You are on page 1of 4

Unified Medical Language System

The UMLS, or Unified Medical Language System, is a set of files and software that brings together many health and biomedical vocabularies and standards to enable interoperability between computer systems. You can use the UMLS to enhance or develop applications, such as electronic health records, classification tools, dictionaries and language translators. Purpose The purpose of NLM s Unified Medical Language System !UMLS "# is to facilitate the development of computer systems that behave as if they $understand$ the meaning of the language of biomedicine and health. To that end, NLM produces and distributes the UMLS %nowledge Sources !databases# and associated software tools !programs# for use by system developers in building or enhancing electronic information systems that create, process, retrieve, integrate, and&or aggregate biomedical and health data and information, as well as in informatics research. 'y design, the UMLS %nowledge Sources are multi(purpose. They are not optimi)ed for particular applications, but can be applied in systems that perform a range of functions involving one or more types of information, e.g., patient records, scientific literature, guidelines, public health data. The associated UMLS software tools assist developers in customi)ing or using the UMLS %nowledge Sources for particular purposes. The le*ical tools wor+ more effectively in combination with the UMLS %nowledge Sources, but can also be used independently. UMLS Knowledge Sources and Software Tools There are three UMLS %nowledge Sources, the Metathesaurus", the Semantic Networ+, and the S-./01L0ST Le*icon. They are distributed with fle*ible le*ical tools and the MetamorphoSys install and customi)ation program. The Metathesaurus is a very large, multi(purpose, and multi(lingual vocabulary database that contains information about biomedical and health(related concepts, their various names, and the relationships among them. 0t is built from the electronic versions of many different thesauri, classifications, code sets, and lists of controlled terms used in patient care, health services billing, public health statistics, inde*ing and cataloging biomedical literature, and&or basic, clinical, and health services research. 0n this documentation, these are referred to as the $source vocabularies$ of the Metathesaurus. 0n the Metathesaurus, all the source vocabularies are available in a single, fully(specified database format. 1 complete list of the source vocabularies present in this version of the Metathesaurus appears in 1ppendi* '.2 to this documentation. The list indicates which coding systems and vocabularies are designated as U.S. standards for administrative health transactions in accordance with 30-11 or as target U.S. government(wide clinical standards selected by the /onsolidated 3ealth 0nformatics e4ov initiative.

The Metathesaurus is organi)ed by concept or meaning. 0n essence, its purpose is to lin+ alternative names and views of the same concept together and to identify useful relationships between different concepts. 1ll concepts in the Metathesaurus are assigned to at least one semantic type from the Semantic Networ+ !5.6.7#. This provides consistent categori)ation of all concepts in the Metathesaurus at the relatively general level represented in the Semantic Networ+. Many of the words and multi(word terms that appear in concept names or strings in the Metathesaurus also appear in the S-./01L0ST Le*icon ! The le*ical tools ! are used to generate the word, normali)ed word, and normali)ed string inde*es to the Metathesaurus. MetamorphoSys !5.6.8# must be used to install all the UMLS %nowledge Sources and is the recommended software tool for customi)ing the Metathesaurus. The Metathesaurus must be customi)ed to be used effectively. 1 complete description of the Metathesaurus and its file structure appears in Section 7 of this documentation. UMLS Applications NLM and many other institutions apply the UMLS resources in a wide variety of 1pplications including information retrieval, natural language processing, creation of patient and research data, and the development of enterprise(wide vocabulary services. NLM s applications include -ubMed", the NLM 4ateway,, and the 0nde*ing 0nitiative. 9ther e*amples of UMLS(enabled applications include the National /ancer 0nstitutes .nterprise :ocabulary Services and the 1gency for 3ealthcare ;esearch and <uality s National 4uidelines /learinghouse and National <uality Measures /learinghouse. 1 bibliography of UMLS =ournal articles from -ubMed&M.>L0N. covering 5??@ to the present in the form of search results may easily be obtained by clic+ing here. 1n older bibliography of UMLS articles, including a variety of media, is available by clic+ing /omprehensive 'ibliography 5?AB(5???. Obtaining the Knowledge Sources 1ll UMLS %nowledge Sources and associated software tools are free of charge to U.S. and international users. The Semantic Networ+, the S-./01L0ST Le*icon, and associated le*ical tools are freely accessible on the 0nternet under open terms, which include appropriate ac+nowledgment for their use. :iew the terms and conditions for use of the Semantic Networ+ and of the S-./01L0ST Le*icon and Le*ical Tools. To use the Metathesaurus, you must establish a license agreement. This is because the Metathesaurus includes vocabulary content produced by many different copyright holders as well as the substantial content produced by NLM.

>o N9T let the license reCuirement discourage you from using the Metathesaurus. Setting up the license agreement is Cuic+ and easy and is done via the Deb. 9nce the license agreement is in place, much of the content of the Metathesaurus may be used under very open conditions. Your pre(e*isting licenses for content with use restrictions, e.g., /-T, Med>;1, or N0/, will cover your use of that content as distributed within the Metathesaurus. Some vocabulary producers who reCuire you to reCuest permission for production uses of their content will generally grant permission free of charge. UMLS in Use 9ne powerful use of the UMLS is lin+ing health information, medical terms, drug names, and billing codes across different computer systems. Some e*amples of this are,

Lin+ing terms and codes between your doctor, your pharmacy, and your insurance company -atient care coordination among several departments within a hospital

The UMLS has many other uses, including search engine retrieval, data mining, public health statistics reporting, and terminology research. The Three UMLS Tools The UMLS has three tools, which we call the %nowledge Sources,

Metathesaurus, Terms and codes from many vocabularies, including /-T", 0/>(5E( /M, L90N/", MeS3", ;*Norm, and SN9M.> /T" Semantic Networ , 'road categories !semantic types# and their relationships !semantic relations# SP!"#AL#ST Le$icon and Le$ical Tools, Natural language processing tools

De use the Semantic Networ+ and Le*ical Tools to produce the Metathesaurus. Metathesaurus production involves,

-rocessing the terms and codes using the Le*ical Tools 4rouping synonymous terms into concepts /ategori)ing concepts by semantic types from the Semantic Networ+ 0ncorporating relationships and attributes provided by vocabularies ;eleasing the data in a common format

1lthough we integrate these tools for Metathesaurus production, you can access them separately or in any combination according to your needs. Access the UMLS

The UMLS Terminology Services !UTS# provides three ways to access the UMLS, %eb &rowsers You can search the data through UTS applications,

Metathesaurus &rowser ( ;etrieve UMLS concept information, including /U0s, semantic types, and synonymous terms. Semantic Networ &rowser ( :iew the names, definitions, and hierarchical structure of the Semantic Networ+.

Local #nstallation To install the UMLS on your computer, you can either download the files or reCuest a UMLS >:> through the UTS. The MetamorphoSys tool, included with the downloaded files and >:>, allows you to customi)e the UMLS according to your needs. You can then load your customi)ed data into your own database system, such as MyS<L or 9racle, or you may browse your data using the MetamorphoSys ;;F browser. %eb Ser'ices AP#s You can use our application programming interfaces !1-0s# to Cuery the UMLS data within your own application. (et Started )e*uest a license and sign up for a UMLS Terminology Ser'ices +UTS, accountThis account allows you to browse, download, and Cuery the UMLS. The UMLS is available for free. Some uses of the UMLS reCuire additional agreements with individual terminology vendors.