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The jugular venous pulse.

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About this work


This film shows how clinical observation and instrumental analysis of the wave forms characteristic of abnormal venous pulsation can assist in the differential diagnosis of cardiac abnormalities. A brief historical survey of Sir James Mackenzie's classic work on the venous pulse is followed by a short demonstration of the instrumental techniques used in the analysis of the wave form of the venous pulsation in the neck. The mechanism and production of each of the component waves are described, and the phenomena shown in a healthy subject before clinical cases are used to demonstrate the characteristic modifications of the venous pulse found in patients with cardiac abnormalities. 4 segments.


UK : Wellcome Foundation Ltd., 1957.

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (19.42 min.) : sound, color



Copyright note

Wellcome Trust, 1957; 2008.

Terms of use

Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales

Language note

In English

Creator/production credits

Wellcome Foundation Film Unit with Dr. Paul Wood, former Director of the Institute of Cardiology, University of London. Commentary written and spoken by Paul Wood.


Segment 1 First the film looks back to Mackenzie's seminal work 'The Study of the Pulse: arterial, venous and hepatic, and the movements of the heart' and Paul Wood (narrator) describes its importance. Various means of measuring the jugular venous pulse are shown - from the older polygraph to more modern electrocardiograms. A diagram shows the traces a jugular pulse should make and explains how it can be read. A GP is shown measuring a jugular venous pulse from the bedside of a healthy subject, a young woman. The pulse itself is shown beating under the skin of the woman's neck while Paul Wood in voiceover explains what we are seeing and takes measurements. Time start: 00:00:00:00 Time end: 00:05:03:02 Length: 00:05:03:02
Segment 2 Charts explain the woman's pulse, and the narrator continue to explain the pulse. The next section is entitled 'Abnormalities of the Venous Pulse' and is narrated by Paul Wood. We see a tracing from a giant 'a' wave, an abnormality of the pulse examined further in a female patient with mitral stenosis, a man with pulmonary valve stenosis and a young woman whose fingers have clubbed due to cyanosis. Time start: 00:05:03:02 Time end: 00:10:02:23 Length: 00:04:59:21
Segment 3 Different wave forms are shown in electrocardiograms, and the varying pulse rates and charts are explained. A boy with atrial tachycardia is shown and his pulse measured. This section is entitled 'Atrial fibrillation' and is narrated by Paul Wood. An electrocardiograph of atrial fibrillation is shown and described in detail, then shown in close-up in the neck of a young woman and the veins of her legs. Time start: 00:10:02:23 Time end: 00:13:54:09 Length: 00:03:51:15
Segment 4 The 'y' descent is now covered, beginning with an analysis of it from an electrocardiograph reading, then in two male patients, the second of whom has myocarditis. Tricuspid stenosis is demonstrated in a middle-aged woman and primary pulmonary hypertension in a different woman. The film concludes with a case for diagnosis. A woman is shown and the movements of her jugular venous pulse analysed. Time start: 00:13:54:09 Time end: 00:19:41:24 Length: 00:05:47:14



  • English

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