Watson's water hammer pulse, also known as Corrigan's pulse or collapsing pulse, is the medical sign (seen in aortic regurgitation) which describes a pulse that is bounding and forceful, rapidly increasing and subsequently collapsing, as if it were the sound of a water hammer that was causing the pulse. A water hammer was a Victorian toy in which a tube was half filled with fluid, the remainder being a vacuum. Each time the tube was inverted or shaken, the impact of the fluid at each end would sound like a hammer blow.
This is associated with increased stroke volume of the left ventricle and decrease in the peripheral resistance leading to the widened pulse pressure of aortic regurgitation.
Water hammer pulse is commonly found when a patient has aortic regurgitation. It can also be seen in other conditions which are associated with a hyperdynamic circulation. A more comprehensive list of causes follows:
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