Meva Glossary


Brief description of an article.


A search word or catchword used to retrieve a special record of a database. If you are looking for a special publication f.i. in MEDLINE, you can search for the name of an author or for a catchword of the thesaurus. See also PubMeds bibliographic fields.

Index Medicus®

Printed bibliographic directory of all articles of most biomedical papers and magazines worldwide. Maintained for more than 100 years by the NLM.


(Most) important English medical literature database maintained by the NLM. MEDLINE has been available since 1971 and is the electronical version of the Index Medicus and some other printed bibliographies.

This database contains about 12 million citations from the USA and 70 other states, both bibliographic data and abstracts of the most important international medical journals (about 4,600) back to 1966 and is updated weekly. Most records are from English-language sources or have English abstracts, however the coverage is worldwide. The database contains data related to nearly all biomedical fields including Veterinary Medicine and Dentistry, Psychology and Public Health. You can search for bibliographic descriptors and abstracts.

MEDLINE is sold by several providers on CD or online.

Companies providing CDs are f.i.:

  • SilverPlatter (retrieval system: SPIRS)
  • Aries/Nova Idea (retrieval system: Knowledge Finder)
  • CD Plus (retrieval system: OVID).

Hosts providing online access are f.i.:

  • STN
  • DataStar.

The user can use the MeSH to find articles he is interested in related to a certain topic. This MEDLINE specific thesaurus contains all catchwords hierarchically listed, which have been used to index the articles.


Medical Subject Headings. This is the thesaurus of the database MEDLINE, a controlled vocabulary of biomedical terms which is used to describe the subject of each journal article. Both print and electronical versions are available, in addition there is an online version.

The English MeSH contained 2004 about:

  • 20,000 main headings
  • 115,000 supplementary concept records (formerly: supplementary chemical records)
  • 300,000 entry terms

The MeSH is structured polyhierarchically and consists of four sections:

1. Hierarchical section (systematically, MeSH Tree Structures).

2. Alphabetical section (MeSH Annotated Alphabetical List):

  • Introduction
  • Main headings (MH, main catchwords), f.i. Multiple sclerosis
  • Entry terms (ET, synonyms) with cross references to main headings
  • Subheadings (SH, qualifier), f.i. Multiple sclerosis/etiology
  • Cross references
  • Annotations

3. Permuted MeSH. This is the permutated MeSH directory. It disburdens the alphabetical directory providing all descriptors belonging to a partial notation, f.i. Index:

  Body Mass Index
  Cornell Medical Index
  Dental Plaque Index
  DMF Index
  Gingival Index see Periodontal Index
  Health Status Index see Health Status Indicators
  Index Medicus see MEDLARS

4. Supplementary chemical records. Notations of all chemical substances.

MeSH Major Topics

MeSH terms describing the main topics discussed in the article. Inside a MEDLINE file, they are denoted by an asterisk on the MeSH term or MeSH/Subheading combination, e.g. Sarin/*toxicity.


National Center for Biotechnology Information, Bethesda, Maryland, USA, part of the NLM. Founded 1988 as national resource for molecular biology information. NCBI maintains PubMed.


National Institute of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Largest governmental medical research center, part of the U.S. department of Health and Human Services. 27 separate institutes and centers are affiliated, a.o. the NLM.


National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA, part of NIH.


Public accessible database maintained by the NLM providing access to MEDLINE as well as some other databases.


via lat. Thesaurus from gr. Thesaurós “Treasury”

  1. Title of a scientific compilation, especially of dictionaries of old languages.
  2. Alphabetical or systematic vocabulary of a discipline. Thus this glossary is a thesaurus as well.
  3. (Antiquity:) Smaller building in a sainthood storing precious consecretational things.
  4. Book of synonyms, often including related and contrasting words and antonyms.
  5. Collection of catchwords or descriptors of a database. Example: The MeSH is the thesaurus of the MEDLINE database. The user can choose MeSH terms to find special records.