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HPB (Oxford). 2010 Dec;12(10):688-95. doi: 10.1111/j.1477-2574.2010.00235.x.

Natural language processing for the development of a clinical registry: a validation study in intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA.



Medical natural language processing (NLP) systems have been developed to identify, extract and encode information within clinical narrative text. However, the role of NLP in clinical research and patient care remains limited. Pancreatic cysts are common. Some pancreatic cysts, such as intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs), have malignant potential and require extended periods of surveillance. We seek to develop a novel NLP system that could be applied in our clinical network to develop a functional registry of IPMN patients.


This study aims to validate the accuracy of our novel NLP system in the identification of surgical patients with pathologically confirmed IPMN in comparison with our pre-existing manually created surgical database (standard reference).


The Regenstrief EXtraction Tool (REX) was used to extract pancreatic cyst patient data from medical text files from Indiana University Health. The system was assessed periodically by direct sampling and review of medical records. Results were compared with the standard reference.


Natural language processing detected 5694 unique patients with pancreas cysts, in 215 of whom surgical pathology had confirmed IPMN. The NLP software identified all but seven patients present in the surgical database and identified an additional 37 IPMN patients not previously included in the surgical database. Using the standard reference, the sensitivity of the NLP program was 97.5% (95% confidence interval [CI] 94.8-98.9%) and its positive predictive value was 95.5% (95% CI 92.3-97.5%).


Natural language processing is a reliable and accurate method for identifying selected patient cohorts and may facilitate the identification and follow-up of patients with IPMN.

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