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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Auscultation \Aus`cul*ta"tion\, n. [L. ausculcatio, fr. auscultare to listen, fr. a dim. of auris, orig. ausis, ear. See Auricle, and cf. Scout, n.]

  1. The act of listening or hearkening to.

  2. (Med.) An examination by listening either directly with the ear (immediate auscultation) applied to parts of the body, as the abdomen; or with the stethoscope (mediate auscultation), in order to distinguish sounds recognized as a sign of health or of disease.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"act of listening," 1630s, from Latin auscultationem (nominative auscultatio), noun of action from past participle stem of auscultare (see auscultate). Medical sense is from 1821.


n. (context medicine English) diagnosis of disorders by listening to the sounds of the internal organs, usually using a stethoscope.


n. listening to sounds within the body (usually with a stethoscope)

For the ancient monasterial worker, see Auscultare

Auscultation (based on the Latin verb auscultare "to listen") is listening to the internal sounds of the body, usually using a stethoscope. Auscultation is performed for the purposes of examining the circulatory and respiratory systems ( heart and breath sounds), as well as the gastrointestinal system (bowel sounds).

The term was introduced by René-Théophile-Hyacinthe Laënnec. The act of listening to body sounds for diagnostic purposes has its origin further back in history, possibly as early as Ancient Egypt. Laënnec's contributions were refining the procedure, linking sounds with specific pathological changes in the chest, and inventing a suitable instrument (the stethoscope) in the process. Originally, there was a distinction between immediate auscultation (unaided) and mediate auscultation (using an instrument).

Auscultation is a skill that requires substantial clinical experience, a fine stethoscope and good listening skills. Health professionals (doctors, nurses, etc.) listen to three main organs and organ systems during auscultation: the heart, the lungs, and the gastrointestinal system. When auscultating the heart, doctors listen for abnormal sounds including heart murmurs, gallops, and other extra sounds coinciding with heartbeats. Heart rate is also noted. When listening to lungs, breath sounds such as wheezes, crepitations and crackles are identified. The gastrointestinal system is auscultated to note the presence of bowel sounds.

Electronic stethoscopes can be recording devices, and can provide noise reduction and signal enhancement. This is helpful for purposes of telemedicine (remote diagnosis) and teaching. This opened the field to computer-aided auscultation.

Usage examples of "auscultation".

The auscultation performed by the patrol suggested that the Moon was uninhabited.

I will ignore the fact that the stethoscope really initiated auscultation as a useful examination procedure.

Includes inspection, palpation, percussion, and auscultation of body and organs.

Imperturbable, the physician opened her arms without looking at her and examined her by direct auscultation, his ear against her skin, first the chest and then the back.

She would go no further than allowing him to repeat the ceremony of palpation and auscultation with all the ethical violations he could desire, but without taking off her clothes.

Auscultation would reveal dyspnea, rich in rales, also tachypnea, suggesting mediastinal crunch.

Percussion gives a dull sound or if there are large cavities, it is hollow, and auscultation elicits the amphoric sound, as of blowing into a bottle.

Auscultation reveals a bubbling, gurgling sound, as the air passes through the matter in the bronchi, with the click, to the air cells beyond.

Until sufficient tubercular matter has been deposited in the lungs to alter the sounds observed on auscultation and percussion, a definite diagnosis of tubercular consumption cannot be made, even though there may have been hemorrhage.

Auscultation would reveal dyspnea, rich in rales, also tachypnea, suggesting mediastinal crunch.