Corrigan's pulse, Watson's water hammer pulse, Collapsing pulse

Watson's water hammer pulse is the medical sign which describes a pulse that is bounding and forceful, as if it were the hitting of a water hammer that was causing the pulse.

This is associated with increased stroke volume of the left ventricle and decrease in the peripheral resistance leading to the widened pulse pressure of aortic regurgitation.

Also the carotid pulsations seen in aortic regurgitation is known as Corrigan's pulse.

To feel a water hammer pulse: with the patient reclining, the examiner raises the patient's arm vertically upwards. The examiner grasps the muscular part of the patient's forearm. A waterhammer pulse is felt as a tapping impulse which is transmitted through the bulk of the muscles. This happens because the blood that is pumped to the arm during systole is emptied very quickly due to the gravity effect on the raised arm. This results in the artery emptying back into the heart during diastole, therefore causing a palpable pulse.

This is commonly found when a patient has a leaking prosthetic aortic valve.


1. Physiological


2. Cardiac lesions

Aortic regurgitation
Patent ductus arteriosus
Systolic hypertension
Aortopulmonary window
Rupture of sinus of Valsalva into heart chambers

3. Syndromes or High output states

Cor pulmonale
Cirrhosis of liver
Arteriovenous fistula
Paget's disease

4. Other causes

Chronic alcoholism