Enhancement of tactile perception in palpation

D. Smith, E. Craige

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We studied tactile perception in palpation of the precordium to determine the frequency response of the hand and to improve, if possible, the sensitivity of the hand as a transducer for precordial movement. The threshold of tactile sensation was determined for 10 subjects by manipulating the amplitude of movement of an impulse generator at each of a series of frequency settings in the subaudible range (1-40 Hz). Relatively gross movements were necessary to achieve threshold in the lowest frequencies. A more than fourfold increase in sensitivity was obtained by restraining the fingers with the application of a light but unyielding disc to their dorsal surface. Clinical application of this device permitted the easy perception of a systolic thrust as well as a rapid filling wave in normal adult subjects over the right ventricle at the left sternal edge, an area generally considered to be motionless by conventional palpation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1114-1118
Number of pages5
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1980
Externally publishedYes


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