The Mrs. The Mommy. The M.D.: Syphilis?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Syphilis?

There is definitely a method to the madness when it comes to a medical school curriculum. For the most part we learn about the same things in different classes all together. This helps us to see connections and hopefully memorize it better. They told us that accurate diagnosis is all about "pattern recognition", so right now we are trying to see the patterns...

Anyway, last semester, syphilis was one of those diseases that kept popping up. Did you know at one time Indianapolis took the award for most syphilis diagnosis? Now I think we are just a "top contender" in the obesity category... 

Here are some of the syphilis patterns: You will see thoracic aortic aneurysms with the tertiary stage of syphilis, but abdominal aortic aneurysms with atherosclerosis...Or you may see the "Copper Pennies" rash of the secondary stage of syphilis...








Photo Credit

This makes for interesting Q&A sessions with practitioners because they can always tell what we are currently learning based on what we guess on the differential - no matter how far off our guess may be...haha

A discussion might sound something like this: 

Doctor: "Patient presents with a fever, sore throat, and unspecified abdominal pain. What are some possible causes?"
Thoughtful med students: "Syphilis?"

I mean it could be on the differential, but obviously there are some more common, less life-threatening things it could be as well LOL

Some other top contenders this year have been: "AIDS", "Tumor", and "Ebola". Hopefully they teach us some less-extreme diagnosis so that we don freak out the poor patient that comes in with a pollen allergy...

After all, this is real life, not an episode of House.
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