Mnemonics

Mnemonic Monday: Hypersensitivity Reactions

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By Haley Masterson

The 4 categories of hypersensitivity reactions is one of those subjects many students suspect we’ll never need to remember. But, in fact, this topic will likely haunt us for the rest of our medical career no matter what field we go into (even surgical residents have to review this topic for their ABSITE exam), so you may as well memorize the 4 categories now.

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What’s in a Name?

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By Joe Savarese

Mnemonics are definitely useful tools for medical students – useful for quick recall and short-memory techniques on frequently difficult topics. However, I found that when I am in the exam room with 72 seconds per question, my mind likely will not remember the twelve cranial nerves with this classic long sentence: “On old Olympus’s towering tops, a Finn and German viewed some hops.”

I prefer an acronym where each letter can stand for various items without the goofy sentence or I will commonly reshape the word in such a way that I can recall something significant about it. The latter method gives me the opportunity to remember forgotten memorized facts if I am stuck on an exam question. We have all had those moments where we recognize the word, yet we forgot everything about it. Instead we sit in the exam room and continuously repeat “Oprelvekin. Oprelvekin. Oprelvekin.” while changing our emphasis on different syllables.

Below are a few examples of difficult drugs (in my opinion) that I used while studying for Step 1. (more…)

Mnemonic Monday: “Sometimes ‘Cuz of A Hypoperfusion”

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By Haley Masterson

Using this mnemonic, you can simplify the order of the four types of respiratory failure as Shunting, increased CO2 (hypoventilation), Atelectasis, and Hypoperfusion. Shunting is commonly caused by pulmonary edema, hypoventilation is either neurological or neuromuscular in etiology, atelectasis is commonly seen in perioperative patients, and cases of hypoperfusion can be found in shock.

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Mnemonic Monday: Partial Thromboplastin Time vs Prothrombin Time

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By Haley Masterson

While PTT and PT will both be affected by disorders of the common pathway of coagulation cascade, the PTT is used as a lab test marker for the function of the intrinsic branch of the coagulation cascade, and the PT for the extrinsic.

Confused yet? Don’t be. Try using this heartbreaking visual mnemonic: (more…)

Mnemonic Monday: Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Crohn’s vs. Ulcerative Colitis

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By Haley Masterson

The two types of Inflammatory Bowel Disease are both idiopathic diseases of the immune system. However, they differ in several commonly tested ways that can be explained using a simple mnemonic: Only GALS can be Crones (Crohn’s).

Granulomas – While a lack of granulomas won’t rule out Crohn’s Disease, if a test question mentions them, you should be thinking about Crohn’s. Granulomas don’t appear in Ulcerative Colitis.

All Layers – Crohn’s affects all of the layers of the bowel– it’s a transmural disease, whereas Ulcerative Colitis is confined to the mucosa (with occasional submucosa inflammation). Only Crohn’s has muscularis and serosa involvement.

You can also think of “All Layers” as being “All levels” of the bowel – Crohn’s can affect anything from the ileum (the most commonly involved segment) to the sigmoid colon, whereas Ulcerative Colitis is generally limited to colonic lesions. This becomes easy to remember when you consider that Ulcerative Colitis has “colon” right in its name. (more…)

Mnemonic Monday: Sensory and Motor Anatomy

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By Haley Masterson

“Afferent” and “Efferent” may be among the most confusing similar-sounding words in medicine. Luckily, there’s a mnemonic to help tell them apart – as a bonus, this study trick also covers the difference between dorsal and ventral neurological systems. (more…)

Napkin Drawing #2: D-dimer, FDP, and Rabbit Holes

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By Mark Ard

Napkin Drawing 2 D-dimer, FDP, and Rabbit HolesI vividly remember this topic from Kaplan Q bank, UWorld, and my Step 1 test. It always boiled down to the same question, what’s the difference between elevated d-dimer and elevated fibrin degradation products (FDP). (If Step 1 questions were written like that, life would be so much easier).

Of course, a good Step 1 question will assume you know the basics and wants a deeper understanding. Did this patient recently have a radical prostatectomy and release a large amount of urokinase? Do you think his nosebleed is from picking it too aggressively, or is it the first sign of DIC, followed by bleeding out of every orifice and IV site? Does the fact that his liver enzymes are sky high explain the high FDP and low d-dimer (the answer is yes, the liver makes anti-plasmin). (more…)

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