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New Words You May Hear in the Hospital


If you fall off of your bike, or trip on the sidewalk, you may get an abrasion. This means you have scraped off the top layer of skin. Usually, it will bleed a little bit and it may sting for a minute.


Anesthesia is special medicine that doctors and nurses give to make people feel comfortable or sleepy when they have to do things (surgery or stitches, maybe) that might hurt without the medicine.


Doing a biopsy means that a doctor will take a tiny piece of some part of your body (skin, kidney, etc) to examine under a microscope. This helps the doctor learn more about what is happening inside you. Usually, you will get some anesthesia so this will not hurt.

Blood Pressure

To check your blood pressure, a nurse will put a special rubber band around your arm and pump a little air into the band. Your arm gets a little squeeze, or hug. This tells the nurse how hard your heart is working to pump blood through your body.

CT Scan or CAT Scan

Don’t look for a cat when you go for a CT scan. CT stands for computed tomography, so you can see why people prefer to say “Cat” rather than "CT." CT scans are a kind of X-ray that gives doctors a much better picture of what's going on inside the body.  There is more detail than on a regular x-ray.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

Blood is made up of different parts, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Doctors sometimes do blood tests to count how many of each type of blood cell you have. In a complete blood count, the numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in your blood get counted.


Dehydration is a long word meaning dry. It means that there is not enough water in your body. To stay well hydrated, you need to drink lots of water.

EEG (Electroencephalogram)

An EEG shows the doctor what your brain is doing. Brains put out electricity (or brain waves) all the time, even at night. Sometimes the doctor needs to know what that electricity is doing so little stickies will be put on your head and attached to a machine to tell her. Sometimes it looks pretty funny, but it does not hurt.


Short for emergency department, this is the part of the hospital where anyone can go if they suddenly have a big health problem or accident. The University of Rochester Medical Center has a separate one for children with doctors and nurses who know just how to take care of you.


A fever happens when your body gets a warmer than normal on the inside. Something (a germ or virus) is making you sick. Your body tries to get rid of that something by cranking up the heat. So a fever is your body is trying to get better!


Short for intensive care unit, this is a place in the hospital where people go to get better from very serious illnesses, accidents, or operations. Don’t worry, your family can be with you there, too


IV is actually short for intravenous. An IV is a tiny plastic tube (like a really thin straw) put into a vein, usually in your arm. You can get medicine, fluids and/or nutrition through this tube.


Nausea is the feeling you get when you feel like you're going to puke.


An operation is also called surgery, and it's when doctors fix something inside the body to make the person feel better. Sometimes children get to go home the same day as their operation, but sometimes they need to stay at the hospital for a few days.


Your blood contains many tiny cells called platelets. They help your blood clot, which means that if you get a cut, some of your platelets stick together to plug the hole caused by the cut.


This is a long word that just means someone is talking about your lungs.

Red Blood Cells

Red blood cells have the important job of carrying oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.


Did the nurse ask you to pee in a cup? Then you've probably had a urinalysis. Doctors can really tell a lot about you by looking at what might be in your urine!

Veins and Arteries

Your veins and arteries run all over your body carrying your blood to where it needs to go. Arteries, which usually look red, carry blood away from the heart to drop off its oxygen. Veins, which usually look blue, return blood to the heart so it can stock back up.

White Blood Cells

White blood cells are the germ-fighting defenders in your blood. They help your body battle infections so you can feel better faster.


X-rays are special pictures of the inside of your body. They are especially good at helping the doctor see if something is broken. You have to lie or sit very still to have the picture taken, but it does not hurt!