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(stĕth`əskōp') [Gr.,=chest viewer], instrument that enables the physican to hear the sounds made by the heart, the lungs, and various other organs. The earliest stethoscope, devised by the French physician R. T. H. LaënnecLaënnec, René Théophile Hyacinthe
, 1781–1826, French physician. While connected with the Necker Hospital in Paris he invented the stethoscope, which he described, together with the symptoms he had noted through its use, in his classic book
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 in the early 19th cent., consisted of a slender wooden tube about 1 ft (30 cm) long, one end of which had a broad flange, or bell-shaped opening. When this opening was placed against the chest of the patient, the physician, by placing his ear against the opposite opening, could hear the sounds of breathing and of heart action.

The stethoscope changed little until the beginning of the 20th cent. when the binaural instrument was developed by G. P. Cammann, a New York physician. It consisted of two earpieces with flexible rubber tubing connecting them to the two-branched metal chest cone. Thus the sounds could be heard with both ears, and the instrument's flexibility permitted the physician to listen to various areas without changing his position. Electronic stethoscopes make it possible for several clinicians to listen at the same time to the sounds emitted by a particular organ.

Stethoscopy (also called auscultation), used together with percussion (light tapping of the chest), is a fundamental diagnostic measure in medical practice. The qualities of the sounds emitted by the lungs and heart denote the health or abnormality of these organs. Many diseases of the heart and lungs, and sometimes of the stomach, blood vessels, and intestines, can be recognized early by skillful use of the stethoscope.


See study by M. D. Blaufox (2001).



an instrument for listening to cardiac, respiratory, and other sounds originating within the body of man and animals. The stethoscope was invented in 1816 by the French physician R. Laёnnec (1781–1826), who developed the diagnostic method of auscultation.

Rodlike stethoscopes are shaped like wooden or hard rubber tubes with funnels of different diameters at the ends. Their advantage is that they can transmit sound not only through a column of air but through the solid part of the stethoscope and the temporal bone of the examiner. Binaural stethoscopes, which are more common, consist of a funnel and elastic tubes, the ends of which are inserted into the external acoustic meatus. More convenient to use during examinations than simple stethoscopes, binaural stethoscopes are often combined with phonendoscopes, which intensify auscultatory sounds.


An instrument for indirect auscultation for the detection and study of sounds arising within the body; sounds are conveyed to the ears of the examiner through rubber tubing connected to a funnel or disk-shaped endpiece.


1. Med an instrument for listening to the sounds made within the body, typically consisting of a hollow disc that transmits the sound through hollow tubes to earpieces
2. a narrow cylinder expanded at both ends to recieve and transmit fetal sounds
References in periodicals archive ?
Cross-sectional study of frequency and factors associated with stethoscope cleaning among medical practitioners in Pakistan/Etude transversale de la frequence de nettoyage des stethoscopes et des facteurs associes au nettoyage par les praticiens au Pakistan.
will debut and demonstrate HD Steth, a next generation smart stethoscope featuring an integrated EKG for instant and accurate cardiac diagnosis.
In the hospital, I am confronted with similar isolation stethoscopes in rooms with infants who have bronchiolitis.
Among the 180 stethoscopes of medical faculty, 100 samples were randomly selected for carrying out the comparison of efficacy of alcohol and distilled water.
That means less time for physical examinations, including listening with stethoscopes.
We use our stethoscopes in analyzing your disease process and critically thinking through your symptoms.
determining the object and the size or scope of the order: Delivery of small medical equipment: Dispensers OXYGEN, tubs for soaking TOOLS, APPARATUS FOR MEASURING PRESSURE stethoscopes ITP.
She was dressed in blue scrubs and had her stethoscope around her neck.
Elaborately beaded stethoscopes have been made as special commissions or gifts by beadwork artists from numerous reservations in Indian Country since at least the 1980s.
After the examinations, the stethoscopes and the physicians' hands were examined for bacteria.
By considering that stethoscopes are used repeatedly over the course of a day, come directly into contact with patient skin and may harbour several thousand bacteria [including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus] collected during a previous physical examination, we consider them as potentially significant vectors of transmission," he said.
Lead investigator Didier Pittet, MD, MS, Director of the Infection Control Program and WHO Collaborating Centre on Patient Safety, University of Geneva Hospitals, said that by considering that stethoscopes are used repeatedly over the course of a day, come directly into contact with patients' skin, and may harbor several thousands of bacteria (including MRSA) collected during a previous physical examination, we consider them as potentially significant vectors of transmission.