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GIORGIA DE ZEN

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OB/GYN: how to translate a GYN and/or OB report without getting lost among acronyms?

08-03-2024 06:00

Giorgia De Zen

Translatio, Medical translation, Medical reports, translator, medicaltranslation, englishmedicaltranslator,

OB/GYN: how to translate a GYN and/or OB report without getting lost among acronyms?

Today I'll tell you how I deal with some of the acronyms that appear more often in Gynecology and Obstetrics.

 

 

 

In medical reports we can often see whole sentences with more acronyms than words, almost becoming incomprehensible to non-experts, especially in OB/GYN

 

 

 

Translating medical reports is always an adventure. Here are some of the challenges I face on a daily basis:

  • Handwritten text
  • Elliptical sentences
  • Follow-ups for which the reference report is missing
  • Typos and/or dictation errors
  • Acronyms

Today I'll tell to you how I deal with some of the acronyms that appear most often in Gynecology and Obstetrics.

Medical-healthcare translation

Medical translation plays a crucial role in ensuring accurate and understandable communication between health professionals and patients of different languages and cultures. Medicla reports are certainly among the most delicate documents to translate, as they provide information on the health status of a patient. Translating medical reports requires not only linguistic competence , but also a solid understanding of medical and scientific concepts.

 

In addition to the intrinsic complexity and delicacy of the subject, acronyms are widely used to indicate not only procedures, medications, protocols, but also parts of the body and medical conditions, so much so that they sometimes are incomprehensible to non-experts .

 

Writing “concise” reports is easier with certain specialties, but much depends also on the physician's habits. Obstetrics and gynecology is certainly one of the branches in which I most often deal with this kind of translation challenges.

How to translate acronyms in OB/GYN

Using acronyms is very common among specialists when they write a report, because it saves up valuable time and allows colleagues and primary health care providers to immediately have an overview of the situation without getting lost in long and verbose texts.

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In obstetrics and gynecology, for example, acronyms such as HPV (Human Papillomavirus) and IUD (Intrauterine Device) are widely used. These acronyms are quite well known to most people, certainly to that half of the world's population who more or less regularly visits a GYN clinic.

However, Italian gynecologists often write entire sentences with more acronyms than words, as in this example:

 

V: UM 5 febbraio 2024. R: regolare. PARA 2002, 1 PS, 1 TC.
ECO TV: CU regolare, collo regolare, ca liberi.

 

Let's try to decipher it together.

 

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  1. V (visita) means evaluation. At this point the physician writes what the patient shares before having the ECO TV (ecografia transvaginale), i.e. transvaginal ultrasound or TV U/S.
    UM (ultima mestruazione) is the date of the last menstrual period, namely LMP. It is useful to the physician to understand if the menstrual cycle is regular and which phase it should be in.
  2. R stands for regularity , so how often the patient has her menstrual cycle.
  3. PARA 2002: even if it sounds Spanish, it is a fundamental acronym which is always followed by four digits. P is the number of full-term pregnancies, the first A indicates the number of pre-term births, R indicates the total number of abortions (spontaneous or voluntary), the second A the number of live births. So in this case 2002 stands for 2 full-term pregnancies and both babies were born alive. In English there is a very similar acronym, namely TPAL [term births, Preterm births, Abortions, Living children].
  4. 1 PS, 1 TC: if the patient has actually had children, it is rather common that parity is followed by the type of birth. In the example, the woman had a spontaneous vaginal delivery and a Cesarean section .

Well, we have reached the end of the first sentence: as you can see, using acronyms is much more convenient and effective!

We have already explained what ECO TV is, now let's see what the gynecologist has found:

  1. CU regolare : it stands for corpus uteri or uterine body, in other words the uterus. Regular is often used in Italian as a synonym for “normal”.
  2. Collo regolare: it literally means “neck” because that was the meaning in Latin, but in fact it is the uterine cervix. Here, too, no abnormalities detected [NAD].
  3. CA liberi : CA stands for “campi annessiali” and it refers to the adnexal regions or adnexa. "Liberi" means they are “free” from abnormal findings, so, again, NAD. They include ovaries, Fallopian tubes (the salpinges) and uterine ligaments.
     

Are acronyms also used in English?

Of course they are, the important thing is to know how to carry out accurate research using reliable sources for a correct rendition.

 

Here is a possible translation of the Italian sentence 

 

Evaluation: LMP 5 February 2024. R: regular. TPAL 2002, 1 SVD, 1 C-sec.
TV U/S: unremarkable cervix, uterus, and adnexa.
 

The same also applies to Obstetrics

Translating obstetrics reports requires attention to acronyms as well.

 

In an Italian report, it is important to pay attention to the "mixed" acronyms. E.g., when reading the measurements of the fetus, you may see acronyms both in Italian and English, for example CC [circonferenza cranio] indicates the head circumference, while FL the femur length

 

Again, if during a pregnancy check-up the midwife writes " BCF e MAF presenti", it means that she has found a battito cardiaco fetale and movimenti fetali attivi, in other words the fetus is alive and moving. In English they are FHR [Fetal Heart Rate] and FM [Fetal Movements]. Generalized Fetal Movements is also used, but is less common.

 

Identifying  the acronym source language is also part of my job...

 

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In conclusion

Medical translation is a challenging profession that requires a combination of language skills, scientific knowledge and the ability of carrying out accurate research.


In OB/GYN, translating accurately is particularly critical given the sensitivity and importance of the contents and the frequent use of acronyms.


Investing time and energy in research is essential not only to provide high-quality translations that respect ethical and professional standards, but also to contribute to the health and well-being of those patients who decide to rely on a specialized translator.

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I am a conference interpreter and professional translator.


I work with Italian, English, Spanish and Dutch.


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