RadLex terminology database gets official launch

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At last year’s RSNA annual meeting, the RSNA RadLex Steering Committee discussed its progress in developing the RadLex project which was established to provide what was described as a unified terminology, or language, for radiology. Yesterday Radlex committee head Curtis P. Langlotz, MD, PhD, announced the “grand unveiling of versions 1.0” before a series of detailed presentations were given regarding the ins-and-outs of its creation. The free web resource is now available via a number of web locations including: www.radlex.org, www.radlex.com or www.rsna.org/radlex.

The site provides a uniformly indexed way to share radiology information via point and click navigation, quick retrieval of data, and real-time support. The robust resource gives radiologists “a common vocabulary to improve medical communication,” Langlotz said. It should go a long way to improving terminology in radiology which many have viewed as a Tower of Babel that has prevented physicians from always understanding each other, he said.

There of course are numerous medical lexicons for radiology, such as SNOMED-CT (from the College of American Pathology), but they are not unified. Although SNOMED and other term sets were used as a starting point, he said, they did not reinvent the wheel entirely.

In the past there have been “significant gaps in the terminologies” such as how things are acquired, or how to describe physiological processes, said Langlotz. Even anatomy terms were not unified or included in currently used lexicons. So part of the effort has been to codify missing terms as part of Radlex, which he views as an important contribution.

Developed through the use of an open source tool called Protégé developed at Standford, Radlex is now open for business and includes 8,883 anatomical concepts. Its development involved 26 participating organizations, nine committees, and 92 radiologists

Next up for Radlex is a project to be launched in Q3 2007 that will link it with other terminology system for cross-referencing. After that, look for a new tool called the “Playbook” that will be a listing of vendor-neutral data resource for devices, procedure, and protocols closely associated with the NCI-caBIG Workspace project. Playbook will be unveiled by the end of 2007.