Sounding Bodies: Medical Students and the Acquisition of Stethoscopic Perspectives

Tom Rice

in The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195388947
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Sounding Bodies: Medical Students and the Acquisition of Stethoscopic Perspectives

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This article provides a brief survey of techniques used to appropriate body sounds as a diagnostic resource in the Western medical tradition. It describes difficulties encountered in creating a robust taxonomy for body sounds and in codifying sounds in ways that guaranteed consistent and reproducible interpretations between listeners. It points to the conceptual and imaginative, as well as the diagnostic power, of the stethoscope. Auscultation was instrumental in bringing about important changes in the way in which doctors engaged with patients in Western medicine. The stethoscope's application in examinations of the heart and lungs is now frequent and routine in many modern clinical settings. Finally, the article states that medical techniques such as echocardiography and electrocardiography and potentially even tools such as the iStethoscope Pro, are dictating a new era in the story of medicine's sonic mediation of information about bodily spaces, surfaces, states, and events.

Keywords: body sounds; stethoscope; auscultation; Western medicine; sonic mediation

Article.  10521 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Sound Studies

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