From ArticleWorld

A stethoscope is a medical instrument used to listen the internal sounds of the body, like those produced by breathing or heart beating.

The stethoscope was introduced by Rene-Theophile-Hyacinthe Laennec, in 1816, and was a standard until an enhanced, binural stethoscope was introduced by Arthur Leared, in 1851.

At the moment, the stethoscope is used to aid the process of diagnosis, and, at the same moment, it has become a symbol of the medical profession itself.


There are three main stethoscope types:

  • Acoustic stethoscopes, which are the most common ones and probably known to just about everyone. It works by transmitting the sound captured by a chestpiece, via two hollow tubes filled with air. The external membrane can be detached in order to allow sounds produced under the skin, like those caused by the bloodflow, to be heard as well. The disadvantage is that the sound level is very low, making these stethoscopes less practical in noisy environments.
  • Electronic stethoscopes are less common, but more and more specialists begin to adopt them. These stethoscope amplify the sounds produced by the body through electronic procedures, raising the sound level and making stethoscopes more usable in many conditions.
  • The fetal stethoscope, which is actually a special acoustic stethoscope. It is a trumpet-shaped instrument that can be placed on a woman's abdomen to hear the fetal heart sounds. It is quite uncommon today, since it has been replaced by the electronic sonicaid.


The examination procedures that can be performed with a stethoscope are not enough to provide a valid diagnostic. However, they can offer some clues. The examination procedures include physical examinations, inspections, palpation's and percussion, each giving different types of clues.