AskDefine | Define rhonchus

Dictionary Definition

rhonchus n : a sound like whistling or snoring that is heard with a stethoscope during expiration as air passes through obstructed channels [also: rhonchi (pl)]

User Contributed Dictionary



From rhonchus, from an unattested variant of ‘snoring’.




  1. A dry rattling sound heard during breathing, due to deposits in the bronchial tubes.
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Vintage 2007, p. 699:
      “You have poisoned yourself again!” Humfried emitted an alarming rhonchus.

Extensive Definition

Rhonchi is the "coarse rattling sound somewhat like snoring, usually caused by secretion in bronchial airways". Rhonchi is the plural form of the singular word "rhonchus".


It is an abnormal or adventitious sound heard when listening to the chest as the person breathes. They are present when an airway is partially obstructed owing to secretions, mucosal swelling, or tumor tissue pressing on the passage. The sounds are gurgling noises heard on auscultation of the lungs with a stethoscope during inhalation or exhalation. The sounds are caused by the flow of air through thick mucous secretions in the larger air passages such as the bronchioles but can also be associated with smaller structures such as the alveoli.
Rhonchi can be heard in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and acute or severe bronchitis. COPD is an all inclusive syndrome that stems from the reduction of surface area associated with emphysema and the production of mucous secretions, bronchospasm and inflammation associated with bronchitis.
Other tools used in auscultation include listening for egophony, whispered pectoriloquy, rales, rhonchi or wheezing. Also, percussion is often used to determine diseases of the chest.

See also

rhonchus in German: Rhonchus
rhonchus in Japanese: 類鼾音
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