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Reye’s Syndrome USMLE Notes & Mnemonics contains all the high-yield points you need to know.

  • Definition: Rare, serious condition causing acute encephalopathy and fatty liver.
  • Association: Often follows viral infection (e.g., influenza, varicella) and linked with aspirin use in children.


  • Aspirin metabolites may interfere with mitochondrial functions in liver cells. (ref)
  • Results in hepatic steatosis and encephalopathy.


  • Mainly affects children and teenagers.
  • Has become rarer due to decreased aspirin use in children.

Clinical Features

  • Rapidly progressive encephalopathy.
  • Vomiting.
  • Liver dysfunction.
  • Seizures and loss of consciousness in severe cases.
  • Hypoglycemia and elevated liver enzymes (ALT and AST).


  • Clinical history (recent viral infection, aspirin use).
  • Elevated liver enzymes.
  • Hyperammonemia.
  • Exclusion of other causes of acute liver failure and encephalopathy.


  • Supportive care (IV fluids, electrolyte management).
  • Reduction of intracranial pressure (if needed).
  • Avoid aspirin and aspirin-containing products.


  • Avoid aspirin in children and teenagers, especially during viral illnesses.

Reye’s Syndrome USMLE Mnemonic: “REYE’S

  • Rapid progression
  • Encephalopathy
  • Young population (children/teenagers)
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Salicylates (aspirin) association
Reye's syndrome Mnemonic
Reye’s syndrome Mnemonic

Check other important USMLE Notes

Reye’s Syndrome USMLE Key Points:

  • Recognize the association with aspirin use in the context of a viral infection.
  • Understand the clinical presentation, particularly the combination of encephalopathy and liver dysfunction.
  • Remember that Reye’s syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion and requires careful clinical assessment.
  • Emphasize the importance of supportive care and the avoidance of aspirin in pediatric populations during viral illnesses.

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