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Rutt Lindström Feikje Hielkema-Raadsveld Frank Geier Ole Våge 


  • To speed up translations which involve descriptions in Medical Latin which are shared across several languages.
  • To enhance quality of translations with Medical Latin descriptions
  • To support interoperability between different countries where Medical Latin is being used

This requieres that Medical Latin descriptions

  • are made easily available for translators
  • are marked as Latin with the language code lat (ISO 639-3).

What is Medical Latin?

Medical Latin descriptions are descriptions in medicine which are in alignment with the morphosyntactic rules of the Latin language, for exampel arteria carotis, vena portae, musculus iliopsoas and os zygomaticum. Some descriptions are componds of both Latin and Greek, such as musculus iliopsoas, but these adhere to Latin grammar.

This definition excludes hybrid descriptions with national languages, such as carotid artery, portal vein, iliopsoas vein and zygomatic bone (in English).

Contributing NRCs

Estonia, the Netherlands, Norway and Germany .

Benefiting NRCs

Estonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Finland and Denmark.


Latin descriptions are being used more or less in the following subhierarchies:

Body structureFindingOrganism?
<<272673000 |Bone structure (body structure)|

Isolated concepts such as 73211009 |Diabetes mellitus (disorder)|,

410607006 |Organism (organism)|

<<840581000 |Structure of peripheral artery (body structure)|


<<421466002 |Structure of peripheral vein (body structure)|

<<713515006 |Skeletal muscle structure of limb (body structure)|

<<371398005 |Eye region structure (body structure)|

<<3057000 |Nerve structure (body structure)|

<<362884007 |Gland structure (body structure)|

<<20139000 |Structure of respiratory system (body structure)|

<<71934003 |Genital structure (body structure)|

<<71966008 |Subcutaneous tissue structure (body structure)|

 Note that several grouper concepts are not represented by Latin description terms even though there are hybrid descriptions in the English language reference set.


The contributing NRCs will try at pilot of one of the subhierarchies in order to establish a apropiate working method. The pilot will be carried out January-Februar 2024.

Further Reading

Latin Terms - Discussion


BE NRC resources

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  1. Ole Våge  Many medical terms are actually a mixture of Latin and Greek, e.g. musculus iliopsoas which you mention above is derived from the Latin ile and the Greek psoa. I think we should refer to these descriptions as 'Medical Latin', after describing what we mean by that. I cannot find a separate language code for that, but as Latin is not a living language I imagine lat should be fine.

    1. Hello, I agree that Medical Latin is widely used in Finland also. I checked ISO 639-3 (Language Codes) and there is 'lat' for Latin. So I agree 'lat' too. 

  2. Hi,

    When we translated the batch of the respiratory system disorders for the BE NRC in 2020-2021 as part of the first tender of translation they had launched, we had translated a number of anatomical structures either as part of the batch to translate or as an "extra" because they were terms recurrently used in the FSN of the respiratory disorder concepts we were working on. Each time we had tried to look into the terminologia anatomica the corresponding TA body structure name and TA number and we had added as synonym the TA latin term. We had given that to the BE NRC. They published those terms in the BE extension but as French acceptable synonyms because at the time Ingrid did not want to make a separate latin language extension.

    I've dug out the original export file of the work we had made in Comett and hand picked the concepts which had a TA number as comment as I'm pretty sure it would be much more difficult for the BE NRC to find those back out of the mass of BE French translations they have than for me to get those out of the original file with the comments, There are 325 latin TA tagged body structure concepts in it. I'm attaching that selection here. Since that covers about all the respiratory system, and those concepts belong to Belgium, I believe you can add the BE NRC as having contributed to this project. 

    I was sure those things woud be useful one day. And you get the TA ID mapping for free thrown in the bargain. If you're going to look for latin, best use the TA and do the TA mapping in passing. And publish both. At least that was our logic then.

    Have a nice day.

  3. Feikje Hielkema-Raadsveld Mikko Härkönen Rutt Lindström Thanks for the input. I´ve adjusted and added Finland as a benefiting party. I´ll forward this page to Snomed Int. and ask for a meeting.

  4. Discussion 18 March 2024 with Translations User Group:

    Could they add missing latin terms, and if so, would that be in some community content module and would the new descriptions be "la" ?

    PGW: The least amount of work is to put these into the International Edition and then they become quickly available to all countries.   Could we have the latin language reference set also in the International Edition at that point?

    OV:  International "latin" terms are somewhat Anglicised and are not appropriate universally.   May be a desire to do the additional work to create a separate community content module.

    RL :  Two options:  a) that the terms could be copied in to the local extension (a1 with local language code and a2 with "la" code) and b) that the "la" terms be used directly.

    FH:  NL has continuing difference with case that would necessitate copying a term to a new description

    ARH: In the (a) case, we might need to track the relationship between the original community content term and the copy in the national extension in case of future changes.

    PGW: if we're saying that a given country might have preferred terms that are either  the local language or latin (but not both), then that suggests that a single language reference set would be beneficial in which we pick one term or another to be preferred.   That avoids complications with attempting to merge two language reference sets at runtime.

    RL:  Might copy the term into the EE language as "ee" (and into the EE langreset), but also include the latin reference set (PGW This would need to be a copy of this refset since the original refset points to the original content, and if this has been copied into new descriptions, the new langrefset would also need to be created/updated to point to the new descriptions).

    Diagrams Created:

    Option A:

    Option B: