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Current Version - Under Revision

Role of defining characteristics

Subtype relationshipscontribute the hierarchical type based aspect of a Conceptdefinition. This is augmented by defining characteristicsthat represent the values of a range of relevant attributes. Depending on the nature of the conceptthese may include including etiology, topography, method, etc.

The attributes that can be applied depend on the domain of the  Concept. For example, a procedure may have a method, and a disorder may have an etiology, but a procedure cannot have an etiology, and disorder cannot have a method. Defining characteristicsusing a particular attribute will be applied consistently to all Conceptsto which it is relevant. Note that this design principle may not be fully realized for all attributes in each release.

Representation of defining characteristics

Defining characteristicsare represented as Relationships. The fields are used as follows:

In each release the supported defining characteristicsfor every Conceptare distributed in the relationship file. The supported defining characteristics are identified by concept that are  descendantsof   410662002 |concept model attribute|. The list of supported defining attributes is provided in Defining Attributes by Hierarchy and Domain.

Table 4.3-1: Defining characteristics applied to an example concept



Many subtypes of |SNOMED CT Concept| are not subtypes of 64572001 |disease|.

  • There are no additional characteristics available to fully define |disease|.
















A |disorder of respiratory system| is not necessarily equivalent to or a subtype of  |pneumonia|.

  • Additional characteristics would be required to fully define |pneumonia|