Medical Definition of Pulse, water hammer

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Pulse, water hammer: A jerky pulse that is full and then collapses because of aortic insufficiency (when blood ejected into the aorta regurgitates back through the aortic valve into the left ventricle). This type of pulse was likened to a water hammer, a Victorian toy consisting of a glass tube filled partly with water or mercury in a vacuum. The water or mercury produced a slapping impact when the glass tube was turned over. Also called a Corrigan pulse or a cannonball, collapsing, pistol-shot, or trip-hammer pulse.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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