Standard anatomic terminologies: Comparison for use in a health information exchange-based prior computed tomography (ct) alerting system

Anton Oscar Beitia, Tina Lowry, Daniel J. Vreeman, George T. Loo, Bradley N. Delman, Frederick L. Thum, Benjamin H. Slovis, Jason S. Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: A health information exchange (HIE)-based prior computed tomography (CT) alerting system may reduce avoidable CT imaging by notifying ordering clinicians of prior relevant studies when a study is ordered. For maximal effectiveness, a system would alert not only for prior same CTs (exams mapped to the same code from an exam name terminology) but also for similar CTs (exams mapped to different exam name terminology codes but in the same anatomic region) and anatomically proximate CTs (exams in adjacent anatomic regions). Notification of previous same studies across an HIE requires mapping of local site CT codes to a standard terminology for exam names (such as Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes [LOINC]) to show that two studies with different local codes and descriptions are equivalent. Notifying of prior similar or proximate CTs requires an additional mapping of exam codes to anatomic regions, ideally coded by an anatomic terminology. Several anatomic terminologies exist, but no prior studies have evaluated how well they would support an alerting use case. Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the fitness of five existing standard anatomic terminologies to support similar or proximate alerts of an HIE-based prior CT alerting system. Methods: We compared five standard anatomic terminologies (Foundational Model of Anatomy, Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine Clinical Terms, RadLex, LOINC, and LOINC/Radiological Society of North America [RSNA] Radiology Playbook) to an anatomic framework created specifically for our use case (Simple ANatomic Ontology for Proximity or Similarity [SANOPS]), to determine whether the existing terminologies could support our use case without modification. On the basis of an assessment of optimal terminology features for our purpose, we developed an ordinal anatomic terminology utility classification. We mapped samples of 100 random and the 100 most frequent LOINC CT codes to anatomic regions in each terminology, assigned utility classes for each mapping, and statistically compared each terminology's utility class rankings. We also constructed seven hypothetical alerting scenarios to illustrate the terminologies' differences. Results: Both RadLex and the LOINC/RSNA Radiology Playbook anatomic terminologies ranked significantly better (P<.001) than the other standard terminologies for the 100 most frequent CTs, but no terminology ranked significantly better than any other for 100 random CTs. Hypothetical scenarios illustrated instances where no standard terminology would support appropriate proximate or similar alerts, without modification. Conclusions: LOINC/RSNA Radiology Playbook and RadLex's anatomic terminologies appear well suited to support proximate or similar alerts for commonly ordered CTs, but for less commonly ordered tests, modification of the existing terminologies with concepts and relations from SANOPS would likely be required. Our findings suggest SANOPS may serve as a framework for enhancing anatomic terminologies in support of other similar use cases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere49
JournalJMIR Medical Informatics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Anatomy, regional
  • Health information exchange
  • Radiation dosage
  • Terminology
  • Tomography, x-ray computed


Dive into the research topics of 'Standard anatomic terminologies: Comparison for use in a health information exchange-based prior computed tomography (ct) alerting system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this