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Golisano Children's Hospital / Pediatric Critical Care / Glossary - Medical Terms

Glossary of Medical Terms

During your child’s stay, you will hear many words that may be new to you. To help you understand more about your child’s treatment some of these words are defined below.

Ambu Bag: A soft plastic bag that pushes oxygen into the child’s lungs. The use of an ambu bag to help the child breathe is called “bagging.”

Apnea: A condition in which the patient stops breathing for a short time.

Arterial Line (art line): A small catheter that is placed in an artery to withdraw blood samples and monitor blood pressure.

Blood Gas: A blood test that measures the amount of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and acid in a child’s blood. This helps determine if the child is breathing adequately.

Bradycardia: A slowing of the heart rate.

Chest Physiotherapy (CPT): A technique used to loosen secretions in a child’s lungs so they can be easily coughed up or suctioned out. The nurse will tap on the child’s chest and back with a plastic mask; this creates a loud clapping sound but does not hurt the child.

Culture: A small sample of blood, urine or lung secretions sent to the lab to check for the presence or absence of infection.

Electrocardiogram (EKG): A tracing of electrical activity of the heart. This is obtained by placing several leads (stickers) on a child’s chest.

Electrolytes: Salts and minerals in the blood. A blood test determines which of these need to be replaced or added to a child’s IV fluids.

Endotracheal Tube (ET Tube): A tube that passes through the mouth into the windpipe to aid a child’s breathing. This tube is attached to a ventilator that helps breathe for the child.

Extubation: When an ET tube is taken out of the windpipe.

Intubation: When an ET tube is put into the windpipe.

Intake and Output (I and O): The staff measures all of the fluid a child receives by mouth or vein (input). Urination, stool and/or other output is also measured (output). This helps determine how much fluid or medication a child needs.

Intravenous (IV): A method to deliver fluid and medications to a child through a catheter inserted into a vein.

Mediastinal Tube (MT): A hollow tube inserted through the chest cavity and in to the space around the heart and lungs (pleural space) to remove air and/or fluid in the pleural space. It is attached to a water-seal chest drainage device. It is commonly used after cardiac surgery.

Nasogastric Tube (NG): A small plastic tube that is passed through a child’s nose into their stomach. It may be used to empty a child’s stomach to prevent vomiting. It is also used to feed a child breast milk or formula if they are unable to eat.

NPO: Means a child is not allowed to eat or drink anything at this time.

Oximeter: A device that measures oxygen in a child’s blood. Also known as an “O2 sat.”

Oxygen: The concentration of oxygen in the normal air is 21%. Children who are ill may need to breathe extra oxygen.

Sepsis: An infection in a child’s bloodstream that requires treatment with antibiotics.

Suction: A method requiring a small plastic tube to remove mucus from a child’s nose, mouth, or ET tube.

Tachycardia: Heart rate that is faster than normal.