A routine check-up with your GP will often involve the use of a stethoscope, and it’s not uncommon for people to think that there is only one variety of stethoscope that performs a singular function – but they’d be wrong! Although there is a basic variety of stethoscope that has been used for decades, the continuing advancement of technology has similar enabled the development of a whole lot of different kinds of stethoscope. In this article, we take a look at a few of them to give you an idea of what these different stethoscopes are used for.
What are acoustic stethoscopes?
The traditional acoustic stethoscope has come a long way, and in some ways is a far cry from the newer iterations of this old concept, such as the Littmann Cardiology III stethoscope. Rather than just being used as a simple acoustic devices to check how your heart is beating, these new stethoscopes have developed into electronic and hearing impaired varieties of stethoscopes. But before we get into what these entail, let’s take a quick look at what the traditional acoustic models are all about. Basically, acoustic stethoscopes work by directing sound waves toward your ears that would have otherwise been impossible to hear. When a doctor applies an acoustic stethoscope to your chest, the sound waves that your heart creates are reverberate along the metal chest piece of the stethoscope and continue to be contained within the rubber tubes that make up the stethoscope. These soundwaves then travel along the rubber tubes that make up the stethoscope and transfer the sound right into the ears of your doctor. As a result of this, the way that the stethoscope is designed allows for the sound created by the heart to be much more audible through the device rather than if your doctor placed their ear on your chest.
Other forms of stethoscope
As we mentioned earlier, technology has allowed for new stethoscopes to be developed, and a good example of this is the electronic stethoscope (which are also known as digital stethoscopes). Electronic stethoscopes offer far superior sound amplification as compared to acoustic stethoscopes, as they convert the physical vibrations of sound into electronic signals, which allows for far superior analysis and sound reproduction options. It’s even possible for some electronic stethoscopes to isolate these sounds by removing background noise. Electronic stethoscopes are also offered in a wide variety of forms with different features to suit the task at hand, and it possible to find stethoscopes with LCD screens, heart rate monitors and sound storage options. It’s also now possible for medical professionals with hearing issues to properly use stethoscopes with the development of stethoscopes designed specifically for those with hearing impairments. These electronic stethoscopes provide amplified sound and thus can be used without the need for hearing aids. It’s also possible for medical professionals with hearing impairments to use a stethoscope with attached headphones in conjunction with their hearing aids for additional comfort.
Exploring stethoscope options
Although the humble traditional stethoscope might be what you have assumed is commonly used in the medical industry, the advancements of technology have allowed for this basic system to receive a complete overhaul, and one that is extremely beneficial to medical professionals. Next time you get your heart rate checked, make sure to take notice!