The Evolution of Electronic Stethoscopes

Stethoscopes, like any other medical instrument, have undergone a lot of variations and enhancements. These enhancements have mainly been carried out to ensure that doctors and other medical practitioners do not have any trouble whatsoever listening to body sounds while examining a patient. In the past and even today, the most commonly used stethoscopes are the acoustic ones. These stethoscopes transmit sound from the chest piece, via the hollow rubber tubes, to the ears of the listener. The chest piece normally consists of a diaphragm on one side and a bell or hollow cup on the other side to listen to the various body sounds of a patient. If you place the diaphragm on the body of a patient, the body sounds produce vibrations on the diaphragm creating sound waves that travel through the hollow rubber tubes to the ears of the listener. On the other hand, if you place the bell on the body of a patient, the vibrations on the skin directly produce sound waves that travel to the ears of the listener. The diaphragm is used to transmit high-frequency sounds whereas the bell is used to transmit low-frequency sounds. However, the major problem with acoustic stethoscopes is that the sound level is extremely low and can be a major concern in noisy environments.

This issue resulted in the evolution of the electronic stethoscope.

An electronic stethoscope overcomes the issue of low sound level by amplifying body sounds to a level where it can be comfortably heard by the listener. The whole process includes converting sound waves to electrical signals, which can then be amplified and converted back to sound waves for optimal hearing. An electronic stethoscope comes along with a lot of benefits. Some of these benefits are:

Sound Amplification: An electronic stethoscope comes with an amplified mode and the volume can be adjusted.

This enables doctors and other medical practitioners to set the preferred amplification for each patient. They have the option to increase the volume level for faint body sounds, for obese patients, or for an environment where there is a lot of noise. The volume of an electronic stethoscope can also be adjusted to a moderate level for children because they have loud heart sounds.

Crystal Clear Sound: An electronic stethoscope converts body sounds into electrical signals, which are then processed for crystal clear hearing. Therefore, there is no sound loss in the hollow rubber tubes, as in the case with acoustic stethoscopes.

Easy Switching between Modes: With an electronic stethoscope, you do not need to remove and flip the chest piece to switch between the diaphragm and bell modes. The instantaneous electronic switching in these stethoscopes makes the doctor’s job a lot easier.

Noise Reduction: An electronic stethoscope, most of the time, also comes along with a noise reduction feature that enables listeners to hear body sounds clearly even in a noisy environment.

Record Body Sounds: You can even connect an electronic stethoscope to an iPod or laptop to record the body sounds and hear them with accurate audio reproduction. An easy interface facility is provided for the same.

In addition, an electronic stethoscope is lightweight and has long battery life. Considering all these amazing features, surely it is a great bargain.