Structural measures to track the evolution of SNOMED CT hierarchies

Duo Wei, Huanying Helen Gu, Yehoshua Perl, Michael Halper, Christopher Ochs, Gai Elhanan, Yan Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms (SNOMED CT) is an extensive reference terminology with an attendant amount of complexity. It has been updated continuously and revisions have been released semi-annually to meet users' needs and to reflect the results of quality assurance (QA) activities. Two measures based on structural features are proposed to track the effects of both natural terminology growth and QA activities based on aspects of the complexity of SNOMED CT. These two measures, called the structural density measure and accumulated structural measure, are derived based on two abstraction networks, the area taxonomy and the partial-area taxonomy. The measures derive from attribute relationship distributions and various concept groupings that are associated with the abstraction networks. They are used to track the trends in the complexity of structures as SNOMED CT changes over time. The measures were calculated for consecutive releases of five SNOMED CT hierarchies, including the Specimen hierarchy. The structural density measure shows that natural growth tends to move a hierarchy's structure toward a more complex state, whereas the accumulated structural measure shows that QA processes tend to move a hierarchy's structure toward a less complex state. It is also observed that both the structural density and accumulated structural measures are useful tools to track the evolution of an entire SNOMED CT hierarchy and reveal internal concept migration within it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-287
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biomedical Informatics
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications


  • Abstraction network
  • Complexity measure
  • Quality assurance
  • Terminology


Dive into the research topics of 'Structural measures to track the evolution of SNOMED CT hierarchies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this