Meaning of Auscultation

Auscultation is the act and result of auscultation. This verb can be used with reference to the medical practice that consists of listening to the sounds generated by the organs in the chest or belly to analyze them and detect possible pathologies. Auscultation is also to inquire about the state of something or about the thoughts of an individual regarding a certain subject.

Auscultation can be said to involve exploring the patient’s body by listening, either with instruments or directly, to the sounds that are produced in the rib cage or abdomen. These noises can be caused by the contraction of the heart or by the air passing through the lungs, for example.

In ancient times, to perform auscultation, the doctor used to bring his ear close to the patient’s body to listen directly to the sounds. Also, at times, he appealed to a kind of tube to hear more clearly.

Currently auscultation is carried out with an instrument called a stethoscope or stethoscope, which has a membrane connected to headphones. The stethoscope optimizes acoustics so that sounds are better received by the physician.

These changes throughout the history of medicine are reflected in the fundamental classification of auscultation:

* immediate: the doctor rests his ear on the patient’s body to listen to the noises without the help of any instrument. As mentioned above, this is an old method, and it is practically no longer used;

* Through the tube: a tube similar to that of a trumpet is used, the widest part of which rests on the patient’s body while at the other end the doctor perceives the noises. In the past, this type of auscultation was used to monitor the condition of the fetus, but today ultrasound is sufficient;

* mediate: it consists of the use of the stethoscope, and is the most widespread worldwide, since it is more precise and versatile than the previous ones.

The cardiac auscultation, held in different parts of the thorax, allows the professional to detect murmurs, which are symptoms of a possible problem in the valves of the heart. To develop this evaluation the doctor asks the patient to inhale air, hold it and then exhale it.

Other kinds of auscultation are the digestive auscultation, the auscultation and obstetrical auscultation (listening consisting of the fetus’s heartbeat with a doppler ultrasound).

The digestive auscultation consists of the application of the bell of the stethoscope in each one of the quadrants of the abdomen to listen to the movements of the intestines. Depending on factors such as the intensity and frequency of the noises perceived by the professional using this technique, they can determine if the patient’s condition is normal or if they have any pathology.

To assess the air flow through the tracheobronchial tree, pulmonary auscultation combined with percussion is carried out; collectively, they also allow the physician to study the patient’s pleural space. The fundamental objectives of this technique are the following three:

* listen to the noises generated by breathing;

* perceive the so-called adventitious or added noises (they are those that are superimposed on those of normal respiration and are always signs of chronic or acute pathology);

* If the doctor believes that the patient has an abnormality, then he also tries to listen to the noises of the voice that reach the chest wall.

For evaluation, the patient can stand or sit; the doctor places the stethoscope on both sides of the spine, on the front of the chest and on the sides, while telling the first to breathe in or out.