Bowel Sounds - definition

Bowel Sounds - definition

Bowel Sounds - the noises of the gastrointestinal tract. Listening to bowel sounds through a stethoscope (AUSCULTATION) provides important clues about the function of the gastrointestinal tract. Normal bowel sounds vary in tone and loudness according to the activity of the bowel though follow characteristic patterns the doctor can identify. Excessive bowel sounds often accompany excessive bowel activity such as DIARRHEA, GASTROENTERITIS, and flare-ups of INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE (IBD). Reduced bowel sounds occur when bowel activity slows, such as between meals or when there is an intestinal obstruction. Narcotic medications and anesthetic agents also slow bowel function, and reduced bowel sounds may persist for several days after surgery. The absence of bowel sounds signals a nonfunctioning bowel, which can be due to intestinal obstruction or, in an infant, a gastrointestinal atresia. The absence of bowel sounds may be a sign of a medical emergency that requires surgical intervention.

See also BORBORYGMUS; BOWEL ATRESIA; ESOPHAGEAL ATRESIA.

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The Gastrointestinal System

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