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January 26, 1976

The Nonspecific Camel-Hump Sign

Author Affiliations

From the University of California Medical Service, San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco.

JAMA. 1976;235(4):413-414. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260300039030

THE ELECTROCARDIOGRAPHIC "camel-hump" sign of Osborn,1 a term first proposed by Harvey, is generally considered specific for hypothermia.2 However, we recently saw a patient who had such a finding resulting not from hypothermia but from massive cerebral injury, indicating that this sign is nonspecific. To our knowledge, this is the second instance of central nervous system disease resulting in the camel-hump wave3 (or, more accurately, dromedary wave) and the first with postmortem confirmation.

Report of a Case  An 8-year-old boy sustained a severe head injury when struck by a motorcycle while riding his bicycle. His growth and development had been normal. On admission, he was deeply comatose, and the pupils were fixed, dilated, and unresponsive to light; no papilledema was present. The blood pressure was 122/80 mm Hg and the pulse was 140 beats per minute and regular. There were left temporal ecchymoses and lacerations of the