What is a Stethoscope
Since childhood, at the sight of a doctor we’ve been paying attention to the stethoscope hanging over the gown like an elegant accessory. A stethoscope is an acoustic medical instrument for auscultation of human or animal body. The device is used to listen to the sounds of the heart, lungs, blood vessels, intestine and other viscera. Basically, a traditional stethoscope consists of three major elements: the chest piece applied to the human body to capture low and high-frequency sounds; the headset with eartips to auscultate the patient and a flexible acoustic tube connecting the eartips with a chest piece and transmitting the sounds. Below we review the best stethoscope models and give you some tips to consider while choosing a stethoscope for your individual needs.
Meanwhile, whether you’re are a medical professional or a common user, we strongly recommend checking blood pressure monitors for accurate arterial and venous blood pressure measuring.
What Features to Compare
At first sight, it seems difficult to distinguish between these acoustic medical devices. But in fact, there are several basic Types of stethoscopes. A therapeutic stethoscope is used to listen to the heart, intestine, lungs, bronchi and blood vessels of an adult while a pediatric stethoscope is meant for auscultation of children. The stethoscope for small patients differs from the therapeutic model by a smaller chest piece to avoid the ambient noise and ensure nice quality sounds and clear acoustic response. Pediatric stethoscopes are used for auscultation of infants up to 1 year old. There are even special neonatal stethoscopes for the newborns (up to 28 days old). They come with a no-chill ring on the chest piece to keep warm while contacting with a sensitive skin of a tiny baby. A fetal stethoscope or fetoscope was designed to hear a fetus heartbeat when placed on the belly of the pregnant mother. It looks like a trumpet resembling the design of first stethoscopes. If you need an all-purpose stethoscope for auscultation of both pediatric and adult patients pay your attention to Rappaport stethoscope. It features rather heavy two-sided chest piece compatible with diaphragms and attachments of different diameter. A distinctive element of this stethoscope is two independent acoustic tubes transmitting the sound from the chest piece to the headset. Therapists and cardiologists use a cardiac stethoscope to listen to low and high-frequency sounds of heart and lungs. This stethoscope allows you to clearly hear the whole range of sounds during the heart auscultation. It is worth saying that recently more and more healthcare professionals prefer electronic stethoscopes amplifying the sounds and reducing the ambient noises.
Depending on the use, stethoscopes have different Design. The chest piece placed on a patient’s body is the most important component determining the stethoscope use and sound quality. The chest piece looks like a flat funnel covered with a special diaphragm. There are single-side and dual-side chest pieces. The two-sided chest piece usually has a diaphragm on one side and an open bell on the other side. A diaphragm is used to auscultate high-frequency sounds of the heart and intestine while the open bell is designed for low-frequency auscultation of blood vessels and lungs. Most often the chest piece is made of stainless steel and connected to a single or double acoustic tubes and a headset. Acoustic tubes are made of flexible and highly elastic rubber. The thicker the tube wall is, the better acoustic performance is. The tube should be rather long, the optimal length is about 15”-17”. Meanwhile, an overall device length will be almost twice as long, ensuring ultimate comfort for both a patient and physician. Another element all stethoscopes have is a headset. It includes straight metal binaural connected by a spring and angled to meet the path to the ear canal.
Finally, pay attention to the Special Features and Usability of the stethoscope you are selecting. For example, some models have a chest piece with an adjustable diaphragm that allows hearing both low-frequency and high-frequency sounds depending upon the pressure intensity. Soft-sealing, snap-tight eartips of different sizes give you an opportunity to choose the optimal size for a perfect fit and excellent acoustic seal. Recently most manufacturers care about the patient comfort and equip stethoscopes with a non-chill rubber ring on a diaphragm.
3M Littmann 5803
Versatility in Details
A good rule of thumb is that initial diagnostics quality and results significantly impact further decisions of a healthcare specialist in terms of treatment and therapies. In skillful hands of a professional stethoscope can say even more than a patient. In this regard, the stethoscope should feature excellent acoustic sensitivity and strictly match its type of application. The best solution is a multi-purpose diagnostic instrument allowing for accurate and efficient auscultation of both children and adults. Millions of medical professionals give priority to Littmann Classic III, not only because Littmann is a clinical icon but also owing to a winning combination of premium-quality acoustics and functional versatility offered by this model. The stethoscope boasts a two-sided chest piece with a tunable diaphragm letting the clinicians hear different frequency sounds by simply adjusting the pressure on the chest piece. When necessary, the doctor can easily choose between the adult and pediatric sides for appropriate physical assessment and patient monitoring. For the ultimate patient’s comfort, the diaphragm has a special rubber ring protecting from a chilling metal feeling when the chest piece is applied to the body.
Some Features that Make it Popular
Littmann Classic III is a very popular stethoscope. This model is consistently rated as one of the best general-purpose stethoscopes. Today many experienced medical advisers choose Littmann Classic III for its high-quality acoustic performance even under noisy conditions and for its usability. Commonly, clinicians wear a stethoscope on the neck that eventually can cause discomfort and irritation. But Littmann stethoscope is not the case! The manufacturer uses only first-class non-allergic and durable materials for its stethoscopes. For example, acoustic tubes contain no natural rubber latex or phthalates. At the same time, the tubing perfectly retains its shape and flexibility. It ensures longer stethoscope life, thanks to improved resistance to skin oils and alcohol. Many users also highlight easy-to-adjust headset and convenient ear tips. Just squeeze together or move apart the ear tubes to fit the head size and the spring will remember the last adjusted position. The pediatric side of the chest piece usually used for auscultation of children converts to a traditional open bell. You only need to replace the diaphragm with a non-chill rim. The small side is not only used in pediatrics but also suitable for auscultation around bandages and carotid assessment.
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To have precise information about the patient's state you might need to measure the blood pressure. And a blood pressure monitor Welch Allyn DS44-11 Gauge with Durable One Piece Cuff will help.
Highlight Your Style
3M Littmann Classic III is offered in a whole variety of different colors for acoustic tubes and various decorative elements of stethoscope metal components. Available eye-catching combinations and popular color solutions will add to your style and give your stethoscope a distinctive look. For example, a bright pink tube with golden metal elements or lime green with chrome metal and other vibrating color combinations look fantastic. You will never go unnoticed!
Made With Love
MDF instruments is an American manufacturer well-known on the market of medical devices. The company gained the loyalty of many medical specialists and won recognition of the best healthcare professionals. The secret of their success is a handcrafted process. Keeping patient and doctor comfort in mind, they develop an ergonomic highly durable design and handcraft every tiny detail of their stethoscopes. Well-trained and skilled specialists put their heart and soul into manufacture of premium-quality diagnostic instruments polishing and tailoring every part and component to perfection. MDF instruments is a company established by people who care about caregivers.
Quality is Above All
A dual head stethoscope design is the most recognizable and time-tested. It has been used and refined over time all over the world. Thanks to its simple and no-frills design, dual head stethoscopes became very popular. They work well for everyone from doctors to nurses, medical students, instructors, and paramedics. If a medical student or assistant uses a stethoscope several times a day, an emergency paramedic might use it a dozen times daily. Hence, the quality of this simple yet essential diagnostic instrument is of the utmost importance. MDF is always concerned with high performance and durability characteristics of its instruments. And MDF777-BO One is not an exception. For this model, the manufacturer took a classic dual head design and used the best materials to get the first class stainless steel construction. With a meticulous handcrafting, they achieved excellent results. MDF777-BO Onе parts do not contain any hazardous or allergic materials. This model meets all local quality standards and regulations being absolutely safe for both a doctor and a patient.
MDF is one of few companies providing a lifetime warranty on its products. Once again, it proves the unbeaten quality of this stethoscope. A lifetime warranty covers all defects in workmanship detected in the process of use including the rubber acoustic tube. Another good news is the free parts delivered under warranty. To activate your lifetime warranty register your stethoscope on the company site.
We all know that unpleasant feeling of a cool chest piece touching our skin. And there is hardly someone who would like it. MDF777 boasts a precisely machined and hand polished extra-large bell with a no-chill ring to provide secure acoustic transmission, amplify the sound and ensure maximum patient comfort. The pediatric side also features a no-chill rubber rim for auscultation of children to protect small patients from negative emotions. MDF777-BO One stethoscope is a work of art. It is a really great instrument with unmatched performance, durability, and aesthetics.
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Remember about safety and examine patients wearing special gloves Dynarex SafeTouch Nitrile Exam Gloves and a protective mask Halyard Tecnol Procedure Mask.
3M Littmann 2450
Affordable Entry Level Instrument
We all know that an efficient patient examination and physical assessment are essential for a correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Not least in an array of factors determining accurate examination results is the quality of stethoscope. In most cases, professional medical devices are rather expensive and the entry-level doctors, nurses or medical students cannot afford it. 3M took care of the newbies and manufactured an ideal entry-level stethoscope Littmann Lightweight II SE offering a reliable acoustic performance, decent quality, and budget-saving price. Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning that it has all useful features of more expensive and sophisticated models. Similar to pricey instruments, this stethoscope has a two-sided chest piece with a tunable diaphragm and an open bell. Hence, you can easily auscultate both children and adults. Along with a dual head, tunable diaphragm and no-chill ring Littmann Lightweight II SE has some distinctive features. Owing to a special teardrop shape, the chest piece is easily positioned under blood pressure cuffs and around bandages. But the real benefit of this outstanding model is its light weight. It weighs only 118 grams that will be highly appreciated by all therapists and paramedics rushing from department to department throughout the day.
Several Words About 3M Littmann
Today, with operations in 70 countries, 3M manufactures over 50 000 products for medicine and different industries, including automotive, oil and gas, mining, etc. The company was established in 1902 in Minnesota, USA. Five founders including a lawyer, doctor, two railway managers and a butcher started a small-scale mining venture to harvest a rare mineral corundum used as an abrasive. In 1921 3M invented the first transparent scotch tape. In 1930-s, about 45 percent of the company profit was invested in science and researches. In 1960-s, annual company sales achieved one billion US dollars and the firm focused on the production of magnetic sound recording tapes. On April the 1st, 1967 3M acquired Cardiosonics Inc. and hired Dr.Littmann as a consultant to expand the growing healthcare business. At that time, Cardiosonics manufactured only two types of stethoscopes: a nurse’s stethoscope and a doctor’s stethoscope. Currently, 3М manufactures the whole range of different stethoscopes under Littmann brand. Owing to new unique features developed by 3M engineers, Littmann stethoscopes gained its exceptional reputation and popularity among healthcare specialists. Professional Littmann stethoscopes and micro stethoscopes are designed for a wide range of medical specialists including physical therapists, pulmonologists, cardiologists, and therapists. Littmann is a sign of premium quality and outstanding performance.
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A handy ID Tag will always help you identify your stethoscope.
Panda Wants to Hear Your Breath!
During the auscultation of infants, many pediatricians face the difficulties of initial examination. The doctor with a strange unknown device can scare a baby. Taking into account these aspects ADC developed a simple yet clever design of the stethoscope. It is a pediatric stethoscope with lovely animal faces attachments, a very helpful thing, especially for the kids who are making their first visit to the doctor. Those funny faces on the chest piece will distract and calm down the infant converting examination to an amusing game. To have an accurate result choose one of animal attachments and offer a child to let the panda or tiger listen to the heart or lay on the belly. Most kids will agree to play with cute animals and it will considerably save you time on child blandishment. Adimals Scope is of great help in getting good results from a wide range of small patients.
For a reliable acoustic performance and efficient assessment, pediatricians should have either two stethoscopes at hand or one all-purpose diagnostic instrument to auscultate the different frequency sounds of kid’s heart, lungs, and intestine. Many medical professionals using Adimals 618 highlighted its versatility. Though the stethoscope comes with a single chest piece, you can hear both high-frequency and low-frequency sounds by simply varying the chest piece pressure on a child’s body. Additionally, a diaphragm with a no-chill rim will prevent a baby from being startled with a chill of a metal chest piece. Adimals Scope is designed with patient and doctor comfort in mind. Thus, uncomfortable ear tips can cause earaches and headaches. But the silicon ear tips of this stethoscope will perfectly fit your ear canals without bringing any discomfort. Well, if you deal with only small patients, this smart stethoscope is definitely for you!
Helpful Advice for Parents
What is the best way to calm down a crying baby? Many parents ask this question being ready for anything to make the baby stop grizzling. If your little one is sobbing incessantly, neither toy nor feeding bottle with water will help. The simplest and most efficient method to soothe a crying baby is to pick up your child in arms, fold baby's hands on the chest, and slowly swing a kid up and down holding the baby by the chest with one hand and supporting the tot's bottom with another hand. Parents of a 1.5-2-year infant often have to deal with child’s fear of strangers, especially when it comes to doctors. Before visiting a pediatrician for the first time, tell your baby that he or she is going to meet a person who wants to make friends. The doctor will have different exciting tools such as a headset with a special sensor to hear the breath and a spoon to examine the throat. The point is to make your story interesting and exciting so that your child fancied seeing the doctor and trying all those fascinating instruments.
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All pediatricians will definitely appreciate a funny light SUN COMPANY Frog LifeLight for comfortable examination of little patient's throat. And a universal attachment Exambuddies will convert any ordinary stethoscope to an attractive lovely thing admired by all kids.
Omron Sprague Rappaport Stethoscope
For Every Occasion
This model is considered one of the most popular on the market of medical devices. Many medical specialists prefer this stethoscope for its versatility. A design of the Rappaport stethoscope differs from other micro stethoscopes. It has a dual acoustic tube connected to the headset allowing the doctor to hear both lungs and heart sounds during auscultation. Additionally, a two-sided chest piece comes with a switch option to select between the pediatric and adult bell along with two diaphragms for diagnostics of children and adults respectively. Designed with a user comfort in mind, the stethoscope has two pairs of replaceable ear tips. And a no-chill rim makes Omron Sprague Rappaport Stethoscope suitable for auscultation of pediatric patients. Hence, this affordable stethoscope is a perfect entry level diagnostic instrument for basic physical assessments highly appreciated by medical students, nurses and beginning healthcare specialists.
For proper and precise heart auscultation, you should use the diaphragm side of the stethoscope chest piece placing it above the patient’s heart. The diaphragm position is over the left intercostal space, almost under the breast. Hold the chest piece between the pointer and middle finger with a medium pressure to avoid hearing the noise of your fingers friction. Ask a patient to relax and breathe normally, listen to the heartbeat within a minute. You should hear normal heart sounds. These are first and second heart sounds (S1 and S2). The first sound is caused by the closure of the mitral and tricuspid valves while the second sound is produced by the closure of aortic and pulmonary valves. The next step is to count heartbeats per minute using the watch. The normal resting heart rate of an adult and a child over 10 years old is 60-100 heartbeats per minute. Sportsmen might have the heart rate of 40-60 heartbeats per minute. During the heart auscultation of small patients under 10 years, you should remember that their heart rate might vary from 70 to 190 heartbeats per minute depending on the age. Thus, generally accepted normal heart rates for kids under 10 years are the following: newborns (1-11 months) – 80-160 heartbeats per minute; infants (1-2 years) – 80-130 heartbeats per minute ; 3-4 year children – 80-120 heartbeats per minute; 5 - 6-year children - 75 - 115 heartbeats per minute; 7-9-year children – 70-110 heartbeats per minute. After checking the heart rate, you should listen to some extra heart sounds. If you hear some heart murmurs or the third heart sound called gallop your patient needs a further examination and consultation of a cardiologist.
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The watch is a useful must-have accessory for any doctor that will contribute to efficient patient's examination. Check a well-known Casio Women's LRW200H-7BVCF Watch. You will love it from the first sight.
A Bouffant cap is another irreplaceable attribute used in examination rooms and operating rooms by both doctors and nurses.
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7. Technique: Heart Sounds & Murmurs, Washington.edu.
8. Make Your Own Stethoscope, Science Buddies. April 16, 2015.