Looking for a quality stethoscope at a reasonable price?
We’ve reviewed the top stethoscopes available on the market, and have listed our top 5 picks below:
1. Littmann Classic II SE
2. Littmann Cardiology 3
3. ADC Adscope 603
4. Littmann Master Classic II
5. Omron Sprague Rappaport
A stethoscope is a must have device for any health care professional involved in the diagnosing and management of patient health status. There are hundreds if not thousands of stethoscopes available, making it difficult to choose the right stethoscope to ensure that your patients receive the highest level of care possible. To help mitigate this issue, our site is available free of charge to help spread knowledge to those in need of factual information on stethoscopes from Littmann, American Diagnostic Corporation, Omron, and more. Browse our reviews and information pages to form a clearer image of what stethoscope best fits your individual role in the health care system. The needs of a nurse are different from the needs of a cardiologist, and both of their needs are much different than one of an EMT’s. Below you’ll find our comprehensive table of the most popular stethoscopes. Our table makes it simple to find the best stethoscope for you.
How Do You Know Which Stethoscope Is Right For You?
Not all stethoscopes are made equal, and having a top of the line stethoscope might not even be the right choice for your individual role in the healthcare system. This is an item used every day during the course of your career, choosing the right stethoscope is paramount to successful treatment of patients. You should consider basic attributes such as ergonomics, weight, tube length, and diaphragm diameter firstly in selecting your stethoscope. After knowing that, you can narrow down your choices based on what brand delivers the right level of acoustic quality and how much you are willing to spend on your stethoscope.
Knowing your environment and what patients you will be serving is important to choosing the right stethoscope. If you are going to be dealing with patients of all ages, it is important to buy a stethoscope that either has a pediatric diaphragm and an adult diaphragm on the same chestpiece or one that has the ability to quickly swap out diaphragms as needed. If you know you are only going to be dealing with a certain type of patient, then your stethoscope only has to be able to effectively work on that kind of patient.
Our chart above has tons of handy information with regards to these concerns.
What Makes Up A Stethoscope?
Stethoscopes are made up of 3 main components: the earpieces (binaurals), the tubing, and the chestpiece (made up of the diaphragm and usually a bell). Let’s go over these parts and their functions a little more in-depth.
The earpieces are comprised of two individual components, the eartubes and the eartips. The function of the eartips are simple, they are what are placed into the ear canal of the listener and ideally should form an acoustic seal to block out external noise and function to transmit the body sounds clearly to the user.
The eartips are attached to the eartubes, which are long tubes typically made out of aluminum. It is important that the eartubes be at an anatomically correct angle so the user does not experience ear strain using the stethoscope. The eartubes are connected to a tension spring so that the distance between the ends of the earpieces can be adjusted to fit inside the user’s ear canal. This tension spring leads to the tubing, which we will cover next.
Now we’ve reached the tubing of the stethoscope, which is predominantly made out of PVC. Latex used to be a material of choice, but with the rise in patients with latex allergies PVC is the preferred material. The tubing is hollow and allows the sound vibrations to flow from the diaphragm into the ear tubes and eventually to the eartubes and the end user.
There are two options of tubing in stethoscope, single tubed or double tubed. Single tube stethoscopes have just one tube leading to the binaurals, which means they are lighter but the sound is effectively “split” between the two binaurals and most users report a loss of sound and acoustic quality with single tubed models. With double-tubed models, each eartube has it’s own piece of tubing running to it from the chestpiece. Most high end stethoscopes, such as Littmann, have a double tubed system enclosed in another plastic tube giving the illusion of a single-tubed system. The reason for this is to remove the chance of the two tubes rubbing together and creating interfering noise.
Tubing comes in a variety of lengths, with the common range being from 22 inches to 31 inches. A longer tube means that the health care professional is allowed a wider range of movement, can be further away from sick patients, and does not need to strain their back bending over constantly. However, a longer tube also means for more distortion of sound as there is more distance for the sound to travel before reaching the ears of the person using the stethoscope, so it is important to find a healthy middle.
The chestpiece is the part of the stethoscope that actually comes in contact with the patient. They are typically constructed from stainless steel and the diameter of the individual components varies based on what kind of patient is undergoing auscultation.
A chestpiece will either be double or single sided. A double sided chestpiece has a flat piece called a diaphragm on one sideused to pick up high frequency noises such as heartbeats and the sounds of the lungs. The other side has a smaller rounded concave circle known as a bell for picking up low frequency sounds associated with heart murmurs and intestinal sounds. There now exists single sided stethoscopes with what is referred to as a tunable diaphragm where both low frequency and high frequency sounds can be heard with the same side, what frequency is heard simply depends on the amount of force applied by the physician.
What is the purpose of a stethoscope?
The stethoscope redefined diagnosis of disease from external, often imprecise measurements to internal auscultation without the need for invasive procedures.
With the help of a stethoscope one can hear both normal and abnormal sounds of the heart as well as respiratory organs. It can be used for the hearing of pleural, cardiac, arterial, uterine, venous, intestinal and fetal and sounds. This aids effective diagnosis and evaluation of patients.
Stethoscopes are painless and only require skin contact. They are quick to use and require minimal training in their proper use.
What Are The Scientific Principles Behind Using a Stethoscope?
Stethoscopes facilitate the auscultation (meaning listening of) of various systems within the human body. The physician places the chestpiece on the patient which picks up the vibrations of the heart, lung, or intestinal sounds being made by the body. These sounds then travel through the tubing, into the ear tubes and finally into the ear canal of the listener. It takes substantial time to learn the intricacies of body noises and user experience factors heavily into accurate identification of the sounds coming out of the earpieces.
Types of Stethoscopes
The acoustic stethoscope is the style of stethoscope most commonly recognizable by the public. It functions through the use of a chest piece with hollow tubes that transmit sounds to the operator’s ears. The medium of transmission for the sound is the air inside the hollow tubes. The chest piece has two sides, a diaphragm and a bell. The diaphragm creates high-frequency sounds from within the body, while the bell creates low-frequency sounds from the vibrations of the skin. Acoustic stethoscopes vary wildly in acoustic quality and some result in only a very faint sound reaching the user.
There many different types of acoustic stethoscopes, with some designed for adult patients and some designed for pediatric patients. On top of that, certain stethoscopes are better for those in general practice that just need to confirm the presence or absence of sound, where other stethoscopes are made for specialists to make a very in depth diagnosis of what is occurring within the body.
Electronic stethoscope, also known as stethophone, circumvents the drawbacks of the acoustic stethoscope by electronically amplifying the sounds. Thus electronic stethoscopes overcome the drawback of an acoustic stethoscope’s low sound levels. In less advanced electronic stethoscopes some of the less clinically relevant sounds are amplified as well, which means some electronic stethoscopes require a bit more user knowledge to use effectively.
An electronic stethoscope can be a wireless device because the sound is transmitted electrically. Due to this it can even enhance and record the signals, provide noise reduction and display audio and visual outputs. Owing to these features an electronic stethoscope can be used from a distance allowing the health care professional more mobility in completing their work of caring for a patient.
A fetal stethoscope is also known as a fetoscope. These stethoscopes closer resemble the stethoscopes of old like the ear trumpet and are placed against the abdomen of a pregnant woman to hear the heart beats of the foetus. This stethoscope was invented by French obstetrician, Adolphe Pinard, and is therefore also known as “Pinard’s stethoscope’ or the pinard horn.
We have covered a number of stethoscopes, which can be found by using the following links: 3M Littmann Classic 11 S.E Stethoscope,American Diagnostic Corporation stethoscope,3M Littmann Master Classic II Stethoscope and 3M Littmann Cardiology III Stethoscope.