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Palpation

Examination by pressing on the surface of the body to feel the organs or tissues underneath.

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(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Injection of bulking material around the anus (back passage) for the treatment of faecal incontinence in adults

Loss of bowel control, also known as faecal incontinence, can be a devastating problem. It affects men and women of all ages in up to 15% of the adult population. Faecal incontinence can radically affect everyday life as many people become almost house bound, being unable to undertake simple tasks, such as shopping, because they are worried about faecal leakage.

Measuring the height of the uterus from the symphysis pubis (SFH) in pregnancy for detecting problems with fetal growth

Monitoring the baby’s growth is important during pregnancy. If growth is poor then this should be identified as soon as possible, because delay might result in the baby’s death. The simplest way to determine growth is to examine the mother by abdominal palpation and estimate the size of her womb compared with a landmark such as the navel (umbilicus). An alternative method is to use a tape measure to take a measurement, known as the symphysial fundal height (SFH) measurement, from the mother’s pubic bone (symphysis pubis) to the top of the womb. The measurement is then applied to the gestation by a simple rule of thumb and compared with normal growth. It is not known which of these two methods is more likely to detect poor growth. Ultrasound assessment can also be used to detect growth restriction but this is costly and not always available, and there are concerns about its unnecessary use. This review found only one randomised trial (involving 1639 women at 20 weeks’ gestation and above) comparing repeated measures of SFH with abdominal palpation. The trial found no difference between the two approaches in detecting poor growth. With such limited evidence it is still not known whether one method is more effective than the other, and how these methods compare with ultrasound measurement. We therefore do not recommend any change in current practice.

Fetal manipulation for facilitating tests of fetal wellbeing

There is some evidence that manual fetal manipulation of unborn babies make tests of their wellbeing more effective.

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Summaries for consumers

Injection of bulking material around the anus (back passage) for the treatment of faecal incontinence in adults

Loss of bowel control, also known as faecal incontinence, can be a devastating problem. It affects men and women of all ages in up to 15% of the adult population. Faecal incontinence can radically affect everyday life as many people become almost house bound, being unable to undertake simple tasks, such as shopping, because they are worried about faecal leakage.

Thyroid function tests

The thyroid is a vitally important hormonal gland, which mainly works for the body’s metabolism. It is located in the front part of the neck below the voice box and is butterfly-shaped. The functions of the thyroid gland include the production of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and tetraiodothyronine, also called thyroxine (T4).

Measuring the height of the uterus from the symphysis pubis (SFH) in pregnancy for detecting problems with fetal growth

Monitoring the baby’s growth is important during pregnancy. If growth is poor then this should be identified as soon as possible, because delay might result in the baby’s death. The simplest way to determine growth is to examine the mother by abdominal palpation and estimate the size of her womb compared with a landmark such as the navel (umbilicus). An alternative method is to use a tape measure to take a measurement, known as the symphysial fundal height (SFH) measurement, from the mother’s pubic bone (symphysis pubis) to the top of the womb. The measurement is then applied to the gestation by a simple rule of thumb and compared with normal growth. It is not known which of these two methods is more likely to detect poor growth. Ultrasound assessment can also be used to detect growth restriction but this is costly and not always available, and there are concerns about its unnecessary use. This review found only one randomised trial (involving 1639 women at 20 weeks’ gestation and above) comparing repeated measures of SFH with abdominal palpation. The trial found no difference between the two approaches in detecting poor growth. With such limited evidence it is still not known whether one method is more effective than the other, and how these methods compare with ultrasound measurement. We therefore do not recommend any change in current practice.

See all (18)

More about Palpation

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Also called: Palpate

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