Components of a full physical exam vary depending on the patient's medical history, but a physical exam generally consists of reviewing the patient's medical history, taking his vital signs and examining his physical appearance, according to WebMD. Gender-specific exams, such as a breast or testicular exam, may be performed.
A heart and lung exam are performed during a complete annual physical exam by listening to the patient's heartbeat to look for heart abnormalities and by using a stethoscope to check the lungs' health. The doctor can also examine the patient's head and neck by checking his teeth, ears and eyes. A neurological exam, in which the doctor taps on the patient's knees, and an abdominal exam can be part of the overall physical exam, notes WebMD.
For women, a full physical exam may include checks for breast health, including a mammogram, and examination of the patient's pelvis. Preventative exams, such as breast exams and Pap smears, can also be performed depending on the female patient's age. An osteoporosis exam can be part of the physical exam if the female patient is over the age of 65, according to Healthline. For men, screening for prostate cancer and checking cholesterol levels can be standard parts of a full physical exam. Depending on the patient's history, other exams, such as depression checks, fasting blood sugar exam or colorectal cancer screening, can be included.