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Assessment of Bowel Sounds

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Changes in bowel sounds may indicate problems with the patient long before other signs emerge. For instance, the absence of bowel sounds after surgery can indicate an ileus before the patient starts vomiting or complaining of abdominal pain.

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Most nurses carry out a cursory listen for bowel sounds, but you may not realise how variable and important these sounds can actually be. As with most things learned at university, it is easy to forget the particulars once you are working on a nursing floor. Instead of really focusing on the sounds, you may simply write down what you think you hear. This can be a problem because changes in bowel sounds may indicate problems with the patient long before other signs emerge. For instance, the absence of bowel sounds after surgery can indicate an ileus before the patient starts vomiting or complaining of abdominal pain.

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Meet the educator

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Lynda Lampert
Lynda is a registered nurse with three years experience on a busy surgical floor in a city hospital. She graduated with an Associates degree in Nursing from Mercyhurst College Northeast in 2007 and lives in Erie, Pennsylvania in the United States. In her work, she took care of patients post operatively from open heart surgery, immediately post-operatively from gastric bypass, gastric banding surgery and post abdominal surgery. She also dealt with patient populations that experienced active chest pain, congestive heart failure, end stage renal disease, uncontrolled diabetes and a variety of other chronic, mental and surgical conditions.
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836 reviews by Ausmed Learners
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PF
Peter Fennell
26 Mar 2021
Good information and a stimulus to review other related areas of practice.
AG
Anthea Gill
31 Mar 2021
Useful information for continued reflection and practical knowledge. Good toolbox talk!
EK
Eunjin Kim
24 Aug 2021
Very helpful
NR
Nadia Rezayeenejad
01 Sep 2020
This article will increase my knowledge!
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Vicki Ellem
05 Aug 2021
Very interesting and relevant to general health .
EA
Eugenia Anawana
04 Aug 2021
This article was short and concise, well informed.
CS
Catherine Sheil
01 Sep 2020
A nice update of assessment of the bowel. Not seen a lot in general nursing practice now days
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Lea Sloss
02 Sep 2020
Quick concise relevant to all information
MB
Mercy Bosha
26 Mar 2021
Detailed and easy to understand.
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Cynthia Coate
10 Jun 2020
Great summary and explanation.
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