Did You Know?The word stethoscope is derived from two Greek words, stethos (chest) and scopos (examination). It is used to listen to the heart and chest sounds, bowel movements, as well as the auditory sensation of blood flow in the arteries and veins in the body.
A stethoscope is a simple instrument that magnifies sounds. Because of its simplicity, and ease of use, it is mostly found in the medical field, with doctors, nurses, and medical professionals using it to listen to sounds in the human body. It is one of the most basic and important diagnostic tool that is used to get vital information regarding a patient's body.
If you need to replace your stethoscope, you should choose it with care, as a stethoscope that does not function properly can be detrimental in medical practice. Here are a few things you should look at before buying a stethoscope.
The four basic factors to keep in mind while buying a stethoscope are quality, durability, acoustics, and versatility, which are almost self-explanatory. In addition to these, other factors to consider while choosing a good stethoscope are:
Your nature of work will determine the proper stethoscope that you will need to use. For example, a normal diagnostic one will be helpful for a nurse, whereas a lab technician may need a more specific one to accommodate his wide range of diagnostics.
The sensitivity to sound of a stethoscope is very important. Most good stethoscopes come with a bell and tunable diaphragm, which help the user to listen to all the frequencies of sounds within the body without rotation of the device. These might be a little expensive, but will serve you better.
Stethoscopes come in two main types: acoustic and electronic. Depending on your need you can choose the one that suits you the best. A digital model is also available, but the two most commonly used models are the acoustic and electronic.
High frequencies are caught by the diaphragm and lower ones are magnified by the bell. Acoustic models are highly efficient, the only issue being the amplification of some sounds which can be vague and confusing.
These scopes can amplify the sound quality almost 10 times, and hence, provide highly efficient sound quality. These models often feature an equalizer to adjust various sound parameters and noise filters that allow doctors to hear only relevant sounds. They also have an extended range of lower and higher frequencies which gives doctors sharp, clear, and distinct sounds, and are suited for noisy environments.
The tubes which carry the sound to the listener also needs to be considered while buying a good stethoscope. The length and composition of the tube must be appropriate and of optimum size, i.e., neither long nor very short. It must be made up of a hard and flexible material. All in all, a good stethoscope must be of short length with thick walls to reduce the external sound disturbances, dual tubes, and a high internal diameter.
Then comes the earpiece. It should fit snugly and comfortably in your ears so that all the other noise in the room is inaudible. It should be the right and perfect fit, so you may have to try on various stethoscopes before buying one. A stethoscope which does not fit properly is uncomfortable, painful, and may function ineffectively. Hence, choosing the best-suited, well-fitting earpiece is very important.
Again, this will depend on the field of specialization that you choose in future. For example, if you plan to use the stethoscope for cardiology or pulmonology, then you will require the widest range of frequencies to diagnose even a slight disturbance or problem with the heart. If it is for general use, then a small frequency range will be good for you.
Of course, your budget will matter while choosing a stethoscope, so, select one which suits yours the best. Stethoscopes start from about USD 50, but can go up to as high as even USD 300, depending on the features and the quality. Select one that is of good quality, but suited to your needs as a doctor, nurse, or technician.
You will need to try many scopes prior to choosing the one that is best-suited for you. Remember, it is a valuable tool that you will use to help diagnose the patient's illness. So, choose the best stethoscope possible, which will remain your best friend in the years to come.