Adding your terms and relationships to the UMLS Metathesaurus. Academic Article uri icon


  • The National Library of Medicine's Unified Medical Language System [1] Metathesaurus contains the richest single corpus of biomedical names in existence. Yet, developers wishing to make use of the Metathesaurus will be confronted by users who want to add local terminology and relationships not already represented there. We urge developers to fill those needs, while, at the same time, they plan for the many consequences of unilateral Metathesaurus enhancement. Foremost among these consequences is the need to maintain local enhancements across subsequent releases of the Metathesaurus. These problems are illustrated via examples of candidate Metathesaurus enhancement terms in use at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center (CPMC), at the Mayo Clinic, and in Current Disease Descriptions (CDD). Sharing and reuse of Metathesaurus enhancement methods may permit local enhancements to be used at other sites, and it may permit the global Metathesaurus utilization effort to benefit from economies of scale.

publication date

  • January 1, 1991