The term Aunt Minnie is shorthand for a classic, usually pathognomonic, radiological appearance of a diagnosis.
Originally, the term Aunt Minnie referred to a radiological diagnosis made by gestalt . The Aunt Minnie approach was explained by analogy: if you knew well your aunt named Minnie, then you would easily recognize her in a crowd of similar women. The recognition would be difficult to articulate to someone who has never seen your aunt Minnie before. Similarly, an experienced radiologist may immediately recognize a constellation of imaging findings as characteristic of a particular diagnosis, often unexpected or uncommon. This recognition is based on prior experience and either defies or obviates more rational analysis, such as deductive reasoning through a differential diagnosis. Though obvious to the experienced reader, the relationship is difficult to unpack for an inexperienced reader.
Over time, with efforts to describe salient features of these entities for educational purposes, the term Aunt Minnie has been broadened somewhat. In the current sense, an Aunt Minnie means any classic constellation of findings, which should immediately raise a specific diagnosis .
History and etymology
The term was coined by Edward "Ed" Blaine Duncan Neuhauser (1908-1987) , Chief of Radiology at Boston Children’s Hospital. Subsequently it was popularized by the renowned Cincinnati chest radiologist Benjamin Felson (1913-1988) , in his 1960 classic tome, Fundamentals of Chest Roentgenology . Often the coining is misattributed to Felson. Neither Neuhauser nor Felson apparently had an aunt called Minnie, including - somewhat ironically - in the book Aunt Minnie's Atlas and Imaging-specific Diagnosis .