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Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine

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Title: Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine  
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Subject: Diagnosis code, Medical classification, Topographical code, HCPCS Level 2, International Classification of Health Interventions
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Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine

The Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine (SNOMED) is a systematic, computer-processable collection of U.S. by the College of American Pathologists[1] in 1973 and revised into the 1990s, then in 2002, SNOMED was merged and expanded with the UK National Health Service (NHS).

Versions of SNOMED released prior to 2001 were based on a multiaxial, morphological alterations represented by a morphology code.

In 2002 the first release of SNOMED CT adopted a completely different structure. A sub-type hierarchy, supported by defining relationships based on description logic, replaced the axes described in this article. Versions of SNOMED prior to SNOMED CT are planned to be formally deprecated from 2017.[2] Therefore readers interested in current information about SNOMED are directed to the article on SNOMED CT.


SNOMED was designed as a comprehensive nomenclature of clinical medicine for the purpose of accurately storing and/or retrieving records of clinical care in human and veterinary medicine. The metaphor used by Roger A. Côté, the first editorial chair, was that SNOMED would become the periodical table of elements of medicine because of its definitional organization beyond the hierarchical design. Indeed, diseases and procedures were ordered hierarchically and are further referenced back to more elementary terms (see Reference Ontology and Multi-Axial Design, below).


SNOMED was originally conceived by Dr. IHTSDO) acquired all the Intellectual Property of SNOMED CT and all antecedent SNOMED versions.

Brief timeline:

Reference ontology

SNOMED was designed from its inception with complex concepts defined in term of simpler ones. For example, a disease can be defined in terms of its abnormal anatomy, abnormal functions and morphology. In some cases, the etiology of the disease is known and can be attributed to an infectious agent, a physical trauma or a chemical or pharmaceutical agent.

Multi-axial design

The current concept uses eleven (11) axes that comprise terms organised in hierarchical trees. The axes and some examples are provided below:

T (Topography) – Anatomic terms

M (Morphology) – Changes found in cells, tissues and organs

For the Morphology axis, SNOMED has agreed to collaborate and use the same harmonized codes shared with International Classification of Diseases for Oncology. Additional examples on topology are provided on that page.

L (Living organisms) – Bacteria and viruses

C (Chemical) – Drugs

F (Function) – Signs and symptoms

J (Occupation) – Terms that describe the occupation

  • Kindergarten teacher (13420)
  • Computer programmer (08420)
  • Doctor (06105)
  • Professional Nurse (General) (07110)
  • Beautician (57040)

D (Diagnosis) – Diagnostic terms

P (Procedure) – Administrative, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures

A (Physical agents, forces, activities) – Devices and activities associated with the disease

S (Social context) – Social conditions and important relationships in medicine

G (General) – Syntactic linkages and qualifiers

See also


  1. ^ a b Roger A. Côté (1986). "Architecture of SNOMED" (PDF). PubMed, p. 1. Retrieved April 29, 2013.
  2. ^ Deprecation of Antecedent Versions of SNOMED by IHTSDO General Assembly

External links

  • Official page at (now redirects to
  • Studies of the formal structure of SNOMED CT at
  • Browser at
  • Dataline SNOMED Browser: Looks up clinical terms online for free.
  • SNOCat: the SNOMED Categorizer/Browser to automatically encode medical narratives - provided by the BiTeM group ( !
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