Auscultation is the method of listening to the sounds of the body during a physical examination.
Auscultation is usually done using a tool called a stethoscope. Health care providers routinely listen to a patient's lungs, heart, and intestines to evaluate the frequency, intensity, duration, number, and quality of sounds.
Health care providers also use auscultation to listen to the heart sounds of unborn infants. This can be performed with a stethoscope or with sound waves (called Doppler ultrasound). It can also be used to hear pulses in the arms and legs.
Goldman L. Approach to the patient with possible cardiovascular disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 50.
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.