Obscure Medical Terms: How Well Do You 'Speak Medicine'?

Albert B. Lowenfels, MD


November 09, 2018

Image courtesy of Radiopedia

"Borborygmus" or "borborygmi" is the Greek term to identify what we commonly call "bowel sounds." The word probably originated because saying it out loud resembles the sound of the gurgling bowel.

Although these sounds must originate in the digestive tract, the actual site is unknown. Computerized abdominal auscultation reveals two likely areas:

  1. The right lower quadrant, compatible with the sounds originating from the ileocecal valve; and

  2. The epigastrium, suggesting passage of food and air through the pylorus.[7]

Ileus, characterized by the absence of bowel sounds, occurs as a result of hypomotility of the intestinal tract in the absence of mechanical bowel obstruction. Postoperative ileus is typical after abdominal surgery.


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