The four methods of diagnosis are general term used by the doctors of the traditional Chinese medicine for the basic methods of diagnosing illness, including diagnosis through observation, diagnosis through auscultation and olfaction, diagnosis through inquiry and diagnosis through pulse feeling and palpation, namely “Wang Wen Wen Qie”.
The first method of diagnosis, observation, means that the doctors observe the physical conditions of the patients, the complexion and tongue coating included. Auscultation and olfaction refers to the situation, in which the doctors listen to the words, coughing and breathing of a patient, and sniff whether his mouth or body smells. The third method of diagnosis involves the inquiry into the patient’s symptoms, medical history and so on. When it comes to the last method of diagnosis, it means that the doctors diagnose whether there is something wrong with a patient by feeling his pulse or palpating his abdomen. Through the four methods of diagnosis, the symptoms and physical signs of the illnesses manifested in various facets are diagnosed with a view to understanding the causes or nature of the illnesses as well as their connections with the internal organs, which provide a solid basis for the treatment of the illnesses.
The four methods of diagnosis, each being of special significance, are interconnected and complementary; they cannot replace one another. In the clinical medicine, only with a combined application of the four diagnostic methods can a comprehensive and systematic understanding of the physical condition of a patient be gained; this is called “the combined use of the four methods of diagnosis”.