VINDICATE – Medical Mnemonic for Differential Diagnoses and Etiologic causes

vindicate mnemonic

Differential diagnosis is the systematic method by which diseases of  similar presentation are distinguished by considering their common and dissimilar features.

In other words, Differential diagnosis is the process of differentiating between two or more conditions which share similar signs or symptoms.

On the other hand, every set of signs and symptoms can have several etiologic causes and can point towards different diagnostic possibilities. Etiology is the study of causation or origination of disease.

VINDICATE is mnemonic which helps to remember the various types of diseases to be considered in a differential diagnosis. In other words, VINDICATE represents the etiologic causes to be considered for every group of signs and symptoms.

VINDICATE stands for

  • V – Vascular
  • I – Inflammatory / Infectious
  • N – Neoplastic
  • D – Degenerative / Deficiency / Drugs
  • I – Idiopathic/ Intoxication
  • C – Congenital
  • A – Autoimmune / Allergic / Anatomic
  • T – Traumatic
  • E –  Endocrine

There are slightly modified versions of the mnemonic VINDICATE.


VINDICATES stands for

  • V Vascular
  • I Infection / Inflammatory
  • N Neoplastic
  • D Drugs/Toxins / Deficiency / Degenerative
  • I Inflammatory/Idiopathic / Iatrogenic
  • C Congenital
  • A Autoimmune / Allergic / Anatomic
  • T Trauma
  • E Endocrine/ Environmental
  • S Something Else/pSychological

The  most complete mnemonic to remember all etiologic causes and differential diagnoses is VINDICATEM:

  • V – Vascular
  • I– Inflammatory / Infectious
  • N- Neoplastic
  • D-Degenerative / Deficiency / Drugs
  • I- Idiopathic / Intoxication / Iatrogenic
  • C – Congenital
  • A – Autoimmune / Allergic / Anatomic
  • T –Traumatic
  • E –Endocrine / Environmental
  • M –Metabolic

Combining all the three mnemonics into one for the sake of completion, we get VINDICATESM

Whoa! VINDICATE has gone through quite an evolutionary march 🙂

  • V – Vascular
  • I– Inflammatory / Infectious
  • N- Neoplastic
  • D-Degenerative / Deficiency / Drugs
  • I- Idiopathic / Intoxication / Iatrogenic
  • C – Congenital
  • A – Autoimmune / Allergic / Anatomic
  • T –Traumatic
  • E –Endocrine / Environmental
  • S – Something else / PSchyoscocial
  • M –Metabolic

All the four mnemomics – VINDICATE, VINDICATES, VINDICATEM, VINDICATESM serve the general purpose of making it easy to remember the pathologic factors, etiologic causes and differential diagnoses to be considered for a disease.

However do note that there are

  • 2I – Inflammatory and Infectious
  • 3D – Drugs , Degenerative and Deficiency
  • 3A – Allergy, Anatomic and Autoimmune
  • 2E – Environmental and Endocrine
  • 3I – idiopathic , iatrogenic and intoxication
    in the mnemonic VINDICATE.

2 more mnemonics are in vogue to rememeber the differentials and causes – VITAMICS CDE and VITAMINS ABCDEK.

VITAMINSABCDEK stands for

  • V” stands for “vascular”, where the disease can be caused by “vessel” (bleed or blocked), or anything related to hematology.
  • I” is for “infective” or “post infective” causes.
  • T” is for “trauma” or anything caused by mechanical factors such as obstructions or pressure.
  • A” is for causes of “autoimmune”-related illnesses or “allergy”.
  • M” is for “metabolic” causes affecting lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, or micronutrients.
  • I” is for “idiopathic” or “iatrogenic” causes.
  • N” is for “neoplasia”.
  • S” is for diseases caused by “social” reasons, such as child abuse and social deprivation.
  • A” is for diseases caused by “alcohol”-related issues.
  • B” is for diseases caused by “behavioral” or psychosomatic disorders. “C” is for diseases caused by “congenital” problems
  • D” is for diseases caused by “degenerative” disorders or “drug”-related problems.
  • E” is for diseases caused by “endocrine” or “exocrine” problems.
  • K” stanhds for diseases caused by “karyotype” or genetic disorders.

VITAMINSCDE is a shorter version of the same mnemonic and isn’t used that often.


Further Reading and References :
1) Wikipedia article on Differential Diagnosis
2) Wikipedia article on Etiology
3) Zabidi-Hussin ZA. Practical way of creating differential diagnoses through an expanded VITAMINSABCDEK mnemonic. Adv Med Educ Pract. 2016;7:247‐248. Published 2016 Apr 22. doi:10.2147/AMEP.S106507

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