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.


Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 8, 2012
by Armen E. Martirosyan, M.D.

Medical Encyclopedia

  A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | 0-9

All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.