Master Nocardia with Picmonic for Medicine

With Picmonic, facts become pictures. We've taken what the science shows - image mnemonics work - but we've boosted the effectiveness by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzing.


Nocardia is a gram positive rod which forms beaded branching filaments that resemble fungi. It is weakly acid fast and classically presents in immunocompromised patients as lung cavitations or brain and kidney infections. It is an aerobic bacteria that typically lives in the soil. The treatment for patients found to have the infection is TMP-SMX antibiotic.

This bacteria requires oxygen to live and is incapable of living in environments with minimal oxygen content.

Graham-cracker Positive-angel

Norcardia stains positive under gram staining due to high peptidoglycan levels in the cell wall.

Positive Cat

Nocardia is catalase positive, meaning it produces the enzyme catalase. This enzyme allows the bacteria to convert hydrogen peroxide, which is toxic, to oxygen and water.

Positive U-eraser

This bacterium has the ability to produce urease, which hydrolyzes urea in the body to ammonia. In a urinary tract infection, this means that the urine becomes more alkaline. In a lab setting, urease positive bacteria are characterized by their production of a distinct, fishy odor.

Acid Fast
Acidic-lemon Running Fast

An acid fast stain refers to the ability of acid to be washed off a bacterial prep often due to high mycolic acid content. Nocardia is weakly acid fast when stained. This property helps distinguish nocardia from actinomyces which has no acid fast properties.


Nocardia and actinomyces have long branching filaments, which help with their identification.

Beaded Filament
Beaded Rope

Nocardia is commonly described as a beaded filament, much like actinomyces.


Nocardial infections are classically found as pulmonary infections in immunocompromised patients.


Norcardia often originates from the soil where it is abundant.

Lung Cavitation
Lung cavity

Lung cavitation is a classic presentation of Nocardia infection in immunocompromised patients. This could present as chronic cough or hemoptysis.

Brain Abscess
Brain Abscess-guy

Nocardia is known to cause brain abscesses in immunocompromised patients.

Kidney Abscess
Kidney and Abscess-guy

Norcardia infections can also present as a kidney abscess.

Tampon on SMX-snowmobile

The treatment for patients with nocardia infection is trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic that alters bacterial folate metabolism.

Take the Nocardia Quiz

Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.

It's worth every penny

Our Story Mnemonics Increase Mastery and Retention

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)

Ace Your Medicine (MD/DO) Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 1,260,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

Choose the #1 Medicine (MD/DO) student study app.

Picmonic for Medicine (MD/DO) covers information that is relevant to your entire Medicine (MD/DO) education. Whether you’re studying for your classes or getting ready to conquer the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, COMLEX Level 1, or COMLEX Level 2, we’re here to help.

Works better than traditional Medicine (MD/DO) flashcards.

Research shows that students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.