Proposing New RadLex Terms by Analyzing Free-Text Mammography Reports

J Digit Imaging. 2018 Oct;31(5):596-603. doi: 10.1007/s10278-018-0064-0.


After years of development, the RadLex terminology contains a large set of controlled terms for the radiology domain, but gaps still exist. We developed a data-driven approach to discover new terms for RadLex by mining a large corpus of radiology reports using natural language processing (NLP) methods. Our system, developed for mammography, discovers new candidate terms by analyzing noun phrases in free-text reports to extend the mammography part of RadLex. Our NLP system extracts noun phrases from free-text mammography reports and classifies these noun phrases as "Has Candidate RadLex Term" or "Does Not Have Candidate RadLex Term." We tested the performance of our algorithm using 100 free-text mammography reports. An expert radiologist determined the true positive and true negative RadLex candidate terms. We calculated precision/positive predictive value and recall/sensitivity metrics to judge the system's performance. Finally, to identify new candidate terms for enhancing RadLex, we applied our NLP method to 270,540 free-text mammography reports obtained from three academic institutions. Our method demonstrated precision/positive predictive value of 0.77 (159/206 terms) and a recall/sensitivity of 0.94 (159/170 terms). The overall accuracy of the system is 0.80 (235/293 terms). When we ran our system on the set of 270,540 reports, it found 31,800 unique noun phrases that are potential candidates for RadLex. Our data-driven approach to mining radiology reports can identify new candidate terms for expanding the breast imaging lexicon portion of RadLex and may be a useful approach for discovering new candidate terms from other radiology domains.

Keywords: Breast imaging; Informatics; Mammography; Natural language processing; Ontology; RadLex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography / classification*
  • Natural Language Processing*
  • Radiology Information Systems / classification*
  • Research Report
  • Vocabulary, Controlled*