Auscultation is a fancy-sounding word, but you’ve probably had it done many times. It’s that part of a physical exam when the doctor leans over you with a cold stethoscope and listens to the sounds inside your body.
Auscultation traces back to the Latin word auscultare, meaning “listen.” During auscultation the doctor carefully listens to the sounds made by your heart, lungs, stomach, and intestines. By listening for subtle variations in sound, the doctor can use auscultation to diagnose different illnesses. For example, auscultation can be used to detect abnormalities such as a heart murmur or a wheezing sound in the lungs.