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Auscultation is 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 person's lungs, heart, and intestines to evaluate these things about the sounds:

  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Duration
  • Number
  • Quality

Providers also use auscultation to listen to the heart sounds of unborn infants. This can be done with a stethoscope or with sound waves (called Doppler ultrasound).

Auscultation can also be used to hear pulses in the arms and legs.



Dorland's Online Medical Dictionary. Available at: www.dorlands.com/def.jsp?id=100010441. Accessed June 1, 2015.

Goldman L. Approach to the patient with possible cardiovascular disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 51.

Review Date 4/30/2015

Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.