Thumbprint sign

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In radiology, the thumbprint sign, or thumbprinting, is a radiologic sign found on a lateral C-spine radiograph that suggests the diagnosis of epiglottitis. The sign is caused by a thickened free edge of the epiglottis, which causes it to appear more radiopaque than normal, resembling the distal thumb.

In an abdominal X-ray, thumbprinting has the similar appearance of thumbs protruding into the intestinal lumen, but are caused by thickened edematous mucosal folds.[1] Abdominal thumbprinting is a sign of intestinal ischemia.[2]


  1. ^ Page 111 in:Elizabeth D Agabegi; Agabegi, Steven S. (2008). Step-Up to Medicine (Step-Up Series). Hagerstwon, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 0-7817-7153-6. 
  2. ^ Acute epiglottitis at eMedicine

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