Auscultation is listening to the sounds of the body through a stethoscope or other instrument during a physical examination. It is used to listen to three main organs systems – the heart, the lungs, and the gastrointestinal system. In heart auscultation, heart sounds along with heart murmurs, gallops, and other extra sounds are listened to. It provides certain information regarding the condition of the heart. Breath sounds such as wheeze, crepitation and crackles are listened to in lung auscultation. Gastrointestinal auscultation notes the presence of bowel sounds.
A device called stethoscope is used for auscultation. Acoustic stethoscopes pick up the sound transmission from the chest piece, via air-filled hollow tubes and convey it to the listener’s ears. An electronic stethoscope electronically amplifies low sound levels. Heart sounds can be recorded through a direct output to an external recording device using electronic stethoscopes. Doppler stethoscope helps auscultate of heart valve movements and blood flow sounds by measuring the Doppler effect of ultrasound waves reflected from the heart. It has an electronic audio output. The heart sounds of unborn infants may be auscultated with fetal stethoscope or Doppler fetal monitor.