Medical devices are those products used to prevent, diagnose, treat, and monitor the many diseases known to humankind. Medical devices and medicines play an equally important role in treating human beings. To learn more about medical devices, read our article on the definition of a medical device. This article discusses the nomenclature of medical devices and examples of these.

What is the nomenclature of medical devices?

To simply put it, the nomenclature is the naming of a medical device. Although medical devices are classified into different risk classes, they should be named so that it is universally identified. Standardised nomenclature facilitates this easy identification.

A nomenclature is needed to simplify trade and tracking among the different regulatory authorities, Ministries of Health, and other organisations that regulate medical devices.

A standardised nomenclature aids in the following aspects:

  • Grouping and classification of medical devices.
  • Registration under different regulatory bodies or Ministries of Health
  • Streamlined procurement and distribution
  • Grouping of medical devices in various electronic health records and medical device databases
  • Vigilance reporting, field safety and post-market surveillance
  • Unique Device Identifiers (UDI)

Medical Device Nomenclatures

The different device nomenclatures available are as follows:

  • GMDN or Global Medical Device Nomenclature.
  • EMDN or European Medical Device Nomenclature
  • UMDNS or Universal Medical Device Nomenclature System
  • Other nationally developed nomenclature systems

Global Medical Device Nomenclature (GMDN)

About 10% of countries use Global Medical Device Nomenclature worldwide. It is a system of internationally accepted descriptors used to identify medical devices. The GMDN Agency manages GMDN codes, a non-profit organisation.

GMDN is a 5-digit code containing the following information:

  • GMDN Term Name: Anaesthesia ventilator
  • GMDN Code: 34851
  • GMDN Definition: A mains electricity (AC-powered) stand-alone, automatic cycling device used to assist and control alveolar ventilation during general anaesthesia and is compatible with inhaled anaesthetic agents. It has fewer functions and is less complex to operate than an intensive care ventilator but adequately meets the patient’s ventilation needs for oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange to maintain normal blood gas concentrations. The device provides a mechanical means to deliver the breathing gas to the patient in a controlled pattern. It is equipped with alarms to warn of changes in respiration or the onset of unsafe operating conditions.

Source: gmdnagency.org

GMDN was introduced for a variety of regulatory purposes. GMDN is based on the ISO 15225: Medical device nomenclature data structure’. Read more about the frequently asked questions about GMDN here.

European Medical Device Nomenclature (EMDN)

European Medical Device Nomenclature or EMDN is introduced due to Article 26 of EU Regulation 2017/745 of Medical devices and Article 23 of EU Regulation 2017/746  of in-vitro diagnostic medical devices. Like GMDN, it plays a considerable role in device nomenclature and serves various regulatory purposes. One of the primary uses is while registering a medical device in EUDAMED where it is closely linked to UDI-DI.

Structure of EMDN

The European Medical Device Nomenclature is characterised by its alphanumeric structure and is established in a seven-level hierarchical tree where it clusters medical devices into three primary levels:

Categories: the first hierarchical level – alphanumeric.

Groups: the second hierarchical level – 2 numbers indicating group.

Types: the third hierarchical level – a series of numbers 1,2,3,4 and 5.

EMDN was adopted from the Classificazione Nazionale Dispositivi medici (CND) classification. The EMDN can be accessed at the EMDN list. European Medical Device Nomenclature categorises into three primary levels, categories, groups, and types. A category comprises several groups composed of various kinds of medical devices.

Source: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/dyna2/emdn/. In the above image of EMDN, ‘A’ is the category, ‘A01’ is Group and ‘A0101’ to ‘A0199’ are the types of medical devices.

Universal Medical Device Nomenclature System (UMDNS)

Universal Medical Device Nomenclature System or UMDNS was developed by the Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI). Many nations have adopted this standard around the world. UMDNS is used in inventory control, work order control, and regulatory systems applications. It is a 5-digit code unique code and a term for different types of medical devices. One can find the UMDNS code list here. UMDNS is updated monthly.

CND Nomenclature

CND nomenclature or ‘Classificazione Nazionale Dispositivi medici’ was developed by Italian Ministry of Health. In addition to Italy, it is also used in Portugal and Greece. The guidance document on CND nomenclature explains the basic principles and structure of CND, which also applies to EMDN as EMDN was adopted from CND nomenclature. Following this, medical devices are clustered into three levels:

  • Category
  • Group
  • Type

FAQs

Is UDI the same as GMDN?

Both Unique Device Identification System (UDI) and GMDN are used in device identification. However, the two have some fundamental differences. UDI is inferior because of its lack of unity. It does not have a structure; therefore, device identification becomes more difficult with UDIs. Nonetheless, it is an effective tool for the traceability of medical devices. FDA utilises UDIs for medical device identification. The user guide to GUDID explains how the UDIs are managed in US FDA’s database, GUDID.

Can EMDN be accessed free of charge?

The EMDN is accessible to all stakeholders- free of charge. Hence, it can be utilised by a non-exhaustive list of stakeholders such as manufacturers, patients, research organisations, practitioners, hospitals, etc. The EMDN can also be downloaded from here.

Is there a guidance document that helps economic operators to map the EMDN information into the forthcoming EUDAMED database?

Yes, there are two guidance documents released by the EU commission