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VITAMINS ABCDEK & VINDICATE Mnemonic for Differential Diagnosis

All about VITAMINS ABCDEK Mnemonic and VINDICATE Mnemonic for differential diagnosis of any medical conditions »

IntroductionVINDICATEVITAMINS ABCDEKExplanation

Medical Mnemonics

Mnemonics are extensively used in the field of medicine, biology, and biochemistry. They are handy tools to memorize any important information from anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology to pharmacology. Medical, nursing, and paramedical students have to do so much of the study-related works in little time. They don’t even get enough time to review for quarterly and board exams. They are forced to memorize a whole lot of information in no time. In such hard times come medical acronyms and medical mnemonics to relieve the pain of medical students.

VINDICATE mnemonic and VITAMINS ABCDEK mnemonic or memory tricks help students to remember etiological points to frame a structure for differential diagnosis of any medical conditions. First, get some information about the differential diagnosis, then we will dive into the VINDICATE mnemonic and VITAMINS ABCDEK mnemonic. 

Differential Diagnosis for Any Conditions

Differential diagnosis is defined as a method of analyzing a patient’s history and examinations to arrive at the final diagnosis. The main purpose of differential diagnosis is to distinguish a particular disease or condition from other conditions with similar clinical characteristics.

In healthcare, clinicians use certain sets of procedures to diagnose the specific disease in a patient. The set of activities related to history taking and physical examinations to come to the correct diagnosis is known as the differential diagnostic procedure. This helps the practitioners to identify the presence of a disease entity where multiple alternatives are possible.

Each individual option of a possible illness or disease is called a differential diagnosis. For instance, scleritis could be a differential diagnosis in the evaluation of a pink eye with pain, even if the final diagnosis is acute angle-closure glaucoma.

Four steps in the differential diagnosis

  • To create a list of symptoms
  • To create a list of possible causes for the symptoms
  • To prioritize the list by balancing the risks of a diagnosis with the probability
  • To perform clinical tests to determine the actual diagnosis
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Mnemonic for Differential Diagnosis

Medical students, nursing students, paramedical students, new clinicians, and even experienced healthcare professionals find it hard to create a worthwhile and easy-to-remember differential diagnosis. In such conditions come differential diagnosis mnemonics to rescue all medical students. You can utilize mnemonics to study smart and for smooth and smart clinical practices.

The main purpose of this differential diagnosis mnemonic is to approach diseases from their etiologies and not from anatomical perspectives.

The following three mnemonics are popular for differential diagnosis of any medical condition. VINDICATE mnemonic, VITAMIN CDE mnemonic, and VITAMINS ABCDEK mnemonic are well-known memory tricks for memorizing differential diagnosis.

VINDICATE Mnemonic for Differential Diagnosis

  1. VINDICATE Mnemonic

The VINDICATE mnemonic comprises nine potential etiologies. They include vascular, infectious, neoplastic, degenerative/ drugs/ deficiency, iatrogenic, intoxication, congenital, autoimmune/ allergic/ anatomic, traumatic, endocrine/ environmental. You can create a comprehensive differential diagnosis from these etiologies.

V – Vascular – such as stroke, TIA, subarachnoid hemorrhage
I – Infectious – such as meningitis, encephalitis, sepsis
N – Neoplastic – such as primary brain tumor or metastasis
D – Degenerative – such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, other dementias
I – Iatrogenic/intoxication – such as narcotics, alcohol intoxication, or withdrawal
C – Congenital – such as epilepsy (post-ictal state)
A – Autoimmune – such as CNS lupus, neurosarcoidosis if you want to get fancy!
T – Traumatic – such as traumatic brain injury, traumatic epidural or subdural hematoma
E – Endocrine/metabolic – such as hypoglycemia, hypo- or hyperthyroidism, hypo- or hypernatremia, hypercalcemia, hepatic or uremic encephalopathy

  1. VINDICSTES Mnemonic

It is the modified form of the VINDICATE mnemonic. It comprises ten potential etiologies. They include vascular, infectious/ inflammatory, neoplastic, degenerative/ drugs/ deficiency, iatrogenic/ idiopathic, intoxication, congenital, autoimmune/ allergic/ anatomic, traumatic, endocrine/ environmental, something else/ psychological. Something else/ psychological (S) is added here. You can create a comprehensive differential diagnosis from these etiologies.

  1. VINDICATEM Mnemonic

It is another modified form of the VINDICATE mnemonic. It comprises ten potential etiologies. They include vascular, infectious/ inflammatory, neoplastic, degenerative/ drugs/ deficiency, iatrogenic/ idiopathic, intoxication, congenital, autoimmune/ allergic/ anatomic, traumatic, endocrine/ environmental, metabolic. Metabolic (M) is added here. You can create a comprehensive differential diagnosis from these etiologies.

  1. VINDICATESM Mnemonic

It is the complete VINDICSTE mnemonic for differential diagnosis. It comprises eleven potential etiologies. They include vascular, infectious/ inflammatory, neoplastic, degenerative/ drugs/ deficiency, iatrogenic/ idiopathic, intoxication, congenital, autoimmune/ allergic/ anatomic, traumatic, endocrine/ environmental, something else/ psychological, metabolic. You can create a comprehensive differential diagnosis from these etiologies.

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VITAMINS ABCDEK Mnemonics

The VITAMIN CDE mnemonic helps you to remember ten potential etiologies easily. Similarly, the VITAMINS ABCDEK mnemonic comprises fourteen potential etiologies to create a differential diagnosis. In addition to the VINDICATE mnemonics mentioned above, you also see inflammatory, toxic, and idiopathic in the VITAMIN CDE mnemonic. The additional etiologies in VITAMINS ABCDEK mnemonic are allergy, mechanical, social, alcohol, behavioral, drug, and karyotype.

  1. VITAMIN CDE Mnemonic

The short form of the VITAMINS ABCDEK mnemonic. This is not a complete list. So, it is not used frequently by medical students and clinicians. 

  1. VITAMINS ABCDEK Mnemonic

V – “vascular”

I –  “infective” or “post-infective” causes

T – “trauma”

A – “autoimmune”-related illnesses or “allergy”

M – “metabolic” causes

I – “idiopathic” or “iatrogenic” causes

N – “neoplasia”.

S – “social” reasons

A – “alcohol”-related issues

B – “behavioral” or psychosomatic disorders

C – “congenital” problems

D – “degenerative” disorders or “drug”-related problems

E – “endocrine” or “exocrine” problems

K – “karyotype” or genetic disorders

All Etiological Points Explanation for VINDICATE Mnemonic

The research paper by Zabidi A Zabidi-Hussin in the topic “Practical way of creating differential diagnoses through an expanded VITAMINSABCDEK mnemonic” has given the following explanations for all etiologies that are included in the VINDICATE mnemonic and VITAMIN CDE mnemonic.

V: vascular, where the disease can be caused by “vessel” (bleed or blocked), or anything related to hematology

I: infective or post-infective causes

T: trauma or anything caused by mechanical factors such as obstructions or pressure

A: autoimmune-related illnesses or allergies

M: Metabolic causes affecting lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, or micronutrients

I: idiopathic or iatrogenic causes

N: neoplasia

S: social reasons, such as child abuse and social deprivation

A: alcohol-related issues

B: behavioral or psychosomatic disorders

C: congenital problems (the entire VITAMINSABCDEK could be applied again in the congenital causes)

D: degenerative disorders or drug-related problems

E: endocrine or exocrine problems

K: karyotype or genetic disorders

Which is the Best Mnemonic for Differential Diagnosis: VINDICATE Mnemonic or VITAMIN CDE?

After knowing all these acronyms for differential diagnosis, it’s up to you to find out which is the best mnemonic. We suggest you follow the one which you remember easily. There is no right or wrong side for these mnemonics as they are only the structural framework for your smart study and smooth clinical practice.


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