Medical science has progressed with rapid strides and has been able to achieve immense success in the recent years. But one thing that has remained the same over the years is the iconic diagnostic tool called the stethoscope.
The first stethoscope was an improvised hollow tool that was developed by a French physician named Rene Laennac in the year 1816. He essentially felt embarrassed to place his ears on a woman’s chest to hear her heart beats.
Since then, the stethoscope with the two tubes connecting to the ear pieces and the disc shaped resonator has been the symbol of the medical profession.
Here are some of the ways in which the old-fashioned stethoscope plays a crucial role in assessments even today.
1. Checking the Heart Rate
A lot of patients have a heart rate that is extra fast – sometimes it exceeds 160 beats per minute. More often than not, medications like beta-blockers are prescribed by doctors to bring the heart beat down to 60 beats per minute.
Putting the fingers on the wrist for checking the heart rate is often misleading as not every pulse can be felt if you choose this approach. Nevertheless if you place a stethoscope at the same time it gets more obvious when the heartbeat is not getting through the wrist.
2. Declaring a Patient Dead
This is not something that you have seen in the movies. In fact, many-a-times it becomes very difficult to assess whether the patient has passed away or not. This is especially the case when there is a slow and steady decline.
Your eyes can play tricks on you as to whether there is a respiratory movement. The stethoscope can be laid on the chest of the patient and if it is absolutely silent then the patient is already dead. On the other hand, if there is an occasional thumping, then the patient is still alive.
3. Diagnosing Pregnant Women Who are Short of Breath
The pregnant women do not like getting CT scans or X-rays. A stethoscope can assist to assess whether the breathing difficulties are caused by things like pneumonia or a flare-up of asthma as there is a variation in the sound with the condition. A stethoscope is convenient, it is fast and it is also very safe as there is no radiation that is involved.
4. Detecting the Heart Problems
Prior to the commencement of any operation, the doctor always wants to know if a patient has a pre-existing heart problem. This can lead to surgical complications. An echocardiogram test can lead to a definitive diagnosis. But it is quite time-consuming for the test to occur.
The stethoscope can identify the cardiac conditions in patients if you need an urgent surgery like that of an elderly who has fallen and broken a hip. While the echocardiogram take almost five hours, a stethoscope helps to achieve the results within just five minutes.
The above are just some of the reasons why doctors still prefer the usage of a quality stethoscope like that of Littmann stethoscope for diagnosing their patients correctly within a short span of time so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.