2. The physical evaluation of a patient's abdomen with visual inspection, auscultation, percussion, and palpation.
The visual examination of the normally oval shape of the abdominal surface while the patient is lying on his or her back may reveal abnormal surface features indicating the effects of a disease, surgery, or injury.
Below the surface tumors, fluid accumulation, or hypertrophy of the liver or spleen may be seen as an abnormal surface feature.
Auscultation or listening to sounds within the body (usually with a stethoscope) may reveal vascular sounds that provide information about arterial disorders; such as, aortic aneurysms (any swelling) of the aorta and bowel sounds that indicate intestinal function.
In a pregnant patient, auscultation can detect fetal heartbeat and blood circulation in the placenta.
Percussion (tapping a part of the body for diagnostic purposes) helps to determination the condition of internal organs while palpation (feeling the size, shape, or firmness of body parts) is used to detect areas of tenderness or rigidity, muscle tone and skin condition, and the shapes and sizes of organs or masses under the surface of the skin.