Percussion is a method of “tapping” body parts during a physical examination with fingers, hands, or small instruments. The purpose is to evaluate the size, consistency, borders, and presence or absence of fluid in body organs.
Percussion of a body part produces a sound (like playing a drum) that indicates the type of tissue within the organ:
- Lungs sound hollow on percussion because they are filled with air.
- Bones and joints sound solid.
- The abdomen sounds like a hollow organ filled with air, fluid, or solids.
by Arthur A. Poghosian, M.D.
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