What is a Medical Case Report Abstract Used For?
Medical and clinical case reports (or “clinical vignettes”) are integral in recording unusual and rare cases of diseases, disorders, and injuries. They provide not only the details of a given case, but also briefly include background and establish the wider significance of a case in the medical literature.
Before researchers will even have a chance to read your case report, they will likely be searching through abstract indexes (e.g., via search engines such as PubMed or ScienceDirect) to locate information relevant to their own medical research. Therefore, both the title and brief abstract are crucial to providing critical details about your case report. The following guidelines and case report templates will help you compose a title and abstract for medical case reports submitted to case report journals.
Formatting to Fit Your Target Journal
The information in this guide is generally applicable to case reports intended for submission to most medical journals. However, each journal has its own guidelines for content and formatting provided in the journal’s “Instructions for authors”, “Author guidelines” or “Preparing your manuscript” section. Read various medical case reports to gain a sense of the different formatting styles used by specific journals.
Case Report Journals
Some medical journals publish a limited number of case reports. There are also numerous respected, peer-reviewed medical journals that specialize in case reports; many are open access journals. A few examples are Journal of Medical Case Reports, Oxford Medical Case Reports, BJR Case Reports, and International Journal of Surgery Case Reports.
Case Report Title
As the first element of a case report that readers will see, the title should be informative, highly relevant to the subject, and concise. It should attract the attention of researchers and other readers of a journal while remaining authentic and convincing.
Useful Terms to Include in the Title
- Case-related terms: presentation, unusual case, rare case, challenges, complications, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment
- Patient-related terms: patient, adult, child, infant, adolescent, elderly, man/woman
Article-related terms such as case study and case report are generally considered redundant and may detract from the interest of your title, so use them sparingly (but check the author instructions of the target journal prior to submission).
Clinical Vignette Title Examples:
- “An unusual presentation of primary small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) in an elderly woman”
- “Challenges in the management of mycotic splenic arteriovenous fistula in a cirrhotic patient”
- “CREST syndrome: a rare cause of chronic upper-gastrointestinal Hemorrhage in adults”
- “Primary tuberculous dacryocystitis: two cases mimicking tumors of the lacrimal sac”
Case Report Abstract
The abstract must be concise, complete, and comprehensible to readers before they have read the article.
How to Organize an Abstract
1. Background (1-2 sentences)
First, explain why this case is being reported and its novelty or clinical relevance.
2. Case presentation (3-6 sentences)
Give a brief description of the patient’s medical and demographic details, their diagnosis, interventions or complications, and the outcomes. Level of detail should be determined by importance to the novelty and outcomes of the case.
3. Discussion/Conclusion (1-2 sentences)
Briefly summarize the clinical impact and/or implications of this case and provide suggestions for the clinical area. Emphasize aspects of the case that may have broader implications, suggest precautions that should be taken, or provide interesting topics for future research.
Medical Case Report Abstract Templates
Example #1: A Case of Injury
We herein report a case of a [patient age and gender] with an unusual case of [injury]. The [injury] consisted of features typical of [common features of the injury/disease/disorder], with additional [additional features of case, if any], signifying a [diagnosis/complications]. Features of this case are discussed together with its implications, including [implications of case]. [Additional measures taken—treatment/surgery/etc.] was undertaken due to [reason for measures].
Example #2: A Case of Disease/Disorder
[Disease/disorder] is a rare condition characterized by [symptoms]. Its presentation is usually [sporadic/chronic/acute]. Usually seen in patients who are [typical demographics of patient], [disease] presentation in [this specific category of patient] is rare. Symptoms at presentation depend on [parts of body/patient’s environment]. Patients with [disease/disorder] may present with [additional major symptoms]. We herein report a rare presentation of [disease/disorder] in a [patient demographic—age/gender/race/etc.]. who suffered from [corresponding symptoms or co-morbid diseases]. [Diagnostics/tests] revealed [results of tests/complication]. The patient underwent [surgery/treatment] and was given [drugs/intubation/etc.]. Recovery was [description of recovery]. In spite of a wide range of therapeutic options for the management of [disease/disorder] described in the literature, the efficacy of those available therapies is [unknown/not well established/open/etc.].
For more input on how to come up with the perfect title for your report, on how to write abstracts for research papers in general, or on how to impress the editor of your target journal with the perfect cover letter, head over to the Wordvice academic resources website.