Speaking the medical language can help you feel more confident about your treatment and condition. You may have noticed that doctors and nurses have a tendency to speak in rapid-fire jargon, or alternatively gloss over points that they feel are too “medical”. If you want to have a better understanding of what your doctor is saying and the ability to follow up with more detailed questions, then knowing the jargon can take you a long way.
You will also find that this skill is helpful if you decide to research your condition online. Knowing the jargon can help you narrow your search, identify more medically focused, academic papers to read, and it can even help you separate the experts from the non-experts online.
Anti Xa factor – A key mechanism in the clotting process that can be inhibited by a number of anticoagulation medication
Blood clot – When we get a cut or scrape, our blood forms a plug that seals off the wound and gives it a chance to heal. This natural process can become a problem when something triggers a blood clot to form in a vein located deep inside the body.
– A medical term for the clotting process, when blood changes from a liquid form to a thick clot with a gel-like consistency.
CT Scan (Computerised Tomography) – A scan that allows your doctor to see your organs in a 2- dimensional image.
D-dimer blood test – A test that detects the breakdown products of a clot. A negative result means there is no evidence of a thrombus. A positive test requires further investigation.
Deep Vein () – The condition that describes when a blood clot, or thrombus, develops in a deep vein. Deep veins are very important, as they are responsible for transporting the majority of the blood throughout the body and on to the heart and lungs. DVTs are considered dangerous as they can potentially cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be life threatening (See also: Thrombus & ).
Embolus – A piece of thrombus that has broken away from the main clot.
Impedance plethysmography – An ultrasound exam that can be performed on the legs in order to detect formation of a thrombus. It is non- invasive and performed by moving a hand-held device up and down along the legs.
International normalized radio (INR) – A test that indicates how your warfarin prescription is working and whether adjustments are needed. People with normally clotting blood, not receiving any treatment have an INR of approximately 1. The higher the INR- the longer it takes for your blood to clot. The most common INR target range for someone on warfarin treatment is between 2.0 and 3.01
Lung scan or Ventilation Perfusion Scan (VQ scan) – A test used to identify pulmonary embolism (). It allows doctors to examine air and blood flow in the lungs.
Plethysmography – See: Impedance plethysmography.
Post thrombotic syndrome () – A term used to describe the long-term effects that can follow from a . Symptoms may include pain, swelling, itching or tingling, skin discolouration and leg ulcers.
Pulmonary angiogram – An X-ray image of the lung’s blood vessels that is used to detect a pulmonary embolism (). In this procedure, a special contrast dye is injected into blood vessels via the groin or arm. As the dye shows up in X- ray images, it allows practitioners to identify a .
Pulmonary Embolism () – The condition that describes when a piece of a blood clot breaks loose (embolus) and travels from its original location, through the heart and on to the lungs. If it becomes lodged in the blood vessels of the lung, it is called a pulmonary embolism (). A is dangerous and requires immediate emergency attention as it can cut off blood supply to parts of the lung. Call an ambulance or consult a physician immediately if you think you have developed a .
Thrombus – If a blood clot remains stationary instead of dissolving as it should, it is referred to as a “thrombus”.
Venogram – A less-common test that identifies blood clots in the leg by injecting a special dye into a vein on the foot. An X-ray is then used to identify if there is a clot.
Venous thromboembolism () – The formation of blood clots in the vein. When a clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the leg, it is called a deep vein or . If that clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs, it is called a pulmonary embolism or . and are collectively referred to as .