What Is Egophony?

C.B. Fox
C.B. Fox
Egophony, the presence of fluid or scar tissue inside the lungs, can be heard by listening to a patient's lungs.
Egophony, the presence of fluid or scar tissue inside the lungs, can be heard by listening to a patient's lungs.

Egophony is a condition characterized by a shift in vowel sound that is heard through a patient's lungs. A positive egophony test indicates that fluid has accumulated in or around the lungs or that scar tissue has formed inside the lungs. This test is one of a number of voice transmission tests that require the patient to speak softly while the doctor listens to the lungs with a stethoscope. In patients with egophony, the sound of the letter E will take on the qualities of the letter A when heard through the lungs.

Egophony indicates the presence of fluid in or around the lungs.
Egophony indicates the presence of fluid in or around the lungs.

The term egophony, which may also be spelled aegophony, comes from two Greek terms that mean "goat" and "sound." This name was given to the disorder because the shift in sound from E to A makes a patient's voice sound vaguely goat-like when heard through a stethoscope. This condition is only noticeable when listening directly to a patient's lungs as the vowels will not sound distorted when a patient is heard through the air.

An egophony test may be used as a diagnostic tool for pneumonia.
An egophony test may be used as a diagnostic tool for pneumonia.

A non-invasive diagnostic tool, an egophony test is conducted in a doctor's office or hospital. The patient will be asked to speak, often repeating a word with a strong E sound, while the doctor listens to the lungs in a number of different places. It is possible for some parts of the lungs to indicate egophony while other parts sound normal.

The shift in vowel sound when heard through the lungs is usually caused by the presence of additional fluid in or around the lungs. This fluid transmits high frequency sounds more easily than it does low frequency sounds. In patients with healthy lungs, listening to the lungs while a patient speaks will sound the same as listening to a patient speak through the air.

A chest X-ray may confirm the presence of pneumonia.
A chest X-ray may confirm the presence of pneumonia.

An egophony test may be used by doctors as a preliminary diagnostic tool and can indicate pneumonia, pleural effusion, or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. In pneumonia, fluid builds up in a patient's lungs, making some areas of the lungs unsuitable for oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange with red blood cells. Patients with pleural effusion may have a build-up of fluid around the lungs, a condition that makes it harder for the lungs to expand to their full capacity. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a build-up of scar tissue or a swelling of lung tissue that can also make the lungs less efficient. If egophony is found in a patient, further tests to determine whether one of these conditions is the cause need to be performed.

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Discussion Comments

Esther11

This is one of the most unusual diagnostic tests that I have ever heard of. It doesn't cost much, it doesn't hurt, and it is pretty accurate. I didn't know that by listening through a stethoscope, a doctor could detect the different letter sounds through your lungs.

I had pneumonia once, but didn't have an egophony diagnostic test. I guess it was obvious, just listening to my lungs.

Anyway, it sounds like a really good first test when looking for lung disease.

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    • Egophony, the presence of fluid or scar tissue inside the lungs, can be heard by listening to a patient's lungs.
      Egophony, the presence of fluid or scar tissue inside the lungs, can be heard by listening to a patient's lungs.
    • Egophony indicates the presence of fluid in or around the lungs.
      Egophony indicates the presence of fluid in or around the lungs.
    • An egophony test may be used as a diagnostic tool for pneumonia.
      An egophony test may be used as a diagnostic tool for pneumonia.
    • A chest X-ray may confirm the presence of pneumonia.
      A chest X-ray may confirm the presence of pneumonia.
    • X-rays may be taken to diagnose pleural effusion and other lung conditions.
      X-rays may be taken to diagnose pleural effusion and other lung conditions.
    • A positive egophony test can indicate that fluid has accumulated in the lungs.
      A positive egophony test can indicate that fluid has accumulated in the lungs.
    • Individuals with pneumonia may produce a crackling sound from the lungs.
      Individuals with pneumonia may produce a crackling sound from the lungs.
    • In some cases, it may be easier for doctors to hear sounds from the back of a patient's lungs.
      In some cases, it may be easier for doctors to hear sounds from the back of a patient's lungs.