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A Brief History of Stethoscopes

The stethoscope was invented in the 14th century BC by Greek physician Hippocrates. Prior to this, scribes and physicians used a metal tube with an opening at the end for the doctor to insert his stethoscope for inspecting the throat. This tube became popular because it could be taken off easily.

History of Stethoscopes

Stethoscopes underwent several modifications before finally reaching the stage where it was standardized. In the beginning, stethoscopes were simply large and flat. They did not have any adjustability whatsoever. As time progressed, stethoscopes started to take the shape of the neck and ears and even the abdomen. Flat and large stethoscopes could not be used for examining the neck and ears properly because of the awkwardness involved.

Before long, stethoscopes evolved into what we know today. Early stethoscopes had only one nostril but could move towards either side of the nose by turning a small dial. Because of the design of the stethoscope, it was quite difficult to adjust the balance and air pressure within the patient’s nasal cavity. Thus, stethoscopes started using two nostrils. Another interesting development which took place during the same period was the development of a stethoscope which also contained internal electronic sensors.

The stethoscope’s history has also seen the invention of a stethoscope, which could be used as a radio for detecting heart conditions. During World War I, the German military discovered an innovative method of using stethoscopes to listen to conversations between German soldiers. With this discovery came the importance of stethoscopes as medical tools. This helped German soldiers listen to important conversations that were occurring outside of their trenches without being interrupted by machine gun fire.

Today, stethoscopes are still used for the same function even though most are now equipped with built in radios for receiving and sending audio signals. Stethoscopes can be used to listen to different types of noises which could help doctors determine the exact location of air leaks, lung conditions and other problems. In fact, some stethoscopes are designed with additional features like pressure measuring systems, light and sound waves, temperature probes, and pressure measuring instruments.

Stethoscopes have been manufactured by several different companies over the years including Philips, Snellen, Fisher & Paykel, and Bell, nonetheless, their background has been virtually identical. A brief history of stethoscopes would not be complete without mentioning that a stethoscope originated from ancient Greece. Its origin may be traced back to Hippocrates, a Greek physician. He developed a stethoscope that consisted of a tube with a flexible hose inside of it. The tube is connected to the top part of the body through a thin piece of skin, which is covered by a ring.

To utilize the stethoscope, one has to hold it just above the area where one intends to listen. By doing so, the tube in the stethoscope can reach towards the diaphragm. The Diaphragm is a sac filled with air at the bottom. By using this simple technique, the doctor is able to adjust the pressure of the air within the diaphragm thereby hearing the heartbeat or breathing of the patient.

A brief history of stethoscopes does not begin or end with the inventions of these medical tools. Throughout the ages, different types of stethoscopes have been developed. A stethoscope that was used by the Ancient Egyptians for listening to heartbeat sounds was made out of metal. This type of stethoscope could also be used to detect blood pressure in large people. Stethoscopes are often adjusted for an accurate reading of the right pressure. New types of stethoscopes are designed every now and then to ensure the right pressure is set during any examination.

In Conclusion

Various people have developed different ways of using these stethoscopes and each method varied slightly, but all of them remained similar in their purpose. Through the years, different materials and devices have been used for the construction of a stethoscope, including brass, steel, leather, glass, wood, fiberglass, neoprene and even plastic. These varied materials have all had their own benefits and disadvantages and it would be a difficult task to compare and review each of these without giving too much away.

A brief history of stethoscopes would also reveal that through the years, the stethoscope has developed from a simple instrument, which was used for checking the sponginess of the throat in infants, to a more complex and sophisticated device which today is used extensively for a wide variety of medical procedures. Today, a stethoscope is used for everything from checking the baby’s heart rate and temperature to the detection of blockages in the airways during a pulmonary embolism. A stethoscope is an extremely important medical aid that no medical professional should be without.


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