Effectively processing medical term queries on the UMLS Metathesaurus by layered dynamic programming

BMC Med Genomics. 2014;7 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S11. doi: 10.1186/1755-8794-7-S1-S11. Epub 2014 May 8.


Background: Mapping medical terms to standardized UMLS concepts is a basic step for leveraging biomedical texts in data management and analysis. However, available methods and tools have major limitations in handling queries over the UMLS Metathesaurus that contain inaccurate query terms, which frequently appear in real world applications.

Methods: To provide a practical solution for this task, we propose a layered dynamic programming mapping (LDPMap) approach, which can efficiently handle these queries. LDPMap uses indexing and two layers of dynamic programming techniques to efficiently map a biomedical term to a UMLS concept.

Results: Our empirical study shows that LDPMap achieves much faster query speeds than LCS. In comparison to the UMLS Metathesaurus Browser and MetaMap, LDPMap is much more effective in querying the UMLS Metathesaurus for inaccurately spelled medical terms, long medical terms, and medical terms with special characters.

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that LDPMap is an efficient and effective method for mapping medical terms to the UMLS Metathesaurus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Data Mining
  • Medical Informatics / methods*
  • Software*
  • Terminology as Topic*
  • Time Factors
  • Unified Medical Language System*