Coping with the variability of medical terms

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2004;107(Pt 1):322-6.


Objectives: To cope with medical terms, which present a high variability of expression through a single natural language, in the sense that any term may be reformulated in hundred of different ways.

Methods: A typology of term variants is presented as a systematic approach in order to favour the implementation of an exhaustive solution. Then, an algorithm able to handle all variants is designed.

Results: Using MetaMap, single terms are analyzed with a success rate varying between 68 and 88 %; the algorithm presented in this paper improves this situation.

Conclusions: This experience shows that a semantic driven method, based on a thesaurus, provides a satisfactory solution to the problem of variability of a single term. The presented typology is representative of most variants in a language.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Natural Language Processing*
  • Semantics
  • Terminology as Topic*
  • Vocabulary, Controlled*