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Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2008 Jan;134(1):62-6. doi: 10.1001/archoto.2007.12.

Relational databases for rare disease study: application to vascular anomalies.

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  • 1Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center, Division of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Seattle, WA 98105-0371, USA.



To design a relational database integrating clinical and basic science data needed for multidisciplinary treatment and research in the field of vascular anomalies. Based on data points agreed on by the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology (ASPO) Vascular Anomalies Task Force. The database design enables sharing of data subsets in a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant manner for multisite collaborative trials. Vascular anomalies pose diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Our understanding of these lesions and treatment improvement is limited by nonstandard terminology, severity assessment, and measures of treatment efficacy. The rarity of these lesions places a premium on coordinated studies among multiple participant sites.


The relational database design is conceptually centered on subjects having 1 or more lesions. Each anomaly can be tracked individually along with their treatment outcomes. This design allows for differentiation between treatment responses and untreated lesions' natural course. The relational database design eliminates data entry redundancy and results in extremely flexible search and data export functionality.


Vascular anomaly programs in the United States.


A relational database correlating clinical findings and photographic, radiologic, histologic, and treatment data for vascular anomalies was created for stand-alone and multiuser networked systems. Proof of concept for independent site data gathering and HIPAA-compliant sharing of data subsets was demonstrated.


The collaborative effort by the ASPO Vascular Anomalies Task Force to create the database helped define a common vascular anomaly data set. The resulting relational database software is a powerful tool to further the study of vascular anomalies and the development of evidence-based treatment innovation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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