Article Text

In defence of auscultation: a glorious future?
  1. W Reid Thompson
  1. Correspondence to Dr W Reid Thompson, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Pediatric Cardiology, Bloomberg M2327, 1800 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21287-2182, USA; thompson{at}


Auscultation of the heart using a simple stethoscope continues to be a central aspect of the cardiovascular examination despite declining proficiency and availability of competing technologies such as hand-held ultrasound. In the ears and mind of a trained cardiologist, heart sounds can provide important information to help screen for certain diseases such as valvar lesions and many congenital defects. Using emerging technology, auscultation is poised to undergo a transformation that will simultaneously improve the teaching and evaluation of this important clinical skill and create a new generation of smart stethoscopes, capable of assisting the clinician in quickly and confidently screening for heart disease. These developments have important implications for global health, screening of athletes and recognition of congenital heart disease.


Statistics from


  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.