Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Capillary refill time in adults
  1. J Lewin,
  2. I Maconochie
  1. Imperial College, Emergency Department, St Mary’s Campus, London W2 1NY, UK
  1. I Maconochie, Imperial College, Emergency Department, St Mary’s Campus, Praed Street, Paddington, London W2 1NY, UK; i.maconochie{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Capillary refill time (CRT) in adult patients has found its way into modern medical practice in a seemingly haphazard way. Introduced by Beecher et al1 in 1947, it was defined as “normal”, “definite slowing” and “very sluggish”, correlating with “no”, “slight”/“moderate” and “severe” shock, respectively. No numerical values were placed on the definitions. The concept permeated into medical practice when it was revisited by Champion et al2 for their trauma score.

Champion and colleagues2 arbitrarily used a normal value of less than 2 seconds, although this was not based on experimental evidence. Schriger and Baraff3 in 1988 (and via a personal communication in 1987) were unable to uncover any publications at all that defined normal values of CRT and determined that the 2-second limit was based on personal experience only.

There are scant data on CRT in adults and what evidence there is shows little consensus with established practice.

Schriger and Baraff3 showed that a normal CRT, when measured using the pulp of the finger, …

View Full Text


  • Competing interests: None declared.

Linked Articles

  • Primary survey
    Jonathan Wyatt