Auscultation of the abdominal aorta???

  1. I have a question about abdominal aorta ascultation. I'm a nursing I student and we're starting the physical assessment. When auscutating the abdominal aorta, what are you supposed to hear? I know you are supposed to place the stethescope above, below, and to the right and left of the umbilicus, (or I am totally wrong, we're getting so much info right now that my brain hurts for info overload!), but what on earth are you supposed to hear? I hear plenty of bowel sounds, but nothing else. Is that what is supposed to happen? Is it one of those cases that if you hear something, that's considered abnormal and if you don't, its normal? So lost right now. I've got the precordium down, so I know about S1, S2, S3 & S4, and in a twisted sort of fate, unfortunately for my husband, but for education purposes its fortunate for me, my husband has a ventricle septal defect, so I was able to hear extra heart sounds, but, the abdominal aorta has me so confused. Any suggestions? I thought I should at the very least be able to hear something on my husband at the abdominal aorta because of the heart defect. I think I'm just confusing things. Is there a site out there with the abdominal sounds? Any help would be great and appreciated! The good thing, no one in my class of 40 is getting the whole auscultation of the abdominal aorta, so I'm not alone. HELP!!!! Thanks, stressed out new nursing student :uhoh21:
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    Joined: Sep '06; Posts: 39; Likes: 5

    3 Comments

  3. by   dacryocystitis
    When you auscultate the abdominal aorta you should hear the "normal heart beat" but it will most likely be fainter that you hear when you auscultate the heart. In overweight or obese individuals, you may not be able to hear it at all. The purpose of auscultating the abd. aorta is to listen for a bruit which would be caued by aortic stenosis. Although from what I have heard, this is even difficult to hear.

    As for auscultating to the left and right of the umbilicus....the purpose is also to listen for a bruit which would be caused by renal artery stenosis. The renal arteries are so deep though you probably wouldn't be able to hear it anyway. I think they tell us to do this as a formality (haha!). I would think that if the renal artery stenosis was severe enough anyway, you would see symptoms and lab results reflecting this before you be able to hear the bruit. I could be wrong on that one though.
  4. by   JennyRN09
    Quote from dacryocystitis
    When you auscultate the abdominal aorta you should hear the "normal heart beat" but it will most likely be fainter that you hear when you auscultate the heart. In overweight or obese individuals, you may not be able to hear it at all. The purpose of auscultating the abd. aorta is to listen for a bruit which would be caued by aortic stenosis. Although from what I have heard, this is even difficult to hear.

    As for auscultating to the left and right of the umbilicus....the purpose is also to listen for a bruit which would be caused by renal artery stenosis. The renal arteries are so deep though you probably wouldn't be able to hear it anyway. I think they tell us to do this as a formality (haha!). I would think that if the renal artery stenosis was severe enough anyway, you would see symptoms and lab results reflecting this before you be able to hear the bruit. I could be wrong on that one though.
    Oh my goodness, thank you so much. You just made this make so much more sense for me. Now, I understand. When I was trying to hear it on my husband, he has a rather large belly, I heard nothing at all but bowel sounds. But, on my daughter who is a twig I could hear a faint heartbeat but thought I was just hearing the distant heart, but, in reality, I was hearing the abdominal aorta! Thank you so much for your help!
  5. by   Achoo!
    Make sure you flip your stethescope around. It's best to hear with the bell rather than the diaphragm for bruits or lower pitched sounds.

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