Why Stethoscopes Haven’t Lost Their Medical “Charm”

The stethoscope has survived as the most indispensable accessory of medical professionals all over the world for some two centuries now. Doctors use this ready equipment to assess the health of a patient by listening to the internal sounds of their bodies in the hearts, lungs, and bowels. The first stethoscope was developed by French physician, René Laennec in 1816. Appearing more like an improvised hollow tube, this stethoscope resolved the problem of having to place the ear directly over the patient’s heart to listen to the heartbeat.

Today, the stethoscope has become much more evolved in its design and functionality. It features a disc-shaped resonator and two tubes connected to earpieces. The one that is most commonly used today was designed by Professor David Littmann of Harvard Medical School. It is lightweight and provides better acoustic sound and lesser disturbance. One can buy Littmann stethoscope online India from Smart Medical Buyer at competitive prices.

In recent years, there have been calls for doctors to ditch the stethoscope for new and high-tech devices. In fact, some medical practitioners are promoting what they call the “digital” health revolution, as it promises to put the personal health information of a patient directly into their hands. These advances are impressive and there’s little doubt that the field of medicine is going all high-tech.

However, there is still good reason to believe that sometimes low tech can be good tech, if not better than high tech. Dr. Donald Redelmeier, professor of medicine in the University of Toronto, is reputed for challenging conventional medical wisdom. However, when it comes to the stethoscope, he is of the opinion that it isn’t time to throw the grand old device to the rubbish heap yet.

Here are some of the reasons why the old-fashioned stethoscope still continues to be the more preferred device for doctors on the job.

  • Assessing expecting mothers who are short of breath

Pregnant women usually want to avoid getting chest X-rays or CT scans. A stethoscope can help confirm if their breathing difficulties are caused by a flare-up of asthma or pneumonia by listening to the sound of breathing. A stethoscope is a simple, efficient tool and safe too because there is no radiation involved. 

  • Checking heart rate

Many patients have a heart rate that’s too fast – sometimes exceeding 160 beats per minute. To bring the heart rate down to a more normal range, doctors would most likely prescribe medications like beta-blockers. But it is important to check the heartbeat accurately first so that appropriate medication can be suggested. For this, the stethoscope is the most reliable equipment to get accurate data.

  • Measuring blood pressure

There are many electronic devices these days that measure blood pressure automatically. But they tend to be often inaccurate and unreliable because after all, they are machines. The stethoscope, combined with a sphygmomanometer, is a handy backup and considered much more reliable worldwide as it is operated manually.

  • Detecting heart ailments

Before operating, doctors usually want to know if the patient in question has some pre-existing heart problem or not that could lead to surgical complications. While a definitive diagnosis can be made with an echocardiogram test, it may take a few hours to do it. On the contrary, the stethoscope can help quickly identify cardiac conditions especially in cases of emergency when a patient needs urgent surgery.

  • Gauging recovery from surgery

Many patients have no appetite when they wake up after an operation because of the anesthetic used in surgery. A doctor can assess the patient’s stage of recovery by using a stethoscope to listen to the sounds of bowel movement. If the bowel sounds have come back, it can be a sign that the patient is recovering.

  • Examining a patient’s mortality

Sometimes one cannot be sure if a patient has passed away, especially when there has been a slow and steady decline in health condition. In such cases, the stethoscope can provide an answer. If there is a trace of the occasional thump, then the patient is still alive. If, in the unfortunate case, it is absolutely silent, it can be concluded that the patient has expired.

In each of these cases, the iconic stethoscope is the practical and preferable choice. Indeed, forecasts about the demise of this historic listening device could still be somewhat premature. For the best quality medical devices, go online and shop at your convenience at Smart Medical Buyer.

Leave a Reply