Below are links to resources related to stethoscopes such as how they work, how to use them and more. Some of the links go to pages of content on StethoscopeGuide.com that we personally wrote, and others are external resources we think contain valuable information. We’ll be adding to this list as we find and create more useful information. If you want to recommend a resource, please contact us.
The Littmann family of stethoscopes is most recommended for nurses. The main stethoscopes includes 6: Lightweight II S.E. is best for general nursing; Classic II Pediatric is best for newborns and pediatric patients; Classic II S.E. is primarily the mid-level entry stethoscope of choice; Master Classic II is lightweight and provides great ability to hear bowel and lung sounds; Cardiology III is great for cardiology practice as it picks up bruits and murmurs easily; and Master Cardiology is the stethoscope if you want to hear anything and everything.
A doctor’s stethoscope assists him in making many diagnosis based on lung, chest, and abdomen sounds. The stethoscope is an extremely important tool and should be chosen with care. Doctor’s should consider the background noise where they will be seeing patients (hospital, office, etc) as well as the size of their patients. The Littman models recommended for use by physicians are Cardiology III, Master Cardiology, and Cardiology S.T.C.
The stethoscope consists of 3 sections; the chest piece, tubing, and head set. The chest piece is the diaphragm (the flat side) and the bell. The diaphragm picks up higher pitched sounds (breath sounds and heart beats), the bell picks up lower pitched sounds (heart murmurs). The function of the stethoscope similar to that of our ear drums; the diaphragm picks up vibrations from the artery’s movement and the sound waves travel through the stethoscope to our ears. The bell of the stethoscope picks up vibrations in the skin. Lower pitched sounds have a harder time vibrating the diaphragm but can still be picked up on the bell.
This site provides you with a very detailed how-to guide in using a stethoscope. It directs the user to ensure the stethoscope is in good condition and put the ear pieces in. Ear pieces should fit snugly to keep out any background noise. The diaphragm (flat end) should placed directly on the patient’s bare chest (fabric can cause noise). The user should then hear a stead heart beating “lub dub”.
There are two types of stethoscope covers available; a cover for the tubing and a cover for the diaphragm. Tubing covers are washable and are used for a number of reasons. The cover protects the tubing, maintains good hygiene (washable), and can personalize the stethoscope. Diaphragm covers are used primarily to prevent infection. Covers are available in a variety of patterns and colors.
Wikipedia offers a detailed entry about stethoscopes covering current stethoscope use, as well as photos and explanation of early stethoscopes and the instrument’s history. Wikipedia identifies different types of stethoscopes (acoustic, electronic, recording, fetal, and doplar). Wikipedia also offers ideas for improving stethoscope ear pieces.
There are many stethoscope accessories to purchase. Some common accessories include covers, identification tags, jewelry, tape holders, hip clips, ear tips, non-chill bell sleeves and watches. When considered a stethoscope accessory a medical professional should consider their role and type of stethoscope. Some accessories such as jewelry can be used to personalize the stethoscope as well as provide a distraction to anxious patients.
A French doctor named Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laënnec developed the first stethoscope in 1816 after rolling a piece of paper, holding one end to the patient’s chest and the other to his ear. He heard the chest sounds through the piece of paper. This realization led to the first stethoscope which was made of wood. In 1851 the stethoscope would advance to having two ear pieces. Improvements were made to the stethoscope throughout the 20th century.
The stethoscopes that we use today were developed by Dr. David Littman in the 1960s. Dr. Littman identified the components of an ideal stethoscope and made it his mission to create it. Because of Dr. Littman we now have a light weight stethoscope with two ends, the diaphragm and the bell.
The parts of the stethoscope consist of the headset, ear tube, ear tips, chest piece, stem, tunable diaphragm, and tubing. The ear tips and ear tube are part of the head set. The chest piece is most often two sided (diaphragm and bell). The stem connects to chest piece and tubing. The tunable diaphragm is the piece that detects the sound.
This site provides a brief history of the development of the stethoscope. It describes in further detail the acoustic stethoscope, which is another name for the Littman stethoscope. The other type of stethoscope presented is the electronic stethoscope which amplifies sound by converting it to electronic waves.
The American Medical Association serves as a governing body for Physicians practicing in the United States. This website offers news and publications relevant to Physician practice.
Tunable technology refers to the incorporation of the diaphragm and the bell onto one side of the stethoscope. The practitioner can move between diaphragm and bell modes by using the amount of pressure that is applied to the patient; there is no need to turn over the chest piece.
The 3M Littmann’s Learning Institute offers free lessons and guides to registered stethoscope owners. These lessons assist practitioners in honing in their diagnostics skills with the use of their stethoscope.
The American Nurses Association service to advise and advocate for nurses in the United States. Their website offers news, information, publications and advocacy opportunity for nurses. The ANA is both available to students and working nurses.