Osteopathic Thesaurus

This AACOM Osteopathic Thesaurus, published in 2004, consists of:

  • Total Number of Terms: 471
  • Uniquely Osteopathic Terms: 240
  • MeSH Terms: 27 
  • Non-Preferred Terms (Synonyms): 231


As in any profession, osteopathic medicine has developed a unique terminology integral to its professional identity. It is the means by which specialized knowledge is transmitted within the profession, to the public, and to future generations. To maintain control, currency, clarity, and consistency, many professions now maintain their terminology in a structured thesaurus format.

The Authorized Osteopathic Thesaurus was developed in 2004 by the Educational Council of Osteopathic Principles of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and staff from the Gibson D. Lewis Library at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.

Funding for the thesaurus editor position was contributed by the American Osteopathic Association. Members of the American Academy of Osteopathy and its Louisa Burns Osteopathic Research Committee contributed a great deal of time and expertise to help make this project a reality.


Recently, various groups within the osteopathic profession discovered that the current sources of osteopathic terminology were inadequate to meet their needs. They determined that, especially in the digital age,  an authoritative osteopathic thesaurus was essential to the increasing number of professional activities requiring accurate, consistent descriptive terminology. These activities included:

  • The ability to index and search the osteopathic literature with precision and effectiveness
  • The development of core clinical curricula and the evaluation of osteopathic educational programs
  • The development of standardized tests, specialty board, and licensing examinations
  • The development and use of standardized osteopathic clinical patient data records
  • The accurate collection and analysis of patient data in multi-site clinical trials
  • The need for osteopathic terminology in medical office management and accreditation software applications
  • The unambiguous communication of research findings in publications and oral presentations

The Authorized Osteopathic Thesaurus (AOT) is the official thesaurus for osteopathic medicine, defining the meaning and interrelationships of those terms that have a unique meaning in osteopathic medicine.

The goal of the AOT is to standardize the unique diagnostic, therapeutic, and theoretical concepts and terminology of osteopathic philosophy, principles and practice. The Thesaurus includes the preferred form of each term; its definition; references as needed to broader, narrower, and related terms; synonyms; and archaic forms of the term. Abbreviations and acronyms are also included.

This first edition of the AOT is derived in part from the September 2003 edition of the Glossary of osteopathic terminology.Published biannually by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine's Educational Council on Osteopathic Principles (ECOP) since 1981, the Glossary was the largest pre-existing authoritative source of osteopathic terms.

The other primary source was the OSTMED ® subject authority file and bibliographic index to the literature of osteopathic medicine.  In 2007  OSTMED.DR ®, an osteopathic medicine digital library developed by Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM),  subsumed and replaced OSTMED. While OSTMED was a bibliographic index, OSTMED.DR provides access to all ingested content within the repository, as well as being full text indexed and searchable. The goal of this resource is to promote and facilitate research and scholarly activity in the osteopathic profession by providing ready access to the osteopathic literature and heretofore hard to find resources, including historical documents. Books, core journals, selective journals, video and images are included.