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1. in physical examination, striking a part of the body with short, sharp blows of the fingers in order to determine the size, position, and density of the underlying parts by the sound obtained. Percussion is most commonly used on the chest and back for examination of the heart and lungs. For example, since the heart is not resonant and the adjacent lungs are, when the examiner's fingers strike the chest over the heart the sound waves will change in pitch. This serves as a guide to the precise location and size of the heart.
2. the rhythmic clapping of cupped hands over various segments of the lungs to mobilize secretions; called also cupping.
Percussion. (def. 1) From Jarvis, 1996.
auscultatory percussion auscultation of the sound produced by percussion.
immediate percussion that in which the blow is struck directly against the body surface.
mediate percussion that in which a pleximeter is used.
palpatory percussion a combination of palpation and percussion, affording tactile rather than auditory impressions.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


Historic term for palpatory percussion.
[G. plēssō, to strike, + aisthēsis, sensation]
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