Executive Summary

The GALEN CORE Model for representation of the Common Reference Model for Procedures contains the building blocks for defining procedures - the anatomy, surgical deeds, diseases, and their modifiers used in the definitions of surgical procedures. This document describes the structure the CORE model and gives a detailed account of its high level schemata followed by a detailed example of the use of the ontology for a portion of the model of the cardiovascular system and diseases.

The ontology for the GALEN CORE model is designed to be re-usable and application independent. It is intended to serve not only for the classification of surgical procedures but also for a wide variety of other applications - electronic healthcare records (EHCRs), clinical user interfaces, decision support systems, knowledge access systems, and natural language processing. The ontology is constructed according to carefully selected principles so that the reasons for classification are always explicit within the model and therefore available for processing and analysis by each application. This leads to an ontology in which most information lies in the descriptions and definitions. The hierarchies are built bottom-up automatically based on these definitions.

Note that the word ontology has acquired a range of meanings in various communities. Following the usage of Guarino [Guarino and Giaretta 1995], it is used here with a lower case o or in the plural to indicate the set of primitive, high level categories in a knowledge representation scheme together with any taxonomy which structures those categories.

Quality assurance of the model is an ongoing process. The most important quality assurance of the building blocks comes from the checks on the correct classification things built with them - the model of procedures and the other models for subspecialties being built in collaboration with other projects. Preliminary results from such checks are extremely promising.

The structure of the model is now believed to be complete, but there remain many details of anatomy and diseases to complete for each subspecialty area. Future development of the model is governed by the requirements of the applications and the needs of the centres who are using it to develop classifications of procedures. The next areas to be addressed will be based on the needs of vascular, ENT, orthopaedic, and gynaecological surgery to meet the requirements and priorities of those centres.

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