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Adventitious Lung Sounds

Introduction

This website offers free and paid lessons, auscultation guides and quizzes for adventitious breath sounds. On this page we provide a definition, and then examples of several types of adventitious breath sounds using audio recordings and text. Links to the free training courses are noted as well.

What Are Adventitious Breath Sounds?

Adventitious breath sounds are abnormal sounds that are heard over a patient's lungs and airways. These sounds include abnormal sounds such as fine and coarse crackles (crackles are also called rales), wheezes (sometimes called rhonchi), pleural rubs and stridor. Adventitious breath sounds are important clues used for diagnosing cardiac and pulmonary conditions. These sounds and corresponding conditions are described in our breath sounds courses.



Auscultation of Adventitious Breath Sounds

Auscultation is the process of listening to these adventitious breath sounds typically a stethoscope.

Lung sounds can be heard across the chestwall. Auscultation should be performed a quiet room, The stethoscope's chestpiece should be placed directly on the skin.

Adventitious breath sounds should be used with specific clinical context accurate interpretation.



Examples of Adventitious Breath Sounds

These are some examples of common breath lung sounds.

Crackles

Crackles are discontinuous, brief, popping sounds. Similar to the sound of a hook and loop fastener being pulled apart. Crackles can often be cleared by coughing when caused by secretions.
virtual auscultation of patient torso




auscultation position of patient

The patient's position is seated.

Wheeze

Wheezes are continuous, musical sounds, high or low-pitched. Usually more pronounced on expiration. Wheezes usually indicate narrowed or partially obstructed airways.

Audio Playback

virtual auscultation of patient torso




auscultation position of patient

The patient's position is seated.

Pleural Rubs

Pleural rubs are creaking or grating sounds that are described as being similar to walking on fresh snow.

Audio Playback

virtual auscultation of patient torso




auscultation position of patient

The patient's position is seated.

Stridor

A loud, high-pitched sound heard over the upper airways. Commonly, stridor is heard during inspiration but may also occur throughout the respiratory cycle.

Audio Playback

virtual auscultation of patient torso




auscultation position of patient

The patient's position is sitting.

Respiratory Sounds Reference Guide

Our auscultation guide provides information and examples of adventitious breath sounds. The guide pages provide waveforms with a moving cursor that is synchronized to the audio recording. In addition, listening tips are available.



Authors and Reviewers

Authored by Diane Wrigley, PA
Medically reviewed by Dr. Barbara Erickson, PhD, RN, CCRN.
Special thanks to Dr. Raymond Murphy, MD, PhD.

Quick Links to Other Breath Sounds

While we have many breath sound lessons and quick references on this website. Please use the links below.




Related Lessons

Learn important breath sounds. Our lessons cover over 15 adventitious breath sounds. Please review the lesson descriptions and links below.




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