Avian Medical Terms (Avian Health & Diseases) by Jeannine Miesle

Main Article: Avian Medical Terms / Health & Diseases by Jeannine Miesle, MA, Allied Member, Association of Avian Veterinarians

Terms:   Directional TermsRegions of the bodyPrefixes & SufficesMuscle Movement … Number ValuesAbbreviations … Organizations  … Commonly Used Medical Terms

Relevant Images:  Relevant Avian Anatomy Image Gallery (NOTE: Some of the images / illustrations on this and linked pages may be too graphic for young audiences. We recommend parental supervision and approval.)

Directional terms

Aborad: away from mouth of organ

Anterior: toward the front, in front of another body part, towards the head; part closest to the head.

Bilateral: both sides

Caudal: toward back end, tail or rear, opposite of cranial, back of an organ

Cephalic: head area Contralateral: located or acting in conjunction with similar parts on opposite side of body

Cranial/Anterior: toward north wall or head

Deep: away from surface, internal

Distal: far from point of attachment, as a bone; farthest away from center of body or organ; point of origin or attachment, as a limb or bone

Dorsal: toward ceiling or back of body Inferior: lowermost, below or toward Ipsilateral/contralateral: situated on the same side/opposite side of the body

Lateral: away from midline of body or body part

Medial: toward midline of body or body part

Orad: toward the mouth

Posterior/posteriad: toward the rear of body or body part

Proximal: nearest the midline or beginning of a structure; closest to the center of the body or organ, or toward the point of origin or attachment, as a limb or bone; nearer to the point of reference

Rostral, toward the front of the head or organ

Rostral-caudal; x-ray taken from below the beak

Superficial: near the surface

Superior/external: near the surface

Ventral: toward floor or belly

Ventral-dorsal: bird on back / Dorsal-ventral: bird on breast

Regions of the body

Carpal: the wrist area

Crown: area behind the forehead to the occipital region

Crural: the leg area, as in crural feathering

Dorsum: the back or entire dorsal surface of the body

Flank/Side: lateral area posterior to side of body; extends back to the base of the tail

Forehead/frontal region: area above the cere to the crown

Inguinal: lowest lateral regions of the abdomen

Jugal area: cheek area

Jugulum: ventral, midline region of throat

Nape/upper hindneck/nuchal region: dorsal surface of the neck, from the base of the skull to the thoracic vertebrae.

Occipital: the area where the spinal column meets the base of the skull at the nape

Occiput: hindhead; back portion of bird’s crown; elongated feathers

Orbital: the eye sockets

Pilium: entire top of the head, the forehead, crown and occipital regions

Pectoral: the ventral chest and breast regions between the sternum and the shoulder

Prolateral: side area by neck; projecting from or on the side facing forward

Proventer region: above vent

Sacral: the region between the crests of the pelvis; the fused bones of the synsacrum

Rump/uropygial area/lower back: the region that overlies the pelvic bones, between the flanks and above the tail

Combining Forms for Organs

Skeletal system:

  • Bones: osteo, osse, ossi
  • Joints: arthro
  • Cartilage: chondro
  • Bone Marrow: myelo

Muscular System

  • Muscles: myo
  • Fascia: fasci, fascio
  • Tendons: teno, tendo, tenino

Cardiovascular system

  • Heart: cardio
  • Arteries: arterio
  • Vein: veno, phlebo
  • Blood: hemo, hemato

Lymphatic & Immune Systems

  • Lymph Vessels, fluid, nodes: lympho
  • Tonsils: tonsillo
  • Spleen: spleno
  • Thymus: thymo

Respiratory System

  • Nose/nares: naso, rhino
  • Pharynx: pharyngo
  • Trachea: tracho
  • Larynx: laryngo
  • Lungs: pneumo,pneumono

Digestive System:

  • Mandible: gnatho
  • Mouth: oro, stomato
  • Esophagus: esophago
  • Stomach: gastro
  • Small intestine: entero
  • Large intestine: colo, colono
  • Liver: heap, hepato
  • Pancreas: pancreato

Urinary system

  • Kidneys: hema, reno, nephro
  • Ureters: ureto
  • Urinary bladder: cysto
  • Urethra: urethra
  • Urine: urino, uro

Nervous System/Senses

  • Nerves: neuro, neuri
  • Brain: encephalo
  • Spinal cord: myelo
  • Eyes: opthalmo, oculo, opto, opti
  • Sight: optico
  • Ears: otic, oto, auri, auro, audito, audi
  • External Ear/sound: acousto, acouso

Integumentary System

  • Skin: dermato, dermo, cutaneo

Endocrine system

  • Adeno: gland
  • Adrenals: adreno
  • Gonads: gonado
  • Pineal: pineal
  • Pituitary: pituito
  • Thyroid: thyroid, thyro

Reproductive system:

  • Testes: orcho, orchio, orchid, testiculo
  • Ovaries: ovary, oophor
  • Uterus: hysteron, metro, metri, metrio, utero

Muscle movement

Adduction: toward the midline

Abduction: away from midline

Extension: straightening a joint, increase angle between two bones

Flexion: closure of joint angle or reduction of the angle between two bones

Hyperflexion/hyperextension: flexed or extended too far

Supination: rotating limb/body part so that the palmar surface is turned upward: e.g., upward cupped hand 

Pronation: rotating limb or body part so that palmar surface is turned downward

Number Values

1: uni, mono

2: duo, bi, dyo 

3: tri

4: quadic, quadro, tetr, tetra

5: quinqu, quint, pent, penta

6: sex, hex, hexa

7: sept, septi, hept, hepta

8: octo, oct, octa

9: novem, nonus, ennea

10: deca, decem, dek, deka


ac: before meals (ante cibum)

ad lib: as much as desired (ad libitum)

ANS: autonomic nervous system

bid: twice daily (bis in die)

cal: calorie

cap: capsule

cc: cubic centimeter (same as mL)

cm: centimeter

CNS: central nervous system

ED: effective dose

g: gram

gal: gallon

GI: gastrointestinal

hr: hour

ID: intradermal

IM: intramuscular

IU: International unit

IU/L: international units per liter

IV: intravenous

kg: kilogram

LOC: level of consciousness

mg: milligram

m: meter

MED: minimal effective dose

mg: milligram

mm: millimeter

NPO: nothing by mouth (non per os)

NSAID: nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug

OTC: over the counter

oz: ounce

pc: after meals (post cibumP)

PD: polydipsia

pH: acidity and alkalinity measurement

PM: postmortem

PNS: peripheral nervous system

PO/po: orally (per os)

P r n: as needed

PU: polyuria

q: every

qd: every day

qh: every hour

q4h: every 4 hours

qid: four times daily (quarter in die)

qn: every night

qod/eod: every other day

qp: as much as desired

qt: quart

RBC: red blood cell

sid: once daily (q24h is more common for once daily

sig: let it be written as (used when writing prescriptions)

soln: solution

SQ/SC: subcutaneous

T: tablespoon/ tablet/ temperature

tid: three times daily (ter in die)

tsp: teaspoon

vol: volume

WBC: white blood cell


AAV: Association of Avian Veterinarians

ABA: American Birding Assn.

ABC: American Bird Conservancy

AOU: Amer. Ornithologists’ Union

NAS: Nat’l Audubon Society

WWF: World Wildlife Fund.html

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