Everything about stethoscopes you need to know

You must have visited a hospital or a local clinic. You may often visit your doctor whenever needed. Whenever you imagine a doctor, a picture containing a white clean coat and a stethoscope may often come to your mind.

Indeed, the image of a doctor is often incomplete without a man or a woman carrying a stethoscope. The physical examination of a patient is often incomplete without a stethoscope.

Here in this blogpost let us discuss the stethoscope in detail. This topic may be helpful if you are a doctor, a nurse or a medical student or even a patient curious about stethoscopes.

What is a stethoscope?

A stethoscope

You have a heart that is pumping blood all the time without stopping even for a minute. You are breathing for your entire life. You have an intestine that is in constant motion. 

All these body processes produce sound while working. These sounds may not be heard by ears even to you in normal condition. In some diseases these sounds change in quality and intensity. Some abnormal sounds too are produced during diseases.

All these sounds when heard by the experienced ear of your healthcare professional or doctor, They can identify the disease you are suffering from. Stethoscopes help us to hear those sounds by carrying them to our ears.

Essentially a stethoscope is an instrument which enables us to hear the sound from your internal organs from outside your body.

What are types of stethoscopes?

Stethoscopes are of different types according to their function or purpose of use.

Electronic stethoscopes

These have a voice receiver that receives sounds from your body and an amplifier that enhances those sounds so that they can be reproduced loudly by a speaker which we can hear. They may have an inbuilt recorder that can record these voices.

Acoustic stethoscopes

These are more commonly used stethoscopes as they are easy to carry. These simply have a diaphragm that receives sounds from your body and it is carried by a tube which is hollow to the earpiece. 

When anyone means a stethoscope they usually talk about acoustic stethoscopes.

What are parts of stethoscopes?

A stethoscope that is an acoustic one has different parts. And they are as follows:

  • Diaphragm: Diaphragm is the part of the stethoscope that catches sounds from your body. It catches those sounds when it is touched to the skin surface or kept slightly near to the skin surface.
  • A ring: A ring is the part that holds the diaphragm with the end of the stethoscope. This ring is usually made up of rubber material.
  • Bell: To the back side of the diaphragm there is a hole of pin hole size. It is not covered by the diaphragm. It helps to hear the voices of high pitch. This is called the bell of a stethoscope.
  • Tube: Stethoscopes have a tube that connects the diaphragm and bell to the ear piece. This is a hollow tube made up of material that can bend. It carries sounds from diaphragm and bell to the earpiece.
  • Earpieces: To the other end of the stethoscope there are 2 earpieces that can be held in ears. These earpieces have rubber material attached to them so that ears are not injured.
  • A tag: Usually many doctors or healthcare professionals work in the same hospital or clinic. The stethoscopes look the same. So to write the name of the owner, stethoscopes have a tag on which the user can write his/her name.

Littmann Stethoscope Spare Parts Kit

  • one tuneable single piece diaphragm for the adult side of the stethoscope chest piece, black
  • Replacement of the ear tips and diaphragms on a classic iii stethoscope

What sounds are heard with stethoscopes?

Nice question! To understand this you need to learn in medical school for many years. Here we will explain in very short concise way about it.

From the chest of the patient you can listen to sounds produced by the heart and lungs. You can also listen to the sound that the patient is producing while talking.

Heart is a pump with four chambers and valves. When these chambers are filled with blood and they shrink to throw this blood out in vessels sounds are produced. When the heart valves open and shut they do produce sounds. These are sounds produced normally. In disease their quality changes and additional other sounds are produced by heart they are called murmur.

When you are breathing the air flows in and out of your lungs situated in your chest. This air movement too produces a sound. These sounds can be normal in a normal person. When you have a respiratory disease these sounds may change and some additional sounds are produced or normal sounds are reduced in the entire area or part of the chest. You can detect foreign body aspiration, pneumonia.

Additionally some sounds are produced in your abdomen by the movements of einstein while digesting your food. If you are pregnant a stethoscope can detect the heartbeat sound of your baby.

Stethoscopes are sometimes used to listen to the flow of blood in large arteries like carotids.

Indeed stethoscopes help to listen to what your body is trying to communicate with us. It helps in diagnosis and treatment.

How to choose the best stethoscope?

If you are a medical student, a doctor or a nurse, you have a great and basic question in mind. Everyone is excited to buy a new stethoscope for the first time.

If you are planning to buy a new stethoscope this description will help you to choose the right one for you.

Quality of sounds

You should choose a stethoscope That is good in quality. Good quality stethoscopes are good in catching and carrying sounds to you from the patient while examining the patient. The good quality sounds heard with the help of your stethoscope helps in diagnosis making it more accurate.


You may wonder how it matters! A stetho is a stetho! If you are a pediatrician a bright red or bright pink or yellow stetho may attract your patient. It helps to keep them comfortable and you can comfortably examine the patient without making them cry.

Length of tube

You should consider the length of the tube while selecting a stethoscope. A very short tube stethoscope will be uncomfortable for you if you are tall.

Area of diaphragm

Area of the diaphragm varies depending on the purpose you are using the stethoscope for. For small infants and neonates using appropriate stethoscopes is better. Similarly for adult patients it is better to use adult size diaphragm stethoscopes.

Specific purpose

You should also consider the purpose for which you are a stethoscope. For cardiologists or doctors working in cardiac unit stethoscopes are specially designed. Similarly some stethoscopes are specially designed for use in ICU.

Ideally in ICUs each bed should have its own stethoscopes. The same stethoscopes used for many patients may cause spread of infection in such settings.


Stethoscopes are made by different brands. The same stethoscope of one brand may be cheaper than other brands. You should also consider your budget while buying a stethoscope. Remember you should not compromise quality for the budget. Rather go for good quality at reasonable cost.


Stethoscopes can be of multiple designs. You should select a design you like considering the best quality with it.


If you are buying a stethoscope you are also probably going to work in this field for your entire life. You should choose a good quality and durable stethoscope. Your stethoscope should accompany you for at least 5 years.


Standard companies of stethoscopes usually give warranty or guarantee of 1-3 years. You should get your warranty card from the person from whom you are buying.

Available parts

Even for standard branded stethoscopes diaphragms and earpieces are the parts that are damaged after some months of use. You should see that these parts are available in the market and are easily available at affordable cost. Many standard companies offer extra diaphragms and earpieces at the time of the purchase of the new stethoscopes.

Single tube vs double tube

Double tube stethoscopes are better in function than single tube stethoscopes. Even single tube stethoscopes are reasonably good in many settings.

Light weight

If you are buying a stethoscope it is understood that you are a healthcare professional and you are going to work for prolonged hours. In such settings carrying a heavy stethoscope is a big headache. You should select a light weight good quality stethoscope.

Best quality stethoscopes

We have chosen some of the best quality stethoscopes for you applying above criteria described in previous paragraphs. These devices will add there value in your day to day practivce and medical edication too.

Microtone MSI Stethoscope

  • Cheap price
  • Reasonable quality
  • Durable
  • 45 mm chest piece
  • Extra soft earpiece
  • Spare printed diaphram with ear knob

IndoSurgicals Silvery II-SS Stethoscope

  • Best seller in category
  • Machined stainless steel chest piece
  • Double sided chest piece technology
  • Diaphragm Diameter 4.5 cm (1.75 Inch approx) & Bell Diameter 3.2 cm (1.25 Inch approx)
  • Spare diaphragm & soft ear tips provided absolutely free of cost
  • Reliable & High Acoustic Sensitivity
  • Weight 440 gm

3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope

  • Two-sided chestpiece with tunable diaphragms on both the adult and pediatric sides.
  • Single-piece tunable diaphragm is easy to attach, and easier to clean because its surface is smooth without crevices.
  • Pediatric side converts to a traditional open bell by replacing the single-piece diaphragm with a non-chill rim.
  • Next-generation tubing provides longer life due to improved resistance to skin oils and alcohol; less likely to pick up stains.
  • Small tunable diaphragm is useful for pediatric, small, or thin patients; around bandages; and for carotid assessment.
  • Stainless steel chestpiece is precision-machined into an aesthetically pleasing, less angular shape. The stem features open side indicator.
  • Snap-tight eartips have a soft, smooth surface providing a comfortable acoustic seal and comfortable fit
  • Five-year warranty

3M Littmann Master Cardiology Stethoscope

  • Outstanding acoustics
  • Tunable diaphragm
  • Dual-lumen tubing
  • Headset is easily adjusted
  • Includes special procedures adaptor for pediatric or neonatal auscultation

Electronic stethoscopes

How to care for stethoscopes?

Stethoscopes are an important part of your day to day practice. You should care for them as you care for your specs.

  • You should keep it in a box where it will not get damaged when you are carrying it in a bag.
  • You should write your name on a name tag so that it does not get exchanged with other colleagues.
  • While carrying it should not fall down as some stethoscopes may have glass parts in its bell.
  • You should clean and sterilize your stethoscope so that spread of infection is prevented.
  • While cleaning and sterilizing stethoscopes you should follow instructions in the user manual by manufacturer.
  • Small children like to chew the earpiece of the stethoscope. It may choke them if accidentally gets removed and swollen by them. You should keep your stethoscope away from your children.
  • You should replace your stethoscopes with newer one periodically for the best interest of the patient’s health.

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