Westphal's sign

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Patellar tendon reflex arc

Westphal's sign is the clinical correlate of the absence or decrease of patellar reflex or knee jerk. Patellar reflex or knee jerk is a kind of deep or stretch reflex where an application of a stimulus to the patellar tendon such as strike by a solid object or hammer caused the leg to extend due to such stimulus causes the quadriceps femoris muscle to contract.

It is named for Karl Friedrich Otto Westphal (1833-1890).[1][2]

Associated conditions[edit]

Westphal's sign has a clinical significance used in determining neurodisorders or diseases such as:

  • receptor damage, peripheral nerve disease, involving the dorsal(sensory) columns of the spinal cord and cerebellar lesions
  • lesions present within the motor cortex of the brain or the pyramidal tracts which it combined with muscular spasms[clarification needed]
  • complete interruption of sensory and/or motor impulse transmission in the femoral nerve


  1. ^ synd/945 at Who Named It?
  2. ^ C. F. O. Westphal. Über einige durch mechanische Einwirkung auf Sehnen und Muskeln hervorgebrachte Bewegungs-Erscheinungen. Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten, Berlin, 1875, 5: 803-834.
  • The Principles of Physiology Jensen, David Ph.D.,Appleton-Century-Crofts, New York.1976