What is the method of listening to the internal sounds of the body called?
Auscultation (based on the Latin verb "auscultare" "to listen") is listening to the internal sounds of the body, usually using a stethoscope. Auscultation is performed for the purposes of examining the circulatory and respiratory systems (heart and breath sounds), as well as the alimentary canal.
The term was introduced by René Laennec (17 February 1781 – 13 August 1826). The act of listening to body sounds for diagnostic purposes has its origin further back in history, possibly as early as Ancient Egypt. Laënnec's contributions were refining the procedure, linking sounds with specific pathological changes in the chest, and inventing a suitable instrument (the stethoscope) to mediate between the patient's body and the clinician's ear.
Auscultation is a skill that requires substantial clinical experience, a fine stethoscope and good listening skills. Health professionals (doctors, nurses, etc.) listen to three main organs and organ systems during auscultation: the heart, the lungs, and the gastrointestinal system. When auscultating the heart, doctors listen for abnormal sounds, including heart murmurs, gallops, and other extra sounds coinciding with heartbeats. Heart rate is also noted. When listening to lungs, breath sounds such as wheezes, crepitations and crackles are identified. The gastrointestinal system is auscultated to note the presence of bowel sounds.