Interoperability of Disease Concepts in Clinical and Research Ontologies: Contrasting Coverage and Structure in the Disease Ontology and SNOMED CT

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2017;245:925-929.


Objectives: To contrast the coverage of diseases between the Disease Ontology (DO) and SNOMED CT, and to compare the hierarchical structure of the two ontologies.

Methods: We establish a reference list of mappings. We characterize unmapped concepts in DO semantically and structurally. Finally, we compare the hierarchical structure between the two ontologies.

Results: Overall, 4478 (65%) the 6931 DO concepts are mapped to SNOMED CT. The cancer and neoplasm subtrees of DO account for many of the unmapped concepts. The most frequent differentiae in unmapped concepts include morphology (for cancers and neoplasms), specific subtypes (for rare genetic disorders), and anatomical subtypes. Unmapped concepts usually form subtrees, and less often correspond to isolated leaves or intermediary concepts.

Conclusion: This detailed analysis of the gaps in coverage and structural differences between DO and SNOMED CT contributes to the interoperability between these two ontologies and will guide further validation of the mapping.

Keywords: Biological Ontologies; Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine; Unified Medical Language System.

MeSH terms

  • Health Information Interoperability*
  • Humans
  • Research
  • Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine*
  • Terminology as Topic