Did you know stethoscopes were invented in 1819? Rene Laennec, a French physician, used a perforated wooden cylinder to transmit sounds from the patient’s chest to his ear.
Since then, doctors have been using stethoscopes to “listen in” on patients’ hearts. If he was here today, Dr. Laennec would definitely be impressed by the advancements in the technology of stethoscopes and would probably be overwhelmed by all of the stethoscope choices!
Here is the advice we would give to help him choose the best stethoscope for his needs!
Understand Key Stethoscope Features
As a doctor, EMT or paramedic, how do you know which stethoscope is best suited for you? What features are most important?
We found this video that lists the basic things to consider when choosing a stethoscope!
- Choose between a dual/double lumen or single lumen stethoscope.
- A single lumen is easier for beginners to manage
- Recommended lumen (the tubing) length is 20” for best ergonomics.
- Choose between a single head or double head stethoscope.
- With a double head stethoscope, you can hear out of both sides – this may cause confusion.
- We recommend a single head stethoscope.
- Check the diaphragm regularly to ensure there are no cracks or tears.
- There are three parts to stethoscopes: 1) Earpieces, 2) Lumen (the plastic tubing), 3) Diaphragm.
- Proper fit is important!
- Adjust the earpieces so they fit snugly
- Before you apply the stethoscope, locate the pulse point with your fingers first.
- Palpate the area to ensure the strongest location for hearing blood pressure.
Understand Sound Amplification
Types of Stethoscopes
In today’s market, there are three main types of stethoscopes:
- Traditional acoustic: best for pure sound
- Amplifying: best for those who want it to be louder
- Digitizing: best for recording and re-listening
Traditional Acoustic Stethoscopes
Like all stethoscopes, Traditional Acoustic stethoscopes have a chest piece, tubing and earpieces. However, acoustic stethoscopes operate on the transmission of sound from the chest piece, via air-filled hollow tubes, to the listener’s ears. The sound level transmitted is very low.
Amplifying stethoscopes are electronic and have an audio output signal that, using a stereo and/or mono cable connection, can allow the audio output collected by the stethoscope to be transmitted real time to an accompanying software application. From the software application, the sound volume can be “turned up,” making it easier to hear.
Digitizing stethoscopes are electronic, but they convert the audio sound to a digital signal. These units work by detecting sound through the electronic stethoscope sensor, converting that sound energy to electricity and running it through circuitry which can amplify it, filter it by frequency and finally convert the data from analog to digital.
Here are a few of our most popular stethoscopes:
- ADC® Adscope™ 641 Sprague Stethoscope
- ADC Adscope® 658 Electronic Stethoscope, Adult, Black
- 3M™ Littmann® Cardiology IV™ Clinician Stethoscope
- ADC Adscope® 606 Ultra-lite Cardiology Stethoscope
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