top of page

Aunt Minnie

Tips for teaching when the diagnosis is obvious

Use of the term "Aunt Minnie" to describe a pathognomonic radiographic finding was coined by radiologist Ed Neuhauser and popularized by his colleague Ben Felson in a 1960 issue of Chest Roentology. In our more modern and less restricted understanding, Aunt Minnie is any finding, historical detail, or pattern which can realistically only be one thing.

Pattern recognition is an important part of Emergency Medicine. Allowing learners to abbreviate presentations and discussions when the diagnosis is obvious can save you (and them) precious time. 

When a learner recognizes Aunt Minnie and he or she is right, acknowledge the sighting, skip the socratic dialogue, and move on to management. 

When a learner recognizes Aunt Minnie and is wrong or fails to recognize a classic presentation, help them refine their mental model so they will be accurate next time. 

During shifts, mix up clinical conversations by alternating between in-depth socratic discussions about more complex patients and streamlined presentations when Aunt Minnie checks in. 

PINNACLE TIP: If you'd like to make Aunt Minnie cases more interesting, facilitate a conversation about how alterations to the pattern might impact diagnostic reasoning.

Additional resources:

Cunningham AS, Blatt SD, Fuller PG, Weinberger HL. The art of precepting: Socrates or Aunt Minnie? Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1999 Feb;153(2):114-6.




<<Differential Building                              Clinical Teaching Toolbox                              SNAPPS>>


bottom of page