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Abdominal Sounds: Auscultation Lessons, Sounds, Video

Course Overview

Abdominal sounds are created when food, bowel gas and feces move through the intestines. Most bowel sounds are normal. On occasion abnormal bowel sounds are heard, indicating the presence of abdominal pathology. Evaluation of bowel activity can be performed by listening to the abdomen with a stethoscope.

Arterial Sounds

When listening to the abdomen with a stethoscope harsh sounds can, at times, be heard. These sounds are called bruits after the French term for noise. The bruits are caused by conversion of the arterial laminar flow to turbulent flow by the presence of atherosclerotic lesions in the blood vessels. When examining the abdomen the area over the aorta, both renal arteries, both iliac arteries and both femoral arteries should be examined carefully for bruits.

Examining the Abdomen

The routine procedure for auscultation of the abdomen is to start at the upper left quadrant and proceed to the upper right, lower right and finally the lower left. Bowel sounds and arterial sounds are high frequency; so use the diaphragm. The same routine should be used for both bowel and arterial sounds.

Each lesson in this course includes text describing the heart or lung abnormality and a simulated torso indicating the stethoscope chestpiece location. An audio recording of the sound is provided. Phonocardiograms or waveforms are included with each lesson. These waveforms can be a highly useful aid in learning to recognize heart murmurs. In addition, short videos clips illustrate the heart's motion for each abnormality. These animations indicate the origin of each murmur. Blood flow is also animated. For lung sounds, the source (location) of the sound can be revealed.

After completing a lesson, use the lesson table of contents to navigate to another lesson.

When all lessons have been completed, we recommend using the auscultation practice exercises or quiz. In order to gain a certificate of achievement, please complete the course lessons and practice drill during one session. Most users complete the course in 30-45 minutes.

Course Completion

Registered users can earn a certificate of achievement for this module by reading all content and then earning a passing score on this module's quiz.

Completed modules and related scores can be viewed on the dashboard.

Authors and Reviewers


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