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— updated 2017-11-13

Herbalists' BootCamp
Beginner Tutorial #6:   CaseQuery

by Roger W. Wicke, Ph.D.
This tutorial series will help you get started using the HerbalThink-TCM software, ensure it is installed correctly, demonstrate how to use important features and modules, and teach you basic principles of Chinese herbology that you can begin applying practically. Successful completion of this series is required for all applicants to the RMHInet brainstorming network and to our professional courses.

Copyright ©2016-2017 by RMH-Publications Trust; all rights reserved. Published by the Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute; c/o PO Box 579; Hot Springs, Montana [59845] USA. Education and software for health professionals:   www.rmhiherbal.org

Jump to another tutorial in this sequence:
#1: Introduction; Download #2: Setup and Documentation #3: Self-Study Reference #4: Herbal Tutor #5: Pulse Simulator #6: CaseQuery #7: AutoSage-TCM #8: Completing member/admission requirements

Subtopics on this page…


Tutorial #6:   CaseQuery

CaseQuery and AutoSage-TCM together comprise expert-system software for automated pattern recognition of the clinical syndromes constituting traditional Chinese medical (TCM) pathophysiology theory, including quantitative assessment of complex cases characterized by multiple simultaneous syndrome-patterns.

CaseQuery allows users to record detailed case histories of symptom, tongue, and pulse data. Case record files are created in a standardized format that can be read and understood by the AutoSage-TCM analysis software. The user then emails this data file to RMHI, where it is processed using the AutoSage-TCM program, and then a detailed, cross-referenced report is emailed back to the user.

Both CaseQuery and AutoSage-TCM are described in much greater detail in TCHS Vol.6: User's Guide to AutoSage-TCM. Chapter 7 of that text includes instructions for CaseQuery users and a series of screen shots. It may be helpful but not necessary to read any of that material before completing this tutorial.


Questionnaire #6

  • Copy and paste the following into a text document using any simple text editor (Mac OS X: TextEdit;   Windows: WordPad, Notepad). You will be filling in your answers (between the [[ ]] marks) during this tutorial and then emailing your completed questionnaire to your assigned tutor.
  • Most questions will require simple, short answers. These questions are designed primarily to ensure that you know how to access the appropriate material within each module and to interpret it correctly.
  • Now you are ready to actually begin the tutorial. Follow the instructions in the remainder of this tutorial, and then fill in your answers to the questionnaire when asked to do so.
  • Please email this tutorial questionnaire to your assigned BootCamp tutor (the person who emailed you the original download instructions — Tutorial #1) and wait for a reply/feedback before continuing with the next tutorial.
                             [updated 2017-11-13]


--------------- CaseQuery:
A-0: Attach the CaseQuery output file (#A001) that you created in the 
first part of this tutorial and email it with this completed questionnaire.

=============================== END ======================================



To run CaseQuery, double-click on one of the following shellscript files within your installed  herbalthinktcm  application folder, appropriate for your operating system (the instructions are otherwise identical to running HerbalThink-TCM, see Help/Documentation):

  • CASEQUERY-linux.sh
  • CASEQUERY-macosx-cmd.cmd
  • CASEQUERY-windows-bat.bat

Simply follow the step-by-step instructions, answer the case-history questionnaire as completely as possible, and then when you have finished, save the final results in a case-history data file, which you will send to RMHI as an email attachment.

For this tutorial, you will be entering in a very simple case study that illustrates the mechanics of how symptoms, symptom modifier terms, tongue, and pulse data are entered. You will be emailing the case file as an attachment to Questionnaire #6 for this tutorial, and we will check that you have entered in the data correctly and that it accurately reflects the wording of the original case report. It is important, however, to understand that this case is far from complete and does not come close to the level of detail that you should strive for when you are entering data for a real person.

Following is the test case that you now should transcribe into a data file using the CaseQuery program. Just carefully follow the instructions that appear within CaseQuery on each tab, and complete all the tabs in their natural sequence.
This case includes a small set of symptoms, but these symptoms are examples that will require you to think carefully about how you will code them using the symptom modifier tab ('SSmod').

  • CaseQuery test case #A001. This case is very sketchy and only includes a small number of symptoms. It is for practice only and is assigned to test your ability to accurately transcribe this case record into the CaseQuery format. Typically, a real case report should be MUCH more thorough than this and will include numerous symptoms.
        · In transcribing the symptoms, choose the questionnaire entries and modifiers that most closely represent the meaning of the items below.
        · Try using the 'Find' command to quickly find specific symptoms within the symptoms tabs.
        · You will need to learn how to use the symptom-modifiers tab ('12-SSmod') and the various 'Edit' menu options. Be sure to read 'Instructions for @MODIFIERS' within the '12-SSmod' section. Also, see:  CaseQuery symptom modifiers explained, with examples.
  • F, age 40
  • Height: 5'8"
  • Weight: 170 lbs.
  • Symptoms. Has been experiencing chronic:

    (For symptoms #1 and #5 below, see especially:
    'By-single-line' mode; 'Duplicate SS LineItem' command in the 'Edit' menu.
    Read 'Instructions for @MODIFIERS' within the '12-SSmod' section, item #5, for how to use this command in such cases.
    Symptoms #1 and #5 will each require two encoded lines.)

    1. Tendency to easily feel too hot generally, but especially severe in late summer
    2. Poor memory
    3. In late summer is easily dehydrated, with dry mouth and frequent thirst
      (Hint: A total of three symptom items in questionnaire must be checked.)
    4. Poor appetite
    5. Aching pain in joints and muscles generally, especially severe in legs and hips;
      the preceding pain, wherever it occurs in the body, is worse with pressure and better with exertion (exercise and movement)
  • Tongue:
    • Tongue tissue is dark red (in color chart: red_d1t ) in all sectors except at the tip (row a), where it is slightly pale (red_p1t).
    • Tongue coating color is normal-white all over, and coating is slightly thicker than normal at rows 'd' and 'e' at the root.
  • Pulses (be sure to choose the correct 'severity' value for each parameter):
                mild/slightly   Moderate/DefaultValue   SEVERE/VERY   EXTREME!!
    Hint: None of the parameters below are 'extreme'. That choice generally should be reserved for values that exceed anything you can simulate using the Pulse Simulator module.
    • 71 beats/min.
    • Rhythm: normal
    • Length/duration: normal
    • At L1: floating, slightly strong, and wide.
    • At L2 it is moderately sinking and changes quality abruptly between the mid and deep levels:
      • L2mid: normal strength, slightly taut, narrow, very distinct
      • L2deep: strong, very taut, wide, smooth time-profile
    • At L3: slightly weak, slightly narrow
    • At R1: slightly wide, fuzzy edged, very smooth time-profile
    • At R2: wide, fuzzy-edged, smooth time-profile
    • At R3: sinking, slightly weak, fuzzy-edged

After you are finished, be sure to save your file. You can always open it later and continue to edit, if you cannot complete it in one session.

Important note about the 'MISC' tab:  
The CaseQuery tab labelled '1-MISC' is where data like age, height, weight, and the following categories of miscellaneous health history information may be entered:

  1. Summary of chief complaints
  2. Medical diagnoses, if any provided
  3. History of major illnesses
  4. Misc: medications, environmental and occupational health exposure risks

The preceding 4 categories of miscellaneous information are not evaluated by AutoSage-TCM, but will be of major importance to any humans who will be reading and interpreting the report. This information may also be useful to the AutoSage-TCM developers and programmers whenever questions of interpretation arise. When you use CaseQuery, you should attempt to represent as much of this information as possible by checking the appropriate symptom items within the subsequent questionnaire tabs.


Questionnaire — CaseQuery

  • A-0: Attach the CaseQuery output file that you just now created for case #A001 and email it as an attachment to your emailed questionnaire.

Summary of what you learned in this tutorial

The CaseQuery software utility allows you to create a detailed report of an individual's symptoms and clinical signs, including descriptions of tongue and pulse that are so important in traditional Chinese medicine. Learn to use the '@SSmod' tab effectively — this tool will allow you to specify a symptom's severity, its time-pattern history (chronic/acute), applicable body locations, time of day/month/year, what aggravates/relieves, and other modifiers. By applying these modifiers correctly, you can usually come close to representing the intended meaning of the patient's description in his/her own words.

CaseQuery produces encoded text files that can be interpreted and analyzed by the AutoSage-TCM expert system, which you will be studying in the next tutorial.

Please submit your completed questionnaire for this tutorial, then
go to   Tutorial #7:   AutoSage-TCM