Friday, July 23, 2021

Common Medical Abbreviations and Their Meaning

by | September 26, 2020 0

Medical abbreviations and acronyms represent “acceptable” terms used by physicians and other health care professionals commonly as a reference to rapidly search and accurately record information about, and give instructions to their patients. They are commonly used due to the tremendous gains in efficiency and the ability to cover numerous medically related concepts with minimal space.

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In order to avoid ambiguity which may likely to lead to an error, it is best to understand the context in which the abbreviation is used as there is no standard or approved list used by health care professionals to search for medical acronyms or abbreviations. Also, individual medical facilities may provide their own list of acceptable terms and abbreviations that may not be used elsewhere.

This article, therefore, contains a comprehensive list of common medical abbreviations and their meaning. These are by no means exhaustive.

A – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
A & E Accident and Emergency
A & P Auscultation and percussion
A & W Alive and well
AAROM Active assistive range of motion
Ab Antibody
AB/ab Abortion
ABC Aspiration, biopsy, cytology
abd Abdomen
ABG Arterial blood gas
ACTH Adrenocorticotrophic hormone
AD Alzheimer’s disease
ADD Attention-deficit disorder
ADH Antidiuretic hormone
ADHD Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
ADL Activities of daily living
AI Accidental injury
AID Artificial insemination donor
AIDS Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
AJ Ankle jerk
AKA Above the knee amputation
ALS Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
AMA Against medical advice
AMI Acute myocardial infarction
AN Anorexia nervosa/antenatal
ANA Antinuclear antibodies
ANS Autonomic nervous system
APH Antepartum haemorrhage
APM Anterior poliomyelitis
ARF Acute renal failure
ARM Artificial rupture of membranes
AS Left ear
AST Aspartate transaminase formerly called SGOT
AU Both ears

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B – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
Ba E Barium enema
Ba M Barium meal
BBT Basal body temperature
BCC Basal cell carcinoma
BCG Bacille-Calmette-Guerin (vaccine for TB)
BI bony injury/bodily injury
BID Brought in dead
BM Bowel movement
BMI Body mass index
BMR Basal metabolic rate
BNO Bladder neck obstruction
BO Bowels open/body odour
BOA Born on arrival
BP, B/P Blood pressure
BPH Benign prostatic hyperplasia
bpm Beats per minute
BRP Bathroom privileges
BS Bowel sounds
BSE Breast self-examination
BSR Basal sedimentation rate
BUN Blood urea nitrogen
BW Birth weight
Bx/ bx Biopsy

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C – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
C & S, C+S Culture and sensitivity (testing)
C Celsius/centigrade; carbon
C/O, c/o Complaints of
Ca Calcium; cancer
CABG Coronary artery bypass graft
CAD Coronary artery disease
CAO Chronic airways obstruction
cath Catheter
CBC Complete blood count
CBD Common bile duct
CC Cardiac catheterization, chief complaint, clean catch urine specimen
CD Controlled drugs/cadaver donor
CDH Congenital dislocation of the hip
CF Cardiac failure
CHD Congenital heart disease; coronary heart disease
CHF Congestive heart failure
CIS Carcinoma in situ
CNS Central nervous system
CO2 Carbon dixoxide
COPD Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
CP Cerebral palsy; cleft palate
CPR Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
CS, C-section Cesarean section
CSD Congenital septal defect
CSF Cerebrospinal fluid
CT Calcitonin, computerized tomography
CT scan Computed tomography scan
CTA Clear to auscultation
CTS Carpal tunnel syndrome
CV Cardiovascular; closing volume
CVA Cerebrovasular accident; costovertebral angle
CVD Cerebrovascular disease
CVS Chorionic villus sampling
Cx Cervix
CXR Chest x-ray

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D – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
D & C Dilatation and curettage (uterine)
D & V Diarrhoea and vomiting
d/c, DISC Discontinue
D5W Dextrose 5% in water
DAT Differential agglutination test
DC, disc discontinue
DI Diabetes insipidus; diagnostic imaging
DIC Disseminated intravascular coagulation
DJD Degenerative joint disease
DKA Diabetes ketoacidosis
DLE Disseminated lupus erythematous
DM Diabetes mellitus; diastolic murmur
DNA Did not attend; deoxyribonucleic acid
DNR Do not resuscitate
DOA Dead on arrival
DOB Date of birth
DOE Dyspnea on exertion
DPT, DTP Diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus injection
DRE Digital rectal exam
DS Disseminated sclerosis
DSA Digital subtraction angiogram
DT Delirium tremens
DTR Deep tendon reflex
DU Duodenal ulcer; diagnosis undetermined
DVT Deep vein thrombosis
Dx Diagnosis
DXRT Deep X-ray therapy

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E – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
ECG Electrocardiography
ECHO Echocardiogram
ECT Electroconvulsive therapy
EDC Expected date of confinement
EDD Expected date of delivery
EEG Electroencephalography
EENT Eyes, ears, nose, throat
ELISA Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
EMG Electromyogram
ENT Ear, nose and throat
EOM Extraocular movement
ER Emergency room; estrogen receptor
ERCP Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography
ESN Educationally subnormal
ESR, SR, sed rate Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
ESRD End-stage renal disease
ETOH Ethyl alcohol (ethanol)
ETT Exercise tolerance test; endotracheal tube
EUA Examination under anaesthetic
EUS External urethral sphincter

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F – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
F Fahrenheit; failure
F/U, f/u Follow-up
FB Foreign body
FBC Full blood count
FBS Fasting blood sugar
FDG-PET Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (nuclear medicine test)
FDIU Fetal death in utero
Fe Iron
FEV Forced expiratory volume
FH Family history
FHH Fetal heart heard
FHNH Fetal heart not heard
FHR Fetal heart rate
FHT Fetal heart tone
Fl, fld Fluid
FSH Follicle stimulating hormone
FUO Fever of unknown (undetermined) origin
Fx, FX Fracture

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G – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
GA General anaesthetia; gallium
GB Gallbladder X-ray
GC Gonorrhea
GCFT Gonorrhea complement fixation test
GERD Gastroesophageal reflux disease
GFR Glomerular filtration rate
GG/gamma gl Gamma globulin
GH Growth hormone
GHRH Growth hormone release hormone
GI Gastrointestinal
GOK God only knows!
Grav. 1, 2, 3 Gravida – a woman who has had a first, second, or third pregnancy of any duration
GTT Glucose tolerance test
GU Gastric ulcer/genito-urinary
GYN/ gyn Gynecology

H – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
H & L Heart and lungs
H & P History and physical (examination)
h/o History of
HA Headache
HAART Highly active antiretroviral therapy
Hb, hgb, Hgb Haemoglobin
HbA1c Glycosylated hemoglobin (measured to test for diabetes)
HbF Fetal haemoglobin
HCG, hCG Human chorionic gonadotrophin
HEENT Head, ear, eye, nose, throat
HGG Human gamma globulin
Hib Haemophilus influenza type B
HIg Human immunoglobulin
HIV Human immunodeficiency virus
HPV Human papillomavirus
HR Heart rate
HRT Hormone replacement therapy
HSV-1, HSV-2 Herpes simplex virus type 1, type 2
HTN Hypertension
HV Hallux valgus
HVS High vaginal swab
Hx History

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I – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
I & D Incision and drainage
IBS Irritable bowel syndrome
ICP Intracranial pressure
ICU Intensive care unit
IDDM Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
IDK Internal derangement of the knee joint
Ig Immunoglobulin
IHD Ischaemic heart disease
IM Intramuscular
INR International normalized ratio (system for reporting results of blood coagulation tests)
IOFP Intraocular foreign body
IOL Intraocular lens (implant)
IOP Intra-ocular pressure
IQ Intelligence quotient
IRV Inspiratory reserve volume
IUD Intrauterine device
IV Intravenous
IVF in vitro fertilization
IVP Intravenous push

J – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
JRA Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
JV Jugular vein
JVP Jugular vein pulse/jugular venous pressure

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K – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
KJ Knee jerk
KUB Kidneys, ureters and bladder
KVO Keep vein open

L – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
LA Local anesthesia
LASER Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation
LB Loose body
LBW Low birth weight
LE Lupus erythematosus; local excision
LFD Large for dates (fetus)
LFT Liver function tests
LG Lymph gland
LH Luteinizing hormone
LIF Left iliac fossa
LIH Left inguinal hernia
LLL Left lower lobe
LLQ Left lower quadrant
LMP Last menstrual period
LOA Left occipito-anterior
LOC Level; loss of consciousness
LOL Left occipito-lateral
LOP Left occipito-posterior
LP Lumbar puncture
LR Lactated ringer’s
LRD Living related donor
LRTI Lower respiratory tract infection
LSCS Lower segment caesarian section
LUE Left upper extremity
LUL Left upper lobe
LUQ Left upper quadrant
LVF Left ventricular failure

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M – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
MAC Monitored anesthesia care
MAO Maximum acid output (gastric); monoamine oxidase
MAOI Monoamine oxidase inhibitor
MCH Mean corpuscular haemoglobin
MCHC Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration
MCV Mean corpuscular volume
MH Marital history; mental health
MI Myocardial infarction; mitral incompetence
MMR measles, mumps and rubella  (immunizations)
MPV Mean platelet volume
MR Mitral regurgitation
MRA Magnetic resonance angiography
MRI Magnetic resonance imaging
MRSA Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
MS Multiple sclerosis; mitral stenosis
MSH Melanocyte-stimulating hormone
MSSU, MSU Midstream specimen of urine
MTD Maximum tolerated dose
MTF Male to female
MUA Manipulation under anesthesia
MVD Mitral valve disease
MVP Mitral valve prolapse
Mx Mastectomy

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N – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
N & V, N + V, N/V Nausea and vomiting
N/A Not applicable
NAD No abnormality demonstrated
NAI Non-accidental injury
NED No evidence of disease
NFS No fracture seen/shown
NG New growth; nasogastric (tube)
NGU Non-gonococcal urethritis
NHL Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
NICU Neonatal intensive care unit
NIDDM Non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
NKA No known allergies
NKDA No known drug allergies
NMR Nuclear magnetic resonance
NND Neonatal death
NNMR Neonatal mortality rate
NPO, n.p.o Nothing by mouth (nil per os)
NPU Not passed urine
NSAIDS Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs
NSR Normal sinus rhythm
NSU Non-specific urethritis
NSV Non-specific vaginitis
NT Not tender (to touch)
NTP Normal temperature and pressure
NYD Not yet diagnosed

O – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
O & G Obstetrics and gynaecology
O.D. Doctor of optometry
O2 Oxygen
OA Osteoarthritis
OB Obstetrics
OC Oral contraceptive
OCD Obsessive-compulsive disorder
OD Right eye
OGTT Oral glucose tolerance test
OM Otitis media
OOB Out of bed
OP Out-patient
OPD Out-patient department
OPV Oral poliomyelitis vaccine
OR Operating room
OS Left eye
OSA Obstructive sleep apnea
OT Occupational therapy
OTC Over-the-counter
OU Both eyes

P – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
PA Pernicious anaemia
PAC Premature atrial contraction
PBI Protein bound iodine
PBU Premature baby unit
PCI Percutaneous coronary intervention
PCP Pneumocystis pneumonia
PCV Packed cell volume
PE Physical examination; pulmonary embolus; plasma exchange
PEEP Positive end-expiratory pressure
PEFR Peak expiratory flow rate
PFT Pulmonary function test
PG, pg Prostaglandins; pregnant
PI Present illness
PID Prolapsed intervertebral disc; pelvic inflammatory disease
PIFR Peak inspiratory flow rate
PKU Phenylketonuria
PM Afternoon (post meridiem); postmortem; pacemaker
PMA Progressive muscular atrophy
PMB Post-menopausal bleeding
PMH Past medical history; post-menopausal haemorrhage
PMS Premenstrual syndrome
PMT Pre-menstrual tension
PND Paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea; postnasal drip
PNM Perinatal mortality
PO, p.o. Per os (by mouth)
POP Plaster of paris
PPH Post-partum haemorrhage
PR/pr Per rectum
PROM Premature rupture of membranes
PSA Prostate-specific antigen
PTCA Percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty
PTH Parathyroid hormone
PTR Patient to return
PTSD Posttraumatic stress disorder
PTT Partial thromboplastin time
PU Peptic ulcer; passed urine
PUD Peptic ulcer disease
PUO Pyrexia of unknown origin
PVC Premature ventricular contraction
PVD Peripheral vascular disease
PVT Paroxysmal ventricular tachycardia
PWB Partial weight bearing
Px Prognosis

Q – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
q Every  (quaque)
q.d. Each (every) day (quaque die); better to write out “each day,” because can be misread as q.i.d.
q.h. each (every) hour (quaque hora)
q2h each (every) two hours (quaque secunda hora)
q.i.d. four times a day (quater in die)
q.n. each (every) night (quaque nox)
q.n.s. quantity not sufficient (quantum non sufficit)
q.s. quantity sufficient (quantum sufficit)

R – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
R/O Rule out
R/T Related to
RA Rheumatoid arthritis
RAO Right anterior oblique
RB Recurrent bleed
RBC, rbc Red blood cells
RDS Respiratory distress syndrome
RDS Respiratory distress syndrome
RE Rectal examination
Rh Rhesus factor
RIF Right iliac fossa
RIH Right inguinal hernia
RL Shunt right-left shunt
RLE Right lower extremity
RLL Right lower lobe
RLQ Right lower quadrant
RML Right middle lobe of lung
RNA Ribonucleic acid
ROA Right occipito-anterior
ROM Range of movements; range of motion; rupture of membranes
ROP Right occipito-posterior
ROS Review of systems
ROT Right occipito-transverse
RP Retrograde pyelography (urography)
RPR Rapid plasma reagin
RR Recovery room; respiratory rate
RRR Regular rate and rhythm (of the heart)
RS Respiratory system
RT Radiation therapy; reading test; respiratory therapy
RTA Road traffic accident
RU Rodent ulcer
RUE Right upper extremity
RUL Right upper lobe
RUQ Right upper quadrant
RV Residual volume
Rx Treatment; therapy; prescription (recipe, “to take”)

S – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
s/s Signs & symptoms
S1, S2, S3, S4 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th heart sounds
SAB Systolic arterial blood pressure
SAD Seasonal affective disorder
SARS Severe acute respiratory syndrome
SB Stillbirth; stanford-binet (intelligence) tests
SCAN Suspected child abuse or neglect
SCBU Special care baby unit
SCC Squamous cell carcinoma
SCI Spinal cord injury
SCIDS Severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome
SDAT Senile dementia alzheimer’s type
SERM Selective estrogen receptor modulator (tamoxifen is an example)
SIDS Sudden infant death syndrome
sig.  “Let it be labeled” (directions or medical instructions)
SIRS Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (severe bacteremia)
SLE Systemic lupus erythematosus
SMR Submucous resection of nasal septum
SOAP Subjective (symptoms perceived by the patient) data, objective (exam findings) data, assessment (evaluation of condition), plan (goals for treatment)
SOB Shortness of breath
SOL Space occupying lesion
SPAM Scanning photo-acoustic microscopy
STD Sexually transmitted disease
STI Sexually transmitted infection
STOP Suction termination of pregnancy
STYCAR Sheridan tests for young children and retards
Sub Q Subcutaneous injection
SUD Sudden unexpected death
Sx Symptoms
Sym Symmetrical
Sz Seizure

T – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
T & A Tonsils and adenoids
T1, T2, etc. First thoracic vertebra, second thoracic vertebra, etc.
T3 Triiodothyronine
T4 Thyroxine
TAB Typhoid a and b (vaccines)
TAH Total abdominal hysterectomy
TAH-BSO Total abdominal hysterectomy-bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
TB Tubercle bacillus
TCA Tricyclic antidepressant/to come again
TCI To come in
TFT Thyroid function tests
THA Total hip arthroplasty
THR Total hip replacement
TJR Total joint replacement
TKA Total knee arthroplasty
TKR Total knee replacement
TL Tubal ligation
TLC Tender loving care; total lung capacity
TLE Temporal lobe epilepsy
TMJ Temporomandibular joint
TNM Tumor, nodes, metastases
TOP Termination of pregnancy
TPHA Treponema pallidum haemoglutination
TPN Total parenteral nutrition
TPR Temperature, pulse and respiration
TSH Thyroid-stimulating hormone
TSS Toxic shock syndrome
TSSU Theatre sterile supply unit
TSSU Transurethral resection (of prostate)
TUR Transplant
TX Treatment
Tx Total parenteral nutrition

U – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
U/A, UA Urinalysis
U/O Urine output
UC Ulcerative colitis; urine culture, uterine contractions
UE Upper extremity
UG Urogenital
UGI Upper gastrointestinal
URI Upper respiratory infection
URTI Upper respiratory tract infection
US Ultrasound
UTI Urinary tract infection
UV Ultraviolet
UVR Ultraviolet rays

V – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
V.S.; v.s. Vital signs
VA Visual acuity
VATS Video-assisted thoracoscopy
VC Vital capacity (of lungs)
VCUG Voiding cystourethrography
VD Venereal disease
VDRL Venereal disease reference laboratory
VE Vaginal examination
VEGF Vascular endothelial growth factor
VF Visual field; ventricular fibrillation
Vfib Ventricular fibrillation
VO Verbal order
VSD Ventricular septal defect
VSS Vital signs stable
VT Ventricular tachycardia
VV Varicose veins
Vx Vertex (of fetus)

W – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
WBC White blood cells
WR Wassermann reaction
WDWN Well-developed and well-nourished
WNL Within normal limits


X – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
XR X-ray
XRT Radiation therapy

Y – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
y, yr Year
y/o Years old

Z – Medical abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
Z; oz Ounce


  • Chabner, D. (2018). Medical Terminology: A Short Course (8th ed.). Canada: Elsevier, Inc.
  • Fremgen, B. and Frucht, S. (2016). Medical Terminology: A Living Language (6th ed.). United States: Pearson Education, Inc.
  • Nath, J. and Lindsley, K. (2019). A Short Course in Medical Terminology (4th ed.). China: Wolters Kluwer.
  • Robbins, M. and Wetherfield, J. (1994). Terminology for Medical Administrators. New York: Radcliffe Medical Press Inc.
  • Steiner, S. and Capps, N. (2003). Quick Medical Terminology: A Self-Teaching Guide (5th ed.). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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