Medical Terminology for the Urinary System

Medical Terminology for the Urinary System

This article covers the medical terminology for the urinary system. These terms will help with the study of urinary conditions and diseases. You can use this list as you cover disease processes related to the urinary system in your studies. This article will contain a list of word roots, and a few additional suffixes and prefixes related to the urinary system. There are terms related to urinary specialties and the definitions. There is also a list of urinary structures, diagnostic test, and procedures. Finally, there is a list of some diseases and conditions related to the urinary system.

If you need a background on how medical terms are formed, read the article on Medical Terminology Basics. Also, the article 11 Rules for Changing Singular Terms to Plural Terms is a good article for the use of singular and plural endings. This article will begin with a review of the basic prefixes and suffixes that can be used for all body systems.

Review of Prefixes

This section contains prefixes that are used for the medical terminology of most systems. Prefixes are used at the beginning of a word to modify or vary the meaning of the word. When the prefixes are detached from a term, it is followed by a hyphen (-).

a-, an-no, not, without, away
brady- slow
dia-apart, through
end-, endo-within, inside
exo-outside of, without
epi- above
hyper- excessive
hypo- insufficient
inter- between
intra- middle
medial-situated or pertaining to the middle
normo- normal
per- through
peri- around
physio-, physi-related to nature or physiology
poly- many
pro-before, for, in front of, from, in behalf of, on account of
re-back, again
retro-behind, back, backward
sub-under, below, beneath, in small quantity, less than normal
syn-, sy-, syl-, sym-union or association
tachy- fast
trans- across, through, beyond, over
ultra- excess

Review of Suffixes

Below are some suffixes that can be used for the medical terminology of most systems. Suffixes are placed at the end of a word root or word part to modify or vary the meaning. Suffixes can indicate a condition, disease or a procedure. When a suffix is written detached it is preceded by a hyphen (-).

-ac. -al, -ar, -aryPertaining to
-icPertaining to, characteristics
-ose, -ousPertaining to
-tic Pertaining to
-centesissurgical puncture as aspirate or remove fluid
-cision process of cutting
-ectomyexcision (surgical removal or cutting out)
-grama drawing or a written record
-graphproduct of a drawing, writing or recording
-graphythe process of recording
-ia condition
-ism condition process, theory of, principle, method
-itis inflammation
-ologist one who studies
-ologystudy of
-lysisprocess of loosening, freeing, or destroying
-opsyto view
-osiscondition, status process
-otomycutting into
-ostomyformation of an opening
-plasty surgical repair
-pathy disease
-sclerosis hardening
-scope instrument for viewing
-scopyvisual examination with a lighted instrument
-sisstate of, condition
-stasis to stand, place, stop, control
-tension pressure
-ule small

Word Root and Combining Vowel for the Urinary System

This is a list of word roots with their combining vowel used for the urinary system.

Word RootDefinition
Cyst(o)bladder or sac
Pyel(o)kidney or pelvis
Vesic(o)urinary bladder

Urinary specific suffixes and prefixes

Term Definition
Ante- before
Cyst-bladder or sac
Noct- night
Olig- few or little
Poly- much or many.
Pyel-pelvis or kidney
-uriaurine condition

Urinary Specialties

This is a list of the specialist that diagnoses and treats conditions related to the urinary system.


Term Definition
NephrologyNephr(o) means kidney
-logy means the study of.
Nephrology is the study of the anatomy and physiology of the kidney.
NephrologistsNephr(o) means kidney
-logist means one who studies.
A nephrologists is physician specializing in the conditions such as kidney disease, renal failure, dialysis patients and renal transplants.
UrologyUr(o) means urine
-logy means the study of.
Urology is the study of the anatomy and physiology of the urinary tract and the male and female reproductive system.
UrologistUr(o) means urine
-logist means one who studies.
A urologist is a physician specializing in the treatment of the male and female urinary tract and reproductive system.


The Structure and Function of the Urinary System

The function of the urinary system is to maintain homeostasis of the body. It also regulates fluid and electrolytes and removes waste through the formation of urine. And, the urinary system also assists in the regulation of blood pressure. This system consists of two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra. The structures of the urinary system are responsible for the formation and expulsion of urine from the body.


Term Definition
Afferent arteriolesAfferent means moving toward a center.
Arterioles are the smallest of the arteries.
Afferent arterioles are small arteries which lead into the glomerulus.
AldosteroneAldosterone causes the reabsorption of sodium ions back into the blood in the distal tubule and ascending limb of the loop of Henle.
Antidiuretic hormoneAnti- means against.
Antidiuretc is the suppression of urine formation.
Hormone is a chemical substance that initiates or regulates an effect.
The antidiuretic hormone decreased urine production causing reabsorption of water by the renal tubules.
Bowman’s capsuleThe Bowman’s capsule encloses the glomerulus.
Costovertebral angleCost(o) means ribs.
Costovertebral is pertaining to the ribs and vertebral column.
The costovertebral angle is where the vertebrae and the last rib intersect.
Distal tubuleDistal means away from or the farthest point.
Tubule is a small tube.
The distal tubule is a portion of the nephron that is located after the loop of Henle and is responsible for reabsorption.
Efferent arteriolesEfferent means moving away from a center.
Arterioles are the smallest of the arteries.
Efferent arterioles are small arteries which lead away from the glomerulus.
Glomerular filtration rateGlomerulus is a network of capillaries.
Glomerular filtration is the process of filtering the blood through the capillaries of the glomerulus.
Glomerular filtration rate is a test to determine the amount of plasma flowing through the glomeruli of the kidneys.
KidneysThe kidneys are bean-shaped organs.
They are located on the posterior wall of the abdomen between the 12th thoracic vertebra and the 3rd lumbar vertebrae.
The kidneys filter the blood and eliminate waste products in the urine.
Loop of HenleThe loop of Henle is the U-shaped portion of the renal tubule.
MicturitionMicturition is the act of passing urine. Also called urinating and voiding.
NephronThe nephron is the functional unit of the kidneys.
The nephron is divided into the renal corpuscle and the renal tubule.
The renal corpuscle is the filter.
The renal tubule drains urine that has been processed into the collecting tubules which carry the urine to the renal pelvis.
Proximal tubuleProximal means closer to a point of reference.
Tubule is a small tube.
The proximal tubule is the first part of the renal tubule in the nephron.
Renal arteryRenal is pertaining to the kidneys.
An artery is a larger blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart.
The renal arteries branch off of the aorta and supply the kidneys with blood.
Renal calyxRenal is pertaining to the kidneys.
Calyx- means cuplike.
A renal calyx is a cup-shaped tube that collects urine which drains from the renal pyramids.
Renal capsuleRenal is pertaining to the kidneys.
Capsule is a membrane or shell that covers an organ.
The renal capsule is connective tissue along with lymphatic circulation and blood vessels that cover the exterior of the kidney.
Renal cortexRenal is pertaining to the kidneys.
Cortex is the outer layer of the kidney.
The renal cortex is located at the outermost edge of the kidney.
The renal cortex contains the nephrons and filters blood as it enters the kidney.
Renal hilumRenal is pertaining to the kidneys.
Hilum is a depression or recessed part of an organ.
The renal hilum is the indented portion of the kidney that gives it the bean shape.
Renal medullaRenal is pertaining to the kidneys.
Medulla is the inner part of an organ.
The renal medulla is the inner part or the middle portion of the kidney.
Renal pyramidsRenal is pertaining to the kidneys.
Pyramid is a mass of tissue that rises to an apex.
The renal pyramids are the triangular shaped collecting ducts in the kidneys.
UreterUreter- means ureter.
A ureter is a long muscular tubes originating from the kidneys and extends down to the pelvic area and connecting to the bladder.
Urethra A urethra is a small tube that extends from the bladder to the penis is males and an opening anterior to the vagina in women.
Urinary bladderUrinary means urine or the formation of urine.
Bladder is a sac that serves as a reservoir for fluids.
A urinary bladder is a sac located behind the pelvic bone.
It is a reservoir for urine until it is expelled from the body.
VoidingVoiding means to urinate. Also called micturition.

Diagnostic Studies of the Urinary System

Term Definition
PyelogramPyel(o) means kidney or pelvis.
-gram means a drawing or a written record.
A pyelogram is an x-ray of the upper urinary tract after the introduction of a radiopaque contrast material.
Computed tomography (CT)A CT is a technique that uses radiographic to produce an image of the cross section of tissue. It is used to visualize the kidneys.
CystogramCyst(o) bladder or sac.
-gram means a drawing or a written record.
The visualization and recording of the urinary bladder after a radiopaque contrast material has been introduced.
CystoscopyCyst(o) bladder or sac.
-scopy is a visual examination with a lighted instrument.
A cystoscopy is the visualization of the lower urinary tract using a cystoscope.
Kidney, ureters, bladder (KUB)A KUB is an x-ray to determine the size, shape, and location of the kidneys and other structure of the urinary tract.
Intravenous pyelogram (IVP)Intravenous is pertaining to inside the vein.
Pyel(o) means kidney or pelvis.
-gram means a drawing or a written record.
An x-ray of the kidneys and other structures of the urinary tract using a intravenously injected contrast material.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)Magnetic means lodestone.
Resonance means to sound again.
Imaging means image.
An MRI is a procedure used to produce an image by the creation of a magnetic field to give detailed information about the kidneys.
Renal arteriogramRenal is pertaining to the kidneys.
Arteriogram is an x-ray of an artery that has been injected with a radiopaque contrast material.
A renal arteriogram is the visualization of the renal blood vessels.
Renal biopsyRenal is pertaining to the kidneys.
Biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue to be used for microscopic examination.
A renal biopsy is a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the kidney to obtain a specimen.
UrethrogramUrethr(o) means urethra.
-gram means a drawing or a written record.
A urethrogram is a procedure to visualize the urethra after the introduction of a contrast material.
UrinalysisA urinalysis is the examination of the urine.

Procedures of the Urinary System

Term Definition
DialysisDialy- means dialysis.
Dialysis is a procedure in which a machine is used to separate waste material from the blood.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL)Extracorporeal means outside the body.
Lithotripsy is a procedure for eliminating stones in the kidneys, ureters, bladder or gallbladder.
A procedure in which shock waves are used to crush stones in the urinary tract.
Renal transplantationRenal is pertaining to the kidneys.
Transplantation is the transfer of tissue from one person to another.
A procedure in which a person receives a donor kidney.
Urinary catheterizationUrinary means urine or the formation of urine.
Catheter is a hollow flexible tube.
Catheterization is the introduction of a catheter into a body cavity.
A catheter is passed through the urethra into the urinary bladder for the purpose of draining urine.

Diseases and Conditions of the Urinary System


Term Definition
AnuriaAn- means without.
-uria means possessing urine.
Anuria is the absence of urine.
DiuresisDiuresis is an increase in the volume of urine.
DysuriaDys- means bad or painful.
-uria means possessing urine.
Dysuria is painful urination.
EnuresisEnuresis is involuntary nocturnal urination.
FrequencyFrequency is when the patient voids more frequently than what is usual for the patient.
GlomerulonephritisGlomerul(o) is pertaining to the glomerulus.
Nephritis is inflammation of the kidney.
Glomerulonephritis is the inflammation of the glomerulus of the kidneys.
GlycosuriaGlyco- means glucose.
-uria means possessing urine.
Glycosuria is the abnormal presence of glucose in the urine.
HematuriaHemat- means pertaining to blood.
-uria means possessing urine.
Hematuria is blood in the urine.
HesitancyHesitancy is difficulty initiating urination.
IncontinenceIn- means lack of.
Continence means the ability of control the bladder or bowel functions.
Incontinence is the inability of control urination or defecation.
NephrolithiasisNephr(o) means pertaining to the kidney.
Lithiasis means the presence or formation of stones.
Nephrolithiasis is a condition of having renal calculi or stones in the kidney.
NocturiaNoct- means night.
-uria means possessing urine.
Nocturia is excessive urination at night.
OliguriaOlig- means few or little.
-uria means possessing urine.
Oliguria is a decrease in the formation or passing of urine.
PolyuriaPoly- means much or many.
-uria means possessing urine.
Polyuria is the passing of an abnormally large amount of urine.
ProteinuriaProtein is complex nitrogenous compounds.
-uria means possessing urine.
Proteinuria is the presence of an abnormally large amount of protein in the urine.
Pyuria-uria means possessing urine.
Pyuria is the presences of an abnormal amount of white blood cells in the urine
Renal calculusRenal is pertaining to the kidneys.
Calculus is a stone formed by the accumulation of mineral salts.
Renal calculus is a stone occurring in the urinary tract.
Renal FailureRenal is pertaining to the kidneys.
Renal Failure is the inability of the kidneys to concentrate urine or excrete waste.
UremiaUremia is the presence of a large amount of urea in the blood.
Also known as azotemia.
Urea-urea is a compound containing urea.
Urea is waste products from protein metabolism.
Urinary retentionUrinary means urine.
Retention is the resistance to movement.
Urinary retention is the inability of the patient to empty their bladder.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)Urinary means urine or the formation of urine.
Urinary tract is the organs involved in the secretion and elimination of urine.
A UTI is an infection of any of the structures of the urinary tract.
UrgencyUrgency is an intense desire to urinate immediately.



Mosby’s Medical Dictionary (2017). 10th ed. St Louis, MO. Elsevier Inc.

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