Deteriorating Patient

Bowel Sounds



  • Auscultate the abdomen for bowel sounds. First listen in one quadrant and if an abnormality is discovered then listen in each of the three other quadrants.
  • In order to be sure that bowel sounds are absent, it is important to listen for at least five minutes.
    • Interpretation

    • Gurgling sounds: movement of gas and fluid via peristalsis
    • Borborygmi: loud rumbling sounds due to movement of air within the gut
    • Hypoactive: diminished or absent bowel sounds
    • Hyperactive: extremely increased bowel sounds
    • Hollow, high pitched tinkles: similar to rain on a tin roof, due to liquid and gas under pressure within dilated gut
Last updated on April 15th, 2020
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