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August 1942


Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the Fracture Service, City Hospital.

Arch Surg. 1942;45(2):195-205. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1942.01220020015002

Percussion over one end of a bone will set up audible vibrations that are clearly heard with a stethoscope at the other end. These vibrations are even transmitted through one or more joints and may be carried to distant points on the skeleton. It is usually forgotten in physical diagnosis that bone, the hard tissue, carries audible vibrations farther and more clearly than any solid organ or soft tissue. A simple experiment of listening with a stethoscope over the pubis, while a medial malleolus is struck with the finger, shows the distance a percussion note will be carried through bone and likewise illustrates the normal, distinct, low-pitched resonant note which is heard from bone percussion. This sound has a definite "osteal," almost metallic, quality. Other types of vibrations, such as those set up by a tuning fork or vibrator, also can be heard distinctly.

That other tissues and organs transmit

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