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Tracking meaning over time in the UMLS Metathesaurus.
The Unified Medical Language System(R) (UMLS) Metathesaurus contains records arranged by concept or meaning. Each concept contains a unique identifier (CUI) that can be used to track the concept over time. Since the January 2001 release, the Metathesaurus has included the file MRCUI that contains mappings for CUIs that disappear. This paper describes the processes that facilitated this effort and the ongoing effort to find suitable mappings for concepts whose meanings no longer exist in the Metathesaurus. This study highlights the need to identify missed synonymy prior to a release. It also shows a need to work more closely with source providers to identify the closest match in the Metathesaurus when they eliminate terms from their vocabularies.