important mnemonics for USMLE takers

   Important mnemonics for USMLE takers

The USMLE exam is the toughest exam an IMG can choose for their career. This article focuses on making the toughest of the disease and syndromes of this toughest exam easier.

Kawasaki Disease

Crash and Burn

  • Conjunctivitis (non-purulent)
  • Rash
  • Adenopathy (cervical and commonly unilateral)
  • Strawberry tongue
  • Hands (palmar erythema/swelling)
  • Burn (fever lasting at least 5 days or more)

Complications of Myocardial infarction

DARTH VADER (from Starwars so watch the movie first)

  • Death
  • Arrhythmia
  • Rupture (free ventricular wall, septum or papillary muscles)
  • Tamponade
  • Heart failure
  • Valve disease
  • Aneurysm of ventricle
  • Dressler’s syndrome
  • Embolism (mural thrombus)
  • Recurrence/mitral Regurgitation

Acute Cardiac Tamponade – Beck’s Triad


  • Distant heart sounds
  • Decreased arterial blood pressure
  • Distended Jugular Veins (JVD)

Acute Pancreatitis


  • Biliary
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs (Corticosteroids, HIV drugs, Diuretics, Valproic acid..)
  • Hypertriglyceridemia/Hypercalcemia
  • Idiopathic
  • Trauma
  • Scorpion Sting

Cushing Syndrome


  • Central obesity, Collagen fiber weakness, Comedones (acne)
  • Urinary free cortisol and glucose increase
  • Striae, Suppressed immunity
  • Hypercortisolism, Hypertension, Hyperglycemia, Hypercholesterolemia
  • Latrogenic (increased administration of corticosteroids)
  • Noniatrogenic (Neoplasms)
  • Glucose intolerance, Growth retardation

Multiple endocrine neoplasias

Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1 (aka Wermer’s syndrome)
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Parathyroid tumors
  • Pancreatic endocrine tumors (e.g. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, Insulinomas, VIPomas, Glucagonomas)
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2A (aka Sipple’s Syndrome)
  • Parathyroid tumor
  • Medullary thyroid carcinoma
  • Pheochromocytoma
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2B
  • Mucosal neuromas/Marfanoid habitus
  • Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma
  • Pheochromocytoma


  • Palpitations
  • Headache
  • Episodic sweating (diaphoresis)

Crohn’s Disease


  • Cobblestones
  • High temperature
  • Reduced lumen
  • Intestinal fistulae
  • Skip lesions
  • Transmural (all layers, may ulcerate)
  • Malabsorption
  • Abdominal pain
  • Submucosal fibrosis

Important mnemonics for USMLE takers

Nephrotic Syndrome


  • Na decrease (hyponatremia)
  • Albumin decrease (hypoalbuminemia)
  • Proteinuria >3.5 g/day
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Renal vein thrombosis
  • Orbital edema
  • Thromboembolism
  • Infection (due to loss of immunoglobulins in urine)
  • Coagulability (due to loss of antithrombin III in urine)

Tabes Dorsalis Morphology


  • Dorsal column degeneration
  • Orthopedic pain (Charcot joints)
  • Reflexes decreased (deep tendon)
  • Shooting pain
  • Argyll-Robertson pupils
  • Locomotor ataxia
  • Impaired proprioception
  • Syphilis

ACE Inhibitor (side effects)


  • Cough/C1 esterase deficiency Contraindication
  • Angioedema/Agranulocytosis
  • Proteinuria/Potassium excess (hyperkalemia)
  • Taste change
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Pregnancy contraindication (fetal renal damage)
  • Renal artery stenosis contraindication
  • Increase renin
  • Leukopenia/Liver toxicity

Important mnemonics for USMLE takers


Class III Antiarrhythmic


  • Ibutilide
  • Sotalol
  • Bretylium
  • Amiodarone
  • Dofetilide

H.Pylori Treatment

Please Make Tummy Better

  • Proton pump inhibitor (omeprazole)
  • Metronidazole
  • Tetracycline
  • Bismuth

Lithium Side effects


  • Leukocytosis
  • Inspidus (nephrogenic diabetes insipidus)
  • Tremor/Teratogenic (ebstein’s anomaly)
  • Hypothyroidism

Myocardial Infarction Treatment


  • Morphine
  • Oxygen
  • Aspirin
  • Nitroglycerine

Statin’s Side effect

think of their MOA (inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase)

  • Hepatotoxicity
  • Myalgia, Myositis, rhabdoMyolysis

Stevens Johnson Syndrome causing drugs

  • Phenytoin
  • Carbamazepine
  • Phenobarbital
  • Lamotrigine
  • Allopurinol
  • Penicillin
  • Sulfadrugs
  • Erythromycin

Tuberculosis Treatment

If you forget your TB drugs, You will die and might need a PRIEST

  • Pyrazinamide
  • Rifampin
  • Isoniazid
  • Ethambutol
  • STreptomycin

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Causes


  • Aspiration/Acute pancreatitis/Air or Amniotic embolism
  • Radiation
  • Drug overdose/DIC/Drowning/Diffuse lung disease
  • Shock/Sepsis/Smoke inhalation

Autosomal Dominant Disorders Mnemonics

Very Powerful DOMINANT Humans

  • Von williebrand disease / Von Hippel-Lindau
  • Pseudo-hypoparathyroidism
  • Dystrophia myotonica
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta/Osler-weber-rendu
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Intermittent porphyria
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Achondroplasia/Adult polycystic kidney disease
  • Noonan syndrome
  • Tuberous sclerosis
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy
  • Hereditary spherocytosis
  • Hereditary non polyposis coli
  • Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia

Fabry’s Disease

FABRY’C (replace S with C)

  • Foam cells/ Febrile episodes
  • Alpha galactosidase A deficiency/Angiokeratomas
  • Burning pain in hands and feet “peripheral neuropathy”/Boys
  • Renal failure
  • YX genotype (Male, X-linked recessive)
  • Ceramide trihexoside accumulation/Cardiovascular disease

Folic Acid deficiency causes

  • Alcoholism
  • Folic acid antagonists (e.g methotrexate, trimethoprim)
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Low dietary intake (e.g. excessive goat milk)
  • Infection with giardia
  • Celiac sprue
  • Pregnancy/Psoriasis
  • Old age
  • Dilantin aka phenytoin

Tay Sach’s Features


  • Testing recommended
  • Autosomal recessive
  • Young death (<4 years)
  • Spot in macula (cherry red spots)
  • Ashkenazi jews
  • CNS degeneration
  • Hex A deficiency
  • Storage disease

Acute Intermittent Porphyria

6 P’s

  • Porphobilinogen deaminase deficiency
  • Pain in abdomen (most common, 95% of patients experience)
  • Psychological symptoms (Anxiety, agitation, hallucination, hysteria, delirium, depression)

Important mnemonics for USMLE takers

Felty’s Syndrome


  • Splenomegaly
  • Anemia
  • Neutropenia
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Arthritis (Rheumatoid)

Multiple Myeloma Signs and Symptoms


  • Calcium elevation
  • Renal impairment
  • Anemia
  • Bone (bone pain, lytic lesions, fractures)


these were all important mnemonics for USMLE takers. You might find some useful mnemonics on pharmacology and surgery by clicking them. In the meantime if you want more information on USMLE and tips on USMLE click them.

Here are some tips specifically for the USMLE STEP 1 exam

Brainstorm! BYE


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