Medical Definition of Capsule

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Capsule: Capsule has many meanings in medicine including the following:

  1. In medicine, a membranous structure that envelops an organ, a joint, tumor, or any other part of the body. It is usually made up of dense collagen-containing connective tissue.
  2. In pharmacy, a solid dosage form in which the drug is enclosed in a hard or soft soluble container, usually of a form of gelatin.
  3. In microbiology, a coat around a microbe, such as a bacterium or fungus.

Derived from the diminutive of the Latin word "capsa" meaning "box", a capsule is literally "a little box" and can refer to any encompassing structure or small container.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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