Terminology / Abbreviations / Planes

Terminology / Abbreviations / Planes


Terminology + Abbreviations List

This is a starter pack for you to expand and add to along your career journey of clinical practice. Developing your own terminology and abbreviation list will assist in developing the veterinary clinical language to use when working with your multidisciplinary team (MDT) members.


  • Ax = assessment
  • Rx / Tx = treatment
  • Dx = diagnosis
  • Px = prognosis
  • Mx = management
  • Sx = surgery
  • PMH = past medical history
  • PMC = present medical condition
  • SH = social history
  • DH = drug history
  • Pt = patient
  • CPD = continued professional development
  • AROM = active range of movement
  • PROM = passive range of movement
  • ROM = range of motion
  • LASER = light amplification by stimulation emission radiation
  • PEME = pulsed electromagnetic energy
  • US = ultrasound
  • TENS = transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
  • NMES = neuromuscular electrical stimulation


  • L = left
  • R = right
  • LF = left fore
  • RF = right fore
  • LH = left hind
  • RH = right hind
  • TL = thoracic limb
  • PL = pelvic limb
  • Contralateral = opposite limb (e.g. left fore is contralateral to right fore)
  • Ipsilateral = on the same side (e.g. left fore is ipsilateral to left hind)




Anatomical Planes; refer to the canine body, head and limbs.

It is important to describe structures, their location and appearance accurately, using professional terminology. This is essential for effective communication with your multidisciplinary team (MDT) members, colleagues and to understand the scientific literature you will access for your CPD and career progression.


Median; this is a plane that divides the body into equal left and right halves

Sagittal; this is a plane that lies parallel to the median plane

The biomechanical design of the dog optimises motion forwards in the sagittal plane.

Dorsal; (= frontal) this is perpendicular to both the median and transverse planes, dividing the body or head into dorsal and ventral parts

Transverse; this is a plane which is perpendicular to the long axis of the body or limb

Dorsal Plane
Dorsal Plane dividing the dog's body into dorsal parts above and ventral parts below

Transverse Plane
Transverse Plane


Dorsal / ventral; this denotes to being towards the dorsum or ventrum part of the body or structure

Proximal / distal; for limbs, closer or further away from the canine body

Cranial / caudal; closer to the head or tail

Rostral; (only used when describing the head) relates to towards the nose

Medial / lateral; towards or away from the median plane

Palmar / plantar; surface of forepaw / hindpaw where you find the pads and corresponding surface of the metacarpus / metatarsus. Used instead of caudal aspect.

Superficial (peripheral) / deep; near (outermost / peripheral / surface) or innermost (away from surface) layers when referring to tissue of the body


  • SID = once daily
  • BID = twice daily
  • TID = three times daily
  • QID = four times daily
  • IV = intravenous
  • IM = intramuscular
  • SC / subcut – subcutaneous
  • TPR = temperature, pulse + respiratory rate
  • Pyrexia = raised body temperature
  • Mono = one limb
  • Hemi = 2 limbs on the same side
  • Para = both pelvic limbs
  • Tetra = all 4 limbs
  • Plegia = total loss of muscle function (paralysis)
  • Paresis = altered muscle function (weakness)

Muscle + Motion

  • Concentric muscle contraction = force generated muscle shortens
  • Eccentric muscle contraction = force generated muscle lengthens
  • Isometric muscle contraction = force generated muscle stays the same length
  • Protraction = the limb swings forwards (cranially)
  • Retraction = limb moves caudally (power sweep)
  • Flexion = reducing the angle of the joint, the bones move closer together
  • Extension = increasing the angle of the joint, the bones move further apart
  • Abduction = to take the limb away from the body
  • Adduction = to take the limb towards the body
  • Medial rotation = rotation of the limb along its axis towards the median plane
  • Lateral rotation= rotation of the limb around it's long axis in the direction away from the median plane
  • Pronation of the antebrachium (forearm) = medial rotation so the palmar surface faces ventrally (prone - downwards)
  • Supination of the forearm = lateral rotation of the paw so the palmar surface rotates from the medial position a dorsal position (upwards)
  • Gliding = translation
  • Circumduction = combination of movements where the limb or bone follows a conical path
  • Valgus = deformity where the distal portion deviates laterally
  • Varus = deformity where the distal portion deviates medially
  • Muscle atrophy = diminution of size
  • Muscle hypertrophy = increase in size

Conditions + Surgical Procedures

HD = Hip Dysplasia

ED = Elbow Dysplasia

OA = Osteoarthritis

OCD = Osteo Chondritis Dessicans

UAP = Ununited Anconeal Process

FCP = Fragmented Coronoid Process

SH = Syringohydromyelia

CM - Chiari Malformation

CDRM = Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyeopathy (also known as Degenerative Myelopathy)

IVDD = Intervertebral Disc Disease

LP = Laryngeal Paralysis

DM = Diabetes Mellitus

TPO - Triple Pelvic Osteotomy

TPLO = Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy

TTA = Tibial Tuberosity Advancement

THR = Total Hip Replacement

FHNE = Femoral Head + Neck Excision


Arytenoid Cartilage = one of a pair of triangular shaped cartilages, which form part of the larynx and which the vocal folds (vocal cords) are attached to

Aspiration Pneumonia = a type of lung infection which develops following aspiration (inhalation) of food, liquid or vomit into the lungs

Asymptomatic = producing or showing no symptoms

Atrophy = waste away as a result of degeneration of cells

Cyanosis = bluish tinge of tissues; gums & skin

Denervation = loss of nerve supply

Dyspnoea = difficult or laboured breathing

Iatrogenic = due to the activity of a physician or therapy. For example, an iatrogenic illness is an illness that is caused by a medication or veterinarian

Idiopathic = is a term used when there is no known cause for a disease or process

Phonation = is the production of vocal sound which comes from a complicated system of laryngeal muscles and ligaments

Megaoesophagus = dilation + decreased motility of the oesophagus

Stridor = is an abnormal, high pitched wheezing sound which is produced by turbulent airflow through a partially obstructed airway

As healthcare professionals, communication skills need to be a top priority. The importance of communication in the veterinary healthcare sector can help prevent injuries, increase trust between the therapist and the dog / owner, as well as strengthen relationships with other MDT members.

This Bitesize Canine Resource Library was produced for you and is owned by K9HS Courses