A medical instrument which is used to detect and study sounds produced in the body that is conveyed to the ears of the listener through rubber tubing connected with a usually cup-shaped piece placed upon the area to be examined. In simple words, a stethoscope is a device that doctors and nurses use to listen to your heartbeat. Many medical workers walk around hanging stethoscope over their neck.

The word stethoscope is derived from the two Greek words, stethos (chest) and scopos (examination). In the early 1800’s, physicians would often perform physical examinations using techniques such as percussion and immediate auscultation. In immediate auscultation, physicians placed their ear directly on the patient to observe internal sounds. This technique suffered from several drawbacks, so the first stethoscope was invented, called the monaural stethoscope. This device had only one earpiece. It was invented by a French doctor named Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laënnec (1781–1826) at the Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital in Paris in 1819. It was wooden instrument with a flat surface on one end (the diaphragm) and a trumpet looking piece on its other end (this would be the earpiece). These were replaced by the binaural units developed in 1851 by Irish physician Arthur Leared, followed by New York physician George Cammann in 1852, which we still use today.

The parts of a generally used stethoscope include two ear pieces on the headset, the chest piece, ear tubes, stem, tubing, and tunable diaphragm. The headset is the part that fits into the physician’s ears, while the chest piece is the part of the stethoscope placed directly on the patient. The length of tubing used in a stethoscope has a direct impact on the quality of sound heard. Stethoscope works on the principle of multiple reflection of sound. Whenever reflection of sound takes place reverberation takes place, which causes increase in the amplitude of sound that ultimately gives a loud sound. The sound of heartbeat is very faint for us but when it passes through a stethoscope it gives the loud sound.

Not only digital stethoscope,but an engineering students at Johns Hopkins University have developed a super “space stethoscope” which works as well down here on Earth even in noisy environment of spacecraft. In future, it has been challange for young medical workers and physician to come out with advanced stethoscope or ultrasound will be replacing it.


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