Korotkoff Sounds

Other known aliasesnone

Definitionsounds heard during auscultation of the brachial artery during blood pressure measurements

Clinical Significancethese sounds are generated as the sphygmomanometer cuff is slowly being deflated to the point that the maximal impulse of the pressure wave is more than cuff, but the cuff still occluded the artery at the nadir of the impulse. This pressure difference produces turbulence in the blood flow and the characteristic sound on auscultation. There are five phases to the Korotkov sounds with the initiation of Phase 1 as the systolic pressure and the end of Phase 4 as the diastolic pressure.

Historynamed after Nicholai Korotkov (1874-1920), who was a Russian surgeon and earned his medical degree from Moscow University in 1895. He had a prestigious career as a military physician and surgeon earning him an appointment as professor of surgery at the Military Medical Academy at St. Petersberg in 1903. He was preparing his doctoral thesis on vascular surgery when he described his now famous technique for measuring blood pressure in only a 281 word excerpt from a presentation to the Imperial Military Medical Academy entitled “Izvestie Imp. Voiennomedicinskoi Akademii” in 1905.

Nicolai Korotkov
Korotkov’s personal sphygmomanomter


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  • Shevchenko YL, Tsitlik JE. 90th Anniversary of the development by Nikolai S. Korotkoff of the auscultatory method of measuring blood pressure. Circulation. 1996; 94(2):116-8. [pubmed]

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