Pemberton’s Sign

DefinitionRaising of the patient’s arms over their head (until the arms touch their face) causes flushing and congestion of head and neck due to venous congestion and thoracic inlet obstruction.

Image result for pemberton sign

Clinical Significance Indicates superior vena cava syndrome in patients with mediastinal mass

History – Ok…so I have conflicting sources on this one:

  1. Dr. Hugh Spear Pemberton (1890-1956) – English physician who first described it in a letter to The Lancet in 1946.
  2. Dr. John de J. Pemberton (1887-1967) – US surgeon who was a pioneer in thyroid surgery


You make the call:

Image result for english flag     or     Image result for us flag


  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com/. Accessed March 7, 2017.
  5. De Filippis EA, Sabet A, Sun MR, Garber JR. Pemberton’s sign: explained nearly 70 years later. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism. 2014;99(6):1949-54. [pubmed]
  6. Pemberton HS.  Sign of submerged goitre.  Lancet.  1946;248(6423):509.

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