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stethoscope (stĕthˈəskōpˌ) [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. Laënnec 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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The global Intelligent Stethoscope (Smart Stethoscopes) market was valued at $XX million in 2018, and MAResearch analysts predict the global market size will reach $XX million by the end of 2028, growing at a CAGR of XX% between 2018 and 2028.
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However, they require you to listen to your heartbeat through the stethoscope, so if you are hard-of-hearing these monitors won't suit you.
A cross-sectional survey, using a five-point Likert scale, was conducted from July 2015 to June 2016 to know about awareness and practices to maintain stethoscope hygiene in 50 medical students, 50 residents and 50 physicians at Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi (AKUH) by simple random sampling.
Called HD Steth, the smart stethoscope features integrated ECG or electrocardiography for instant and accurate cardiac diagnosis.
will debut and demonstrate HD Steth, a next generation smart stethoscope featuring an integrated EKG for instant and accurate cardiac diagnosis.
In Dubai this week for Arab Health, Thiagarajan told Gulf News that the UAE was a "great place to pilot" his company's new product, the HD Steth, a digital stethoscope that provides instant information on a patient's heart condition whilst feeding information into the cloud, where it is parsed and analysed by powerful algorithms to predict future diseases, and exactly when they will begin to present themselves.
In medical school, I was taught that the most important part of a stethoscope is between the ears.
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But he was stunned when he tried out the stethoscope on himself as a joke and noticed that he had an irregular heart beat.
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