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Encyclopedia > Differential diagnosis

In medicine, differential diagnosis (sometimes abbreviated DDx or ΔΔ) is the systematic method physicians use to identify the disease causing a patient's symptoms. Medicine is the science and art of maintaining andor restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of patients. ... The Doctor by Luke Fildes This article is about the term physician, one type of doctor; for other uses of the word doctor see Doctor. ... The term disease refers to an abnormal condition of an organism that impairs function. ... The term symptom (from the Greek meaning chance, mishap or casualty, itself derived from συμπιπτω meaning to fall upon or to happen to) has two similar meanings in the context of physical and mental health: Strictly, a symptom is a sensation or change in health function experienced by a patient. ...

Before a medical condition can be treated, it must be identified. The physician begins by observing the patient's symptoms, examining the patient, and taking the patient's personal and family history. Then the physician lists the most likely causes. The physician asks questions and performs tests to eliminate possibilities until he or she is satisfied that the single most likely cause has been identified.[citation needed] The medical history of a patient (sometimes called anamnesis [1][2] ) is information gained by a physician by asking specific questions, either of the patient or of other people who know the person and can give suitable information (in this case, it is sometimes called heteroanamnesis). ...

Once a working diagnosis is reached, the physician prescribes a therapy. If the patient's condition does not improve, the diagnosis must be reassessed. The method of differential diagnosis was first suggested for use in the diagnosis of mental disorders by Emil Kraepelin. It is more systematic than the old-fashioned method of diagnosis by gestalt (impression).[citation needed] In general, a diagnosis (plural diagnoses) has two distinct dictionary definitions. ... Emil Kraepelin (February 15, 1856–October 7, 1926) was a German psychiatrist who attempted to create a synthesis of the hundreds of mental disorders classified by the 19th century, grouping diseases together based on classification of common patterns of symptoms, rather than by simple similarity of major symptoms in the... Look up gestalt in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

The term differential diagnosis also refers to medical information specially organized to aid in diagnosis, particularly a list of the most common causes of a given symptom, annotated with advice on how to narrow down the list. [citation needed]


In popular culture

The term and methodology have been recently popularized by the television series House, MD. House, also known as House, M.D., is a critically-acclaimed American medical drama television series created by David Shore and executive produced by Shore and film director Bryan Singer. ...

See also

. ... In medicine, a sign is a feature of disease as detected by the doctor during physical examination of a patient. ...


"differential diagnosis." Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Inc. 12 Aug. 2007. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/differential diagnosis>.

"differential diagnosis." The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Company. 12 Aug. 2007. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/differential diagnosis>.

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