphy (kidney)
Rrhea Flow, discharge Leukorrhea (white discharge from vagina); galactorrhea (milk discharge); rhinorrhea (nasal discharge)
Rrhexis Rupture Enterorrhexis (intestines); metrorrhexis (uterus)
Schiz Split, divide Schizophrenia (mind ­ split personality); schizonychia (nails); schizotrichia (hair)
Scope Examine Microscopic; cardioscope; endoscope (endo means within ­ an instrument for examining the interior of a hollow viscus)
Stasis Stop, stand still Hematostatic (pertaining to stagnation of blood);epistasis (checking or stopping of any discharge)
Stazien Drop Epistaxis (nosebleed)
Teg,tect Cover Tegmen; tectum (rooflike structure); integument (skin covering)
Therap Treat, cure Therapy; neurotherapy (nerves); chemotherapy (chemicals); physiotherapy
Tomy Cut, incise Phlebotomy (incision of vein); arthrotomy (joint); appendectomy (ectomy, meaning cut out ­ excision of appendix); oophorectomy (excision of ovary); ileocecostomy (ostomy, meaning creation of an artificial opening, and os, pertaining to opening or mouth ­ thus, an anastomosis of ileum and cecum)
Tropho Nourish Hypertrophy (enlargement or overnourishment); atrophy (under­nourishment)
Volv Turn Volvulus (twisting of an organ, intestinal obstruction with twisting of bowel, or twisting of the esophagus)

Table of Combining Forms[edit]

Form Meaning Form Meaning
Adeno – gland Adreno – adrenal gland
Angio – vessel Ano – anus
Arterio – artery Arthro – joint
Balano – glans penis Blepharo – eyelid
Broncho – bronchus (windpipe) Cantho – canthus
Capit – head Cardi- or cardio – heart
Carpo – wrist Cephalo – head
Cerebello – cerebellurn Cerebro – cerebrum
Cheilo – lip Chole – bile
Chondro – cartilage Chordo – cord or string
Cilia – hair (Latin) Cleido – collarbone
Coccygo – coccyx Colpo – vagina
Cordo – cord Coxa – hip
Coccygo – coccyx Cranio – head
Cysto – sac, cyst, or bladder Cyto – cell
Dacryo – tear Dento- or donto – tooth
Derma- skin Duodeno – duodenum
Emia – blood Encephalo – blood
Entero – intestines Fascia – sheet or band of fibrous tissue
Fibro – fibers Gastro – stomach
Genu – knee Gingivo – gums
Glomerulo – glomerulus Glosso – tongue
Gnatho – jaw Hallux – great toe
Hem, hema,hemo, hemato – blood Hepato – liver
Hilus – pit or depression in an organ where vessels and nerves enter Histio – tissue
Hystero – uterus Ileo – ileum (part of small intestine)
Ilio – flank or ilium (bone of the pelvis) Jejuno – jejunum (part of small intestine)
Kerato – cornea or horny layer of the skin Labio – lips
Lacrimo – tears Laparo – loin or flank (also refers to abdomen)
Laryngo – larynx Linguo – tongue
Lympho – lymph Masto – breast
Meningo – meninges (coverings of the brain and spinal cord) Metra,metro – uterus
Myelo – bone marrow and also spinal cord Myo – muscle
Myringo – eardrum Naso – nose
Nephro – kidney Neuro – nerve
Oculo – eye Odonto – tooth
Omphalo – navel or umbilicus Onycho – nails
Oophoro – ovary Ophthalmo – eye
Orchio,orchido – testis Oro – mouth
Os –,Osteo- mouth Ovario – ovary
Palato – palate of mouth Palpebro – eyelid
Pectus – breast, chest, or thorax Pharyngo – pharynx
Phlebo – vein Pilo – hair
Pleuro – pleura of lung Pneumo or pneumono – lungs
Procto – rectum Pyelo – pelvis of kidney
Pyloro – pylorus (part of stomach just be fore duodenum) Rhino nose
Sacro – sacrum Salpingo – fallopian tube or oviduct
Sialo – saliva Splanchno – viscera
Spleno – spleen Sterno – sternum
Stoma – mouth Tarso – instep of foot; ankle
Teno,tenonto – tendon Thoraco – thorax or chest
Trachelo – neck, particularly the neck of the uterus Tracheo – trachea
Unguis – nail Uretero – ureter
Urethro – urethra Uro – urine
Vaso – vessel Veno – vein
Ventriculo – ventricle Viscero – viscera

Medical Glossary[edit]

'See also Wikipedia, Medical Dictionary


Histology is the study of the microscopic anatomy of cells and tissues. All organs of the body are formed of tissues. A tissue is a collection of similar type cells associated with some intercellular matrix (ground substance) controlled by some laws of growth and development. These cells perform the same functions. Tissues are usually divided into four categories:muscle tissue, nervous tissue, connective tissue, and epithelial tissue.

Muscle tissue[edit]

Muscle structure

Muscle tissue is composed of "excitable" cells which can contract. Muscle tissue include a lot of microfilaments composed of actin and myosin, which are contractile proteins. There are three major types of muscle tissue:

  • Skeletal Muscle:It is attached to bones by tendons and associated with the body's voluntary movements. Skeletal muscle is striated muscle. Unlike cardiac muscle, the cells are not branched.
  • Visceral (Smooth) Muscle:It is found in many parts of the body such as the arteries, the bladder, the digestive tract and so on. Visceral muscle is also called smooth muscle as it doesn't have cross striations. Visceral muscle contracts slower than skeletal muscle, but the contraction can be continued for a longer period.
  • Cardiac muscle:It is so named because it is found in the heart. Cells are joined to one another by intercalated discs which allow the synchronization of the heart beat. Cardiac muscle is branched, striated muscle.

Illu muscle tissues.jpg

Nervous tissue[edit]

Nerve structure

Nervous tissue is for sensing stimuli and transmitting signals to and from various system of body. Neurons are the basic unit of nervous tissue.

Connective tissue[edit]

Connective tissue (CT) supports, connects, or separates various tissues and organs of the body. It is one of the four major type tissues—the others of which are epithelial, muscle, and nervous tissues. Connective tissue can be found everywhere in the body except the central nervous system.

Epithelial tissue[edit]

It is one of the four major types tissues. It is related to secretion, selective absorption, protection, transcellular transport and detection of sensation. In Greek ἐπί (epi) means "on" or "upon", and θηλή (thēlē) means "nipple".

Summary showing different epithelial cells/tissues and their characteristics.

Further Reading[edit]


Fill up the gaps[edit]

  1. The body consists of the head, ______and limbs. ((a) arms (b) trunks)
  2. Sagittal plane is parallel to _______ plane.((a)lateral (b) median)
  3. Nose is _______ to the ears. ((a) anterior (b) posterior)
  4. Rotation is the movement of a part of the body around its _______axis. ((a) central (b) long)
  5. All organs of the body are formed of ______.((a) flesh (b) tissue)
  6. Epithelium is ______ tissue. ((a) covering (b) connecting)


  1. Anatomy & Physiology Workbook For Dummies by Janet Rae-Dupree
  2. Wikipedia,Anatomical terms of motion.
  3. Wikipedia,List of medical roots, suffixes and prefixes
  4. Wikipedia, Medical Dictionary
  5. Medical Terminology Database
  6. Dictionary of Medicines and Devices
  7. Medical Dictionary Database for the iPhone
  8. Medical Terminology Database iPhone
  9. Wikipedia,Histology