Source: Suneel Dhand, MD, Attending Physician, Internal Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Disorders of the respiratory system with a chief complaint of shortness of breath are among the most common reasons for both outpatient and inpatient evaluation. The most obvious visible clue to a respiratory problem will be whether the patient is displaying any signs of respiratory distress, such as fast respiratory rate and/or cyanosis. In a clinical situation, this will always require emergent attention and oxygen therapy.
Unlike pathology in other body systems, many pulmonary disorders, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and pneumonia, can be diagnosed by careful clinical examination alone. This starts with a comprehensive inspection and palpation. Keep in mind that in non-emergency situations the patient's complete history will have been taken already, gaining important insight into exposure histories (e.g., smoking), which could give rise to specific lung diseases. This history can then confirm physical findings as the examination is performed.…
Physical Examinations I
Source: Jaideep S. Talwalkar, MD, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT
Simply stated, percussion refers to the striking of one object against another to produce sound. In the early 1700s, an Austrian inn-keeper's son, named Leopold Auenbrugger, discovered that he could take inventory by tapping his father's beer barrels with his fingers. Years later, while practicing medicine in Vienna, he applied this technique to his patients and published the first description of the diagnostic utility of percussion in 1761. His findings faded into obscurity until the prominent French physician Jean-Nicolas Corvisart rediscovered his writings in 1808, during an era in which great attention was focused on diagnostic accuracy at the bedside.1
There are three types of percussion. Auenbrugger and Corvisart relied on direct percussion, in which the plexor (i.e. tapping) finger strikes directly against the patient's body. An indirect method is used more commonly today. In indirect percussion, the plexor finger strikes a pleximeter, which is typically the middle finger of the non-dominant hand placed against the patient's body. As the examiner's finger strikes the pleximeter (or directly against the surface of the patient's body)…
Physical Examinations I