Saturday, February 23, 2008

Confused medical terms

There are many medical terms that have nearly the same orthography, are often pronounced identically, and have completely different meanings. These words are not picked up by spell checkers (because they are not misspelled), and occasionally appear as erroneous text within medical records.
Examples are:
acinic, actinic
anisakiasis, anisokaryosis
Apert syndrome, Alport syndrome (Apert syndrome 
    is a rare disorder characterized by early 
    fusion of skull bones. Alport syndrome is a 
    rare disorder characterized by kidney disease,
    hearing loss, and eye abnormalities.)
aptotic, apoptotic
arboreal, aboriginal
arteritis, arthritis
aural, oral
auxilliary, axillary
brachial, brachium, branchial
callous, callus
Carney triad, Carney complex (Carney Triad
    is gastric leiomyosarcoma, pulmonary chondroma
    extraadrenal paraganglioma, occurring 
    mainly in young women. Carney complex is
    myxoma, spotty pigmentation, and
    endocrinopathy.  Both Carney triad and Carney
    complex are technically Carney syndromes.
causality, casualty
chlorpropamide, chlorpromazine
chondroid, chordoid
chondroma, chordoma
chorionic, chronic
cingula, singular
coitus, colitis
colic, colonic
colitis, coitus
costal, coastal
cryptogam, cryptogram
cygnet, signet
decease, disease
deceased, desist
digitate, digitize
dioecious, deciduous
diploic, diploid
disc, disk
disease, decease
diseased, deceased
disseminated sclerosis, systemic sclerosis (the first is 
        multiple sclerosis, and the second is scleroderma)
dyskaryosis, dyskeratosis
dysphasia, dysphagia
ectatic, ecstatic
endochondral, enchondral (these are synonyms)
engram, n-gram, ngram
epistasis, epistaxis, epitaxis 
        (the last is a misspelling of the second)
exxon, exon
facial, fascial
facies, faeces
falx, false
fetal, fatal
fibrinous, fibrous
fibrosis, fibrositis
firearm, forearm
foreword, forward
fossa, phossy
hallux, helicis
helicis, hallux
herpetic, herpangina
hydatid, hydatidiform
hypochondrium, hypochondria
ileitis, iliitis
ileum, ilium
insular, insulin
intercostal, intercoastal
intubation, incubation
isotope, isotrope
kerasin, kerosene, keratin
keratotic, keratinic, actinic
keratinocytic, keratinolytic
keratosis, ketosis
lipoma, lymphoma
lumbar, lumber
malleolus, malleus
meniere disease, menetrier disease (former is an inner ear disorder, 
      latter is a hypertrophic gastropathy)
metachronous, metacrinus
milia, milium
miotic, mitotic, meiotic
mitogenic, mitogenomic
mitosis, meiosis, myosis, myiasis
monogenic, monogenetic, and Monogenetic (last, 
      related to class Monogenea)
mucous, mucus
myelofibrosis, myofibrosis
myelogenous, myelopathy (the former refers 
      to blood forming cells, the latter to spinal cord disease)
myelopathy, myotilinopathy (the former is 
      spinal cord disease, the latter a type of myofibrillar myopathy)
myofibroma, myelofibroma
neuroplastic, neoplastic
nucleus, nucleolus
oncocyte, onychocyte
oncology, ontology, ontogeny
organic, organoid
ornithine, ornithurine
otic, optic
palatal, palatial
paleodontology, paleontology
palette, palate
palpation, palpitation
panacea, placebo (one cures all, the other cures none)
parasite, pericyte
parental, parenteral
pathogen, parthenogen
pathogenesis, parthenogenesis
pathogenic, pathogenetic (these two are synonyms)
pediculated, pedunculated
penal, penile, pineal, panel
penicillamine, penicillin
perineal, peroneal, perianal
phyllodes, phylloides
pigmentosa, pigmentosum (retinitis pigmentosa and xeroderma pigmentosum)
pleiotropic, pleiotrophic, pleiotypic (the first two are synonyms)
plural, pleural
porphyria, porphyruria
proptosis, ptosis
prostrate, prostate
protuberant, protruberant (the second term is simply a common misspelling)
pyelonephritis, pyonephritis
quinine, quinidine, quinone
rachischisis, rachitis, rachischitic, rachitic
radial, radical
relics, relicts
reticle, reticule, radical
rett syndrome, RET gene, 
rett syndrome, Tourette syndrome
rosacea, rosea
semantic, somatic
serous, serious
silicon, silicone
singleton, singultus
sinusitis, synositis
somatic, semantic, semitic
sonography, somnography, stenography
taenia, tinea
takoma, trachoma
thecoma, thekeoma
Tietze syndrome, Tietz syndrome (Tietze syndrome 
   is chondropathia tuberosa or costochondral junction 
   syndrome; Tietz syndrome is albinism-deafness
   syndrome, an autosomal dominant congenital disorder)  
torsion, distortion
trachoma, trachea
trichina, trachoma, trichura
trichinosis, trichosis, trichuriasis
trichrome, trichome
trochlear, tracheal
troglobite, troglodyte, trilobite
tuberous sclerosis, tuberculosis
tunicate, tourniquet, turbinate
typhoid, typhus
urethral, ureteral
vagitis, vaginitis
venous, venus
viscous, viscus
Medical transcriptionists and other healthcare professionals should be aware of the correct meaning of each alternate word in these listed pairs and groups.

In June, 2014, my book, entitled Rare Diseases and Orphan Drugs: Keys to Understanding and Treating the Common Diseases was published by Elsevier. The book builds the argument that our best chance of curing the common diseases will come from studying and curing the rare diseases.



I urge you to read more about my book. There's a generous preview of the book at the Google Books site.

- Jules J. Berman, Ph.D., M.D. tags: common disease, orphan disease, orphan drugs, rare disease, medical terminology, medical errors, malaprop, malapropism, definition, confusing terms, confused medical terms, medical definitions, medical transcription, nomenclature, orphan drugs, rare diseases, terminology, medical transcription, common mistakes, common errors, typographical errors, sources of confusion, sources of error, medical dictionary, tricky medical terms, medical informatics