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How to use Littmann Stethoscopes

General Care
Your Littmann stethoscope is designed to provide years of reliable service. Routinely cleaning your stethoscope will ensure optimal acoustical performance.

  • Do not immerse your stethoscope in any liquid or subject it to any sterilization process. If disinfection is required, the stethoscope may be wiped with a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution
  • Keep your stethoscope away from extreme heat, cold, solvents and oils
  • Eartips may be removed from the eartubes for thorough cleaning

Optimizing the Acoustical Performance
If your stethoscope’s acoustical performance appears to be lacking or absent, try one of following:

  • Proper Headset Alignment: Littmann stethoscopes have headsets which have been designed to be worn at an anatomically correct angle, oriented toward the user’s ear canals. Before placing the eartips in your ears, hold the stethoscope headset in front of you so that the eartubes point away from you. When the eartips are in your ears, the eartips should be pointed forward. Not everyone's ear canals are the same. If after inserting the eartips in proper manner, the fit does not seem comfortable, and acoustic performance does not improve, grasp each of the eartubes, adjusting the headset for a custom fit. Improperly wearing the stethoscope headset can result in poor acoustical seal, and in some cases, complete sound blockage.
  • Proper Fit of Eartips: It is important that the proper sized eartips be used to achieve optimal acoustical performance. This is especially true when using the soft-sealing eartips. If the soft-sealing eartip is too large for the user, the compression of that eartip while in the ear, could result in poor acoustical performance. This could also be true if the eartip is too small. Finding the individual’s correct ear size results in the best acoustical performance.
  • Check for Obstructions: If the stethoscope is commonly carried in a pocket, or hasn't routinely been cleaned, it is possible that lint or dirt could be obstructing the sound pathway. Routine care and maintenance can prevent this from happening.
  • Check the Seal: Stethoscopes rely on an airtight seal in order to transmit body sounds from the patient to the user’s ear. Loose parts in the chestpiece, loose tubing, or cracked tubing can prevent an airtight seal.
  • Index the Bell: When using a double-sided stethoscope, the user needs to open, or index the bell or diaphragm by rotating the chestpiece. If the diaphragm is open, the bell will be closed, preventing sound from coming in through the bell, and vice versa.

Stethoscope Terminology

  • Chest Piece: The part of the stethoscope place in contact with the patient in order to listen to internal sounds. Most Littmann stethoscopes consist of a double-sided chest piece with a tunable on one or both sides. The larger side is designed for adult patients whilst the smaller side is ideal with infants and thinner patients.
  • Tunable Diaphragm: Across Liittmann's range of acoustic sethoscopes (as opposed to electronic) a bell and tunable diaphragm are used to hear a wide range of sounds:
    • Bell Mode (low-frequency)
      For low-frequency sounds, light contact is used on the chestpiece. The diaphragm membrane is contained by a flexible surround that actually suspends it, allowing the membrane to resonate low-frequency sounds.
    • Diaphragm Mode (high-frequency)
      For high-frequency sounds, firm contact pressure is used on the chestpiece. By pressing on the chestpiece, the diaphragm membrane moves inward until it reaches an internal ring. The ring simply restricts the diaphragm membrane's movement. It blocks, or attenuates, low-frequency sound and allows you to hear the higher frequency sounds.
    • No other stethoscope will give you the same quality and efficiency in auscultation. How? Because 3M has the tunable diaphragm technology which allows you to alternate between low and high-frequency sounds without removing the chestpiece.
  • Binaurals: The part of the stethoscope between the chest piece and your ear. Binaurals consist of the flexible non-latex tubing and the head set. Replacement binaurals in a wide range of colours can be purchased for most models from Medisave.
  • Tubing: The tubing running from the chest piece to the headset. Littmann design their tubing to be both flexible and hard-wearing whilst at the same time providing excellent sound transfer.On the cardiology models Littmann's two-in-one tube design provides a superb acoustic transfer from chest piece to ear.
  • Headset: the metal part of the stethoscope between the flexible tubing and the ears. The headset consists of two ear tubes, tension springs to keep them separated and two eartips.
  • Eartips: Designed ergonomically to ensure the best fit in your ears, Littmann Snap Tight eartips are available in small and large sizes, soft-sealing and firm models, and in black and gray to match stethoscope rim. A ribbed eartube on all Littmann stethoscopes offers a snap tight fit that won't loosen during routine use. Snap Tight soft-sealing eartips feature a surface treatment that increases surface lubricity for better performance and easier care.