Medical Subject Headings

Medical Subject Headings

Medical Subject Headings

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Description:
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) is a comprehensive controlled vocabulary for the purpose of indexing journal articles and books in the life sciences; it can also serve as a thesaurus that facilitates searching. Created and updated by the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM), it is used by the MEDLINE/PubMed article database and by NLM's catalog of book holdings.

MeSH can be browsed and downloaded free of charge on the Internet through PubMed. The yearly printed version was discontinued in 2007 and MeSH is now available online only. Originally in English, MeSH has been translated into numerous other languages and allows retrieval of documents from different languages.

Structure of MeSH

<!-- -->The 2009 version of MeSH contains a total of 25,186 subject headings, also known as descriptors. Most of these are accompanied by a short description or definition, links to related descriptors, and a list of synonyms or very similar terms (known as entry terms). Because of these synonym lists, MeSH can also be viewed as a thesaurus.

Descriptor hierarchy

The descriptors or subject headings are arranged in a hierarchy. A given descriptor may appear at several places in the hierarchical tree. The tree locations carry systematic labels known as tree numbers, and consequently one descriptor can carry several tree numbers. For example, the descriptor "Digestive System Neoplasms" has the...
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