When it comes to buying a new stethoscope, you want to be sure your investment is sound. There are, after all, many considerations to think about before you dive in, and choosing the right type of stethoscope is critical for the important daily business of professional healthcare.
Whether you’re a doctor, nurse, student, or a manager looking to secure the best tools in the business for your department, take a look at our guide on the different types of stethoscope available and how you can choose the right one for your position.
Types of Stethoscope
Stethoscopes can be split into three types; these are as follows:
- Traditional Stethoscopes – These stethoscopes have two independent sides that cover two functions. The bell (smaller diameter) is used to capture lower frequencies. The diaphragm (larger diameter) is used to capture higher frequencies.
- Littmann Stethoscopes – These stethoscopes have something called a dual-frequency membrane that allows both high and low frequencies to be heard from the same chest piece. Rather than flip the chest piece as with traditional stethoscopes, the Littmann design simply requires the application of less or more pressure.
- Electronic Stethoscopes – A relatively new development, electronic stethoscopes replace the acoustic membrane with a digital membrane. This allows a much greater range of frequencies to be picked up. They also include features such as sound amplification, noise reduction technologies, and Bluetooth connectivity.
Choosing a Stethoscope for Your Job
When it comes to choosing the right kind of stethoscope for your job, much will depend on the kind of accuracy you require. Broadly speaking, the following jobs require varying degrees of accuracy as listed below:
- Cardiologists, Anesthesiologists, Internists, Pulmonologists
These positions require the highest performing models available today. This means maximum detail for heart sounds S1, S2, S3, and S4, as well as murmurs of grade 1. Additionally, respiratory and abdominal/bowel sounds may also be required. The highest possible accuracy and the subtleties of sound are also important considerations.
- General Medicine, Family Medicine, Emergency medicine, Nursing
While accuracy is still important, the level of acoustic performance can be lower for these positions. Stethoscopes in this section need to make general cardiac auscultations, take arterial blood pressure, and make respiratory and abdominal auscultations.
- Medical and Nursing Students
Entry-level stethoscopes are usually reserved for medical and nursing students where budget constraints play a large role in selection. These are among the least sensitive pieces of equipment, however, they should still be good for general diagnoses and to perform general auscultations.
Usually, pediatricians select stethoscopes with smaller chest pieces so that they can more effectively isolate noise when examining infants. They are usually available in a broad range of sensitivities to ensure that many different auscultations can be made.
Build Quality and Durability
Once you have identified the type of stethoscope and your most common application, you should also think about build quality and durability. In some cases, high-quality stethoscopes can last around 15 years, whereas lower quality one may only last around five. Brands that are generally respected in the healthcare industry include:
- 3M Littmann
- Welch Allyn
- White Coat
For more information and technical specifications for a huge range of stethoscopes available online, check out Medshop. You’ll find top-quality brands at great prices, alongside a dedicated team who are happy to help you find the right stethoscope for your needs.
Additionally, enter code MEDShop-10 when purchasing for an extra 10% off your total order. The offer is valid for one use per customer and active until the October 31, 2019.