How to create a medical genogram
To create a medical genogram, you must first determine which genetic
diseases you wish to include. Options include: heart disease, cancer,
diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, thyroid disease, certain birth defects,
alcoholism, depression and schizophrenia. Remember that you can always add
more diseases later or change the symbols to reflect your current needs.
The next step is to create a legend so that
genograms can be read and interpreted systematically like an
electrocardiogram. Right-click on the document and select New Legend –
Common genogram symbols .
This will insert a new legend that you can work with to create your
Double-click on the first individual; the properties window will appear.
Give the individual a name such as Heart disease. Next, select the Display
In this tab, select the color and the corner of the fill associated with the
selected disease. In this case, heart disease is represented by a red square
in the top left corner. You may use any combination of colors within the
individual gender sign to make each disease unique. You can also change the
color of the symbol or the text to make them represent a health condition.
Check the “Transparent text for label” to avoid having a white background on
your text in the legend.
Also, be sure to verify that the "Make label / Exclude from report" box is
checked at the top of the Family tab. This will prevent the inclusion of the
legend objects in your family report.
Continue to assign a color code to each of your selected diseases by adding
in individuals as needed in your legend. Once your legend is completed, be
sure to save a copy of your legend for future documents. Here is an example
of a medical genogram legend:
Medical genogram symbols examples
The next step is to create a family by invoking the
Family wizard. You can also add in medical information to the genograms
you have already created. Once you have entered the family, click on
individuals to add in the color codes corresponding to their disease(s). Use
the “Carrier/Affected/Affected by hearsay/Possibly affected” features to
specify the nature of the disease or condition.
This is an example of a three-generational medical pedigree:
Medical genogram symbols examples
In this family, Paul, a smoker, recently died of a heart attack after years
of battling with heart disease and diabetes. His wife Karen has been
diagnosed with breast cancer. Nathalie is pregnant, and she is worried that
she may have a breast tumor. The anxiety she feels has affected her mental
health, and she is also dealing with depression. Meanwhile, Andrew is also a
smoker, and his 8-year-old son has Down syndrome.
Once you are familiar with the different color codes you have created, you
will be able to read genograms in a matter of seconds, be able to understand
the family risks for certain diseases and come up with strategies for
screening, diagnosis, and management.
Drawing Medical Pedigrees
GenoPro can draw medical pedigrees, used mostly by physicians. To enable medical pedigrees,
select Display all Symbols for a Medical Pedigree from the
View menu. The differences between a genogram and a
medical pedigree are modest:
- A deceased individual is displayed by a single diagonal line rather
than an X.
- A child of unknown gender is displayed by a diamond rather than a
question mark (?).
- An adopted child is displayed in square brackets.