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  • Requirements for translations and language preferences
  • Translation approaches
  • How SNOMED CT represents translations

Why is this important?

The basic objective of any SNOMED CT translation is to provide accurate and unambiguous descriptions of SNOMED CT concepts in the target language.

What is this?

SNOMED CT is a multinational, multilingual terminology. It has a built-in framework to manage different languages and dialects. Today, SNOMED CT is available in several languages, including US English, UK English, Spanish, Danish and Swedish, and more translations are continuously being done by member countries.

The goal of any SNOMED CT translation is to provide accurate representations of SNOMED CT concepts in a way that is understandable, usable, and safe. Translations must be concept-based, as term-to-term translations may yield literal expressions that are often meaningless. Instead, the translator analyses each concept based on the position within the hierarchy, the descriptions, and relationships to other concepts before deciding on the most meaningful translation of a concept. SNOMED International provides guidelines to support countries undertaking translations.

Translation Approaches

SNOMED CT translation is an interdisciplinary collaboration which requires careful attention to content, structure and clinical relevance. These factors are of foremost importance in order to ensure the usability of the terminology in connection with implementation in electronic health record systems. Both linguistic and semantic quality must be assured.


Additionally, it is important that those involved in the translation process are aware that sometimes, their inability to understand a given term or concept may be caused not by their own lack on insight, but actually by a mistake or an ambiguity in the core terminology (international release) that needs to be corrected. SNOMED CT undergoes constant improvement, mistakes are corrected, and ambiguities are addressed. To ensure this constant enhancement of SNOMED CT, any translation team should register questions, comments or suggestions and forward these to SNOMED International in order to avoid spending extra time on unsolvable issues and at the same time contribute to discovering any mistakes and ambiguities. Currently, questions and remarks from the translation teams are dealt with by the SNOMED International request submission process.

How SNOMED CT Represents Translations

From a practical perspective, the deliverables from SNOMED CT translation include: