Murphy’s sign

Phillip L Jeans
Med J Aust 2017; 206 (3): . || doi: 10.5694/mja16.00768
Published online: 20 February 2017

A common abdominal examination manoeuvre, but a common understanding is elusive

Most of us think that Murphy’s sign consists of the abrupt interruption of deep inspiration when palpating in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. Its relevance would seem to be its presence in a non-tender abdomen, but is that so? Canvass your colleagues and you will find that a common understanding is as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel. The radiological community’s development of a “sonographic” Murphy’s sign has only added to the confusion.

  • Phillip L Jeans

  • Canberra Hospital, Canberra, ACT



I thank my colleagues Roy Hopkins and Joel McVey for the demonstration shown in the Box.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.
Series editors
Balakrishnan (Kichu) Nair
Simon O’Connor


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