The signature tool of the trade, stethoscopes have heard it all. Despite being a well crafted instrument, their versatility makes them a "must have" in the field of medicine.
Originally a device made of wood, stethoscopes and their evolution have given diagnosticians enhanced hearing capabilities. Ranging from drug store knockoffs to professional Littmann stethoscopes, pediatric to cardiology, short or long, there is certain to be one that will meet your needs. Through the years I have used many, never really understanding their differences...at least until a few weeks ago.
I was recently gifted my first Littmann stethoscope. From experience, I know having eartips in for extended periods of time gets uncomfortable after a while, and draping the tubing around my neck can be awkward if it is stiff. My new stethoscope has extremely soft earpieces and tubing which permit greater comfort than I previously knew. As for auscultating breath, heart, digestive and vascular sounds, my lack of experience at this stage limits my judgment. Nonetheless, I like what I am hearing. Now I just have to find willing subjects for more auscultatory practice.
Board Prep Question of the Week
A 48 year-old female presents with progressive shortness of breath and anxiety. She has no notable prior medical history, and on physical exam, auscultation reveals an opening snap over the cardiac apex followed by a mid-diastolic rumble. The most common cause of her disease process is which of the following?
A. chronic hypertension causing dilatation of the left ventricle
B. repeated attacks of Streptococci causing valvular lesions
C. primary pulmonary hypertension causing atrial dilatation
D. a congenital atrial-septal defect causing chronic hypoxemia
E. a congenital bicuspid valve causing increased afterload of the left ventricle
Answer & Explanation