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Terms are character strings that consist of words, phrases and other human-readable representations that convey the meanings of concepts. A term in connection to a particular conceptis called a description.

Each descriptionshas a descriptiontype and may be marked a preferred for use in particular languages or dialects. There are two commonly used descriptiontypes, Fully Specified Name(FSN) and Synonym. A Synonymthat is marked as preferred for use in a particular language or dialect is preferred to as a Preferred Term. A descriptionmay be a Preferred Termin one dialectand a synonymin another dialect. This is indicated by references to the descriptionfrom the Language Reference Setfor that language or dialect.

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Fully Specified Name

Each concepthas at lease one Fully Specified Name(FSN) intended to provide an unambiguous way to name a concept. The purpose of the FSN is to uniquely describe a conceptand clarify its meaning. The FSN is not a commonly used term or natural phrase and would not be expected to appear in the human-readable representation of a clinical record.

A conceptmay have more than one FSN, but only one of these may be marked as preferred in a given language. A Language Reference Setis used to specify which FSN descriptionsis preferred in each language or dialects. The original fully specified name(the first FSN created for a concept) is the ultimate source of reference, if FSNs in different languages have conflicting meanings. Most original FSNs are in US English and, as many translators choose not translate FSNs, the original FSN is preferred by default.

Note: The term in each FSN is unique across the entire active content of a SNOMED CT release.

Each FSN term ends with a "semantic tag" in parentheses. The semantic tag indicates the semantic category to which the conceptbelongs (e.g. clinical finding, disorder, procedure, organism, person, etc.). The "semantic tag" helps to disambiguate different conceptswhich may be referred to by the same commonly used word or phrase.

Example: 35566002 |Hematoma (morphologic abnormality)|is the FSN of the conceptthat represents the "hematoma" that a pathologist sees at the tissue level. In contrast, 385494008 |Hematoma (disorder)|is the FSN of the conceptthat represents the clinical diagnosis that a clinician makes when they decide that a person has a "hematoma".

Synonym

A synonymrepresents a term, other than the FSN, that can be used to represent a conceptin a particular language or dialect.

Each conceptone or more descriptionsof type synonym in each language. A descriptionof type synonymcontains a term that represents a word or phrase, other than the term in the fully specified namethat can be used to represent a concept. One synonym for each conceptis marked as preferred in each dialectand the associated term is called the preferred termfor that concept.

The use of a descriptioncan vary between different languages, dialectsand contexts, so a descriptionmay be preferred in some dialects, acceptable for use in other dialectsand may not used in some dialects. A Language Reference Setis used to specify the descriptionsthat are acceptable or preferred in each language or dialect.

Example: Synonymsof the concept 22298006 |myocardial infarction (disorder)|in English include:

The synonym 22298006 |myocardial infarction|( Description.id: 37436014) is marked as preferred in the US English Language Reference Set. Thus in US English this is the preferred term.

Note: Unlike fully specified names, synonyms are not required to be unique.

Preferred Term

The preferred termis the preferred common word or phrase used by clinicians to name that conceptin a particular language, dialector context. Each concepthas one to more descriptionsof type synonymin each language. In each language or dialectone of these descriptionis marked as preferred and is the preferred termfor that concept.

The use of a descriptioncan vary between different languages, dialectsand contexts, so a descriptionmay be preferred in some dialects, acceptable for use in other dialectsand may not used in some dialects. A Language Reference Setis used to specify the descriptionsthat are acceptable or preferred in each language or dialect.

Example: The concept 54987000 |repair of common bile duct (procedure)|has a descriptionof type synonym 54987000 |choledochoplasty|. This is marked as preferred in the US English Language Reference Set. Therefore, 54987000 |choledochoplasty|is the preferred termfor this conceptin US English.

Note: Unlike the fully specified name(FSN) the preferred termsneed not be unique. Occasionally, the preferred termfor one conceptmay also be a synonymfor a different concept. Interpretation in these cases will depend on context of use.

Example:

In both cases, "cold" represents a common clinical phrase used to capture the meaning of the concept.

Note: Selection of one term over another as "preferred" in a given language dialectdepends entirely on whose preferences are being expressed. Different users are likely to have different preferences, and implementers are encouraged to select terms that properly represent the conceptand meet the preferences of users. There is no expectation that the preferred termdistributed with a given language dialectwill meet all use cases; nor is there anything sacrosanct about the term. The US English preferred termhas no special status relative to other terms. Rather, it is merely one term that properly represents the conceptand can be used as a starting point.


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