[Skip to Navigation]
October 1966

The Rinne Tuning Fork Test

Author Affiliations

From Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. Dr. Crowley is presently at the US Air Force Hospital, Scott Air Force Base, Belleville, Ill.

Arch Otolaryngol. 1966;84(4):406-408. doi:10.1001/archotol.1966.00760030408005

ADOLF RINNE of Göttingen, in 1855, described the tuning fork test known by his name and claimed that it was of general diagnostic value. He stated that in those disturbances of hearing in which the tone of the tuning fork is heard stronger and longer through the cranial bones than when held in front of the ear, a disturbance exists in the sound-conducting apparatus.1

When, on the other hand, the tone of the tuning fork is heard longer before the ear than through the cranial bones, we may conclude that a lesion exists in the sound-perceiving apparatus.1

This test of Rinne's remained unnoticed until Lucae, a generation later, introduced the test into clinical practice. The important diagnostic significance of the Rinne test was demonstrated by the postmortem findings of Politzer, Bezold, and others.2,3

Today, one refers to a positive Rinne test when the tuning fork is heard