Top 12 Stethoscopes

Stethoscopes are one of the most common medical equipment, but selecting one can seem technical and filled with medical jargon. Fret no more because this guide aims to tell you everything there is to know about choosing a stethoscope that meets all your requirements perfectly and results in a satisfactory purchase.

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Stethoscopes Buying Guide

No matter what field you specialise in, any medical professional would deem a stethoscope a necessary piece of equipment. However, choosing this device depends on several factors such as size, features, and the user's specific needs, all of which this guide seeks to shed some light on.

The types

Stethoscopes can be divided into mechanical and electronic stethoscopes. Mechanical stethoscopes are the traditional kind and are mainly used on children. However, some models offer more versatility and can be used on children and adults alike. One disadvantage is that the sound picked up by mechanical stethoscopes are usually low. On the other hand, electronic stethoscopes utilise technology to amplify body sounds electronically, up to 20 times louder than traditional stethoscopes. As a result, they provide high precision and listening quality. Additionally, some models allow the user to record, save, and send the sound picked up by the device.

Single head vs dual head

Single head stethoscopes limit the loss of sound during auscultation and are known for perfect propagation of sound. They are more suitable for blood pressure measurements as the shape allows them to fit more easily under the cuff. Dual head stethoscopes enable the user to listen to sounds from the abdomen and carotid arteries, along with sounds coming from the lungs and heart. The larger surface on the dual head stethoscope enables examination on adults, and the smaller surface can be used on children and underweight patients.

Tubing fundamentals

Stethoscopes can have single tubing or double tubing. Double tubing provides more accurate listening to internal noise and prevents loss of volume. Hence, stethoscopes with double tubing are the preferred option among medical professionals. PVC, rubber, and latex are the materials used for tubing. However, in case of any potential allergies, one can opt for tubing that does not contain any latex or natural resin.

Stethoscopes, according to the profession

Your stethoscope requirements will vary according to your field of specialisation. General practitioners usually opt for a dual head model that they can use to examine children and adults. Pediatric stethoscopes are mostly a single head model with an anti-chill ring. Pulmonologists and cardiologists prefer an electronic stethoscope to hear high and low frequencies to detect possible cardiac or pulmonary pathologies. Physiotherapists generally choose a single head stethoscope since their auscultation is primarily pulmonary. Finally, veterinarians use mechanical stethoscopes that are suited to the auscultation of certain kinds of animals.

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