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Definition of Bowel sounds

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Bowel sounds: The gurgling, rumbling, or growling noises from the abdomen caused by the muscular contractions of peristalsis, the process that moves the contents of the stomach and intestines downward.

Bowel sounds are normal. Their absence can indicate intestinal paralysis (ileus). Bowel sounds may also be temporarily absent after abdominal surgery. Their increase may indicate bowel obstruction.

Bowel sounds are also called borborygmus (plural: borborygmi).

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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