Resources - Health Glossary

Physician Specialties

As specialists, physicians bring more knowledge and expertise to their practices. Central Maine Medical Center has dozens of specialists available to serve the community. Here is a glossary of our Physician Specialties, with a brief description of each.

Click on the specialty below to display the description.

A-D       E-H       I-L       M-N       O-Q       R-T       U-Z


An allergist-immunologist evaluates, diagnoses and treats disorders involving the immune system. Examples include asthma, anaphylaxis, rhinitis, dermatitis, eczema, and reactions to drugs, foods and insect stings. The specialists also handle immune deficiency diseases, problems related to autoimmune disease, organ transplantation, malignancies of the immune system, and management of pulmonary complications involving allergic diseases.

An anesthesiologist is responsible for the pain management of patients during surgery, maintaining their condition during surgery and assisting in their recovery afterward. Anesthesiologists also work with patients with serious chronic pain problems and patients who have critical illnesses or injuries. They also may direct the resuscitation of patients with cardiac or respiratory emergencies.

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Cardiologists specialize in diseases of the heart, lungs and circulatory system. They manage conditions such as abnormal heart rhythms, and they oversee patients who have experienced heart attacks and other cardiac events. They perform diagnostic procedures and also consult with cardiac surgeons.

Cardiovascular Surgery
Cardiac surgeons have extensive training in cardiovascular and thoracic physiology and disease processes. They perform numerous procedures, including specialty operative procedures such as coronary artery bypass, valvular heart disease repair and aortic and mitral valve replacement.

Critical Care Medicine
Critical care specialists manage patients with life-threatening conditions, such as a coma, trauma, heart failure, organ failure and respiratory conditions. Critical care specialists are also trained in internal medicine.

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Emergency Medicine
Emergency medicine physicians provide initial care to patients with acute illnesses or traumatic injuries. They work in the emergency department and also have responsibilities in the pre-hospital setting, in the field with the patient. Emergency specialists are trained to handle a comprehensive range of both physical and psychological conditions.

Endocrinologists provide specialty care for patients with diabetes, thyroid disease, cholesterol disorders, pituitary disease, reproductive disorders, adrenal tumors, hyperparathyroidism, obesity and metabolic bone disorders, including osteoporosis.

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Family Practice
Family physicians, also called primary care physicians (PCPs), are trained to prevent, diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions in patients of all ages. The PCP cares for individuals or families on a continuing basis. Their background includes training in surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics-gynecology, pediatrics and geriatrics.

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Gastroenterologists specialize in treating conditions of the digestive system, including stomach, bowels, liver and gallbladder. They provide diagnostic and therapeutic assistance, and also consult with surgeons when surgery is necessary.

General Surgery
General surgeons handle a broad spectrum of physical conditions. Their training includes congenital, metabolic and infectious conditions. They also work with some cancer patients. General surgeons work closely with specialists, and will refer patients when specialization is required.

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Hematologists treat diseases of the blood, spleen and lymph nodes. They manage conditions such as anemia, sickle cell disease, hemophilia, leukemia and lymphoma. They also perform biopsies and transfusions.

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Infectious Disease
Infectious disease sub-specialists handle infections of all types and in all organs. They assist people with chronic and acute diseases. They also are skilled in preventive medicine.

Internal Medicine
The internist provides patients with long-term comprehensive care. Internists are trained to handle simple and complex illnesses, for patients of all ages. They are considered primary care providers (PCPs), with training in emergency internal medicine and critical care.

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Medical Oncology
Medical oncologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers, as well as benign tumors. They select and administer chemotherapies, and work closely with surgeons and other specialists in caring for patients.

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Neonatologists are physicians who specialize in the care of premature infants and newborns with illnesses. They also provide care for mothers with high-risk pregnancies.

Nephrologists handle kidney conditions, high blood pressure, fluid and mineral balance and dialysis.

Neurologists specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases or impaired functioning of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, muscles and autonomic nerve system, as well as the related blood vessels.

Neurosurgeons treat children and adults with conditions of the spine, brain, skull, pituitary gland and related blood vessels.

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Obstetricians and gynecologists specialize in the medical and surgical care of the female reproductive system and associated disorders. They can also serve as a primary care physician for patients.

Ophthalmologists are the only physicians trained to diagnose and medically treat eye and visual disorders. They give prescriptions, provide surgeries and often serve as consultants to other physicians.

Orthopaedic Surgery
Orthopaedic surgery focuses on the preservation and restoration of the musculoskeletal system. Many orthopaedic surgeons specialize in either a region of the body (such as the hand) or in a particular procedure (such as joint replacement).

Otolaryngologists specialize in treatment of conditions of the ears, neck and throat. This expertise includes head and facial reconstructive and plastic surgery.

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Pathologists diagnose and monitor disease through the microscopic examination of tissue specimens, cells, body fluids and secretions. Their work is essential in making diagnoses, prognoses and establishing treatment plans.

Pediatricians are specialists who treat children from birth to young adulthood. Pediatricians offer a range of services, from preventive care to the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses.

Pediatric Cardiology
Pediatric cardiologists handle the diagnosis and treatment of congenital and acquired heart disease and conditions in children, ranging from newborns to young adults.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Also known as physiatry, physical medicine and rehabilitation focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of people with physical and/or cognitive impairment or disability. Physiatrists work to restore or develop a broad spectrum of functioning for people whose abilities have been limited by disease, trauma, congenital disorder or pain.

Plastic Surgery
Plastic surgeons repair, restore and replace physical defects of form or function. They are skilled in the management of complex wounds, implantable materials and tumors.

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Radiologists use medical imaging systems to diagnose and assist in patient therapies. Tools include X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) and ultra-sound.

Radiation Oncology and Therapeutic Radiology
This branch of radiology deals with the therapeutic applications of radiation for the study and management of disease, especially cancer.

Respiratory Disease
Respiratory disease specialists, also called pulmonologists, treat diseases and disorders of the lungs and airways. This includes diagnosing and treating cancer, pneumonia, asthma, pleurisy, sleep disorders and emphysema, as well as others.

Rheumatologists treat diseases of the joints, muscles, bones and tendons. They handle conditions including arthritis, back pain, muscle strains, athletic injuries and collagen diseases. They often work closely with specialists such as orthopaedic surgeons and physical therapists.

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Thoracic Surgery
Thoracic surgery encompasses the care of patients with conditions occurring in the chest. This includes coronary artery disease, lung cancer, esophageal and tracheal conditions, heart valves and vessels, airway conditions and chest injuries.

Trauma Surgery
Trauma surgeons are focused on rapid evaluation, resuscitation and stabilization of patients with multiple injuries. CMMC has a trauma program in place, to assist surgeons in being as effective as possible.

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Urologists treat benign and malignant medical and surgical disorders of the genitourinary and adrenal system. They handle a wide variety of acquired and congenital conditions of the reproductive and urinary systems.

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Vascular Surgery
Vascular surgeons treat, diagnose and prevent diseases of the arteries, veins and lymphatics. Much of their work is focused on degenerative arterial diseases.

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