- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Hoffmann's sign (Paul Hoffmann)

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A simple investigation for carpal tunnel syndrome. Tapping over nerve trunk that has been damaged or is regenerating following trauma causes a sensation of tingling and pins in its distribution up to the site of regeneration. A nerve trunk will regenerate about 1 mm a day. If this sign is absent, there is a bad prognosis.

We have received this comment from Detlef E. Rosenow, M.D., M.Sc:
The commonly used term "Hoffmann-Tinel-sign" is a misnomer, at least it is not quite correct. Tinel, in 1915, controlled the progress of nerve healing (nerve regeneration) after shot wounds at war time by pressing. Hoffmann, in the same year 1915, did so by tapping. So, what is generally described as Hoffmann-Tinel sign should better be described as Hoffmann-sign. Tinel decribed his "Le signe du Fourmillement" in various injured nerves, Hoffmann did so only in one single case in a soldier who suffered a radial nerve (was called at that time nervus musculospiralis) at his time at Würzburg University, befor he moved to Freiburg im Breisgau where he became head of the physiological department.


  • P. Hoffmann:
    Über eine Methode, den Erfolg einer Nervennaht zu beurteilen.
    Medizinische Klinik, March 28, 1915b, 11 (13): 359-360.
  • J. Tinel:
    Le signe du fourmillement dans les lésions des nerfs périphériques.
    La Presse Médicale, Paris, October 1915, 23 (47): 388-389.
  • J. Tinel:
    Les blessures des nerfs. Sémiologie des lésions nerveuses périphériques par blessures de guerre. Edition Masson et Cie, Paris, 1916: 33 and 299.
  • J. Tinel:
    Nerve Wounds. London: Baillière, Tindall & Cox, 1917.
  • J. Tinel:
    The "tingling" sign in peripheral nerve lesions. Translated by EB Kaplan.
    In: M. Spinner, editor: Injuries to theMajor Branches of Peripheral Nerves of the Forearm. (2nd ed.) (pp 8-13). Philadelphia : WD Saunders Co. 1978.
  • P. Hoffmann, D. Buck-Gramcko, J. D. Lubahn:
    The Hoffmann-Tinel sign. 1915. The Journal of Hand Surgery. British Volume, Edinburgh, December 1993, 18 (6): 800-805.
  • Erika N. Davis and Kevin C. Chung:
    The Tinel Sign: A Historical Perspective.
    Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Hagerstown, MD, August 2004, 114 (2): 494-499.

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