Rovsign’s Sign

Other Known Aliasesnone

Definitionpalpation of the left lower quadrant causes perceived pain in the right lower quadrant

Clinical Significance A positive Rovsing’s sign is suggestive of appendicitis. There are two mechanisms that illicit this response. First, palpation of the left lower quadrant stretch the peritoneal lining over the appendix and causes pain. Second, deep palpation of descending colon in the left lower quadrant causes the gas present to stretch the lumen of the colon and appendix causing pain.

HistoryNamed after Niels Thorkild Rovsing (1862-1927), who was a Danish surgeon and received his medical doctorate from the University of Copenhagen in 1885. He went on to become professor of operative surgery there in 1899, as well as chief surgeon at Louise-Børnehospital and Red Cross Hospital. He was a huge advocate for better surgical accommodations for patients, even going so far as to commission his own private surgical nursing home to care for his postoperative patients. He was international recognized as an accomplished abdominal surgeon, writing extensively on these surgical diseases. He first published his findings of his eponymous exam finding in 1907 in an article entitled “Indirect cause of typical pain at McBurney’s point”.

He also has several other surgical eponyms attributed to him including:

  • Rovsing Operation I and II for horseshoe kidney
  • Rovsing Syndrome


  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
  5. Up To Date. www.uptodate.com
  6. N. T. Rovsing. Indirektes Hervorrufen des typischen Schmerzes an McBurney’s Punkt. Ein Beitrag zur diagnostik der Appendicitis und Typhlitis. Zentralblatt für Chirurgie, Leipzig, 1907, 34: 1257-1259.

5 thoughts on “Ep-PAINE-nym

  1. professor Einar Perman men det var hans far Emil Perman som först beskrevs tecknet 1904.Det har också felaktigt kallats Rovsings tecken men detta skiljer sig från Permans tecken och Wikipedia.de avråder att använda det på grund av risken för förvärrad inflammation och risken för att tarmen brister.
    Mvh Bengt Perman

    Skickades från E-post för Windows 10
    Perman is eponymously associated with Perman sign (1904) of appendicitis, which is commonly and incorrectly referred to as Rovsing sign.

    • Born 6 June 1856 in Östersund, Sweden
    • 1889 – Graduated with MD from the Karolinska Institutet
    • 1891-96 – Associate professor of surgery at the Karolinska Institutet
    • 1892-99 – Chief physician at the Kronprinsessan Lovisas vårdanstalt in Stockholm
    • 1899-1919 – Chief physician at the surgical department of Sabbatsbergs sjukhus in Stockholm
    • Died 21 February 1946 in Stockholm

    Medical Eponyms
    Perman sign (1904)
    Referred to as Perman-Rovsing sign, or incorrectly as Rovsing sign. Perman briefly described a sign of appendicitis in his article titled “Om indikationerna för operation vid appendicit samt redogörelse for å Sabbatsbergs sjukhus opererade fall“, which involved pain in the ileocaecal tract elicited by applying pressure to the left abdomen. His original description in the article:
    A symptom exists which is of great importance and which I always found to hold true if it was evident to the hand, namely muscle tension across the cecal region and adjacent portion of the abdomen when touch or light pressure was applied, the significance of which was first pointed out by Dieulafoy (défense musculaire). If this symptom is found, you can be almost certain there is already a high level of change in and around the appendix – gangrene or perforation with developing permanent peritonitis, free or limited. Furthermore, I have always found another symptom evident, namely a pain located to the ileoecal tract with pressure to the left part of the abdomen.
    Perman ES. 1904: 806

    Liked by 1 person

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