Auscultation is a method used to “listen” to the sounds of the body during a physical examination. It is usually performed by listening through 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 is not performed with a stethoscope, but with a Doppler technique. The Doppler technique can also be used to auscultate pulses in the hands and feet when they are diseased and difficult to feel.
by Martin A. Harms, M.D.
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