The major use of chest percussion is to determine if thoracic lesions are asymmetric or if pneumothorax or pleural effusions are present. Pleural effusions may be detected if there is an obvious fluid-air interface. This is best appreciated in standing animals.

Detecting asymmetric resonance gives guidelines as to which radiographic views to take. The resonance of the chest can be classified as normal, dull (pleural effusion, consolidated lung) or increased (pneumothorax, hyperinflated lung). The pitch of the resonant sound is directly related to the amount of air within the chest.

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