15 Key Terms of Medical Terminologies for Interpreters

By: Salman Saeed Posted on Thu, 14-09-2023

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In this article, we are going to discuss the key terms of medical terminology for Interpreters. Every area has a set of specific terminology specific to that field. To deal specifically in that field, you must be aware of industry-specific terminologies. In the medical field, medical terminologies hold great importance because they deal with human life. Although medical doctors know about these terminologies because it is a part of their education, what about the public? Here the medical interpreters play an important role. Many people from developing countries visit developed countries to get better healthcare facilities. The biggest problem they face is communication barriers. How can they take advantage of the best medical services if they don’t understand the languages? Here, medical interpreters play a pivotal role by providing medical interpretation services to healthcare providers and patients so that they can understand each other perfectly.

Do You Know What Medical Interpreting Is?

To provide better health services to their clients, many doctors comprehend their questions so that they can provide better health services to their patients. For this many language translation companies provide interpreting services to their clients, especially to those that are not good at English proficiency. Medical interpreting is a very complex and specialized work. In this work, interpreters use their skills to mitigate the communication barriers between medical doctors and patients. This job is very critical because the diagnosis of the disease and its treatment depend upon it.

Work of Medical Interpreters

work of medical interpreters

The main objective of a medical interpreter is to mitigate the communication gap between the patients and doctors so that they can detect the disease of the patients correctly and provide the right medication. You must be wondering, what is the role of medical interpreting when a person with limited English proficiency visits a doctor. The interpreter should be proficient in both the source and target language. He/she should be aware of medical terminologies. Each sub-field of medicine, such as rheumatologists and pulmonologists, has its own set of terminologies.

Therefore, to deal with a variety of terminologies, the interpreter should be a subject-matter expert. No doubt, becoming an interpreter in the health industry is very demanding. But on the other hand, they also get emotional satisfaction when they can save the lives of people. The type of interpretation services that people with limited English proficiency are looking for depends upon the size and location of the health care department. For instance, in rural areas, where the financial facilities are limited, and an interpretation is needed in specific languages, here the viable option is to go for over-the-phone interpreting. The large healthcare centers that are required to handle more patients can go for on-site interpreting and video remote interpreting. In some medical care centers, all these interpreting services are available.

15 Key Terms of Medical Terminology 

Medical terminologies are so difficult. Therefore, a layman cannot pronounce and understand them. Doctors sometimes speak such difficult terminologies that the patients have not heard them before, so they confuse them with other terms. Medical interpreters must be familiar with these difficult terminologies and must communicate effectively between patients and doctors. If they don’t, the doctors will not be able to diagnose the disease and the disease can easily become lethal.

There are many medical health conditions that lead to havoc results. The doctor uses a difficult medical term that a patient has not heard before. On the other hand, patients misinterpret it and follow the treatment plan without understanding it. The patient confuses his disease with a similar type of other disease. An interpreter conveys the wrong message to the doctor and the doctor keeps on giving the same treatment to the patient which is not up to the specific disease. To avoid such situations, let’s have a look at key terms of medical terminologies for Interpreters.

Palpitation Vs Palpation

Palpitation is an irregular heartbeat, whereas palpation is the method of doctors to check broken bones from their figures.

Strain, Sprain, Vs Fracture

A strain is the body situation when you get your muscles damaged from overstretching, whereas a sprain is the misallocation of bones. Moreover, a fracture is a broken bone.

Psychosis Vs Psychosis

Sycosis is an ailment that causes inflammation in hair follicles. Psychosis is a totally different disease related to mental health. It is a disease when the patient starts touching and hearing things that don’t exist.

Dementia Vs Alzheimer’s

People often get confused with these two terms. Dementia is related to memory loss, whereas Alzheimer’s deals with cognitive and functional impairment.

Dysphasia Vs Dysphagia

Dysphasia relates to the injury of the brain, with which human beings are unable to communicate. Dysphagia makes a man unable to swallow anything.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Vs Irritated Bowel Syndrome

Inflammatory bowel disease is related to tiredness, bleeding, and ulcers, whereas irritated bowel syndrome is a condition of the digestive system which is not working properly for unknown reasons.

Vein Vs Artery

A vein is a blood vessel that deals with the blood flow when there is a lack of oxygen. Arteries are the tubes that supply blood full of oxygen from the heart to the body.

Hypotension and Hypertension

Hypotension relates to low blood pressure, and it did not cause serious implications. Hypertension refers to high blood pressure and has serious health impacts.

Echocardiogram Vs Electrocardiogram

An echocardiogram is a heart ultrasound. It shows the condition of the heart, and doctors can diagnose clots and tumors with this heart ultrasound. On the other hand, an echocardiogram checks muscle tissue damage, chemical imbalances, and irregularities in the heartbeat.

Perineal Vs Peroneal

The Perineal is the pelvic floor. It can be male or female. The Peroneal is a nerve outside the calf.


It is a term used for the cervical bones of a neck, or it can be a woman’s cervix which is related to the uterus opening.

Vesicle Vs Vesicle

A Vesicle is a type of bubble under the skin. It is filled with fluid. It can be a sac, cyst, vacuole, or blister.

Ilium Vs ILeum

The ILium is a large part of the upper pelvic bone. The ILeum is the part of the small intestine that connects the colon.

Aural Vs Oral

Aural is related to the ears, whereas oral is related to the mouth.

Coronavirus and Covid-19

These two words are being used interchangeably. Coronavirus is a type of virus that looks like spikes on the surface of the virus cell. MERS, SARS, and Covid-19 are a type of Coronavirus.

Importance of Medical Interpreting

Importance of Medical Interpreting

The importance and value of interpreting are well assessed by the number of patients that are seeking proper medical care services. These services can be given by professional medical interpreters. They can not only facilitate communication between doctors and patients, but they can also help in the admission, consultation, and examination of patients. The interpreter helps the doctors and healthcare staff in direct communication in the language that they understand. Apart from interpreting at the backside, they can come into a conversation to ensure that information is disseminated correctly. Thus, they are an integral part of healthcare translation services.

How to Become a Medical Interpreter?

  • If the patient is not dealing with any chronic disease, then first you should keep certain symptoms in mind. For example nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, or constipation. After that, start taking notes. This will help you in relating symptoms with the disease.
  • Secondly, as a medical interpreter, you should learn how the patients describe their pain. For example, throbbing, burning, stabbing, and sharpness. You should repeat these words again and again in the language that the patient understands. After that, you must learn how to interpret the pain on the scale. Don’t panic while asking questions. You will come across many patients that can not describe the pain on a scale. This can be due to cultural intricacies.
  • Be comfortable in saying words like vomiting, urination, peeing, and bowel movements as they are all functions of the body. But do differentiate which words are used for animals and which are used for human beings.
  • Learn about body organs and systems. Many times, you will hear a question from the doctor about whether you have problems with your kidneys, lungs, heart, bladder, or liver.  Apart from these, do learn about different glands of the body like endocrine or endocrine glands. Also, try to learn how to say ducts.
  • You should know other stuff, which is in your body like ovaries, cysts, cartilage, ligaments, bones, muscles, and tendons.
  • Learn the terminologies related to medical devices, for example, MRI, CT scan, X-rays, Pelvic exam, urinalysis, colonoscopy endoscopy, and many more.

Wrapping Up

You can become a proficient medical interpreter if you have a medical background and prior experience in the medical field. Only language proficiency is not enough. Moreover, you should be brave enough to see the lethal disease of patients. Apart from all these qualities, if you have a passion for saving humanity, then you can become a good medical interpreter. Are you ready to take on this challenge of becoming a medical interpreter? If you learn the key terms of medical terminology, then your medical interpreter career pursuit will become easy.