The most familiar and basic entity of a medical device is a ‘Stethoscope’. This equipment is the first thing that comes to your mind as soon as you think of a doctor. Although it is a commonly observed device, do you know everything about it? Do you know about its types and working? If no, scroll down.
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Introduction to Stethoscope
The stethoscope is a medical device that enables the doctor to hear auscultations. In other terms, it intensifies the acoustic output that originates from inside of a body. Usually, a doctor uses it to listen to the sounds from the heart, lung and intestine. It also finds its use in a manual sphygmomanometer to hear Korotkoff sounds.
The innovation of this Y shape equipment dates back to 1816 and, ever since then, there’s been improvements and advancements made on it. Although this device finds the majority of its use in the healthcare sector, there are few other areas of application to consider. It detects leaks in scientific vacuum chambers and malfunctions in automobile engines. Thus, in scientific terms, a phonendoscope is the device that amplifies auscultatory sounds. But, the general reference to it is a stethoscope.
To understand the working, one must know the parts and it’s purposes. They are as follow:
- Stethoscope earpieces- This part ensures that the sound reaches the doctor’s ears without much effort. The earbuds attached to both earpieces are of either silicone or rubber. It creates a seal in the ear so that no other sound is audible except the auscultations. They are usually replaceable and need to be of apt fit.
- Tubing- Tube is that part that connects the earpieces to the chest piece. Its length plays a significant role in determining the sixes of the equipment. The tubing length ranges from 55 to 80 cm but, the optimal measure is 70cm. Longer the tube farther the doctor is from the patient. Generally, nurses use longer ones since they won’t need to bend much while checking patients in the bed. Sturdy PVC material or rubber is what the tube is made out of and, its quality is also a crucial consideration since the tube must not crack or wear off. Also, they are available in a variety of colours.
- Stethoscope chest piece- As the name suggests, this part is the one that is placed on the patient. In a deeper aspect, it further consists of two parts, namely diaphragm and bell. The former picks up high-frequency sound waves while the latter detects low-frequency ones. The diaphragm surface has a bigger circumference.
- Stem- Last but not least. One of the vital parts of this device is the stem. It connects the chest piece to the tubing and is usually in steel or metal. Some stethoscopes come with a twisting stem for switching it on and off.
Now that you are familiar with the parts, understanding it’s working will be easier. The sound is picked up by the diaphragm and is amplified along the length of the tube. It then reaches the doctor’s ears vividly. Using one is also very simple. Place the chest piece in the required area of the patient’s body. Attach the earpieces and listen to the sounds.
Types of Stethoscope
There are various types of stethoscopes available in the market. They are:
- Acoustic – These types are the most common ones. It is the one that we were discussing from the top.
- Electronic – Electronic stethoscope is a new era module of this device. Here the amplification process is done electronically and thus the name. The conversion of acoustic waves into electrical signals and vice versa is the layout of its working process. It is a stethophone rather than a stethoscope and is wireless. It finds its application in remote monitoring and computer-aided auscultation programs. The recordings of this equipment will be available on a laptop or its associated smartphone app.
- Fetal – Fetoscope is more of a foetus stethoscope. The main application of it is listening to the heart sounds of the foetus in pregnant women.
- Doppler – It is another electronic device that measures using the Doppler effect. It is possible only through the use of ultrasound waves. It applies in those areas where there is a problem in detecting sound due to artefacts. Studying valvular and aortic movements and blood flow sounds is possible through this type of stethoscope.
- 3D Printed – The speciality of this type is that the manufacturing of the stethoscope is through 3D printing technology. The working and other parameters are all the same. It overcomes the lack of stethoscopes.
The price range of this equipment is between ₹250 to ₹30,000. It varies based on quality and available parameters. Many brands are producing cost-effective stethoscopes and, you can choose one among them, which is apt for your purpose and has an optimal price tag.