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Oliver-Cardarelli sign (William Silver Oliver)

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The sign consists of a pulsation of the larynx to one side synchronous with ventricular systole. It is elicited when the larynx is grasped between the thumb and index finger while the patient is in the erect position. The sign is indicative of an aneurysm of the aortic arch, mediastinal tumours and chronic obstructive airways disease.

Authors disagree as to whether Oliver's, Oliver-Cardarelli and Oliver-Cardarelli-Olshausen is the same. According to some, these are separate entities:

Oliver's sign: A tracheal tug felt when patient lifts his chin up.

"Place the patient in the erect position, and direct him to close his mouth, and elevate his chin to the fullest extent, then grasp the cricoid cartilage between the finger and thumb, and use gentle upward pressure on it, when if dilatation or aneurism exist, the pulsation of the aorta will be distinctly felt transmitted through the trachea to the hand. This act of examination will increase laryngeal distress should this accompany the disease.

Cardarelli's sign: Laryngotracheal tube pulsation felt with leftward laryngeal displacement, related to aortic arch dilatation and aneurysms.

Oliver-Cardarelli-Olshausen sign: Oliver's sign when caused by a tumour.


  • W. S. Oliver:
    Physical diagnosis of thoracic aneurysm. Letter. Lancet, London, 1878, II: 406.
  • A. Cardarelli, in:
    Movimento medico-chirurgico. Napoli, 1878. Volume 11.

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