Technology for enhancing chest auscultation in clinical simulation

Respir Care. 2011 Jun;56(6):834-45. doi: 10.4187/respcare.01072. Epub 2011 Feb 11.


The ability to use an acoustic stethoscope to detect lung and/or heart sounds, and then to then communicate one's interpretation of those sounds is an essential skill for many medical professionals. Interpretation of lung and heart sounds, in the context of history and other examination findings, often aids the differential diagnosis. Bedside assessment of changing auscultation findings may also guide treatment. Learning lung and heart auscultation skills typically involves listening to pre-recorded normal and adventitious sounds, often followed by laboratory instruction to guide stethoscope placement, and finally correlating the sounds with the associated pathophysiology and pathology. Recently, medical simulation has become an important tool for teaching prior to clinical practice, and for evaluating bedside auscultation skills. When simulating cardiovascular or pulmonary problems, high-quality lung and heart sounds should be able to accurately corroborate other findings such as vital signs, arterial blood gas values, or imaging. Digital audio technology, the Internet, and high-fidelity simulators have increased opportunities for educators and learners. We review the application of these technologies and describe options for reproducing lung and heart sounds, as well as their advantages and potential limitations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Auscultation / methods*
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • Equipment and Supplies
  • Humans
  • Manikins
  • Software
  • Teaching Materials
  • Thoracic Diseases / diagnosis*