A Brief History of Stethoscopes

A Brief History of Stethoscopes

It’s a marvel that a device with as simple a construction as a stethoscope can become an instrument of prime importance in the medical profession. Such is the remarkable evolution of the stethoscope that despite gradually augmenting itself with technological advancements in the field, the shape and the compactness of the instrument has virtually remained the same since its invention.

As an acoustic medical device used for auscultation, the process of listening to the internal sounds of the body, the stethoscope has been of immense help to doctors. At Smart Medical Buyer, you can expect to find the best professional stethoscopes recommended by the industry, as you would expect to find and buy Heine Otoscopes, adult diapers on wholesale, thermometers, and more – there’s no compromise on that. But, before you own your very own stethoscope, it’s worth reading about its fascinating history.

Let’s begin.

Made in France

René Laennec, a physician in France, invented the first stethoscope in 1816 in the city of Paris. This invention came about due to his discomfort at listening to female patients’ heart by placing his ear upon their chest. The Laennec stethoscope consisted of a wooden tube in the shape of a trumpet.

1850s and the Standardization of Design

Next, in 1851, the binaural stethoscope was invented by Irish physician Arthur Leared. This design was perfected next year by George Philip Cammann, thus making commercialization of the instrument possible. Cammann’s design used both the years, thus giving birth to the standard design of today’s stethoscopes.

Enter Stethophone

As interest in binaural fusion and hearing grew, Somerville Scott Alison shared his invention of a new instrument called the stethophone in 1858. For the uninitiated, binaural fusion is the recognition of sounds by fusion of different sounds presented to individual ears. A stethophone consisted of two separate bells to hear and identify sounds from two different parts of the body simultaneously.

In with the New in 1940s

Then, in 1940s, the common stethoscope evolved into an instrument with two sides – one for listening to the cardiovascular system and other for listening to the respiratory system. This was called the Rappaport-Sprague model and consisted of two large independent latex rubber tubes which connected two opposing F-shaped chrome-plated brass ear tubes with a dual-head chest piece. However, this design was quite heavy and cumbersome.

The Trademark Littmann

Finally, in 1960s, Havard University professor David Littmann invented the modern-day lightweight stethoscope with exceptional acoustics. This design was further enhanced with the addition of a tuneable diaphragm.

Stethoscopes Today

Today, Littmann stethoscopes are the most popular in the world and you can easily buy Littmann stethoscope online in India at Smart Medical Buyer. Yet the variety of stethoscopes today is much greater. There are acoustic stethoscopes with a double-sided chest piece consisting of a bell (for low frequency sounds) and a diaphragm (for high frequency sounds). There are electronic stethoscopes that amplify the sound electronically, usually through a microphone in the chest piece. Other types of modern stethoscopes include fetal, Doppler, and 3D printed.

Kunal Sood

Kunal Sood

Kunal has over 3 years working in the Real Estate Finance and Development industry in UK and India. He started his career as an acquisitions consultant analysing and structuring real estate investments in London and other parts of UK for a sovereign wealth fund.
Kunal Sood

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