We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Homans' Sign?

By Toni Henthorn
Updated Feb 08, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Homans' sign is a diagnostic indicator that suggests the presence of a clot in the deep veins of a lower extremity. When assessing a patient for the possibility of a deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or blood clot, the physician flexes the patient's knee and forcibly flexes the foot so that the toes turn up. This maneuver applies traction to the major vein in the calf region, the posterior tibial vein. If the patient experiences pain in the calf muscle or behind the knee with this maneuver — a positive Homans' sign — the physician will proceed with further testing, such as venography, to confirm the diagnosis. This sign was first described in an article in 1938 by a surgeon, John Homans, in which he advances his theory that early DVT produces calf muscle congestion and irritability, leading to the pain elicited with the sign.

In addition to deep venous thrombosis, Homans' sign may be present in other conditions of the lower extremity. Diffuse lower extremity swelling from infections or muscle injury may also contribute to pain during knee flexion with tipping up of the foot. Patients with ruptured discs in the lumbar spine with compression of the nerve roots may also present with Homans' sign. Furthermore, women who chronically wear high heels may notice a positive Homans' sign when they switch to flat shoes. This sign is present in about 33 percent of patients with DVT and 20 percent of patients without DVT, indicating that it is not highly specific to DVT.

Since clinical signs of DVT can be unreliable, the diagnosis of DVT mainly depends on confirmation by other diagnostic tests, including impedance plethysmography, venography, and ultrasonography. Impedance plethysmography measures the extent to which the leg tissue impedes the flow of electrical current in the leg with lower impedance pointing to a clot. Venography utilizes a radiopaque dye that will display a blockage in blood flow. Ultrasonography measures the amount of compressibility of the leg veins, with decreased compressibility indicating a clot. Most physicians will use both the clinical presentation, including the presence of a Homans' sign, and ancillary diagnostic tests to assess the likelihood that a patient has DVT.

Deep venous thrombosis occurs when blood coagulates in one of the deep leg veins that transport blood back to the heart. Many patients have no symptoms at all. If the patient receives no treatment, however, the clot may break into pieces, dislodge, and travel to the lung, blocking an artery to the lung tissue. This condition, called a pulmonary embolus, can be life-threatening.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.