Auscultation | Heart, Lung and Bowel Sounds | Carotid Bruit


Auscultation is the process of listening to body sounds, usually with a stethoscope. Most commonly, physicians and nurses auscultate the heart and lungs. Bowel sounds, fetal sounds and carotid bruit can also be auscultated.

Heart sounds are auscultated for murmurs, which are often associated with heart valve abnormalities. Other heart sounds can indicate congenital heart problems, myocarditis or pericardial friction rub.

Lungs are auscultated for sounds such as wheezes, rhonchi and crackles. Some clinicians listen to voiced breath sounds, which can indicate specific areas of the lungs that are consolidated.

Heart Sounds Reference Guide

Our cardiac auscultation reference guide includes over a hundred heart sounds. These sounds include both recorded patient heart murmurs as well as simulated heart sounds. The reference guide is organized by auscultation location. The guide also includes listening tips and phonocardiograms.

Reference Guide


Learn heart murmurs and other abnormal heart sounds using these courses. Over 60 lessons present systolic and diastolic murmurs, third (S3) and fourth (S4) heart sounds and congenital conditions. Each lesson includes audio, text, phonocardiogram and cardiac animation.Use the Quick Links panel to select a course.

We recommend that beginning student start with our Introduction to Heart Murmurs page, then take the Normal Heart Sounds course and progress down the list of additional courses, at least through the Diastolic Murmurs course. Courses typically take 15-20 minutes.

Heart Murmur Introduction

Auscultation Repetition Training

For some learners, auscultation repetition training is a useful complement to our courses. We provide repetition training along with a dynamic phonocardiogram for helping users memorize each sound.

Repetition Training

Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Learn to recognize abnormal heart sounds related to pulmonary arterial hypertension. This is a new course, developed by Dr Jon Keroes and David Lieberman.

Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Carotid Bruit

Recently developed, this course extends auscultation skills by a series of case studies related to carotid artery disease. Using our carotid artery exam simulator, you will be to identify carotid bruit, which is caused by turbulent blood flow in an artery which supplies blood to the brain.

Carotid Artery Exam Course

Abdominal Sounds

This short course expands auscultation skills by focusing on abdominal auscultation sounds.

Abdominal Sounds Lessons


Dr Jon Keroes, Cardiologist
David Lieberman, Cardiac Simulation Software Engineer Diane Wrigley, Physician Assistant and Nursing Educator

Editorial Reviewer
Dr Barbara Erikson, Heart Sounds Educator/Author

The creators of these materials have been key contributors to other heart auscultation books and CDs, including:
  • The Virtual Cardiac Patient: A Multimedia Guide to Heart Sounds and Murmurs, Publisher: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, ISBN: 0781784425
  • Introduction to Heart Sounds CD, Publisher: 3M Littmann, UPC: 707387565947
  • Prentice Hall Heart and Lung Sounds, Workbook and CD, Publisher: Pearson, ISBN: 9780131949003
  • Simplified Introduction to Heart and Lung Sounds, Publisher: Stethographics
  • SoundBuilder for Heart Sounds - iPhone Edition, Publisher: 3M Littmann

External References

Wikipedia Auscultation Topic
MedLine Plus Auscultation Article
Free Dictionary Auscultation Definition