Health Questions and Answers

Question: What are Trousseau’s and Chvostek’s signs?

Answer:

Both are indications of the latent tetany caused by hypocalcemia. Of the two signs, Trousseau’s is more specific and reliable.

Trousseau’s sign: A sphygmomanometer is placed on the arm and inflated to greater than systolic blood pressure and left in place for at least 2 minutes. A positive response is carpal spasm of the ipsilateral arm. Relaxation takes 5-10 seconds after the pressure is released.

Chvostek’s sign: Tapping the facial nerve between the corner of the mouth and the zygomatic arch produces twitching of the ipsilateral facial muscle, especially the angle of the mouth. This sign may be seen in 10-25% of normal adult patients.

Reference: Goldman L, Ausiello D (eds): Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 22nd ed. Philadelphia, W.B. Saunders, 2004

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