Glossary of WW2 US Surgical Terms & Abbreviations

Temporary Field Hospital set up in Italy, February 1944

This article has been compiled to give a glossary and explanation to some of the abbreviations in use by the US Medical Department during WW2, and also offer an explanation as to some of the surgical terms in use during WW2. All spellings and definitions appear here as they did at the time.

This list is by no means a complete one, and it is the intention that it will receive regular updates, as and when new definitions or abbreviations can be found. If there are any abbreviations with “??” characters in the description column, this means that the definition is either unknown or unsure. We would welcome any help in identifying missing or incomplete descriptions. Please send an email to info@med-dept.com, including the term / abbreviation, and an explanation if you wish to contribute to this section of the site.

Medical Abbreviations

General Glossary of Medical-related Abbreviations:

A.M.L. Army Medical Library
A.S.O. Air Surgeon’s Office
A.S.T.P. Army Specialized Training Program
C.D.D. Certificate of Disability for Discharge
CMedOff Chief Medical Officer
CSurg Chief Surgeon
D.D.M.S. Deputy Director Medical Services
D.M.S. Director Medical Services
D/S Disposition Slip
E.M.S. Emergency Medical Service
E.M.T. Emergency Medical Tag
E.P.T. Emergency Prophylactic Treatment
E.T.M.D. Essential Technical Medical Data
E.V.T. Emergency Veterinary Tag
F.U.O. Fever of Undetermined Origin
H.D. Historical Division, Office of The Surgeon General
H.U. Holding Unit
M.A.C. Medical Administrative Corps
M.C. Medical Corps
M.C.D. Malaria Control Detachment
M.C.U. Malaria Control Unit
M.D. Medical Department
MedGasTr Medical Gas Treatment Battalion
M.F.S.S. Medical Field Service School
M.H.S.P. Medical Hospital Ship Platoon
M.I.S.P. Medical Intransit Storage Point
M.M.U. Medical Maintenance Unit
M.O.O.B. Mobilization & Overseas Operations Branch, Office of The Surgeon General
M.O.O.D. Mobilization & Overseas Operations Division, Office of The Surgeon General
M.R.O. Medical Regulating Officer
M.R.S. Medical Routing Slip
M.R.U. Medical Regulating Unit
M.S.O. Medical Supply Officer
M.S.U. Malaria Survey Unit
OofCSurg Office of The Chief Surgeon
O.S.G. Office of The Surgeon General
R&R SHEET Routing & Record Sheet
S.G. The Surgeon General
S.G.O. The Surgeon General’s Office
S/S Summary Sheet
T.A.S. The Air Surgeon, The Air Surgeon’s Historical Division
T/S Transmittal Sheet
T.S.G. The Surgeon General
V.D. Venereal Disease
W.R.G.H. Walter Reed General Hospital

Official Abbreviations used in the EMT (Emergency Medical Tags):

C W Contused Wound
E W Extensive Wound
F C Fracture Compound
F C C  Fracture Compound Comminuted
F S Fracture Simple
F U O Fever of Undetermined Origin
G S W Gun-Shot Wound
I W Incised Wound
K I A Killed In Action
L W Lacerated Wound
M W Multiple Wounds
N Y D Not Yet Diagnosed
Pen W Penetrating Wound
Perf  W Perforating Wound
Pun W Punctured Wound
S Slight
S V Severe
W I A Wounded In Action

Official Abbreviations used in the Medical Supply Catalogs:

AC Alternating Current
A.C.M.I. American Cystoscope Makers Incorporated
A.C.S. American Chemical Society
A.G.O. The Adjutant General’s Office
A.M.C. Army Medical Center
A.M.S. Army Medical School
amp ampere(s)
A.P.H.A. American Public Health Association
A.R. Army Regulation(s)
As req’d As Required
B&S Brown and Sharpe
B.I.S. Blue Island Specialty Company
bp Boiling Point
B.T.U. British Thermal Unit
C Centigrade
cc Cubic Centimeter
cm Centimeter
Co. Company
ComZ Communications Zone
con Concentrated
cu ft Cubic Feet
C.W.S. Chemical Warfare Service
CZ Communications Zone
d Penny
DC Direct Current
diam Diameter
dil Dilute
dwt Pennyweight
E.E.N.T. Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat
E.N.T. Ear, Nose and Throat
F Fahrenheit
FM Field Manual
Fr French Scale
ft Foot
gal Gallon
gals Gallons
Gm Gram(s)
gr Grain(s)
Hypo Hypodermic
lb Pound
LS Limited Standard
M Model
M-1 Model 1 (i.e. first accepted)
M-(date) Model (with indication of date)
ma Milliampere(s)
mg Milligram(s)
mm Millimeter(s)
mp Melting Point
N.F. National Formulary
N.N.R. New and Nonofficial Remedies
No. Number
N.P.N. Nonprotein Nitrogen  
od Olive Drab
O.Q.M.G. Office of The Quartermaster General
oz Ounce
par Paragraph
pH Hydrogen Concentration
pkg Package
P.S.P. Phenolsulphonphthalein Test
pt Pint
QM Quartermaster
qs Quantity Sufficient
qt Quart
rpm Revolutions Per Minute
S Standard
SvC Service Command
Sig C Signal Corps
SS Substitute Standard
S.S.W. S. S. White Company
T/E Tables of Equipment
TM Technical Manual
T/O Tables of Organization
T/O & E Tables of Organization and Equipment
TofOpn s Theater of Operations
U.S.P. United States Pharmacopoeia
W.D. War Department
X Magnifying Power
yd Yard
ZI Zone of Interior (i.e. continental United States)

Medical Terms

Echelons of Medical Field Service:

First Echelon (organic or attached); medical service provided by attached medical personnel, collectively known as the Medical Detachment, furnished to every unit of the size of a Battalion or larger, of every arm and service (except Medical).

Second Echelon (Division); medical service consisting of collecting casualties from the dispensaries or Aid Stations operated by the first echelon, rendering emergency treatment in Collecting Stations and evacuating the patients to one or more Clearing Stations for further emergency treatment.

Third Echelon (Army); consists of evacuating casualties from Clearing  Stations to Army Hospitals and there providing definitive treatment, this is a function of an Army.

Fourth Echelon (Communications Zone); comprises the transfer of evacuees from Army Hospitals to and their hospitalization at the numbered General Hospitals of the Communications Zone, it is a function of the Medical Service of the Communication Zone (ComZ).

Fifth Echelon (Zone of Interior); comprises further evacuation of casualties to the Zone of the Interior and their care and further treatment in named General Hospitals, this service is a function of the Zone of Interior (ZI).

A:

ABDUCTION: movement away from a median line
ABRASION: rubbing or scraping of skin or mucous membrane
ABSCESS: localized collection of pus
ADDUCTION: movement toward a median line
ADENECTOMY: surgical removal of a gland
ADENOMA: benign epithelial tumor with glandlike structure
ADHESION: abnormal joining of parts to each other
ADIPOSE: fatty
AEROBIC: micro-orhanism which can live in the presence of free oxygen
ALBUMINURIA: presence of albumin in the urine
ANAEROBIC: micro-organism which cannot live in the presence of free oxygen
ANALGESIA: absence of sensitivity to pain
ANAPHYLAXIS: unusual or exaggerated reaction of an organism to foreign protein or other substances
ANASARCA: accumulation of serum in cellular tissues of the body
ANASTOMOSIS: communication between two vessels
ANEURYSM: sac formed by dilation of the walls of an artery or vein and filled with blood
ANOMALY: marked deviation from normal standard
ANOXEMIA: deficiency in the oxygen content of blood
APHAGIA: loss of the power of swallowing
APPENDECTOMY: surgical removal of the appendix
ARRHYTMIA: variation from the normal rhythm of the heart beat
ARTHRODESIS: surgical fixation of a joint by fusion of the joint surfaces
ARTHROLYSIS: operative loosening of adhesions in a joint
ARTHROPLASTY: plastic surgery of a joint
ARTHROTOMY: surgical incision of a joint
ASEPSIS: absence of septic matter or free from infection
ATELECTASIS: partial collapse of the lung
ATROPHY: wasting away or diminution in size of a cell, tissue, organ, or part
AXILLA: armpit

B:

BRADYCARDIA: abnormal slowness of heart beat
BRONCHOSCOPY: examination of the bronchi through a bronchoscope

C:

CALCULUS: abnormal concretion occurring within the body and usually composed of mineral salts > stone
CATARACT: opacity of the crystalline lens or of the capsule
CHOLECYST: gallbladder
CHOLECYSTECTOMY: surgical removal of the gallbladder
CHOLECYSTITIS: inflammation of the gallbladder
CHOLECYSTODUODENOSTOMY: surgical formation of an anastomosis between gallbladder and duodenum
CHOLECYSTOSTOMY: surgical incision into the gallbladder with drainage
CHOLEDOCHOSTOMY: surgical formation of an opening into the common bile duct
CIRCUMCISION: removal of all or part of the prepuce
COLECTOMY: excision of a portion of the colon or of the whole colon
COLLES FRACTURE: fracture of the lower end of the radius in which the lower fragment is displaced posteriorly
COLOSTOMY: formation of an artificial opening into the colon
CRANIOPLASTY: plastic operation on the skull
CRANIOTOMY: surgical incision into the cranium
CYST: any sac, normal or other, containing a liquid or a semisolid
CYSTOCELE: hernial protrusion of the urinal bladder
CYSTOLITH: bladder calculus
CYSTOMA: cystic tumor
CYSTORRAPHY: operation of suturing the bladder
CYSTOSCOPY: examination of the bladder with a cystoscope
CYSTOTOMY: surgical incision into the bladder

D:

DUCT: tube for passage of secretions and excretions

E:

ECCHYMOSIS: discoloration of the skin
EDEMA: collection of fluid in the tissues
EMBOLECTOMY: surgical removal of an embolus
EMPYEMA: accumulation of pus in a cavity of the body, especially the chest
ENTERECTOMY: excision of a part of the intestine
ENUCLEATION (of the Eye): surgical removal of the eye
ERYTHEMA: redness of the skin due to a congestion of the capillaries
ESCHAROTIC: corrosive

F:

FIRST INTENTION: healing without granulation
FISSURE: cleft or groove
FISTULECTOMY: surgical excision of a fistula
FURUNCLE: boil

G:

GASTRECTOMY: removal of the whole or part of the stomach
GASTROENTEROSTOMY: creation of an artificial passage between stomach and intestines
GASTRITIS: inflammation of the stomach
GASTRORRHAPHY: repair of a wound of the stomach
GASTROTOMY: incision into the stomach

H:

HEMORRHOIDECTOMY: surgical removal of hemorrhoids
HERNIORRHAPHY: surgical repair of a hernia
HORDEOLUM: sty
HYSTERECTOMY: surgical removal of uterus

I:

ICTERUS: jaundice
INDURATION: process of becoming hard
INFARCT: area of coagulation necrosis in a tissue, due to lack of blood supply to a part
ISOTONIC: of the same concentration or tension of the blood

L:

LACERATION: wound made by tearing
LAMINECTOMY: removal of the posterior arch of a vertebra
LAPAROTOMY: surgical incision into the abdominal cavity
LOBECTOMY: removal of a lobe

M:

MASTROIDECTOMY: excision of the mastoid cells
METASTASIS: transfer of disease from one organ or part to another, not directly connected with it
MYOMA: muscle tumor

N:

NEPHRECTOMY: removal of the kidney
NEPHROLITH: kidney stone
NEPHROPEXY: surgical suspension of the kidney
NEPHRORRHAPHY: surgical repair of the kidney
NEPHROTOMY: incision into the kidney
NEURECTOMY: excision of part of a nerve
NEUROLYSIS: relieving a nerve from adhesions
NEUROMA: nerve tumor
NEUROPLASTY: plastic surgery of a nerve
NEUROTOMY: incision into a nerve
NONPATHOGENIC: non-disease producing

O:

OCCLUSION: state of being closed
OSTEOPLASTY: plastic surgery of the bones
OTOLITH: ear stone

P:

PARENTERAL: not through the alimentary canal
PATHOGENIC: disease-producing
PHLEBECTOMY: excision of a vein or part of a vein
PHLEBOTOMY: incision into a vein
PHRENICOTOMY: surgical division of the phrenic nerve
PNEUMONECTOMY: excision of lung tissue
PRECORDIAL: pertaining to the region of the heart or stomach
PROGNOSIS: forecast
PROCTOPLASTY: plastic surgery of rectum and anus
PROSTATECTOMY: surgical removal of the prostate
PTOSIS: prolapse of an organ or part
PURULENT: consisting of or containing pus
PYOGENIC: caused by or due to fever

R:

RESECTION: excision of a considerable portion of an organ

S:

SAPHENOUS LIGATION: ligation of the saphenous vein
SPLENECTOMY: excision of the spleen
STENOSIS: narrowing or stricture of a duct or canal
STERILE: free from micro-organisms
STRICTURE: abnormal narrowing of a duct or canal
SUPPURATION: formation of pus
SYNOVECTOMY: excision of synovial membrane

T:

TACHYCARDIA: excessive rapidity in the action of the heart
TENDOPLASTY: plastic surgery of the tendons
TENORRHAPHY: surgical repair of the tendons
TENOSYNOVITIS: inflammation of tendon sheaths
TENOTOMY: incision into a tendon
THORACENTESIS: surgical puncture or tapping of the chest wall
THORACOPLASTY: plastic surgery of the thorax
THORACOTOMY: surgical incision of the chest wall
THYROIDECTOMY: surgical removal of the thyroid
TOPICAL: pertaining to a particular area
TONSILLECTOMY: surgical removal of the tonsils
TRACHEOTOMY:
incision into the trachea

U:

URETEROLITHOTOMY: removal of calculus from the ureter
URETEROLYSIS:
rupture of the ureter

V:

VESICLE: small blister or sac containing liquid
VISCERA: large organs contained within the abdominal cavity   

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