Case Study Description

Title page

The first page of the manuscript should be a dedicated title page, including the title of the article. The title should be a clear and short description of the case with a list of the full names, institutional addresses and email addresses for all authors. There should always be at least one corresponding author who is clearly identified. Abbreviations within the title should always be avoided.

I usually end the title with “…: a case report” or “…: two case reports” or “…: a case series”. I also try to avoid any puns or overly cute wording within the title and try to keep things strictly descriptive and clear. The title needs to accurately describe the case – after all, this may be all that someone reads. If a cute or clever title is used that obscures what the case is really about, then it may be even less likely that the manuscript is read.


The Abstract should be “short and sweet”. It should not exceed 350 words. Abbreviations or references within the Abstract should not be used. The Abstract should be structured into three sections: Background, an introduction about why this case is important and needs to be reported. Please include information on whether this is the first report of this kind in the literature; Case presentation, brief details of what the patient(s) presented with, including the patient’s age, sex and ethnic background; Conclusions, a brief conclusion of what the reader should learn from the case report and what the clinical impact will be. Is it an original case report of interest to a particular clinical specialty of medicine or will it have a broader clinical impact across medicine? Are any teaching points identified?

I find this is the most important part because this is often all that people will read and its availability will allow easy retrieval from electronic databases and help researchers decide their level of interest in the case report. The Abstract should be a concise and condensed version of the case report and should include the same main sections of the main text and be as succinct as possible [3]. This is the last thing that I usually write as it tends to flow easily after I have invested my time in thought and writing of the manuscript.


This section is comprised of three to ten keywords representing the main content of the article. It is important for indexing the manuscript and easy online retrieval.

Introduction (Background)

The Introduction (JMCR) or Background (BMCRN) section should explain the background of the case, including the disorder, usual presentation and progression, and an explanation of the presentation if it is a new disease. If it is a case discussing an adverse drug interaction the Introduction should give details of the drug’s common use and any previously reported side effects. It should also include a brief literature review. This should give an introduction to the case report from the standpoint of those without specialist knowledge in the area, clearly explaining the background of the topic. It should end with a very brief statement of what is being reported in the article.

The Introduction or Background serves as the sales pitch for the rest of the manuscript. It should be concise and salient [3] and immediately attract the reader’s attention to entice him or her to read on.

Case presentation

This should present all relevant details concerning the case. The Case presentation section should contain a description of the patient’s relevant demographic information (without adding any details that could lead to the identification of the patient); any relevant medical history of the patient; the patient’s symptoms and signs; any tests that were carried out and a description of any treatment or intervention. If it is a case series, then details must be included for all patients. This section may be broken into subsections with appropriate subheadings.

This is one of the most integral sections. The case should be described in a concise and chronological order. One should usually begin with the primary complaint, salient history (including significant family, occupational, and other social history along with any significant medications taken or allergies), followed by the physical examination, starting with the vital signs presented at the examination, along with pertinent investigations and results. There should be enough detail (but not too much) for the reader to establish his or her own conclusions about the validity. It should contain only pertinent information and nothing superfluous or confusing [3].


This is an optional section in JMCR for additional comments that provide additional relevant information not included in the case presentation, and that put the case in context or that explain specific treatment decisions.

This section should evaluate the patient case for accuracy, validity, and uniqueness and compare and contrast the case report with the published literature. The authors should briefly summarize the published literature with contemporary references [3].

Although this section is optional in JMCR (and not even listed separately on the BMCRN guidelines website), I find that most authors write this section, or an expanded conclusions section incorporating the elements listed above.

I personally write a separate discussion section and conclusions section for each case report that I author.


This should state clearly the main conclusions of the case report and give a clear explanation of their importance and relevance. Is it an original case report of interest to a particular clinical specialty of medicine or will it have a broader clinical impact across medicine? Information should be included on how it will significantly advance our knowledge of a particular disease etiology or drug mechanism (if appropriate).

This should be short and concise with clear take-home messages and teaching points [3].