Dictionary of Modern Medicine database
After years of tweaking and fine-tuning, we at www.newmedicalterms.com have begun releasing portions of the 21st century’s first new medical lexicon, the Dictionary of Modern Medicine database (DMMD).
Instead of covering the same ground as that covered by the Dorland’s, Mosby’s, Stedman’s, and Taber’s medical dictionaries, the DMMD has focused on areas of biomedical and clinical interest which, whilst increasingly important to the understanding and practice of medicine, one doesn’t find in these venerated works.
Over time, we will extend our reach to include material found in other medical dictionaries…but for the short term the DMMD will focus on important terminology not found elsewhere under the same roof.
Version 4 went live in early December 2018, and has nearly 50,000 entries/definitions in seven categories: medical Abbreviations and Acronyms (21,000 entries), Genes (12,000), inherited Syndromes (5,000), British medical practice, Alternative health, Sexology and Suicidology, which are poorly covered by the other major medical dictionaries. At 50,000 definitions, this resource is the fifth largest medical dictionary, and the largest one offered free of charge.
Unlike other medical lexicons, we do not include in the 50K count aliases and synonyms (A&Ss).* As an example, we would not otherwise include KLK3, which is the symbol approved by the Human Genome Nomenclature Committee for what is widely and popularly known as PSA (prostate-specific antigen). Version 4 has an additional 125,000 A&Ss which, as we do the math, would make v.4 the largest available medical lexicon…Dorland’s has just under 125K entries. But rather than blah, blah, blah you, dear reader, to death about what’s in version 4 of the database, we invite you to download it and see for yourself. NMTD 2v4-1
*In the Dorland’s, one sees three entries for the synonyms syndactylia, syndactylism, and syndactyly, which that work counts as three definitions/entries. We count 1 definition and 2 aliases.
As of today, 6 December 2018, the DMM database has 189,836 entries in varying stages of completion. In addition, we have 206,184 aliases for a total of 396,020 biomedical terms (including aliases). At last count, we have 51,768 references, based on our recognition that in the 21st century, even secondary literature such as the lowly medical dictionary is beholden to prior work and the need to quote the information source.
As New Medical Terms’ curator, I would note that the Genes subdatabase is a work-in-progress. Version 4 has core information (definitions) on 12,585 genes that I’ve come across in reading. Whilst that might seem like a large number, the human genome has well over 20,000 genes (both DNA and RNA), pseudogenes, and non-coding stretches of nucleic acid. Realising that some genes are more ‘important’ than others, I’ve culled the OMIM database for genes known to be defective in inherited disorders. Please let me know which ones I’ve missed and they’ll be in the next version. I expect to release version 5 in January 2019 and expect to add a few more genes, but am more focused on corrections and updates of the genes and inherited syndromes subdatabases.
www.newmedicalterms.com is the only website specifically dedicated to medical lexicography. It is the result of one physician’s belief, first articulated in 1984, that the medical dictionaries currently in print (see above) were–and continue to be–grossly inadequate and don’t address the needs of advanced health professionals. New Medical Terms (NMT) has:
(1) OPINION PIECES on medical lexicography (https://www.newmedicalterms.
(2) A CLASSIFICATION of medical terminology designed to facilitate interaction with IT systems (https://www.newmedicalterms.
(3) eBOOKs (I’m no longer updating these works, because non-database lexicons are anachronisms. They’re still available thanks to Kent, my website/database guy, who felt someone might want them… (https://www.newmedicalterms.
New Medical Terms Blocks of definitions:
The downloadable portion of the Dictionary of Modern Medicine database (NMTD 2v4-1, above), the raison d’être of which is to provide facile access to terminology that is an ever-increasing part of our daily practice as physicians, yet has been either largely ignored by other medical dictionaries or addressed so briefly that the information provided borders on useless. Version 5 of the DMMD should be wrapped by Boxing Day 2018 and add an 8th subdatabase: Obsolete Terms. Too many of these dinosaurs clutter up major medical dictionaries but serve no real purpose given that they are no longer part of our working medical parlance. The plan is to provide users with a new and expanded version of the DMMD bimonthly. We believe that users will find the upside of having at their fingertips succinct definitions in a single source worth the downside of loading a fresh version of the DMMD every couple of months. Once we secure sponsorship, each new version will be ported to a server, allowing users to directly query the database in real time.
A searchable section with 4,500 terms This section represents the full array of terminology required of a medical dictionary that serves the needs of physicians, medical students, and advanced healthcare professionals in the 21st century. All terminology directly or indirectly related to healthcare and medicine has been divided into seven main sections–e.g., Classic medicine, Global medicine, Modern medicine, and so on (https://www.newmedicalterms.
com/alphabetized-page-list/) and multiple subsections.
As examples, under classic medicine, the user will find terminology from anatomy, cardiology, imaging, pathology and so on. Under modern medicine, one notes the vocabulary of AIDS, evidence-based medicine, informatics, sports medicine, transplantation medicine, and many others. Under vintage medicine, readers will find terminology that should be retired; most of the terms in this section have been googled to verify their status as retirees; many will have comments on usage and provide current synonyms
BLOG Those who read peer-reviewed biomedical publications will come across countless terms every day which, whilst important, rarely find their way into medical dictionaries. Because of the sheer quantity of work required to create a broadly useful soup-to-nuts medical lexicon, parsimony will guide the number of terms I blog. I plan is to publish the more interesting and/or important “newbies” on NMT’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ModernMedicalDictionary/) and will try to put them on the website as well (https://www.newmedicalterms.
com/blog-2/), so readers can find them in two places…we’ll see how much time I have for this…
COMING SOON This section tells users what to expect in the next version (we just released v.4) of the DMMD, including number of new definitions in which areas of interest and whether new subdatabases have been added (https://www.newmedicalterms.
FAQs This section (https://www.newmedicalterms.
com/faq/) is intended to address questions users might have regarding the DMMD, the NMT and those of us involved in its creation and development. Feel free to email me directly (email@example.com) with your questions regarding content; if the question is broadly relevant, I would add it to the other FAQs.
(2) New Medical Terms OPINION PIECES
MEDICAL DICTIONARIES IN THE 21st CENTURY There are four major medical dictionaries: Dorland’s, first published in 1890 as the American Illustrated Medical Dictionary; Stedman’s in 1911; Taber’s in 1940; and Mosby’s in 1982. Each has multiple flaws that limit their usefulness to a key demographic—physicians and advanced healthcare professionals. The Dorland’s, as the largest and oldest of the group, has a plethora of issues which I, as a medical lexicographer regard as errors or flaws. These flaws include continued use of older names–e.g., Hallervorden-Spatz disease for neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation 1 (Hallervorden and Spatz were Nazi doctors who were posthumously stripped of the eponymic honorific); continued use of Latin nomenclature–especially for abbreviations of prescriptions–e.g., agit vas—the vial being shaken, and cochl amp—a heaping spoonful, when English is the language of biomedical communication; continued inclusion of therapeutics that were pulled from the market up to a decade earlier–e.g., cerivastatin (Baycol), efalizumab (Raptiva), isotretinoin (Accutane), rofecoxib (Vioxx), and valdecoxib (Bextra); anemic definitions–e.g., cholecystitis is defined as <inflammation of the gallbladder>, a definition which the average high school student with a rudimentary knowledge of Latin roots could cobble together. For these and other failings, physicians typically use medical dictionaries to check spelling, if they use them at all, and go to Google or Wikipedia for definitions (https://www.newmedicalterms.
MEDICAL LEXICOGRAPHY in the 21st CENTURY Unlike proper fields in medicine and science…medical lexicography is meant to be invisible. If publications in fields as disparate as genomics, managed care, informatics, cardiology, robotic surgery used a common syntax and system of nomenclature, a publication in Specialty A would use the same name for disease entity A as Specialties B, C, or D. Whilst this usually occurs, until usually becomes invariably, literature searches and reviews will be incomplete. IT tools work best when rules are applied universally; otherwise, it’s GIGO—garbage in, garbage out. A key goal of medical lexicography must be to reduce, or ideally, eliminate redundancy and to embrace naming conventions and rules of syntax, especially those rules that have been widely used in non-medical contexts, and provide those conventions and rules when such are absent (https://www.newmedicalterms.
A NEW MAJOR MEDICAL DICTIONARY In 1984, I started with a blank piece of paper and told my wife, I’m going to write a new medical dictionary (I have since rued that day). In the intervening 34 years, what began as The Dictionary of Pathology Jargon, was expected to have about 500 entries/definitions and take perhaps 6 months, has grown into what is appears to be the single largest dictionary format medical database on the planet. The original intent was to provide me with a tool to help study for the upcoming boards exam in pathology. The project outgrew the confines of a single specialty–pathology and the limitations of a particular type of term–jargon, within months. The entries included have been guided by three simple rules:
(1) the term should be in current use;
(2) any term directly or obliquely related to medicine should be in;
(3) References should be included. The project, The Dictionary of Modern Medicine, was first published by the Parthenon Group in 1992 with 12,000 entries. It was last published in 2006 as a paper product by McGraw-Hill as The Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine with 23,000 entries.
By 2005, two years before Amazon launched the Kindle, and five years before Apple launched the iPad, I’d concluded that paper dictionaries had become anachronisms, given that books are unwieldy once they grow beyond 2,000 pages and are unreadable when the typeface shrinks below 8 pts. I spent the next two years cutting and pasting the 35,000 pages of text I’d accumulated into Filemaker, a widely used database program. Information queries that once took 10 minutes or more when the Dictionary of Modern Medicine was in a text format, now take milliseconds as the Dictionary of Modern Medicine database (DMMD). Text-based medical dictionaries are, as Hollywood might say, Dead Men Walking. (https://www.newmedicalterms.
(3) CLASSIFICATION of MEDICAL TERMINOLOGY A few years ago, shortly after setting up the website, www.newmedicalterms.com, I was fortunate enough to enlist the help of a webmaster and database guru, Kent Hummel. Among his many suggestions was to introduce a hierarchical tier between the many groups (±100) of terms–e.g., cardiology, immunology, human rights, obsolete terms, medical slang and jargon, metabolic disorders, and so on, as a way of improving data management. While no artificial classification solves every problem, we have found it useful, as might our readers (https://www.newmedicalterms.
(4) eBOOKS for SALE When I first began porting material from the text files into the database, I had a brief, one-sided romance with eBooks. On the plus side, eBooks weigh nothing beyond the weight of the device; the only limit is the device’s memory. One can modify the typeface, text size, background lighting and even simulate the look and sound of pages turning. For many types of publications–e.g., novels, biographies, magazines, journals, travel guides, and cookbooks, eBooks are godsends; one can carry one’s entire personal library in a device the size of a small stack of manila envelopes. The eBook format fails dismally for rapid and focused information queries, which is how most of us look for information in a lexicon. I have not updated any of the four eBooks that are still available on the various eBook portals: The Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine; The Illustrated Doctors’ Dictionary; The Dictionary of Alternative & Complementary Medicine; and The Dictionary of British Medicine. I’d planned on pulling them from the eBook stores in 2016, but Kent encouraged me to keep them alive for the short term. (https://www.newmedicalterms.
Other early 2019 (version 5) additions will include more genes, more inherited syndromes from the OMIM (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man) catalog, and an additional subdatabase, that of vintage (retired) terms. In the future, you’ll see glossaries of evidence-based medicine; forensic medicine, therapeutic monoclonals and recently approved drugs and devices, and sports medicine. It’s hard to project, 12 months out, where our numbers will be by Christmas 2019, but proper definitions should be north of 75,000 (of the pool of 190+K terms in the DMMD) and searchables (aliases) should add another 250,000 (for a total of 325,000…not bad for one curator, I’d like to think). We believe that, over time, the DMMD will become your “go to” resource for succinct biomedical definitions.
Feel free to email me with questions on and suggestions for new and current content.
JC Segen, MD, FCAP
Complete list of entries https://www.newmedicalterms.com/alphabetized-page-list/
They’re for your browsing pleasure; feel free to link, like and share.