On physical examination, a succussion splash is a physical sign specific to the examination of the abdomen or thorax. A positive succussion splash indicates a hollow area, usually a portion of the small or large intestine or a pneumothorax, containing both fluid and gas.
For abdominal examination, the examiner's hand is placed in the area to be examined, a soft pressure is applied, and then the examiner gives a firm impulse. This will, if the sign is positive, result in a palpable or audible splash.
For thoracic examination, the examiner auscultates while gently moving the patient side to side on the examining table.
An abdominal succussion splash is usually found in obstructive conditions such as fecal impaction, intestinal obstruction, megacolon, or superior mesenteric artery syndrome. Rare causes would include abscess or perforation of the intestine with leakage of air into the peritoneal cavity.
A thoracic succussion splash is found in a pneumohydrothorax (air and fluid in the chest cavity).