The Direct Measurement of Blood Pressure

  • L. A. Geddes


Although Galen (130–200 ad) palpated the pulse and classified it in terms of strength, rate and rhythm, it was not until 1733 when Stephen Hales measured arterial pressure directly in an un-anesthetized horse that was cast to the ground. He connected a long vertical glass tube to the femoral (crural) artery (and later to the carotid) and observed the blood to rise 8 ft 3 in. above the level of the left ventricle. He reported cardiac and respiratory variations on the height of the column of blood. The mean pressure corresponding to 99 inches of blood is 186 mm Hg. However, it was not until 1828 when the mercury U-tube manometer was introduced by Poiseuille that we obtained our units for measuring blood pressure (mm Hg). Figure 1 illustrates Poiseuille’s manometer.


Pressure Transducer Viscous Drag Volume Displacement Mercury Manometer Left Tube 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. A. Geddes
    • 1
  1. 1.Hillenbrand Biomedical EngineeringPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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