We are all too familiar with the cold feel of the stethoscope on the chest area during a visit to the primary care physician. What about that part of the stethoscope that is placed on the patient’s chest? That and other parts of the stethoscope will be talked about. The stethoscope was invented in 1816 in Paris, France by Dr. Rene Laennec only because he felt uneasy about putting his ear on any women’s chest to listen to her heart.
He was inspired by watching school children who were listening to the scratch of pin through wooden cylinders. The first stethoscope was similar to an empty toilet paper roll. Two-hundred years later, the stethoscope is still going strong. There are even some stethoscopes that are made to not feel cold on the patient’s skin.
Type of Stethoscopes
There are seven types of stethoscopes. Most people are acquainted with the Acoustic type that is the most common type of stethoscope used. The Electronic stethoscope, unlike the acoustic, does not just transmit the level from just the heart, it also picks up the sounds from other parts of the body as well. The Recording stethoscope can be used with a laptop or Mp3 recorder. It is used to record normal and abnormal bodily sounds for improved medical care.
The Fetal stethoscope is designed to listen to the heart of the unborn baby in order to diagnose possible prenatal problems and supply doctors with early intervention in caring for the fetus. The fetal stethoscope is also known as the Pinard Stethoscope. It looks like a horn or a tiny megaphone. The doctor places the wide end against the pregnant woman’s tummy while the doctor listens through the narrow end. The Doppler stethoscope is helpful in ultrasound waves regardless of whether it is to study fetuses or other of the other abdominal medical problems.
The 3-D stethoscopes are used in third world nations that lack other types of stethoscopes. This is the newest of the stethoscopes. The pediatric stethoscope has no bell. It has a large diaphragm and small diaphragm. Speaking of diaphragms, what about the basic parts of the stethoscope?
This is usually made from rubber. It creates a seal inside the ear. The ear tips only allow the necessary bodily sound to be heard while keeping out the unwanted sounds.
The ear tube is the metallic structure that is attached to the ear piece. It is also called binaural. It connects to other parts of the stethoscope. The ear tube helps transfers bodily sounds to the doctor’s ears. These tubes are specifically angled to fit in a particular ear. They are not interchangeable.
This is the soft hose-like tube that is most flexible part of the stethoscope. The tube can be singular or dual depending on the type of stethoscope you have. The most common stethoscopes have single tubes.
The headset is the entire upper half of the stethoscope. This is collective name of the ear piece, the ear tube, and the tension springs.
The stem is a small metal piece that connects the chest piece to the tubing of the stethoscope.
The cold thing that goes on the chest when the doctor uses the stethoscope is called the chest piece. Sometimes it looks a little a round metal disc.
The bottom disc part of the chest piece is called the diaphragm. It is able to pick up sound a higher frequency and cover more area of a patient’s body than the bell part. Usually, the bell part of the stethoscope is used for examining the hearts of children.
The smaller circular part that sits on part of the diaphragm is called the bell. Usually, the bell is only used to check the heart.
How the Parts Work Together So the Doctor Can Hear Through the Stethoscope
The stethoscope is the most useful tool a doctor has. It is hard to imagine a doctor without one. Now that we know what the parts are, how do they work together? So, the ear tips and ear tube are designed to follow the path of the ear canal and therefore, go into specific sides of the ear, unlike maybe ear buds or a headphones that are interchangeable. The bell and diaphragm can be flipped or turned over so that the doctor can choose to use one or the other.
The bell and the diaphragm can not only be placed on the heart or the stomach, it can also be placed on the neck to check for carotid arteries that may be blocked. These chest pieces can also be used to check for buildup in the lung area. The electronic stethoscope does not have a bell, but it does have a dial to turn up the volume. So, how do the parts work together? The chest piece diaphragm or bell go on the patient’s body and pick up sounds.
The sounds or waves, moving along as puffs of air, will travel through the tubing that blocks out sounds that have nothing to do with what is inside the patient’s body. From the bell or diaphragm through the tubing and into the ear tube little puffs of air and vibrations are sent. The ear tips each have a hole in the part that fits in the ears allowing for the air to be pushed into the doctor’s ears.
From there it goes into the doctor’s ear drums and tympanic membrane, causing sound. It happens very quickly, something like twisting the end of a hose onto an outdoor faucet and turning on the spigot. The air waves travel up the tubing like water travels through the hose to get to the other end. With the hose, you get to water the plants or wash your vehicle. The doctor gets to listen to whatever part of the body the diaphragm or bell is placed on.