How to make a tuning fork vibrate: the humble pisiform bone

D Ashley R Watson
Med J Aust 2011; 195 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/mja11.11058
Published online: 12 December 2011

A tip for using an old diagnostic tool

While recently observing medical students undertaking an ear, nose and throat examination in an observed structured clinical examination, I watched with interest how each of them attempted to make the tuning fork vibrate. Knowing well that the Rinne and Weber tests were an essential part of the examination technique, they each carefully selected a fork and, almost to a student, proceeded to stumble over the process of making the thing buzz. A couple of students used the heel of their shoe (not particularly decorous), one cracked it on her knee (ouch!), a few tried to squeeze and quickly release the tines (pretty tricky with a C-512 Hz fork), while others, not knowing any better method, gave it a deafening whack on the nearest bit of furniture.

  • School of Clinical Medicine, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Wormald PJ. Clinical examination of the ears and hearing. In: Gleeson M, editor. Scott-Brown’s Otorhinolaryngology: head and neck surgery. 7th ed. London: Edward Arnold, 2008: 3317.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.