What Is Involved in a Medical Examination?

A medical exam typically consists of a medical history, the taking of vital signs, an assessment of general appearance and individual exams of the lungs, heart, head and neck, abdomen, skin, nerves and extremities, according to WebMD. This type of routine medical exam is typically completed annually and serves to assess the condition of the body and recognize any early symptoms of disease or damage that need to be addressed.

During a medical history, a doctor makes notes on various aspects of a patient’s health, including sexual health, diet, exercise, alcohol, tobacco and drug use and family medical history, according to WebMD. She then checks the patient’s vital signs, including heart rate, temperature, blood pressure and respiration rate. An in-depth examination of the heart and lungs are done using a stethoscope to detect any indications of heart or lung disease. The teeth, gums, throat, ears, eyes, thyroid, lymph nodes and carotid arteries are examined as part of the head and neck examination. The abdomen is examined by tapping on it, listening to it with a stethoscope and palpating it for tenderness. The skin, nerves, joints and muscles are also assessed for abnormalities and disease. Based on the results of a medical examination, a doctor may order tests to follow up on any issue of concern.