J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 77:728 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2005.083618
  • Historical note

Queckenstedt’s manoeuvre

  1. J M S Pearce
  1. Department of Neurology, Hull Royal Infirmary, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 J M S Pearce
 304 Beverley Road, Anlaby, East Yorks, HU10 7BG, UK; jmsp{at}
  • Received 4 November 2005
  • Accepted 8 December 2005
  • Revised 5 December 2005

This paper describes the beginnings of the measurement of CSF pressure and its physiological fluctuations by Queckenstedt that culminated in his clinical test for spinal canal obstruction.

In 1891, Walter Essex Wynter, physician to the Middlesex Hospital, described the insertion of a Southey’s tube to withdraw infected cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to reduce CSF pressure in meningitis. One month earlier, Heinrich Irenaeus Quincke (1842–1922), who held Chairs in Berne and then Kiel, described lumbar puncture.1 The procedure was quickly established.

Hans Queckenstedt, while serving in the army in 1916, devised his test to detect spinal cord compression. He described:

“The narrowed [spinal] channel impedes …