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German: Eselsbrücke

1 Definition

A mnemonic describes a text, pictorial or figurative idea which helps in the memorisation of contexts or connections which are usually otherwise hard to remember. In various sub-fields of medicine mnemonics are frequently used as part of the process of learning large amounts of detailed knowledge by heart, for example in the area of anatomy.

2 Examples

There is a multitude of examples in diverse fields of medicine. Some of them are for example used in remembering the order of the carpal bones "Sally left the party to take Cathy home" (scaphoid, lunate, triquetral, pisiform, trapezium, trapezoid, capitate, hamate) or the branches of the lumbar plexus "Indecent Ian Gets Laid On Fridays Luckily" (iliohypogastric nerve, ilioinguinal nerve, genitofemoral nerve, lateral cutaneous nerve of the thigh, obturator nerve, femoral nerve, lumbosacral trunk).

Other mnemonics appear for example in learning the male reproductive system "My boyfriend's name is STEVE": Seminiferous Tubules, Epididymis, Vas deferens, Ejaculatory duct. Or for the number of vertebrae: Breakfast at 7:00 (7 cervical vertebrae), lunch at 12:00 (12 thoracic vertebrae), dinner at 5:00 (5 lumbar vertebrae).

3 Versions

One version of mnemonic is for example the acronym, which refers to a word in which the single letter refer to various other contents, for example the TORCH-serology. This abbreviation is used in learning infections during pregnancy which can be dangerous to the embryo. TORCH is a substitution for the terms: toxoplasma, other agents (Coxsackie virus, Treponema pallidum, HIV, parvovirus B19, listeriosis), rubella virus, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus. However, this acronym is some kind of bluff, as "other agents" can include up to ten more infections.

The Apgar-score in contrast is not an acronym but an eponym, as it refers to a proper name. The letters can however be used as a mnemonic.

Specialties: Anatomy

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