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SNOMED CT subtype Relationships provide a logical semantic hierarchy. Often it is possible to view parts of the terminology and select particular Concepts by navigating through this subtype hierarchy. However, there are many situations in which the pure subtype hierarchy does not provide an ideal route for navigating to concepts.

Navigation links are used to provide an alternative route through parts of the terminology. A navigation link can link any two Concepts together to identify a useful route for navigation. Each of the navigation links is directional, linking a navigational parent Concept to a more refined navigational child Concept. However, unlike the subtype relationship the presence or absence of a navigation link neither adds to nor subtracts from the definition of either of the Concepts that it links.

Some Concepts may exist only to provide nodes in a navigation hierarchy. These Concepts are subtypes of |Navigational Concept | and play no part in the semantic definitions of any other Concept.