A Quick Tour to Stethoscope History

The word stethoscope is derived from Greek words, stethos which means chest in English and other one is scopos which means examination. It is used to hear organs sounds such as heart, lung and chest sounds and can also be used to listen to the bowel movements and blood stream sounds present in the circulatory system of a human body.

Some of the early stethoscope designs

Before the invention of Stethoscope, doctors would use methods such as percussion and immediate auscultation to examine patient.  In quick auscultation, doctors set their ear straightforwardly on the patient to hear internal movement sounds.

But later on it was found that technique was not effective to hear every sound. Also the way of doing it was not quite okay for every doctor and patient.

In 1816, to reduce the constraints of immediate auscultation, a France-based doctor named Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laënnec invented the stethoscope, which was made up of wood.

Then, in the year 1851, the binaural stethoscope was developed by Irish doctor Arthur Learned.  And later on, its design was taken to the next level by George Philip Cammann.

Stethophone came out afterwards

In 1858, Somerville Scott Alison invented device named stethophone. It was comprised of two bells to hear sounds from two organs or portion of the body at the same time.

Stheoscope evolved again in 1940s

During the period of the 1940s, the stethoscope came up with an all-new design, which was quite heavy. It had two sides -one to hear heart rhythm and the other for lung movement sound. This was called as the Rappaport-Sprague model and consisted of two huge free latex elastic cylinders.

Harvard’s David Littman’s Stethoscope

During the 1960s, Havard University educator David Littmann introduced the lightweight version of stethoscope with outstanding acoustics. As years passed, it was improved with the option of a tunable diaphagram.

Modern Stethoscope design

Stethoscope Trivia

During the year 2012, there was a conflict in Gaza & it led to the lack of stethoscopes and other vital medical equipment because of the blockade of the Gaza Strip. During this time under the emergency plan, Palestinian-Canadian physician Loubani & his team took the 1960s Littmann Cardiology 3 stethoscope as the basic model & worked on it to create a 3D-printed stethoscope which recently got widespread media coverage.

3D printed stethoscope

Summing Up

With the advent of science and technology advancement, many versions of stethoscope were introduced in the market for effective examination of the patient & it’s still getting better.

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