Gone are the days when doctors and physicians relied on the base stethoscope model for their check-ups. There are many different types of stethoscopes available in the market today for different purposes. With brands like 3M Littmann leading the pack with their specialized Stethoscopes, the check-ups have just become more efficient for the practitioners. The base model, or in 3M Littmann Classic III, in this case, is used around the world to monitor the rhythm of the internal organs. While the heart and lungs are most commonly checked, doctors and surgeons also use stethoscopes to detect abnormalities elsewhere in the body. Identifying the need for customized stethoscopes for different patients, many variants have taken the market by storm. Just like how different types of surgical paper tapes have been invented to simplify recovery from various injuries and wounds, the variants in stethoscopes also make way for increased efficiency. With minor tweaks to the designs, the equipment is more attuned to get more accurate analysis during checkups. Let’s understand how specialized stethoscopes are different from the regular stethoscope:
- Sound Acoustics & Use: Regular stethoscopes are useful when it comes to listening to breathing sounds in order to assess lungs and airways. They are also often used in the manual monitoring of blood pressure using the sphygmomanometer method. Cardiology stethoscopes are designed to listen to sounds produced by different components of the cardiovascular system. This includes valve activity, heartbeat, clicks, murmurs and flow, and a lot more. The cardiology stethoscope’s tunable diaphragms make it easy to listen to sounds that are at the lower end of the spectrum, which makes it a preferred option over pediatric or infant stethoscopes.
- Tubing Aesthetics: The design of cardiology stethoscopes makes them better suited to distinguish unusual sounds for diagnosis of heart and vascular defects. The tubing is thicker than the standard stethoscope to minimize interference and amplify the sound waves as they are transmitted between the chest piece and the earpiece. 3M Littmann Cardiology IV also sports dual-lumen tubing; the presence of two sound paths in a single tube cuts down on the rubbing noise of traditional double tubes, making for stunning sound reduction.
- Chest piece design: The diaphragms on the cardiology type are usually made out of stainless steel or hardened plastic. This makes it a lot more sensitive and receptive to the vibrations of heart sounds. The piece is reinforced with a rubber or plastic rim to make it more comfortable for the patient while also isolating the heart sounds. The chest pieces on regular stethoscopes, while also made from stainless steel or plastic, are much less sensitive especially to low frequency sounds as compared to the cardiology ones. For pediatric and infant stethoscopes, smaller diaphragms are incorporated to ensure ample surface contact at the auscultation site. The comfort of the patient is also of higher priority for younger patients, as evident with the non-chill rim and diaphragm design.
- Weight and dimensions: Cardiology stethoscopes tend to be slightly heavier than pediatric and standard stethoscopes because of the stainless steel chest piece and the very thick tubing. Regular stethoscopes are also longer than specialized stethoscopes.