Mapping ICD-9 to MedlinePlus or MeSH

Got an interesting question from an acquaintance made via the Web4Lib listserv:

One of our members is looking to map the terms in MedlinePlus to corresponding terms in the ICD-9 vocabulary. Do you know of anyone who’s done this? Is there an existing mapping that can be licensed?

The end goal is to two-fold:

1. Allow a search engine to find articles on, say, consumer health articles tagged with “breast cancer” AND articles in an external information service (don’t know which one) tagged with “breast neoplasm.”

2. Create “see also” references in an A – Z index so that if someone looks up the term “breast neoplasm” they’ll get a “see also” to “breast cancer.”

Well, if a tool exists to easily translate ICD-9 to MeSH, I can’t find it.

Goal #2 above can be achieved by searching MeSH at NCBI. For example, one could use this tool to search for breast cancer, and get results like this:

This includes links to searches on the following suggested terms: Breast cancer; Cancer, breast; Brain cancer; Breast cysts; Brain cancers; Pancreas cancer; Breast disease; Bone cancer; Breast cyst; Bladder cancer; more…

I know that MedlinePlus attempts to map search terms to MeSH:

Controlled Vocabulary: Searches are expanded using a thesaurus. The thesaurus contains a list of all the words found in all documents on the site and additional synonyms from NLM’s MeSH (Medical Subject Headings. When there is a match between a search term and a word in the controlled vocabulary, the controlled vocabulary word is added to the search as an “or” term.

So the real goal is to match ICD-9 to MeSH, because one can search MeSH in MedlinePlus.

So if we search for “Breast Cancer” in MedlinePlus, we get this result set:

Search results found in:
Health Topics
Breast Cancer (102)
Male Breast Cancer (21)
Mastectomy (28)
Mammography (23)
Breast Diseases (23)
Show all Health Topics
Drugs & Supplements (500)
Medical Encyclopedia (78)
News (44)
Other (0)

Still, this gets us no closer to a mapping between ICD-9 and MeSH. I thought that it might be possible through the UMLS, and that someone had to have attempted to build a tool to do this. It turns out that the someone was Vanderbilt- they called it WizOrder.

Any research on the topic always seems to lead back to this article.

Any thoughts? Any ideas on how to help the person who sent me the question?

2 thoughts on “Mapping ICD-9 to MedlinePlus or MeSH

  1. Hi Naomi! Yeah, I found all the mappings- but was disappointed that there isn’t an existing application to do the mapping based on an entered query.

    I don’t know a lot about the UMLS, but wouldn’t it be neat to have a web-based aplication that would let you enter a term, select the “From” vocabulary, select the “To” vocabulary, and click “Go”?