Stethoscopes an accessory of great importance in the medical field, for those who work in the field of medicine and health, this tool often represents one of the main symbols of their profession.

For those approaching the purchase of a stethoscope, the meaning of the word is the first information to be fully understood to be sure of buying the model suitable for your needs. This word has its origin in the Greek term stethos, a term referring to the breast, and skopeo which means to observe; this tool, in fact, has the purpose of auscultation and evaluation of the chest.

In common language, the nouns stethoscope or phonendoscope are often used indistinctly as if they were synonyms, while in reality, this is not always the case. The second has a somewhat wider meaning, always deriving from the archaic Greek language: phone stands for “sound,” “endon” indicates the interior, together with the same verb skopeo, which refers to the act of observation.

Below you will find the list of ten best stethoscopes in the market.

RANK NO. 1
3M 5803 Littmann Classic III Black Edition Chestpiece Monitoring Stethoscope,...
  • Monitor and assess a wide range of patients
  • Detect normal and abnormal sounds and rhythms
  • Useful in non-critical care environments such as a medical office, general ward, OB/GYN, ambulatory clinic or urgent care
  • 5-year warranty
  • Fun and vibrant; match color and finish to your personality
RANK NO. 2
MDF Instruments, Acoustica Lightweight Stethoscope for Doctors, Nurses,...
  • TRUSTED by Medical Providers since 1971 | Backed by our Full Lifetime Warranty & Replacement-Parts-For-Life Program Included|...
  • ALL-PURPOSE LIGHTWEIGHT diagnostic stethoscope that delivers accurate auscultation of heart, lung, and stomach (gastrointestinal,...
  • DUAL HEAD CHESTPIECE designed with a turnable, fully rotating stem and a true bell and true diaphragm to capture high or low...
  • PATENTS, HEADSET, TUBING & EARTIPS: longer, thicker and non-stick tube and ErgonoMax headset that includes a patented dual-leaf...
  • INCLUDES: 3 pairs of Small, Regular and Large MDF ComfortSeal clear eartips, an extra diaphragm, ID name tag, Lifetime Warranty...
RANK NO. 3
3M 2450 Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope, 28" Black Tube
  • Lightest weight of all Littmann adult stethoscopes at just 118 grams.
  • Dual-sided chestpiece provides versatility of both a tunable diaphragm and open bell.
  • Teardrop-shaped chestpiece for easier positioning under blood pressure cuffs and around bandages.
  • Tunable diaphragm: Hear high or low frequency sounds by slightly adjusting pressure on the chestpiece.
  • Soft-sealing eartips provide an excellent acoustic seal and comfortable fit.
SaleRANK NO. 4
Ever Ready First Aid 143200 Dual Head Stethoscope, Black
  • IDEAL FOR DIAGNOSTICS - An excellent general-purpose stethoscope for all manner of medical professionals. Designed to assist...
  • DUAL-HEAD STETHOSCOPE - Designed for patients of all ages, the stethoscope is made for nurses, doctors and medical students...
  • DUAL LUMEN DESIGN - Eliminates the auditory interference that's common in other two tube stethoscopes. The two tubes in one design...
  • ANATOMICALLY DESIGNED - The specially designed headset is made to match the angle of the ear canal for a superior fit that allows...
  • COSPLAY AND ROLE PLAY - Heighten the fun and realism of your role play and cosplay activities by adding this functioning...
RANK NO. 5
3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope, Black Tube, 27 inch, 5620
  • Monitor and assess a wide range of patients
  • Detect normal and abnormal sounds and rhythms
  • Useful in non-critical care environments such as a medical office, general ward, OB/GYN, ambulatory clinic or urgent care
  • 5-year warranty
  • Fun and vibrant; match color and finish to your personality
SaleRANK NO. 6
3M™ Littmann® CORE Digital Stethoscope, Black Chestpiece, Tube, Stem and...
  • Connects to Eko software to visualize and share heart sound waveforms (smart device not included).Exterior finish : Stainless...
  • Up to 40x amplification (at peak frequency, vs. analog mode)
  • Active noise cancellation reduces unwanted background sounds
  • Toggle between analog and amplified listening modes
  • Soft-sealing ear tips provide an excellent acoustic seal and comfortable fit; Tunable, dual-sided stainless steel chestpiece with...
SaleRANK NO. 7
Paramed Stethoscope - Classic Dual Head - for Doctors, Nurses, Med Students,...
  • 360 dual head: the chest-piece features an advanced, 360 Degree rotating design that allows you to turn and use either side...
  • Supremely comfortable: comes with 4 ear tips, varying from Small, to Medium, to Large - so that you can enjoy the perfect fit that...
  • Full set: comes equipped with all the accessories you need - Dual-head Stethoscope, 4x Ear Tips, Extra Diaphragm, Name Tag & an...
  • Enhanced durability: for the tubing of Paramed 29.5”- long stethoscope, we use a durable, latex-free material that never...
  • Suitable for Multiple Applications: whether you're a doctor, nurse, or medical student, our stethoscope is suitable for use in a...
SaleRANK NO. 8
3M Littmann 6201, Cardiology IV Diagnostic Stethoscope, Black-Finish Chestpiece,...
  • Diagnose and make decisions with confidence and hear subtle changes in patient status
  • Useful in critical care and challenging environments such as the ED, ICU, Cardiac ICU, step-down unit and other dynamic locations
  • More than twice as loud* as the next leading stethoscope.
    *Based on tests against globally-available comparable...
  • Allows you to more reliably and consistently hear heart sounds at lower frequencies (below 120Hz*) like Korotkoff sounds, Mitral...
  • Weighs less** than other stethoscopes.
    ** Based on published weights of globally-available comparable stethoscopes in an...
RANK NO. 9
ADC Adscope Lite 619 Ultra Lightweight Clinician Stethoscope with Tunable AFD...
  • INCREDIBLE ACOUSTICS: Extra-deep bell for unsurpassed low-frequency response, ultra-sensitive diaphragm for greater amplification...
  • ULTRA LIGHTWEIGHT: Weighs just 3.7 oz (105 g) for the ultimate in wearing comfort. Overall length 30 inches.
  • COMPACT & COMFORTABLE: Clinician headset features silicone reinforcing yoke molded into flexible phthalate-free PVC tubing,...
  • ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: 1 additional pair of Adsoft Plus eartips and a complimentary scope ID tag.
  • LIFETIME WARRANTY: Includes complimentary refurbishment and free parts forever.
SaleRANK NO. 10
MDF Instruments, MD One Stainless Steel Stethoscope, Adult, Black Tube, Black...
  • TRUSTED by Doctors, Nurses, Students, Home Health, Medical Providers since 1971 | Backed by our Full Lifetime Warranty &...
  • MD ONE line is known for performance, durability and aesthetics. Constructed from acoustically-superior stainless steel. Makes a...
  • CHESTPIECE: dual head stethoscope for adult diagnostics that delivers accurate transmission of heart, lung, and stomach...
  • PATENTS to maximize sound performance, durability and comfort for extended use, including our ErgonoMax Headset with dual-leaf...
  • TUBING that is flexible and thicker for better sound transmission, longer for your comfort and latex free. INCLUDES: 3 pairs of...

Everything You Need to Know About Stethoscopes

Buying the best stethoscope is one of the very first steps that can allow doctors to quickly identify the important symptoms that can testify the health status of patients and help to intervene in a targeted, immediate and effective way.

Designed to meet the main needs of general practitioners and students, thanks to the head with bell and disc, it is perfect for managing all types of patients, with unmatched listening clarity.

Characteristics of Stethoscopes

The depth and sensitivity of auscultation are the two fundamental characteristics of Stethoscopes. However, it should be noted that, in addition to the medical field, this instrument is also used for mechanical purposes, obviously with the necessary structural modifications and the use of different materials. This workshop tool uses the same principle of listening to anomalous noises, and is applied on machinery, for components such as valves, alternators, and engines in the pre-intervention phase: thanks to the high sensitivity and sound recording, it is possible to identify hidden malfunctions, impossible to find with the naked eye.

In the medical field, the primary sector of use and diffusion of this instrument, understanding the stethoscopes what it is used for, makes it clear its great importance for saving patients’ lives and guaranteeing them maximum medical assistance. In fact, this accessory is mainly used to analyze the following physiological situations:

  • Heart beats
  • Inflammations, fluids and lung congestion’s
  • Bubbling and blockages in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Health conditions of blood vessels

In addition, it can also be used to check the health conditions of a fetus in the womb. The presence of an irregular heartbeat, abnormal noises during breathing and digestion, as well as listening to the sounds related to blood pressure are all fundamental data to better study the symptoms of patients and have a complete overview of any diseases or disorders.

Types of Stethoscopes

The first general distinction to be made concerns the functioning of this tool. With the evolution of new technologies, in fact, new prototypes have been put on the market that can offer additional additional specifications to the auscultation of the human body.

Acoustic. This is the traditional model, which does not make use of any particular technological device. They can be single (one earphone) or binaural (double earphone).

Electric operated. The electronic stethoscopes are equipped with an amplification system to adjust the volume of auscultation.

Electric with Bluetooth Mode

These specimens contain wireless software capable of sending recorded data and sounds to other electronic devices. If the first type lends itself perfectly to any use, the other two more technological versions are aimed at particular needs and conditions of use. The electric variant, for example, is particularly indicated if you are working in rather noisy environments or if you feel the need to be able to adjust the listening volume.

The Bluetooth version, on the other hand, can be an interesting opportunity for those who work in a team and need to share the results of the checks carried out during their medical history.

Some Other Types of Stethoscopes

There is also a second categorization of these accessories, and concerns the type of patient for which they are designed:

  • For common use
  • Pediatric
  • Obstetrician

The first model is undoubtedly the most versatile and widespread. Thanks to the particular conformation of its components, it allows it to be used for any type of patient. The substantial difference lies in the frequency of the heartbeats. It can be low as in the case of adults, or high.

The latter is the case of children: thanks to the commonly used acoustic version, it is possible to perceive both frequencies. If, on the other hand, you want to opt for something more specific for children, the pediatric stethoscope is highly recommended: thanks to a small bell, it guarantees better listening to the heartbeats.

Another version is the obstetric stethoscope, made especially for the heartbeats of the fetus in the womb. The particular shape of the bell makes it extremely sensitive to perceive the pulsations of the baby. A very particular variant is Pinard’s stethoscope, an archaic but still valid model, with which to listen to the fetal beats: its conical shape with an elongated bell guarantees excellent listening depth.

Components and Materials

These medical instruments are characterized by a really simple structure, designed to guarantee the maximum possible lightness combined with excellent resistance and ease of use. Except for that of Pinard, consisting of a single body made of metal or wood, all the other stethoscopes share the same conformation.

Olivette earphones: Some models are meant to be used only with one ear, but most include the presence of two earphones for listening to body noises. In both cases, there are rubbers (called Olivette for the elongated shape) that fit into the ears.

Bow: It is a semi-rigid horseshoe-shaped element that connects the two earphones with a spring effect that serves to press the Olivette rather energetically inside the ear canal.

Tube: It is a hollow channel of soft plastic material inside which the air propagates the sound up to the ears. It has the shape of a Y and ends by incorporating the bow inside.

Head: It is the tool that is placed on the patient’s body to auscultate his internal organs.

Some Other Components

With reference to the latter component, or the head, it is made up differently according to the model and function. Here are the most popular components:

  • Bell
  • Disk
  • Membrane (also called the diaphragm)
  • Anti-cold ring
  • Connector

The bell is a side of the head consisting of a concave component, ideal for receiving sounds with low frequencies (for example, those coming from the lungs). It can be closed or open, depending on the specimens. The disk, on the other hand, is the flat side of the head, larger in size, and used for medium or low frequency noises such as heartbeats.

In both cases, there is a membrane that manages the reception of sound and which, in some cases (for example, in models with closed bell), can be floating to ensure greater versatility, adjustable through pressure on the patient’s skin.

The anti-cold ring is a rubber on the outer edge of the head, which has the purpose of reducing the impact of cold steel on the patient’s skin. Finally, whether there are both sides or only an element between the bell or disk, the stethoscopes will have a metal connector to connect the head to the tube.

Materials

As regards the materials, this instrument usually provides the following composition:

  • Stainless steel for the head, so that the same does not suffer from corrosion and damage in contact with the pH and humidity of the skin;
  • Headband made of aluminum for maximum lightness or, in some cases, in other metallic materials.
  • PVC plastic tube of various colors
  • Anti-cold neoprene ring
  • Earplugs made of silicone

In the case of stethoscopes for pediatric use, very often, they require the addition of plastic decorations and particular colors to make children feel comfortable during the visit of the attending physician.

Maintenance

Taking care to maintain a high and constant level of cleanliness of this medical instrument is really important. The contact with the skin of several patients, in fact, can be a carrier of contagion between people and, in addition, it can cause the deposition of dirt inside the head, reducing the effectiveness of listening.

To detach the membrane, it is usually sufficient to press on a small part of an external flap and pull as if it were the tongue of a can or a cap. Once the dirt has been removed, to assemble this component again, just make it adhere to any part of the external edge of the head and, thanks to light pressure of the finger, make sure that the entire membrane fits again in each point.

Other small precautions to ensure long life and maximum efficiency to your stethoscopes are:

  • Remove any dirt from the earplugs, which can be carefully removed and cleaned, then checking to fit them back into the headband all the way.
  • Keep the instrument away from solvents and sources of excessive heat or cold.
  • Take care to dry all the components before assembling them again.
  • Avoid excessive twisting of the PVC pipe and the aluminum bow.
  • Avoid knocks or falls that could damage the head.

Amplification And Reduction of Environmental Noise

Popular stethoscopes use sophisticated transducers to provide doctors with the ability to amplify heart murmurs, lung sounds, etc. These small devices help transform acoustic sound waves into digital electronic signals, which can then be amplified, processed, and manipulated in various ways for a superior listening experience.

Although amplification, in isolation, is a remarkable feature, it also causes a slightly distressing problem: the likelihood of amplification of loud, loud noises, such as the hum of a fan, in some circumstances, could cause significant damage to the ears. To mitigate this risk, electronic stethoscope manufacturers have developed digital stethoscopes capable of eliminating unwanted sounds in an accusatory process thanks to their filtering and background noise attenuation mechanism that uses special filters to neutralize ambient noise.

Disinfection

Disinfection can be performed using moistened wipes or by pouring alcohol on a clean cloth. In the case of models with floating membranes, they can be removed for thorough cleaning: even, in this case, the use of alcohol is the best solution. 70% isopropyl alcohol is the most suitable disinfectant for these products.

Finally, it is recommended not to immerse the stethoscope in liquids or oily materials and to avoid any sterilization process that could compromise the operation of this instrument. In the case of electronically operated devices, a few more small steps must be taken into consideration for correct maintenance.

Once the cleaning and maintenance activities are finished, before using these accessories again, a general visual check is recommended, in order to verify that all the components have been correctly assembled again.

Final Opinions

Deciding to pursue a medical career means declaring one’s desire to do good for people in difficulty. But attitude and study may not be enough if you do not have the right medical equipment to analyze the causes of ailments and diseases.

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