Parts of Stethoscopes

Bellange, my three years old daughter once said, “Daddy, I want to become a doctor or a nurse when I grow up. I want to dress in uniform like you and with a clipboard in my hand and stethoscope around my neck.” I was not shocked the little girl wants to become a nurse or a doctor but I was shock hearing her mentioned nursing essentials like clipboard and most especially stethoscope. So, I asked her to tell me about stethoscope; the parts of a stethoscope and she said, “Daddy, I don’t know it”.

After school that day I sat her down and teach her about stethoscope, the parts of a stethoscope, how a stethoscope works and its s importance to the nurses and doctors. So, in this article, I will be sharing with you what exactly I have shared with Bellange.

Parts of Stethoscope

What is stethoscope & Where Is Coming From?

Over the years we have shared reviews and recommendations of different types of nursing essentials with our audience including stethoscope which is one of the most important medical devices that help in quality health care delivery.

The device is designed to aid in listening to sounds produced by the heart, the lungs and other organs in the body including the circulation of blood in the arteries and the veins. A stethoscope is often paired with a manual sphygmomanometer for the reading of blood pressure.

The Origin Of Stethoscope

The act of using a stethoscope to listen to sound within the body is called auscultation. auscultation known as listening to the body made its way to clinical practice many years ago. This term, auscultation was first used or introduced by a physician from French who goes by the name René Laennec who lives from 1781–1826.

In his search for means to accurately listen to sounds produced by the body parts, specifically the chest which is in connection with the heart and the lungs, René Laennec designed the first stethoscope in 1816 using a paper that he rolled into a long tube when he was faced with a female patient with a heart disorder. He used the long-rolled paper tube to convey the sound production in the chest of his patient into his ear.

There are many different accounts on how René Laennec comes up with his invention. But one certain thing is that, the paper tube helped him to hear the sounds produce by the heart and the lungs. René Laennec also derived the name of his invention from two Greek words; stethos which means chest, and skopein -which means to view or see.

History has shown that, after 25 years of René Laennec’s invention, a man from New York called George P. Camman designed the first the stethoscope. This stethoscope comes with a pair of eyepieces for both ears.

Today, there are numerous types of stethoscope which all serves as important tools for doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers to initiate their first contact with their patients. The device gives health care providers the opportunity to assess patient without actually toughing them because of it amazing features or parts.

Parts of Stethoscope And Their Functions

Stethoscope comes in various sizes. This means stethoscope lengths varies in size and in length. However, a normal stethoscope length range between 25 to 31 inches ( 58-80cm).

Accurate Knowledge of stethoscope parts and functions helps you to understand the proper way to use a stethoscope. That being said, let’s look at the names and the description of stethoscope parts.

A normal stethoscope is made up of about 8 unique parts. These parts including:

  1. Chest piece
  2. Diaphragm
  3. Stem
  4. The bell
  5. The Acoustic tubes
  6. The Headset
  7. The Ear tubes
  8. The Earpiece

The Chest Pieces of the Stethoscope

The stethoscope chest piece is often regarded as the stethoscope head, and it forms the upper section of the stethoscope. The headpiece is made up of a connected stem of the stethoscope, the diaphragm including the bell of the stethoscope.

Basically, the headpiece is that part of the stethoscope that the nurse or the medical doctor hold against the body of the patient when accessing the patient. Also, one important thing to keep in mind is that there are types of stethoscope that come with either one-side chest pieces along with a tuneable diaphragm, some also come with 2-sided or have double -headed cheat piece along with a diaphragm positioned at one side and a bell at the second side.

The Diaphragm of the Stethoscope

When it comes to how to use stethoscope to hear heartbeat, The diagram of the stethoscope plays a major role. It is part of the chest piece that is round or circular in shape. In most stethoscope; both single side and double chest piece, the diaphragm comes with a chill ring or a non-chill feature that provides comfort for patients during assessment or examination.

With a double chest piece stethoscope, there are two diaphragm ends; a large one and a smaller one. The larger ones are meant for adult and small ones are for paediatric patients.

The diaphragm of the stethoscope helps health care providers to explore wider areas of examination of their parents to assess acquire high quality sound.

The Stem of the Stethoscope

This is the metallic portion of the stethoscope that unite the tubing of the stethoscope and the chest piece.

The Bell of the Stethoscope

On the chest piece is the bell, and it’s described as the smaller circular portion or end of the chest piece. It is narrow and as wide as the diaphragm. It helps in the detection of low sounds that are difficult to be detected by the of the diaphragm. It’s important to know that, one difference between bell and diaphragm is the bell has a smaller diameter than the diaphragm.

The Acoustic Tubes of the Stethoscope

These are  tubes that are made of rubber and are meant to connect the chest piece to the ear tubes.

The Headset of the Stethoscope

The headset is the  upper portion of this device. These includes two ear tubes, flexible springs and two ear tips. These features are designed together to provide comfort for the health care provider and also to provide clear hearing of sounds during examination or assessment.

The Ear Tubes of the Stethoscope

This is a metallic tube that is hollow in shape. It connects ear tips and the tubing that connect with the chest piece

These parts of the stethoscope are designed to separate and transfer sound into the health care provider’s ears without any lose in quality of sounds. Its function is to provide quality sound for users to help them in easy diagnosis 

To provide quality sounds, the ear tube is positioned properly to fit into the ear cavity. With Littmann stethoscope, the ear tubes are designed with aluminium alloy.

The Earpieces of the Stethoscope

Let’s talk take a look at the stethoscope ear tips. This is the portion of the stethoscope that the health care provider inserts into his or her eyes during patient assessment or examination. They at the tip of the ear tubes and they are usually made of rubber or silicone materials

Now that you know the names and the description of parts of a stethoscope, let’s take a look at the type of stethoscope available for nurses, doctors and other healthcare providers.

Types of Stethoscope

There are different types of stethoscope, some are digital, some are analogue. Some are for babies; some are for adults. We have the single tube stethoscope, the double tube stethoscope So, Let’s quickly look at the commonly known types of stethoscope and their brief description.

Neonatal Stethoscope

This stethoscope is basically design for neonates and it the smaller type of stethoscope. It’s chest piece very small in diameter; thus about 2 cm. This allows for accurate auscultation of neonates.

Neonatal Stethoscope

Paediatric Stethoscope

This one is similar to regular stethoscope for adult assessment and its use in paediatric units or by pedestrians. The only features that distinguish the two stethoscope is the colour size of the chest piece 

Infant Stethoscope

This is another type of stethoscope that looks more like the paediatric stethoscope. It has a chest piece that is around 2.7cm in diameter.

Foetal Stethoscope

Studies have shown that this stethoscope was created somewhere in the nineteenth century for checking of foetal heart in pregnant women. It’s goes by the name pinard Horn and it is horn-shape in structure and very common in the maternity wards or units. 

Its structure differentiates it from all other stethoscope.

Cardiology Stethoscope

As the name goes, the cardiology stethoscope a special stethoscope designed for a more accurate auscultation of the heart. It has the ability to make high and low heart sounds very clear to hearing of the ear. The cardiology stethoscope is just like the normal adult stethoscope.

But with it, you can easily hear very faint sounds such as a click or a rub. You cannot miss any sound with the cardiology stethoscope. The tubing, the eyepiece is extraordinary thick. These features prevent ambient noise which may interfere with auscultation

Electronic Stethoscope

Almost all the stethoscopes described above are analogue; they used designs that naturally amplify sounds. The Electronic Stethoscope is another type of stethoscopes that employs the use of modern technology to facilitate auscultation. This type of stethoscope amplified and convert sounds from the chest piece into electronic waves which is later transmitted a well-designed circuitry.

The Electronic Stethoscopes is categorised into Digitizing and Amplifying stethoscope as explained below;

Amplifying Stethoscope

The amplifying stethoscope change sound during auscultation into electronic waves. These electronic waves are then transmitted to the ears through the earpiece. This stethoscope works best for those who have hearing problems

It also allows the health care provider to wear headphones. This prevents the earpieces from interfering with any hear aid the health care provider is wearing. 

Digitizing Stethoscope

The Digital stethoscope are often said to be two in one in terms of functions. This is because it can be easily switch from analogue and digital amplification.  This gives room to the health care provider to select ideal mode for a specific diagnostic sound.

Some of the stethoscope have a display screen for reading or recording. Some of them also come with rechargeable batteries with a very high level of amplification.

Stethoscope Parts

But How Do stethoscope work? How does a stethoscope amplify sounds?

Normally when the diaphragm of the stethoscope is help against the part of the body under examination, the sound produces by that particular part of the body reach the diaphragm in a form of vibration, the diaphragm then vibrates and amplifies the sound and intern transmit the sound through the hollow tubing straight into the earpieces, then into the ears of the health care provider.

The quality of the sound depends on a lot of factors. One of them is the stethoscope position. It’s therefore important to pay attention the placement of the diaphragm during examination.

Final Conclusion

Finally, we’ve provided you with a comprehensive description of the parts of a stethoscope and their functions including the different types of stethoscopes. 

We believe whatever speciality you have or types of patients you have been attending to, we have different type of stethoscope available to help you to get your auscultation done easily and effectively.

So, take a look at them and make the right choice for yourself.

Written by
Albright McHeals