The traditional stethoscope has been in use for approximately 200 years. One of the earliest methods of listening to heart and lung sounds was by using a rolled up piece of paper- this funneled the sound to the ear of the person performing the examination. It may seem a little basic compared to the modern 3M Littmann stethoscopes, but it led to the modern stethoscopes being developed.
With the recent introduction of the electronic stethoscopes, what will be next in the development of stethoscopes? Manufacturers (particularly 3M Littmann) are constantly updating their design to enable the most effective means of examination.
Whilst the manufacturers are trying to further develop the stethoscope, you may well have a possible solution in your pocket or bag. Studies have shown that the humble MP3 player is actually very competent at detecting heart and lung sounds.
By adding a microphone to the MP3 player and pressing the microphone to the chest of the patient, researchers were able to record a wide range of sounds with different patterns. The files that were recorded onto the MP3 player were then transferred to a PC and, using specialist software, were converted into frequency curves. Each of the stored sounds had a distinct signature. However, one of the limitations that was discovered is that the MP3 player had difficulty processing complicated or quiet breathing patterns (but this also happens to the human ear).
The idea of using a MP3 player to record sounds was prompted as several studies highlighted the fact that healthcare professionals were using sub standard stethoscopes when performing examinations- a horrifying thought, as potentially life threatening conditions could go undetected because the consultant was using an inadequate stethoscope.
Whilst the MP3 player has many benefits, and can allow you to store the reading for future reference, the current range of 3M Littmann Electronic stethoscopes are very similar and would prompt less concern from a patient than using a MP3 player or iPod to examine them! The 3M Littmann 4100WS stethoscope already allows you to record 7 seconds of data which can then be transferred to a PC via an infra red transmitter.
As the researchers stated, this study was only prompted by the alarming number of medical students and healthcare professionals using inadequate stethoscopes. When performing examinations and consultations, there can be no compromise with a patient.
The 3M Littmann stethoscopes are used by millions of people throughout the world, and are the market leader- they offer unrivalled acoustic quality and will help you to accurately and confidently perform examinations for many years.