A true symbol of the medical profession, the stethoscope is the essential instrument for auscultation. Invented in the 19th century by Dr. René Laennec, the stethoscope has become an indispensable diagnostic tool. But what is its role? How to use it? And how do you choose your stethoscope?

1816, the year of invention

Concerned about the case of a patient who presents signs of a heart disorder, Doctor René Laennec wonders how he can listen to his patient's heart. This question torments him and almost becomes an obsession. And the answer to that question will appear to him before his eyes, one day, as he watches children playing with an oak beam. The two small ones were located at the ends of the beam, one pricked the wood with a needle and the other had the ear resting against the beam and had to guess the number of keys. Conclusion: the sound is amplified when it passes through a material.

This banal scene of everyday life will actually be a real source of inspiration for Doctor René Laennec, who will create the first stethoscope. Far from the contemporary stethoscope, the first stethoscope resembles a roll of paper tied in the shape of a cylinder. With the end resting against his patient's rib cage, Doctor Laennec notices that the sounds of the heartbeat are amplified and clearer. This is how he created mediate auscultation. Then, he designed several models of wooden stethoscopes.

Since then, the models have undergone a real evolution: from paper to wood, via ivory... today, the stethoscope is made of metal, and this banal instrument has become the essential medical instrument for every doctor to place a good diagnosis.

Today's stethoscope

The stethoscope is a diagnostic instrument that will transmit and amplify noises by resonance. Auscultation allows the doctor to listen to internal body sounds.

With a stethoscope, the doctor can perform pulmonary, cardiac, abdominal, and vascular auscultation. Originally, the stethoscope was a listening device but it has been transformed into a powerful diagnostic device thanks to the work of the cardiologist Doctor David Littmann who is at the origin of today's stethoscope.

mobb classic iii stethoscope ceil

Parts of a stethoscope

The contemporary medical stethoscope is made up of:

  • two ear tips: inserted into the doctor's ears, they will allow sound to be transmitted and the ear to be isolated from ambient sounds.
  • two ear tubes: which will allow sound to be transmitted to the ears
  • a lyre: metal part of the stethoscope that keeps the stethoscope attached to the doctor's ears
  • a tubing: this flexible plastic tube transmits the sound from the horn to the lyre. Some stethoscopes are equipped with a double tube to provide better listening quality and more precision.
  • of a pavilion: this is the part that will be applied to the patient's skin. Made up of a membrane, the horn will capture sounds. There are stethoscopes equipped with a double head with a membrane and a bell. The membrane is used for listening to high frequency sounds and the bell for low frequencies.

All of these parameters should be taken into account when choosing your medical stethoscope.


Choosing the right stethoscope

The stethoscope is a diagnostic instrument used by millions of professionals around the world. It is an instrument familiar to doctors, almost commonplace, however it is necessary to choose the most suitable stethoscope for your needs. Choosing the right medical stethoscope will depend on your profession. If you are a:

  • General practitioner: the stethoscope is used on a daily basis by general practitioners. Whether it is for auscultating adults or children, the stethoscope is used to listen to the lungs and the beat of the heart. Some doctors prefer a dual-head stethoscope to examine children and adults alike without having to change instruments.
  • Pediatrician: The stethoscope is different in the size of the pinna. Also, in order to give children confidence during the examination, stethoscopes feature attractive colors and flags with animal shapes.
  • Physiotherapist: the physiotherapist will mainly be interested in pulmonary noise. A single membrane stethoscope with a classic chest piece will allow him to make his diagnosis.
  • Cardiologist or pulmonologist: in order to benefit from high-precision acoustics, the electronic stethoscope is generally the most suited to their needs. Listening quality with an electronic stethoscope is significantly higher than that offered by a conventional stethoscope. The sounds are more precise and audible and guarantee good listening quality at low and high frequencies. This allows the practitioner to accurately diagnose any pulmonary or cardiac pathology.

The stethoscope is the symbol of the medical profession, but contrary to what one might think, it is not only used in the medical field. Indeed, the stethoscope can be used for demining an explosive device, in plumbing to identify the existence of a leak, in locksmithing in order to analyze the noises made by a key when trying to open a armored door or a safe...

How to maintain a stethoscope

A stethoscope is a useful medical device for listening to the sounds of the human body. Preventing it from getting dirty and maintaining it can help preserve its quality. To clean your stethoscope, you should make sure to turn on the water and avoid touching the head piece with your fingers. You can also use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to sterilize it.


How often should you change a stethoscope

For many years, the classic adage, you get what you pay for, has held true in regard to medical equipment. This is especially true for a stethoscope. If a high-quality instrument lasts 10-15 years and a medium-quality instrument lasts 5-10 years, it is worth investing in quality. Quality stethoscopes have been shown to be more accurate at analyzing heart rate and lung sounds.

Although the average lifespan of a stethoscope is between two to six years, there are many techniques for prolonging its life. Most manufacturers recommend replacing your stethoscope every two years, but by following these tips your stethoscope should last much longer than that.

Clean it out after every use to avoid build-up of bacteria and other germs - one downside to this, though, is that repeated cleaning can compromise the functionality of the diaphragm.


Littmann Stethoscope for Kids and Adults Alike

The Littmann stethoscope below is designed for acoustic sensitivity with special technology that allows you to tune the chest piece to pick up on different types of sound. This unique technology lets you simply add more or less pressure to pick up on different frequencies.

Putting little pressure on the chest piece lets the diaphragm membrane move naturally. This lets low-frequency sounds resonate through the head so the stethoscope can pick up, conduct, and transfer the sound to your ears.

If you apply more pressure on the chest piece, then the diaphragm membrane can’t move as much. Since it’s restricted, the low-frequency sounds can’t reach your ears, making way for the higher-frequency sounds.



Buy Stethoscope in Canada and United States today!

Mobb Healthcare

Mobb Classic III Stethoscope

$157.99 $145.25

Mobb Classic III Stethoscope Mobb Classic III Stethoscope comes with a two-sided chest piece, dual tunable diaphragms and improved tubing. Mobb Stethoscope Features Double-sided, dual diaphragm chest piece for both adult and pediatric assessment...

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BIOS Medical

BIOS Diagnostic Sprague Rappaport Stethoscope

$35.99 $28.50

BIOS Diagnostic Sprague Rappaport Stethoscope BIOS Diagnostic Sprague Rappaport Stethoscope with dual-head chest piece offers optimum acoustic performance. The small bell-like chest pieces are used for auscultation of slight...

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3M Canada

3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope

$179.90 $154.99

3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope The 3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope combines high acoustic sensitivity with a versatile, two-sided chest piece for exceptional performance. Listen to, identify, and diagnose even the most subtle body sounds...

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