UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Neurology

Title: Jolt Accentuation Sign

Keywords: meningitis, clinical exam (PubMed Search)

Posted: 9/25/2014 by Danya Khoujah, MBBS (Updated: 7/17/2024)
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Jolt accentuation, the exacerbation of a headache with horizontal rotation of the neck, or shaking of the stretcher in the less cooperative patient, has been promoted for the past few years as the "go-to" test to assess for meningeal irritation in patients with headache. Previous studies have quoted sensitivities as high as 97.1%. (1)

A new prospective study in AJEM challenges this belief by looking at a total of 230 patients with headaches and subsequent LPs. 197 of them had the jolt accentuation test done, which had a sensitivity of only 21% for pleocytosis (defined as greater than or equal to 5 cells/high power field in the 4th CSF tube). Kernig's and Brudzinski's signs both did even more poorly, with a sensitivity of 2% each. (2)


(1) Uchihara T. Jolt accentuation of headache: the most sensitive sign of CSF pleocytosis. Headache. 1991 Mar;31(3):167-71

(2)  Nakao JH et al. Jolt accentuation of headache and other clinical signs: poor predictors of meningitis in adults. Am J Emerg Med. 2014 Jan;32(1):24-8