Chest auscultation has long been considered a useful part of the physical examination, going back to the time of Hippocrates. However, it did not become a widespread practice until the invention of the stethoscope by René Laënnec in 1816, which made the practice convenient and hygienic.1 During the second half of the 20th century, technological advances in ultrasonography, radiographic computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging shifted interest from lung auscultation to imaging studies, which can detect lung disease with an accuracy never previously imagined. However, modern computer-assisted techniques have also allowed precise recording and analysis of lung sounds, prompting the correlation of acoustic indexes with measures of lung mechanics. This innovative, though still little used, approach has improved our knowledge of acoustic mechanisms and increased the clinical usefulness of auscultation. In this review, we present an overview of lung auscultation in the light of modern concepts of lung acoustics.

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Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, v. 370, no. 8, p. 744-751.

From The New England Journal of Medicine, Abraham Bohadana, Gabriel Izbicki, and Steve S. Kraman, Fundamentals of Lung Auscultation, 370, 744-751. Copyright © 2014 Massachusetts Medical Society. Reprinted with permission.

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