This is a medical glossary for any medical vocabulary that appears in Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. The items listed here may vary from surgical instruments to diseases, surgeries, and surgery specialties.



  • 10-Blade: The type of blade used on a scalpel. It is generally used for making small incisions in skin and muscle. (See scalpel for further details)
  • 15-Blade: The type of blade used on a scalpel. It is generally used for making short and precise incisions. (See scalpel for further details)


  • ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis): A progressive and fatal form of motor neuron disease.
  • Alzheimer's Disease: The most common form of dementia. It is degenerative and terminal.
  • AMA (Against Medical Advice): A form a patient must sign to leave a hospital against professional advice.
  • American College of Surgeons: The association responsible for setting the standards for surgical training and education.
  • Analgesia: Drugs that act as painkillers.
  • Anaphylaxis: A severe, often life-threatening allergic reaction. Penicillin, nuts, seafood, and bee stings are all commonly associated with the condition.
  • Anesthesia: Removal of all sensation, usually by chemical means (e.g., drugs/medication)
  • Aneurysm: A localized, blood-filled, balloon-like bulge in the wall of a blood vessel.
  • Aortic Valve: A valve which prevents blood flow back into the heart from the aorta (one of the major blood vessels from the heart).
  • Appendicitis: The inflammation of the appendix. It requires an appendectomy to remove it.
  • Asystole: A condition of the heart in which there is no activity from the heart (electrical or muscular)
  • Atropine: A drug used to resolve a slow heart rate (bradycardia) or as part of resuscitation.
  • Attending: A doctor who has completed residency and practices medicine in a clinic or hospital.
  • Autopsy: A surgical procedure usually performed by pathologists that examines a corpse to determine cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present at the time of death.


  • Benign: Not cancerous.
  • Blood Pressure: Pressure exerted by circulating blood on the walls of the blood vessels. It is one of the main vital signs that should always be monitored on a patient. Normal values are 120 for systolic and 80 for diastolic.
  • Bradycardia: An abnormally slow heartbeat (defined as fewer than 60 beats per minute in an adult and fewer than 100 beats per minute in a neonate).


  • C. diff (Clostridium difficile): a species of Gram-positive bacteria of the genus Clostridium that causes severe diarrhea and other intestinal diseases when competing bacteria in the gut flora have been wiped out by antibiotics.
  • Caesarean section (C-section): A surgical procedure in which incisions are made through a mother's abdomen (laparotomy) and uterus (hysterotomy) to deliver one or more babies. It is usually performed when a vaginal delivery would put the baby's or mother's life or health at risk, although in recent times it has been also performed upon request for childbirths that could otherwise have been vaginal.
  • Cancer: A disease where cells undergo uncontrolled growth.
  • Cardiac Arrest: When blood circulation stops throughout the body due to some malfunction of the heart.
  • Cardiomyopathy: Heart muscle disease
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): An emergency medical procedure for a victim of cardiac arrest or, in some circumstances, respiratory arrest. CPR is performed in hospitals, in the community by laypersons, or by emergency response professionals.
  • Cardiothoracic surgery: A surgical specialty treating diseases affecting organs inside the thorax (the chest) including the lungs, heart, and thoracic diaphragm.
  • Catherine Fox Award: A fictional, prestigious medical award in the Grey's Anatomy & Private Practice Universe.
  • CBC (Complete Blood Count): A blood test to determine overall health and detect a wide range of disorders
  • Central Line: A catheter placed into a large vein in the neck (internal jugular vein), chest (subclavian vein), or groin (femoral vein). (See wikipedia:central venous catheter for further details)
  • Circulatory System: A body system that involves the heart, veins, arteries, and blood.
  • Code Black: A hospital code which indicates a bomb is somewhere in the hospital.
  • Code Blue: A hospital code which indicates someone needing resuscitation.
  • Code Pink: A hospital code which indicates child/infant abduction.
  • Code Red: A hospital code which indicates a fire has broken out somewhere in the hospital.
  • Computed Tomography (CT): Imaging used to generate a three-dimensional image of the inside of an object from a large series of two-dimensional X-ray images.
  • Congenital insensitivity to pain (CIP): also known as congenital analgesia, is one or more rare conditions in which a person cannot feel (and has never felt) physical pain.
  • Craniectomy: A procedure where a part of the skull is removed to allow a swelling brain to expand.
  • Craniotomy: A procedure performed by cutting through the skin and drilling through and removing part of the skull to gain access to the brain. (See wikipedia:craniotomy and Neurosurgery for further details)
  • Creatinine: A waste product when muscle tissue is broken down. Blood creatinine levels are measured to assess kidney function.
  • Crike (Cricothyrotomy): A procedure in which the throat is cut to insert a direct tube for breathing when an intubation is not possible due to blockage of the throat.


  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS): Surgical procedure in which an electrode is implanted into a specific area of the brain in order to alleviate symptoms of chronic pain and of movement disorders caused by neurological disease.
  • Dermatology: A medical specialty dealing with the skin and its diseases.
  • Diarrhea: The condition of having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day.
  • DNR (Do Not Resuscitate): A written order from a doctor that clarifies that resuscitation should not be attempted if a person suffers cardiac or respiratory arrest.


  • ECG (Electrocardiograph): A small computer that monitors the patient's heart rate and other heart information.
  • Echo (Echocardiogram): A sonogram of the heart.
  • Ectopia Cordis: A birth defect in which the heart is abnormally located, typically outside of the chest, but still attached to the body through a split sternum.
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: A group of genetic connective tissue disorders which can cause skin hyperelasticity, joint dislocation and hypermobility, arthritis, and easy bruising.
  • Endocrinology: The medical specialty involved with disorders relating to hormones and the endocrine organs and glands.
  • Epidural: A form of regional anesthesia involving an injection of drugs through a catheter, usually done by blocking the action of the nerves in the spine from a certain region.
  • Epinephrine (Epi): A hormone released in the body in response to stress, used in medical settings for resuscitation.
  • ER (Emergency Room): A room in the hospital dedicated to emergent conditions and patients
  • Esophageal: Of, or relating to the esophagus (the "tube" connecting the mouth to the stomach).
  • ETA: Estimated Time of Arrival


  • Fasciotomy: A surgical procedure where the fascia (the outer layers surrounding muscle, cartilage, ligaments, organs, etc.) is cut to relieve tension or pressure and treat the resulting loss of circulation to an area of tissue or muscle.
  • Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP): An extremely rare, congenital disease (estimated 600 cases worldwide) that causes muscles and connective tissue to turn to bone when injured.
  • First-Degree Burn: Burns that are restricted to the surface of the skin. In some cases, the burns can also be widespread.


  • GCS (Glasgow Coma Scale): A scale used to identify consciousness and responsiveness of a patient following a head injury.
  • GSW: Gunshot wound.
  • Gurney: A type of stretcher used in hospitals and ambulances. A hospital gurney is a kind of narrow bed on a wheeled frame and has straps to secure the patient.
  • Genome Mapping: The process to create a genetic map assigning DNA fragments to chromosomes.


  • Haldol: antipsychotic used to treat certain kinds mental disorders.
  • Heart Attack (Myocardial infarction): Occurs when the circulation of blood to the heart is severely affected.
  • Hemispherectomy: A procedure performed to remove or disable one cerebral hemisphere (half the brain). 
  • Hemopneumothorax: The accumulation of air and blood in the pleural cavity (the area surrounding the lungs).
  • Hernia: A hernia occurs when an organ or fatty tissue squeezes through a weak spot in a surrounding muscle or connective tissue called fascia. The most common types of hernia are inguinal (inner groin), incisional (resulting from an incision), femoral (outer groin), umbilical (belly button), and hiatal (upper stomach).
  • Heterotopic transplant (Piggy-back transplant): A cardiac (heart) transplantation without removing the native heart, leaving both donor and native heart in the body.
  • Hermaphrodite: an organism that has reproductive organs normally associated with both male and female sexes
  • Hydrocephalus: A condition in which there is too much spinal fluid, which puts pressure on the brain and can lead to brain damage. It is treated by insertion of a shunt to drain the extra fluid into the patient's abdomen.
  • Hypertension: A chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated.
  • Hyperventilation: Occurs when breaths are faster and deeper, which decreases the level of carbon dioxide in the blood, sometimes resulting in loss of consciousness.
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS): A condition in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. It can sometimes be treated surgically with a 3-part procedure, but surgery is not considered a cure.
  • Hypothermia: The dropping of the body's core temperature, which may occur with exposure to cold air and water.


  • ICP (Intracranial Pressure): The pressure inside of the skull and thus on the brain and the cerebrospinal fluid.
  • Inebriated: Drunk.
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU): A unit in the hospital where seriously ill patients are cared for by specially trained staff.
  • Internal Medicine: A medical specialty focused on the diagnosis and treatment for a wide range of medical problems, ranging from severe to minor diseases on their own or as multiple diseases at one time.
  • Internship: The training of a physician or surgeon who has completed medical school. Internship is the first year of residency or a transition year prior to residency.
  • Intubation: Generally, the insertion of a tube into the throat to allow a bag or machine to breathe for the patient.
  • IV (Intravenous): A catheter inserted into a vein to deliver liquid substances into the body, typically saline (water), medications, or blood. (See wikipedia:intravenous therapy for further details)


  • John/Jane Doe: term used to describe a patient whose identity is unknown. A male patient would be classified as a John Doe, and a female patient Jane Doe.


  • Kawasaki disease: A condition in which blood vessels throughout the entire body become inflamed.


  • Laparoscopic Procedures (minimally invasive surgeries): Surgery performed using small incisions into the body. Commonly used for appendectomies and cholecystectomies (lap chole). (See wikipedia:laparoscopic surgery and General Surgery for further details)
  • Line: Generally refers to an IV.


  • Mastectomy: The surgical removal of one or both breasts. Can be used to treat breast cancer, as a preventative measure, or as part of sex reassignment.
  • Medical School: An educational institution — or part of such an institution — that teaches medicine to train the next generation of doctors.
  • Metastasis (mets): The spread of a disease from one area of the body to another.
  • MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging): Primarily a medical imaging technique most commonly used in radiology to visualize the structure and function of the body.
  • MVC: motor vehicle collision


  • Neonate: Infants in the first 28 days after birth. They are also premature infants.
  • Neurocysticercosis: Parasites in the brain
  • Neurosurgery: A surgical specialty focused on treating the nervous system including the spinal cord and the brain.
  • Norwood Procedure: A surgery performed on the heart to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Redirects blood flow to provide systemic or pulmonary circulation.


  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): An anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry; by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety; or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions.
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology: The two surgical specialties combined to form a single medical specialty, with gynecology dealing with the female reproductive organs, and obstetrics dealing with the care of the woman and her offspring during pregnancy, childbirth, and for a period of time following birth.
  • Omphalocele: When the abdominal organs are outside of the body but contained in a sac, typically in infants.
  • Organ Harvest: A surgical procedure by which the major organs are removed from a donor to be used in transplants and/or research. Harvesting often takes place after a donor has been declared 'brain dead,' but their heart and other vital organs continue to be kept alive via artificial means.
  • Orthopedic Surgery: A surgical specialty concerned with conditions involving bones and muscle.
  • Orthotopic transplant: A surgical procedure of removing the patient's diseased heart and replacing it with a healthy donor heart.
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta: A congenital bone disorder characterized by brittle bones that are prone to fracture. There are several types of the disease, a couple of which are fatal, while others are manageable.
  • Otolaryngology (ENT): The surgical specialty that focuses in the diagnosis and treatment of ear, nose, throat, and head and neck disorders


  • Pediatric Surgery: A surgical specialty focused on the surgical management of fetuses, infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.
  • Pediatrics: The branch of medical science that deals with the care of children, typically until adolescence, but can vary. It can deal with congenital defects or genetically inherited defects, but is not always the case.
  • Plastic Surgery: A surgical specialty concerned with the correction or restoration of form and function, and can deal with problems such as burns, surgery on hands and limbs, and aesthetic surgery.
  • Pneumothorax: Collapsed lung, caused by air/gas in the cavity between the lungs and the chest wall.
  • Porcine valve replacement: Surgical procedure for replacing a diseased valve with a pig valve.
  • Post-op: After operation.
  • Pre-op: Before operation.
  • P.R.B.C: Packed Red Blood Cells
  • Psychiatry: A specialty of medical sciences with the prevention, study, and treatment of mental disorders. This specialty has many different approaches with a variety of different treatment options available for patients.
  • Pulseless electrical activity (PEA): Organized cardiac electrical activity without a palpable pulse


  • Residency: A stage of post-graduate medical training. A resident physician/surgeon is a doctor who has received a medical degree and practices medicine under the supervision of fully licensed physicians/surgeons, usually in a hospital or clinic.


  • Scalpel: A small but extremely sharp knife used for surgery.
  • Scrubs: The attire worn by most medical personnel inside a hospital, usually consisting of pants and a short-sleeved top. A scrub cap may be worn, usually during surgery.
  • Second-Degree Burns: Burns that affect the upper layers of the skin. Patients often present with blisters, swelling, redness, and pain.
  • Seizure: Abnormal electrical activity in the brain, often associated with a medical disorder. Symptoms include loss of consciousness and rigidity in the body.
  • Sinus Rhythm: A pulse rate between 60-100 beats per minute (BPM)
  • Situs Inversus: A congenital condition in which the major organs are reversed or mirrored from their normal positions.
  • Stroke: When the brain does not receive a sufficient supply of blood, often caused by blockage or bleeding.
  • Surgery: A medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury.
  • Syphilis: a sexually transmitted infection that can generally be treated with antibiotics, including penicillin, but one of the oldest and still the most effective method is an injection of benzathine penicillin.


  • Tachycardia: An abnormally high heart rate (defined for adults as above 100 beats per minute).
  • Teratoma: An encapsulated tumor with tissue or organ components resembling normal derivatives of more than one germ layer.
  • Third-Degree Burns: The most severe type of burn, in which all the layers of tissue are affected. Since the burn goes through the skin, muscles, nerves and bones may also be affected.
  • Thoracotomy: An incision into the pleural space of the chest to gain access to the thoracic organs.
  • Tonic-Clonic seizures: Seizure which features a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions. It's the type of seizure most people picture when they think about seizures in general.
  • Toupet fundoplication: A surgical procedure to correct symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux.
  • Tracheotomy: An emergency procedure done to aid the patient's breathing. It is the opening of the trachea (throat) with a sharp instrument, usually a scalpel.
  • Trauma Surgery: A surgical specialty focused on the surgical management of invasive treatments on physical injuries in an emergency situation.
  • Tumor: An abnormal mass of tissue caused by abnormal cell division.
  • Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS): A condition in which the fetal blood vessels of identical twins are fused, providing one twin with too much blood and the other with too little. It can be fatal for both if not treated surgically.


  • U&Es (Us and Es): Urea and Electrolytes.
  • Uterus duplex bicollis: A condition in which a female has two uteruses
  • UTI (Urinary Tract Infection): A bacterial infection that affects any part of the urinary tract.


Cutting the LVAD
  • VAD: A mechanical device that is used to replace the function of a failing heart partially or completely
  • V-Fib (Ventricular Fibrillation): When muscle fibers in the lower area of the heart are uncontrolled. This causes the heart to no longer pump blood throughout the body and can cause sudden death. It can be treated with an external defibrillator
  • V-Tach (Ventricular Tachycardia): When the pulse rate is at the rate of or more than 100 beats per minute (BPM) and there is at least three consecutive uneven heart beats.


  • Whipple (Pancreaticoduodenectomy): Operation used most commonly to treat pancreatic cancer. The procedure involves removing the head of the pancreas along with the Gallbladder, duodenum, part of the stomach, bile duct, and sometimes lymph nodes close to the pancreas. Once these have been removed, the remainder of the pancreas, stomach, and bile duct are directly attached to the small bowel. (See wikipedia:pancreaticoduodenectomy for further details)


  • X-rays: A form of (electromagnetic) radiation, used for diagnostic purposes to see inside the body without having to cut open. It can also be used as a form of cancer treatment. It has a medical specialty devoted to it, Radiology.


  • Y-incision: In an autopsy, the medical examiner makes a cut that is shaped like a Y from the left and right upper chest near the shoulder down past the navel.


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