Master Beta Thalassemia 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.

Beta Thalassemia

Beta-fish Talisman
Picmonic
β-thalassemia is an inherited microcytic, hypochromic anemia which occurs in Mediterranean populations. These patients have problems synthesizing beta-globin and lead to decreased amounts of the normal hemoglobin tetramer form. One presentation is β-thalassemia minor, where diagnosis occurs with increased HbA2 fraction (> 3.5%), and patients are typically asymptomatic and require no intervention. β-thalassemia major, or Cooley's anemia, is more severe and patients need regular blood transfusions, which may lead to a secondary hemochromatosis. On skull x-ray, these patients show a crew-cut appearance due to marrow expansion.
9 KEY FACTS
MECHANISM
Microcytic, Hypochromic Anemia
Small-cells with Hippo-chrome and Anemone

Lab results in patient with beta thalassemia show a microcytic, hypochromic anemia. This means that the mean corpuscular volume is less than 80 (MCV <80).

Mediterranean Populations
Mediterranean Sea

This particular dyscrasia is prevalent among Mediterranean populations; particularly Greece, Turkey and Italy.

Decreased Beta-Globin
Down-arrow Beta-fish-Globe

Hemoglobin is normally composed of two α-chains and two β-chains. In this disorder, β-globin synthesis does not occur properly. There are varying phenotypes, correlating to if only one or both β-chains are effected.

BETA-THALASSEMIA MINOR
Increased HbA2
Up-arrow He-man-globe with A-Apple and (2) Tutu

Patients with β-thalassemia minor are diagnosed by having an increased HbA2 fraction (>3.5%). This type of hemoglobin is described by having two α-chains and two δ-chains (instead of β).

No Intervention
Broken Intervention-sign

Often, these patients are asymptomatic and are monitored for symptoms.

BETA-THALASSEMIA MAJOR
Blood Transfusions
Blood Transfusion-IV

This is a severe microcytic, hypochromic anemia. Untreated, it causes anemia, splenomegaly and severe bone deformities. It progresses to death before age 20. Treatment consists of periodic blood transfusion; splenectomy if splenomegaly is present, and treatment of transfusion-caused iron overload. Cure is possible by bone marrow transplantation.

Hemochromatosis
He-chrome-man

Patients with this disease can develop a secondary hemochromatosis (due to frequent blood transfusions).

Crew-cut on Skull X-Ray
Crew-cut Skull

Patients with this disease develop erythroid hyperplasia and have marrow expansion. This manifests as a "crew-cut" skull on x-ray and  "chipmunk facies."

DIAGNOSIS
Electrophoresis
Electric-fairy

Diagnosis for beta thalassemia minor is confirmed with increased HbA2 on hemoglobin electorphoresis. Alternatively, beta thalassemia major is diagnosed by finding increased HbF on hemoglobin electrophoresis.

Unlock all 9 facts & definitions with Picmonic Free!

JOIN FREE

Take the Beta Thalassemia Quiz

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

START QUIZ NOW

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 Medical (MD/DO) Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 870,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

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

Picmonic for Medicine (MD/DO) covers information that is relevant to your entire Medical (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 Medical (MD/DO) flashcards.

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