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This sign is used as an indicator of pregnancy. The sign was first described by French physician Etienne Joseph Jacquemin in 1846, but it was James Read Chadwick who drew attention to it in a paper he published in 1887. Although he credited Jacquemin for the discovery, Chadwick's name became associated with the sign.

Of course with easy lab and over-the-counter tests to confirm of pregnancy, it is now of very little clinical usefulness.

The Sign and Its Interpretation

  • Chadwick's sign is usually noticed while performing a speculum exam.
  • It is positive if the vulva, vagina, and cervix have a bluish-violet hue
  • It is negative if those tissues are of normal colouration

  • Results from congestion of pelvic vasculature during pregnancy
  • Found in some pregnant women beginning 8-12 weeks gestational age (GA) and has a sensitivity of 51% and a specificity of 98% for pregnancy

References

  1. Bastian LA, Piscitelli JT. Is this patient pregnant? Can you reliably rule in or rule out early pregnancy by clinical examination. JAMA. 1997;278:586-591
  2. Gleichert JE. Etienne Joseph Jacquemin, discoverer of 'Chadwick's Sign'. J Hist Med Allied Sci. 1971;26:75-80.